7 ways you can engage with the world through Peace Corps
The most obvious way to engage with the world through Peace Corps is to serve as a Volunteer.
It's an opportunity to delve deeper into a foreign culture than you would be able to otherwise, even as a budget-conscious traveler, an international NGO worker or a foreign service officer. Volunteers go to some of the furthest corners of the globe to serve their country.
But even if you aren’t ready to spend 27 months in a foreign country where you may or may not have access to running water, much less wireless Internet, there are still lots of ways to help the overall objectives of the Peace Corps by staying informed, donating to projects helping more girls get an education or leading a presentation in your local community.
Whether you're an educator in the United States, a family member or friend of a currently serving Volunteer or just someone looking to participate in activities at a global level, here are a few examples of how you can engage with the world through the Peace Corps:
- Sign up for World Wise Schools. The Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools program connects Volunteers and returned Volunteers to classrooms in the U.S., and provides resources to help educators integrate global competence and cultural awareness into the classroom.
- Donate to a Volunteer-led project. Every year, Volunteers collaborate with community leaders to build rural health centers, organize youth summer camps and fill school libraries with more information resources such as books and computers. They wouldn't be able to do these things without the generous donations of private citizens back home and around the world who believe in what they're doing.
- Invite a RPCV to come speak at your school. Give your students the opportunity to hear firsthand accounts of what it's like to live in sub-Saharan Africa or how American traditions compare to those in Thailand or Fiji. No textbook or YouTube video can substitute for an actual person engaging your students in dynamic activities that teach them about global issues.
- Map a Volunteer's community online. Use your fast internet to map a Volunteer's community, which can help local health organizations better track bed net disbursals, for instance. Read more about it here.
- Work for Peace Corps as an employee. You do not have to be a returned Volunteer to work for the agency as a staff member. In fact, before joining the Peace Corps as a Volunteer, I worked at headquarters for two and a half years and loved it. It's consistently ranked among the best mid-size agency's to work for in the federal government and is always looking for professionals with valuable experience that can help advance the agency's mission.
- Read Volunteer blogs. Lots of Volunteers use blogs not only to keep their friends and family informed, but also to share their stories and cultural knowledge with all Americans back home. By staying informed and reading about what adapting to life in a remote Peruvian village is like or how a youth camp made a difference in one Moldovan teenager's life, you get a glimpse into cultures and regions that would get little attention otherwise. Here's a list of blogs in Nicaragua, where I serve.
- Thank a Volunteer for their service. For many, service is an opportunity to act on a belief that education and development are the tickets to spreading opportunity and making the world a more secure place, regardless of where you’re born. But it ain't easy. Leaving family behind, surviving on a meager stipend and becoming intimately familiar with any number of insects are just a few of the challenges Volunteers face. A simple 'thank you' can do a lot to boost morale.
Nothing can substitute for the unique experience that is serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer. But these are a few ways to get a taste of, and even partake in, the work they're performing overseas.
In my mind, Peace Corps Volunteers are, at their core, collaborators who seek to participate more fully in the world's development. I hope this short list gives you an idea of how you can participate more fully with them.