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Has anyone tried the Peace Corps?
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Justin Trullinger



Joined: 28 Jan 2005
Posts: 3110
Location: Seoul, South Korea and Myanmar for a bit

PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 12:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aww, that's all warm and fuzzy. Group hug, everybody.

Goodnight,

Justin
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JZer



Joined: 16 Jan 2005
Posts: 3823
Location: Alaska

PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 5:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I have no doubt that you did good things in the PC- but I also do not doubt that you served as a positive ambassador for a government which, regrettably in my opinion, probably doesn't deserve it just now.


I disagree with this. I think that this program attest to the fact that despite whatever those in power in the United States do that there are many good hearted Americans who would like to help the world in any way they can.
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younggeorge



Joined: 15 Apr 2005
Posts: 350
Location: UAE

PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 7:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it's important to distinguish between individuals and governments. The more individuals there are around the world presenting a positive image of Americans (or British or Canadians or whatever), the less important the government becomes in determining people's view of the nation.

If the only thing Mexicans, for example, know of America is the record of its government, then the chances are they're going to be anti-American. But if they can see PC volunteers and others as decent people, who may even be working to help them, then that can only be good for international understanding.
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woof



Joined: 09 Feb 2006
Posts: 17
Location: Indiana

PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2006 3:48 am    Post subject: Peace Corps Reply with quote

There really isn't such a thing as the monolithic American Government. There are individuals who vote other individuals into office to make group decisions and hire employees, at both the state and federal level. That's why we get such contradictory situations as having one taxpayer-funded group bombing while another one is digging wells for villagers. We don't have a dictator with the power to enforce uniformity of policy. Although it's aggravating, Americans seem to be tolerant of a system that has been likened to herding cats, because lack of uniformity allows room for freedom of conscience, among other freedoms. Of course all systems allow room for abuse.

If a person objects to working for a government agency, there are many religious and secular agencies a person could try. I'm sure each has its good and bad points. The reason I asked about the Peace Corps was the educational benefits. I'm guessing there are some church schools and other institutions that also offer special deals on Master's degrees but I don't know about them. If anyone does, I'd be happy to hear about that. I don't really care if the school is prestigious. I just care if it can teach me what I need to know in a way I can understand it. I'm guessing a Master's program that credits time served in the real world would be good for someone who learns best "on the job" instead of in theory.
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lollercauster



Joined: 18 Mar 2006
Posts: 418
Location: Inside-Out NYC

PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2006 5:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I looked into joining the Peace Corps but I only have a 2-year degree and I don't think I have the appropriate work requirements to supplement the 2-year degree. Plus, I'm not entirely sure what I could really do in it either; I certainly don't want to do grunt work...that's not enjoyable no matter where you are.
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snorklequeen



Joined: 16 Jun 2005
Posts: 188
Location: Houston, Texas, USA

PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2006 7:50 am    Post subject: Peace Corps Reply with quote

i looked into joining the PC, but if you have student loans or other monthly obligations [credit card bills], they seemed disinterested.

cheers,

Queenie
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tedkarma



Joined: 17 May 2004
Posts: 1595
Location: The World is my Oyster

PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2006 9:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was a while back when I was in, so what I am saying may not be true now, but at that time PC service was grounds for student loan payment deferrals.
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snorklequeen



Joined: 16 Jun 2005
Posts: 188
Location: Houston, Texas, USA

PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2006 2:19 am    Post subject: PC and student loans Reply with quote

thanks so much for the info, TedK! i'll check further; it was in stuff i printed out from their website a few years ago; i didn't pursue it any further but sounds like now is the time!!! Very Happy

if they would send me to somewhere in Latin America, that would be awesome! and a route to some kind of MA without paying megabucks for it

Queenie LA
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tedkarma



Joined: 17 May 2004
Posts: 1595
Location: The World is my Oyster

PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2006 8:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wanted to go to South America - they sent me to Africa. I think that is how it goes . . .

You can refuse a posting, but they don't have to make you another offer.

Best of luck to you!
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snorklequeen



Joined: 16 Jun 2005
Posts: 188
Location: Houston, Texas, USA

PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2006 6:23 am    Post subject: Peace Corps Reply with quote

thanks again, Ted Karma! people have mentioned the PC is like the military -- fun, fun, fun? good 2 kno

thanks for posting all you have put on TEFL Daddy -- very useful

cheers,

Queenie
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travelingirl68



Joined: 25 Feb 2005
Posts: 214
Location: My Own State of Mind...

PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 9:24 am    Post subject: My two cents Reply with quote

Having just received a text message from a Kazakstani colleague and good friend from my two year Peace Corps stint (2002-2004), I felt the need to throw my two cents in as well. Like TedK, my experience was life changing and wonderful.

I never went in with rose-tinted glasses about changing the world (I had been in the corporate world too long for that!), but I did go in wanting to deepen my understanding of the people I was meeting, living with, and sharing my life with. What many people forget is that the experience goes both ways, it is not a matter of "us" helping/saving/serving people, it is more that we learn from each other.

The three goals/aims of PC are to: 1) Provide the service that the host country asks for, 2) Learn about the local culture and language, and 3) Share that knowledge with people in the US

I always believed that the changes would be more for me than for the people I worked with, and I still believe that - but, after two years of emailing, talking, and texting, I can see that I have touched a few lives and made a difference.

The development of language skills and broadening of perspective for my fellow colleagues and friends has meant for some: better jobs, the opportunity to study and travel abroad, (not only in the US, but Korea, Turkey and the UK) and a shift in professional and personal goals that they would never have imagined before.

As far as the spy game goes, there were people in the villages were we first trained who would comment on that occasionally, but we all laughed about what the PC would possibly be spying on - the number of cows and sheep owned by the community and individuals? The number of sunflower stalks it would take to have a fire to feed a family of 8?

Sorry for the ramble, I am feeling a bit verklempt. I'll give you a topic - if 007 were a PC volunteer, what would his cover be: farmer, fisherman, English teacher or AIDS/Public Health volunteer?
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tedkarma



Joined: 17 May 2004
Posts: 1595
Location: The World is my Oyster

PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 1:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great post travelingirl68!

I too am not sure what the CIA would want to learn in/from Francistown Botswana. How many roasted mopane worms it takes to fill an empty stomach?

To snorklequeen: - other than here - I don't know anyone who has compared the PC to the military! But, having never been in the army maybe I can't comment. But I do think there was far more freedom and initiative allowed than the army could ever handle.

And . . . I am not sure I would say "fun, fun, fun" as I found it, particularly the first year, to be difficult experience.

It was profound, life changing, an educational experience - but it was not "fun, fun, fun". There were enjoyable times, but many more difficult times.
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travelingirl68



Joined: 25 Feb 2005
Posts: 214
Location: My Own State of Mind...

PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 1:57 pm    Post subject: Another two cents Reply with quote

I have to agree with Ted again - the first year especially is hard. The physical discomforts are generally not an issue once you make it through the initial training period (where every day is a new story of stomach issues and local bathroom experiences), but since it was my first experience living abroad, the deeper and often more subtley expressed differences in culture and mentality come to the surface.

The second year had it's own ups and downs - once I felt more at home in my host culture, I felt the 'suffering' of my closest friends as they began to go through their own 'long distance culture shock' as their world view changed and broadened and they began trying to deal with a new realm of possibility and began to step out of their former selves. It was an intense experience for two years, and there were times when I wondered if I had made lives worse by bringing a taste of the outside in... (I know, pretty self-centered and egotistical)

As a side note, the only people I ever knew that could have caused danger to the local population were the same ones that you find in TEFL at times - the alcoholics, the people who go abroad to escape something or are not really ready to do so, and those Americans that feel that (perhaps subconciously) their country has all the answers.
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snorklequeen



Joined: 16 Jun 2005
Posts: 188
Location: Houston, Texas, USA

PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2006 7:06 pm    Post subject: Peace Corps Reply with quote

thanks for the PC input, you guys! is it the cultural differences/culture shock that primarily makes the first year difficult? or other things? i'd like to hear more about what it's like, from a realistic perspective

here in Houston, TX it's the second day of hurricane season after last year's Katrina and Rita, the freeways are congested, it's hot and humid, i work for a huge company, and living in the US is like having full-time culture shock whenever i come back here from visiting my family in Mexico, so the PC sounds like "fun-fun-fun" in this sense -- experiencing a new culture and new people in new surroundings

i understand and appreciate where you guys are coming from in your response to my comment; if i say "change-change-change" and it more aptly expresses it Smile

cheers,

Queenie
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tedkarma



Joined: 17 May 2004
Posts: 1595
Location: The World is my Oyster

PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2006 12:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What made the first year difficult? Really the mental shift.

I had to learn how to act serious about a job that took 15 minutes a day, about training people who weren't interested in being trained. Nice people, but just couldn't give a d*mn. In fact, nothing got done for about a year (and I think this is common) as you have to allow time for relationships to develop first. These are NOT business - "get things done" type cultures. I was was managing a business. I arrived READY to go to work - but I was the only on that train!

All this while living in a house with no heating and cooling (but I was FAR luckier in housing than many others - I had indoor plumbing AND electricty! Though the electricty was often not there on the weekends).

I knew no one - and the few people who overtly tried to make friends with me obviously wanted something from me - money, jobs, marriage, a "green card", many things they "thought" I had - but didn't.

Various things that found their way into my house for me to almost step on - a giant scorpion, tarantula, bats, etc. Didn't even worry about simple things like black widow spiders etc. Even got used to the giant flying roaches that would land on you with a "whack" - or the termite hatch when even inside your house would be full of flying termites - and not much you can do about it. Nor, the ever present ants. Nor my neighbors chickens - and the rooster that did his thing all night long - not just at dawn! - about six feet away from my head.

I was somewhat experienced in the business world and my Peace Corps supervisor (and I had a couple of these!) who was telling what to do and how to manage the business - had been an art teacher and knew nothing about busines . . .

Also, I joined the Peace Corps thinking - as they always STILL say - that I would be paid equal to the earnings of my host country counterpart - and in fact - I was paid 1/5th the wages of the person I was to train - AND she got a free vehicle to use from the business. The designer was a volunteer from an agency that paid her about ten times what I earned - AND gave her a free car and free gas. To be effective, I needed a car, bought one out of my own funds. I spent, over the two years - a fair amount of my own personal funds to assist myself in being effective. Others would not have- but I did. I didn't join to get rich - but not to impoverish myself either! In each country - everyone gets paid the same regardless of your position.

There were a few other volunteers nearby - did see a few on the weekend, but it was difficult to fit in. I was a 40 year old administrator/business person - with also a social work admin past. The others were quite young teachers, busy having sex and getting drunk with the local folks - things I wasn't really interested in (particularly with the very high AIDS rate in Africa even back then).

And that is the good stuff I remember through the glaze and fog of time . . .
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