Why Peace Corps?

One of the big questions people always ask is, "Why Peace Corps?" Many wonder what the appeal is of giving up your life in the US with all its comfy perks for "a hut in the middle of nowhere with no toilet and lots of bugs". One of the questions asked on the initial application deals with this. Here was my answer over a year ago.

There are many reasons why I want to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I want a chance to prove my independence, resourcefulness, and reaffirm my life goals as well as my personal beliefs. I want to immerse myself in another culture and another way of life so that I better understand myself, but more importantly so I better understand the lives of those around me. Growing up in rural Minnesota in a middle-class home with both parents, a sister, two cats, and a happy life didn’t throw many challenges at me. While I would never claim to be “sheltered”, as I have certainly left Minnesota and the United States plenty of times, I was sheltered from the hardships so many people face in life. I want to take off the rose-colored glasses and see the world for what it really is. I want to understand what life is like without being dependent on cell phones, Facebook, and the million other modern technologies. I want to educate myself on what life is really like in another area of the world. I want to educate myself on living life with only the basics and living the life millions of others live.

I am sure you read at least one essay a day from someone applying to be a Peace Corps Volunteer that says they want to make a difference or they want to help others. I too share this sentiment and it is a sentiment that I don’t know how to explain any better than in those words. I consider myself to have lived a very fortunate life, which is why Core Expectation #1 will be the hardest for me. I have a very supportive family, a good job; all in all, I live a very comfortable life. I never have to worry about when I will eat my next meal or whether I am safe in my own home. It will be hard to give all of that up for the unknown. But, it is that which I just mentioned that makes me want to pursue becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer more than ever. I feel I have already been given enough. I am a strong believer in the “Pay it Forward” model. I don’t expect to be repaid for things I do in life. I would much rather have people pass on goodwill to others in hopes of keeping the cycle going, which I feel is one of the main ideas of the Peace Corps. I know life wouldn’t always be easy as a Volunteer; however, I believe in the words of Albert Einstein, “In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity”.

Like anyone applying to a program such as the Peace Corps, I have some selfish reasons for wanting to be a Peace Corps Volunteer. The biggest is that I almost always put others before myself, whether it is which movie to watch or where to eat dinner. Applying to the Peace Corps is my way of doing something for myself. I want an adventure. As much as I am fine with my life now, it is rather boring. I feel like if I don't change something big, I will get stuck and I am not ready to settle down. I also don't feel like I am living up to my full potential right now. I know I could be doing far more with my life than I am right now.

For over two years I have gone back and forth about whether or not to even apply. I have had most of my application filled out for over a year, but I was scared to write the essays, get the recommendation forms completed, and hit that scary submit button. This is a chance I need to take for myself so that I don’t wake up tomorrow an 80-year-old woman wishing I had taken the chance when I could. In the past few years I have watched both my mother and my sister face health related complications. I don’t know what life is going to throw at me, and I want to do what I can to make my life a life I want to remember and nothing would be more fulfilling than if I were granted a position in the Peace Corps.