Friday, May 18, 2012

I first heard about the Peace Corps when I was a kid. Around the age of 13, I went on a leadership conference for two weeks in D.C. and New York and took a trip to the Peace Corps headquarters. A man who had volunteered in Mali and learned to speak Bambara was our presentation leader. He spoke a few sentences of the most foreign language I'd ever heard up to that point and I was sold. That day I decided I was definitely going to volunteer for the Peace Corps when I grew up. 

A few years later I began the application process and nearly finished before my parents caught on to my plans. There was no way the Peace Corps was going to happen before college. Fair enough, I thought. Besides, the Peace Corps strongly recommends at least three years of college before applying. During my time away at school, I began to lose interest in becoming a volunteer. In magazines, I had read stories about women who had been raped and forced to keep quiet upon returning home, never getting the care they desperately needed directly after the abuse. I'd heard horror stories from the relatives of friends who had volunteered in the past. Every now and then, I would stumble upon an article in the Times or USA Today that detailed the mistreatment of women in the Corps. I became quite weary of the organization as a whole and lost interest.

Despite all the bad things I've heard in the past, a big part of me still wants to do it. I must admit that I've heard good things from people too. I don't expect anyone to say it was a blast or that it was the easiest thing they've ever done. 

My question is always: was is worth it? 

Enough people have told me yes to make me think it would be. 

Why the Peace Corps and not some other organization? 

1. Student loans. I could defer them for two and half years
2. I don't have to pay to go, which would be great because I'm broke
3. I'd have health insurance
4. It'd look badass on any job application
5. I'll probably learn a new language
6. Most importantly, I can help people (I realize I could do this one with another program)

I guess it's something I need to think about a bit more--do some more research, weigh the benefits, and then if I decide it's for me, get serious and go for it. 

I'll keep you posted. ;)

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