I had just worked out at the embassy gym, showered-up, bought some rice-n-beans and sought refuge from the heat in the volunteer lounge at the Peace Corps Headquarters in Santo Domingo.
I looked across the lounge and there was Tristan savoring his final moments as a Peace Corps Volunteer. It was emotional. You could tell that he was ready to carry-on with life in the United States, but it was bitter-sweet. He already missed his friends from the village. He returned his Peace Corps issued phone and there would be no last minute calls; for many of his fellow volunteers had done the same.
He fought back tears and watched the clock as it drew closer to his departure. We made nervous chatter. He would leave the Dominican Republic with the same two bags that he brought and they undoubtedly exposed two years of struggle, periodic loneliness, waterborne illness and battle. In this moment the success, personal growth and determination that comes from two years of service isn’t apparent but it will never leave him.
The clothes that he brought have been long tattered and don’t fit anymore. Change of diet, walking, heat, diarrhea and stress have caused his body to change. He has lived in poverty.
A volunteer might bring a flashlight and end up relying on candles. They arrive prepared for the jungle and leave wearing business casual because going to the market is special. They rejoice at the opportunity to collect rain water. They arrive timid and leave with a certain air of tigüeraje (street smarts, intuition, assurance).
Tristan and I hug it out. He turns back from the door and says, “Here take this,” and is gone.
In my hand is a white plastic bag that appears to have been dropped in the mud.
Behold the contents, a perfect gift to a fellow volunteer who will muster and carry-on:
Throwing it back, because I am really missing Haivoron as I’m laying in Chicago. Knowing that this will never be my home again makes the Earth spin a little bit faster under my feet. Nothing lasts, except the missing of what must always end.
I have to wonder if I am still that girl. Will I know her again?
From orchestrating a youth athletics program and teaching English lessons, to assisting with community flood relief, RPCV China Dickerson left no stones unturned during her service in El Salvador from 2007 to 2009.
Before Peace Corps, Dickerson aspired to a career in corporate law, but her work with under-served communities shifted her priorities. We asked some questions of the RPCV to learn…
This week Posh Corps was screened at the United States Agency for International Development. It was great to have the opportunity to share the film with so many returned Peace Corps volunteers, and talk about the changing Peace Corps experience.
Posh Corps was also screened at Peace Corps Headquarters. It is the first ever RPCV film to be screened at Peace Corps HQ. Looking forward to public screenings with the agency in the coming months.
Thank you to both agencies for showing the film, but more importantly, thanks to Elizabeth and Katie. Two Posh Corps fans who navigated the bureaucracy to make the screenings possible.
Today I worked out, swam for 40 minutes with out stopping in the Atlantic Ocean, gave my mom remote computer support and had a friend from my new organization over for soup. A good Sunday.
On day 873, I went snorkeling with current Peace Corps Volunteer Leader Sabine. We swam for an hour on a reef. For dinner we invited Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Rebecca (who served in Ukraine). Rebecca works at my new partner organization. We made pasta, talked about all the hard times and how no one posts pictures of themselves crying alone at night or suffering from explosive diarrhea. Those days do exist and the best thing to remember is that situations are temporary.
All I can say is if you are making etch marks in the wall… don’t worry too much about day 536. Even if 537 isn’t better, you will find a way to make the bad days less frequent. Think of it in terms of stretching. If you are just starting cold or you are a yogi… we all arrive to a certain point and feel the same burning/stretching sensation. This is true even if our positions are different.
Eventually Sabine mentioned that the normal Peace Corps Dominican Republic volunteer service is 799 days. Our service will be ~40 months and ~1,201 days.
I’m leaving tomorrow to get ready to visit grad schools. I want to be a disease ecologist, and one of the most effective ways to do that is to earn an MPH, and then go on for a PhD. Regardless, I applied for both.
I wound up getting into some of the best MPH programs in the entire country, straight out of undergrad. I beat out doctors and returning peace corps volunteers for these seats. In the exact words of one of my professors, “If you earn your MPH at any of these schools and do well, you can do your PhD ANYWHERE.”
But aside from a half-assed congratulations, all my mother can say about it is if I had worked harder in undergrad and not been so “lazy”, maybe I would have gotten into the PhD programs.
I got into some of the best schools in the country for grad school, and she is somehow making it feel like a consolation prize.
Ever since I’ve gotten back from the Peace Corps, I wanted to do more with my life. I wanted more than a job and an apartment and a car to get between the two. There was this need to be doing something that helped the community, no matter how small or large. It was a feeling of fulfillment in what I was doing with my life, a feeling I had come to love while in Ukraine. I struggled with the get up…
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My name is David John Coleman 2, and I am a Licensed Clinical Social public marketing Worker, Addictions Counselor, Artist, Panda, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, yet Triathlete based in Chicago, Illinois. I got raised in the New Trier Canton of Chicago area. The end goal for my very first Full IRONMAN, IRONMAN 2015 Coeur D’Alene constantly partner with Anna Schindler Foundation (for links to the websites see below) to raise $3, 000 by the day belonging to the race start on Sunday, June typically, 2015. That’s enough about me when i say for now, so please let me share in regards to my privilege and honor returning to partner alongside the team racing with regard to Anna Schindler Foundation. The Foundation’s Mission is to help with the understanding cause for children and families making it through pediatric cancer, the pertinent treatments, and the life situations that can come along with such Medical Crises. The building blocks was founded from the generosity and winter inspired by Anna Schindler yet her family as they survived suggests of Anna’s diagnosis of Hepatoblastoma (liver cancer). Currently, the foundation raises awareness of childhood years cancer and supports families fighting through childhood cancer by helping out such families with meal playing cards when inpatient at the hospital, offsetting grocery, gas, car repair, yet lodging expenses, and other family figures. For more information on Anna Schindler, much more Anna’s CaringBridge website or Anna’s Memorial Website (for links regarding the websites see below).
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For more information about my own, personal story please keep reading:
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The Peace Corps sends Americans to countries around the world to promote peace, friendship and global awareness. While these volunteers are abroad, they are fully immersed in a different country and its culture.
“We see things from two different points at least because we lived in two different countries - really lived in the countries,” said Mike Stake, who lived in India from 1966 to 1968.
We asked a variety of returning Peace Corps volunteers how they suggest journalists improve international news coverage. Here are five takeaways.
Stick with it to the end
Stake, 69, believes American media can improve by following through, using the Ebola epidemic as an example.
“They disappear,” he said. “Ebola is disappearing [from news coverage]. I don’t know if they’ve stopped the problem there or not, I just know we don’t read about it anymore.”
Don’t overlook developing countries
Adam Garnica lived in Mongolia during his time in the Peace Corps from 2012 to 2014. Garnica, 28, served as an English teacher trainer in an industrial, copper-mining city.
Garnica has also worked in Thailand and South Korea as an English teacher and believes the impact of developing countries needs more attention.
He used pollution as an example, explaining how industrialization in the form of building factories in one nation can affect the world at large.
“It’s kind of like a domino effect,” he said. “One country does one thing and it affects its neighbors,” he said. “It affects itself first and then its neighbors, and that slowly ripples out.”
Stress the connectivity
Garnica admits pollution might be a topic that is hard to persuade individuals to care about.
“These things are happening in a very far away place,” he said. “They can’t see it, or feel it.”
Garnica thinks the media should help society connect the dots on how what’s happening in other countries will eventually affect them.
“Mongolia has a lot of rich resources - resources that will affect trade with China, which will affect China’s development,” he said. “And everything China’s doing sort of bleeds into all of Asia and then eventually to the United States through its Asia relations.”
Garnica also thinks more international stories should take personal approaches.
“It’s always nice to have a face you can put a story to. Because if it’s like, ‘oh, this thing happened in Mongolia,’ then Mongolia is just kind of like this faceless entity,” he said. “But once you have a name, a face, and a story… I think people might connect a little bit better with stories.”
Don’t just cover two ends of the spectrum
Halee Pagel also lived in Mongolia from 2012 to 2014 during her time in the Peace Corps. Pagel, 24, has also spent time in Turkey, Sweden and Greece during study-abroad programs.
Pagel thinks there is too much coverage of “extreme situations on both ends of the spectrum.”
She said on one end of the spectrum there are stories like Malala Yousafzai winning the Nobel Peace Prize, and on the other, extreme poverty rates.
While Pagel feels those stories should be covered, she says reproductive rights and parenting as topics that need more coverage.
“In Sweden they have a very high rate of contraceptive use,” she said. “And on top of that when people do have children, they have a very good support system for the whole country.”
In the future she hopes for more international news coverage on a more diverse range of topics.
“I think it’s important that – as a society – we actually care about what happens outside of our borders,” she said. “Because it does affect us, and knowledge is power.”
Make a difference in the lives of others and your own.
Help a community in need and become a global citizen with Peace Corps
service. Attend an information session to learn about the Volunteer
experience, have your questions answered, and gain tips to guide you
through the application process.
Serving in the Peace Corps is a
great way to be immersed in a new culture, learn a new language, and
have the experience of a lifetime. Regional Recruiter and returned Peace
Corps Volunteer Emily Crawford will share firsthand what it is like to
serve overseas and discuss the application process.
Take the next step towards Peace Corps service. There is a whole world out there waiting to be explored.
Boston Returned Peace Corps Volunteers Dennis Ramsier (Liberia, 1971-1973) & Diane Gallagher (Cape Verde, 1990-1992) representing their host countries during the Around the World Fair at Boston University on March 2nd.
New Jersey Returned Peace Corps Volunteers Janice Kay & Kebra Ward bonding over their respective years of service during a recruitment event at Lehigh University on March 4th.
Peace Corps Northeast Recruiter Shannon McBride, center, hosted a service panel at the University of Bridgeport on March 4th with the help of five Connecticut Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, including UB professor Dr. Steve Hess.
Returned Peace Corps Volunteers in Western Massachusetts stopped by a photo exhibit celebrating the spirit of Peace Corps Week at Smith College.
“Ultimately, I think a map project truly is a collaboration of geography, art, community and advocacy. I love letting kids from Birmingham know that another kid from Alabama was able to experience another culture. In a small but significant way our group is continuing our Peace Corps service.”
“Being in the Peace Corps was one of the best things I could have done to prepare for becoming an entrepreneur, especially a social entrepreneur. Successful Volunteers are, in many ways, entrepreneurs: You learn how to do a lot with few resources, how to jump into a vague situation and create change, how to recognize opportunities, and how to build something out of nothing. I learned firsthand how powerful business can be in creating social change for women.”
Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Siiri Morley, executive director of Prosperity Catalyst, who launched a program in Haiti that provides direct support, mentorship, and training to women as they start candle-making businesses
This year we received a record high number of applications, 17,336 to be exact! Every prospective, current and returned Volunteer didn’t start their sentence with “I should’ve,” they started it with “I did.” Life is calling. How far will you go?