Today’s Peace Corps
For young adults, the choice to volunteer is becoming more and more a popular career choice. Some feel it will benefit their career opportunities, others feel obligated by society, and some feel it’s the best way to occupy their time while searching through the dwindling job market. Either way, there are multiple ways to volunteer; one of the most challenging is being a United States Peace Corps volunteer.
The organization John F. Kennedy implemented in 1960 has evolved into a much different and broader type of work than one he originally may have envisioned. While many Americans served in order to advance the agricultural industry of developing nations in the 1960s, the role of volunteers today focuses mainly on teaching English, community development and HIV/AIDS prevention.
The setting where most Peace Corps volunteers work has changed as well. The image of volunteers living in huts, heating their home by shoveling coal and transporting food and water a long way still exists, but is much less frequent. Volunteers serving in all areas of the world have been known to have showers, television and even wireless internet within their homes. In some cases, the drastic difference in living can occur within the same country.
Living and working in developing countries is never without risk. At any moment, otherwise seemingly stable countries can take a dramatic turn towards uncertainty and danger. The recent evacuation of Peace Corps volunteers from Kenya and Georgia both, while for different reasons, showed how quickly a seemly stable country could prove dangerous for Americans to live and work.
However, other governments have worked towards allowing the Peace Corps program back into their country, working towards bettering relations and accepting aid to areas of society they deemed most in need. Liberia, once a closed society, has now opened its doors to the Peace Corps. By extension, we may one day see the Peace Corps operating in Iraq.
Due to the state of constant change the world is forever in, Peace Corps remains an important fragment of public relations between Americans and the rest of the world. New York City has become a haven for many Peace Corps volunteers to work and seek higher education due to the fellowships and scholarships offered in the city’s universities. We can expect this trend to continue as Peace Corps work becomes ever more relevant and necessary around the world.#
Jonathan served in Peace Corps Ukraine’s Youth Development sector and now works for Harlem Children Society. He is also a contributor to the Ukrainian Heritage Foundation (www.ukrainianheritagefound.com).