What is the Peace Corps?
According to the Peace Corps website, the Peace Corps exists to send the best and brightest Americans abroad on behalf of the United States to tackle the most pressing needs of people around the world.
Peace Corps Volunteers live and work alongside the people they serve. They collaborate with local governments, schools, communities, small businesses, and entrepreneurs to create sustainable, community-based projects that address changing and complex needs.
Established by an Executive Order from President John F. Kennedy in 1961, the U.S Peace Corps aims to promote world peace and friendship by fulfilling three goals:
- To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women
- To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served
- To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans
What role does the Peace Corps play in the Philippines?
According to the Peace Corps Philippines’ website, Peace Corps Philippines is the Peace Corps’ second oldest program. Since 1961, more than 8,600 Volunteers have served in the Philippines.
Currently, Peace Corps volunteers work in three sectors in the Philippines: Education, Coastal Resource Management ,and Children, Youth, and Families (that’s me!).
Why did you decide to join the Peace Corps?
I decided to join the Peace Corps for a variety of reasons, many of which I’m sure resonate with current and prospective volunteers. Before Peace Corps, I had the opportunity to travel extensively both as a tourist and as a volunteer in Vietnam, Nepal, and Guatemala. These experiences shaped me personally and professionally, but spending four to six months at a time away from home never felt like long enough. Peace Corps presented an appealing option due to its two-year commitment and emphasis on community integration.
Peace Corps also provides a constructive alternative to a regular 9-to-5 job for those of us who still don’t know who we want to be when we grow up. Or at the very least, those of us who know that we don’t want to sit at a desk all day! In May 2015, I completed my Masters in Social Work/Community Organizing, Planning and Development at CUNY Hunter’s Silberman School of Social Work. I knew I was interested in working in an international context, but the thought of pursuing this dream while staying put in New York felt stifling. Many of my classmates and professors were Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs), which reignited my interest in serving myself. I saw joining the Peace Corps as a logical next step in pursuing an international development career while also benefiting from the support and guidance of a trusted government organization.
Lastly, I joined Peace Corps because the internet can open portals to other worlds, especially at 3am when you are feeling claustrophobic and desperate. I applied to Peace Corps on a whim, didn’t tell anyone about it until I was accepted, and now, more than a year later–I am thriving on the other side of the planet. I think existential crisis is just as good a reason as any to join Peace Corps! Unlike other late-night online impulses, which can result in unnecessary Amazon purchases or hours of Netflix binging, stumbling upon the Peace Corps website led me to the Philippines where I have formed lasting relationships with Filipinos and Americans alike in pursuit of world peace and friendship. Although I never anticipated that this is where I would end up, I couldn’t imagine it any other way!