Friday, May 11, 2012


I think the best way to explain a lot of why I'm doing what I'm doing, is to post up some of the application questions that the PC asks, and what my responses are to them. Please, if you're currently going through the Peace Corps process, use your own answers and reasons, not my responses. Everyone does things for their own unique reasons, and I respect that. I understand that a lot of people don't support what I'm doing or the way that I chose to live my life- but that's okay because I probably don't support yours either ;) JK- Do what you do, and do what makes you happy! As long as you're not hurting others in the process, then everyone is entitled to live how they want. Don't worry, I'll change the world for you :0) But here: you can see my thought process behind a lot of how I'll be spending the next 27 months.

Re: My Reasons for Wanting to Serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer
- One of my most prominent attributes is my innate capacity for serving others. I believe that certain people are born to do certain things, and I was lucky enough to have an inherent characteristic of compassion for others and a desire to serve those who occupy the same planet as me. Since I was little, volunteering was something that I just simply did. It wasn’t asked of me, it wasn’t even presented to me by my parents or peers as a good thing to do; it was something I picked up on by myself and enjoyed doing. Whether it was spending my recesses and summers helping out in the Special Education classroom at my elementary school, or walking across the road to the nursing homes to spend my afternoons playing BINGO and assisting the elderly, caring for others was what I loved. As I’ve grown, my passion for service has also grown tremendously. 
 I’ve had some amazing opportunities to serve abroad and within my country through my University during both my winter and spring breaks. After graduating, I chose to travel to Brazil to volunteer for a few months in a Children’s Discovery Museum. I’ve been fortunate to travel to third world countries and experience what it means to live with no running water, electricity, and the privileges and freedoms that many so often take for granted in the United States. Even with my current jobs, I’m engaged in serving children with developmental disabilities and youth with behavior difficulties, and work towards making their lives the best that they can be while encouraging positive actions within their communities. My dream has always been to live abroad, preferably in a third world country, and serve populations with developmental disabilities. I plan on obtaining a Masters Degree in Disability Studies and, later, a Ph.D. in Physical Therapy, then using my knowledge as a tool to help others. 
 Of the Peace Corps 10 Core Expectations, I expect to find initial difficulty in the length of time I’d be away from home. While nervous at first, I know that with positive coping methods, such as sharing my experiences and writing about the work we’re doing while engaging with those whom I’m working with as well as integrating myself into the culture with respect and the desire to both learn and teach, I’ll be able to put aside feelings of being homesick.  
Being able to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer has been on my mind for many years, and I feel that I’m at a point in my life now where I can fully professionally, emotionally, physically, and mentally commit to 27 months abroad of service to others. I understand that it will be draining and tough at times, but I feel that my past service trips to other countries have prepared me for any hardships I may encounter. I’m ready and willing to put my whole self forward, to step outside of my comfort zones, and continue to live my life benefiting others and improving their quality of life. Service is what truly makes me happy.

Re: What challenges I have faced while living/working in an environment different than my own:
-One of my ambitions in life is to place myself outside of my comfort zone as often as possible, and really delve into others cultures to experience how they truly live and what their cultural norms are. One of the most important things that I’ve learned when traveling or going to serve is that flexibility is key. I feel that you can’t go into a situation with too many expectations, because you’re either going to be let down, or your expectations are going to be far surpassed. In traveling to Romania to serve through United Planet, I had expectations of the sort of work I’d be doing, but it turned out completely different. For what they expected of us, we didn’t have any of the needed materials, and we had to learn quickly to just go with the flow and make do with what minimal supplies we had. I had to improvise, take initiative, and be extremely creative. Coming out of that, I learned that you can never fully be prepared for any situation, and you have to be able to easily switch gears without anger or frustration when things don’t go as planned. At the age of 21, I’ve been extremely fortunate to travel to as many countries as I have. I believe that by deciding to move to a different country on my own, where I wouldn’t know anyone, was a huge risk that forced me to grow tremendously as a person. In living with strangers of all different backgrounds, I’ve learned to never make pre-judgments, and to go into situations with an open mind and open heart. I’ve learned that confidence is a necessity if one expects to fully learn about a culture; because you have to be confident enough to put yourself out there and actively yearn to be involved and live their lives.
I’ve definitely faced challenges with trust. Trust that my personal items are safe, trust that I’m safe in my community, and trust that others will be accepting of my presence there. Being North American, I’ve felt hostility from others while traveling, because of their stereotypes of my culture. I have to remember that a lot of this is fear of the unknown, on both parts, so it’s important to both learn and teach. I’ve learned not to impose my own ideas or norms; just because I believe in a certain lifestyle or do things a certain way doesn’t mean that it is the right way or the only way. The purpose of my travels abroad, service or not, have always been to truly get to know another culture and way of life; while sharing with them my own knowledge and experiences. Everyone has a story to tell, and everyone needs an opportunity to tell it.

Re: Site placement & living conditions
-I am willing to go anywhere there is a need for me. I have a desire to see and travel the entire world, no country excluded. That said, I’m very geographically flexible. I’m so excited to learn from and live like another culture somewhere else in the world. I’m grateful that time is spent with host families, to help ease into things, but I’d love to challenge myself in new ways and experience an entirely different lifestyle- so I’d definitely be ready to serve somewhere with little-to-no amenities, such as electricity, running water, and an indoor toilet. I'm prepared to serve in a site that is isolated and/or a significant distance from other PCV's. I'm able to meet physical challenges, including carrying a bucket of water for up to ten minutes; walking up to five miles per day; bicycling ten miles per day on rough terrain.  All I wish to do is learn, teach, and inspire; and I’m excited that I get to experience that in a whole new place of the world. Thank you for considering me for “the toughest job I’ll ever love”!

Re: Concerns
 -I’m not sure that I could say I have a single greatest concern. There are things I worry about, like missing out on important events back home, not being around to see my little cousins grow up, missing friends, family, my cat, etc. I’m also concerned with my health- being in a 3rd World Country with different food preparations, diseases, and water filtration systems. I’m sure that I will encounter things that my immune system won’t know how to fight off. Being a female, safety is a concern, but I am taking preventative classes before leaving. I’ve moved away before, and I’ve dealt with all of these things. I’ve also learned how quickly I’m able to make friends and enjoy time in other places; this is a rare opportunity that not many people get to experience- I think that alone outweighs all other concerns.

Re: Things I've learned while preparing
- I feel that you can never be fully prepared for everything- and I doubt I’ll be able to fully prepare myself for what I’ll be experiencing, but that’s part of the journey! Often times I'm sure I'll feel like there is no work or resources available, or that I'm not accomplishing much, if anything at all. I’ve learned that, as much as you can submerge into a new community, it’s always important to keep your guard up and prepare for the worst. I’ve learned that patience is going to be key- this application process has also shown me that! I’ve also been informed that being able to “just go with the flow” is an important virtue to have. I know that the experience is what you make of it a lot of the time, some people have good stories and some feel as though they didn’t really “change the world" like they envisioned to do. It’s important to keep in mind that this matters, and I matter.

... A lot of people say "27 months- that's a long time!!!!" ... Well, possibly it is. But I'm sure it's going to absolutely fly. And when I moved to Idaho, I committed to 4 years of college there. Even though I wasn't there that long, that was still a long-term commitment. I know Africa and Idaho are a lot different, but I've placed myself out of my comfort zone before, and succeeded. The way I look at it is, I'm young. I have no obligations. No kids to take care of, no family to support. No boyfriend making me think twice about leaving him behind. Now is my time to live, to explore, to travel; to be young, wild, and free! I'm sure I'll miss back home and everyone whose paths I've crossed, but I'm going to be having such an amazing experience, and learning so much. I'll be getting to do things that I wouldn't be able to do in the U.S. I'm so excited about committing to live in a foreign land with foreign people, speak a foreign language, and eat foreign food for the next 27 months of my life!

Any questions you have about... well, anything at all! Feel free to ask. I'm open to talking about everything & anything, with whomever! 

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