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    Apr 14, 2008 12:41 AM GMT
    My oldest son informed me today that he has signed on to go overseas with the Peace Corps and expects to be assigned in 9-12 months.
    I am not really all that sure of his reasoning and logic for such a sudden decision, but he is 23 and is quite able to do what he wants.
    He says that he want to gain some "perspective" on the world and on the role of the US in the world and that he wants to help other people in different parts of the world. I am a bit suspicious of his reasoning. In his 23years, not once has he previously mentioned any interest in international travels and has even declined the international travel he has been offered in the past, for just vacationing. As for his "altruistic" desire to help others...again this is a bit out of character. His current and longtime girlfriend is also planning on going with the Peace Corp and I get the impression they expect to go to the same place at the same time. Not sure this is realistic or if this is some elaborate scheme that they have put together to dodge some "bills" and live together.
    I know we have a few in our RJ community who have or will be, going overseas with the "Peace Corps". Just needing to know what draws you to do this? My son is a conputer and electronics GURU....don't know that these skills will go very far in some parts of the world still trying to get food, water, shelter and basics of life..... please share your experiences and knowledge.
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    Apr 14, 2008 5:16 AM GMT
    I haven't gone, but I've wanted to go since I graduated from high school. What drives my interest in the Peace Corp is that it's one of the few institutions in the world that actually does good for the world and those in need. The news doesn't help the feeling that not enough is being done by those whom have the ability. So going overseas would give me the satisfaction I need to know that in some small way, an effort had been made to help those who are far from able to help themselves.

    That, and also I'd rather volunteer in the name of peace, than to enlist to fight a war I don't believe in. Sure, I support the SOLDIERS, but not the governing bodies that give them their orders. For me, I'd being doing the dirty work that the bigwigs left behind after they spoiled the 3rd world countries with their unilateral beneficial politics.
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    Apr 14, 2008 2:34 PM GMT
    My limited experience (just from having lots of friends currently placed, or accepted) is that:

    a)"signing on" and being accepted are two very different things. It is pretty competitive, and if one has no genuine interest in the international scene, or a past history of extensive volunteer work, it will be apparent in the application process.

    b)I've heard of spouses being placed together, but never couples. Most are in extremely remote locations, with limited contact (besides initial training) with the other volunteers.

    But hey, anything could happen. If he does get placed somewhere, it will surely be an eye-opening experience, even if it isn't a complete fit for him!
  • Menergy_1

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    Apr 14, 2008 2:59 PM GMT

    I grew up abroad, served in the US military, and probably had some of the same questions answered that your son might be asking and had helpful life experiences of mixing with other cultures as the Peace Corps offers -- except I wasn't in Chad or some village in the tropics.

    I've often wondered why domestic US help programs like VISTA and Americorps which focus on our own "challenges" and opportunities for altruistic service to others don't get the same publicity and pull as the Peace Corps. There is certainly plenty to do here within our own borders, in my opinion!

    I knew lots of men and women who had been in the Peace Corps and it fit them and the times (we're talking everything from the 60's on through the early 2000's). Many of them then came into federal civil service with an extra "leg up" so to speak -- a transfer in work, as it were, whereas other entry-level people had to take exams and compete. Some of these "returnees" stayed and went on to become higher grades and even senior management people. Others tried out office and bureaucratic work and found it wasn't for them and they left for more school or another field of work. Some went back into the Peace Corps as administrators, even many years after they'd done their original foreign service.

    I wonder about the "perspective" on the world your son might or might not gain from a very isolated, single cultural exposure. I'm not putting down the experience per se, although I think a more urban situation and structure might give more of a "perspective" and more contact with sociological, political, economic information about the role of the US in the world than working in a small village to dig latrines or helping with agricultural techniques. Helping other peoples here and there is admirable; and again, except for its not being foreign experience, some of the domestic US programs also have a goal to help people. There's no stigma of "working for the war" that way, either.

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    Apr 14, 2008 3:18 PM GMT
    I actually declined an offer from the PC opting instead for a program with Americorps for many of the reasons AbFab just mentioned. But let me just say that the process to get into the PeaceCorps is grueling. It is designed in just such a way that it weeds out potential applicants who are just looking for a free vacation, or those who might get homesick and want to go home to their girlfriends/boyfriends (only husbands and wives are ever placed together)--not to mention the medical and dental checkups you have to go through. And if you don't have any volunteer service under your belt chances are they'll expect you to get some before even considering moving your application on to DC where the final placements are made. I don't think you have anything to worry about; and if by some means he does get in, then the experience will probably do him some good.
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    Apr 14, 2008 3:42 PM GMT
    I served in the Peace Corps in Bolivia for 2 years. It such an amazing experience but definitely not something for everyone.

    I think people join the Peace Corps for different reasons. and they get different things out of their experience. For me it gave me the opportunity to do some international travel which I simply did not have the means for and to use my environmental science degree in a way that was more exciting that any other job I could have gotten fresh out of undergrad here in the US. You also qualify for 1 year of noncompetitive status for jobs in the federal government so it's a great way to jump start a career with the feds.

    I think any time spent abroad can provide an opportunity to gain a different perspective on the world, but Peace Corps service provides even more opportunities because you get to interact with people of a different culture by being integrated into those communities. It can be frustrating at times, but in the end, most people I know found it to be very rewarding.

    As for trying to serve with his girlfriend. Everything i know about Peace Corps policy is that you can only be placed in the same site if you are married. I never heard of anyone ever getting placed with their boyfriend/girlfriend or anyone that they knew.

    I imagine your son has talked to a Peace Corps recruiter, but if not they would be a great place to get more info, and they often hold orientation sessions. I took my parents to one and I had been prepping them for a year before I left, but it wasn't until they went to the orientation session that they were finally ok with me taking off for 2 years. In face my dad got into it so much he was seriously wondering how he could serve.

    Good luck,