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Hobbes's avatar

Has anyone ever been in or known anyone in the Peace Corps?

Asked by Hobbes (7368points) June 14th, 2011

I’ll be graduating college in a year, with a degree in Theater and Environmental Studies, and I’m considering joining the Peace Corps. It seems like an incredible opportunity to travel, learn another language (probably French since I studied it for all four years of high school) and learn organic, sustainable agriculture techniques. Food security is an incredibly important issue in the World, and particularly in the Third World, and being able to make a tangible difference in people’s lives on a level as fundamental as food seems like it would be a life-changing experience. I’m a little worried since I don’t have any real experience with agriculture, just a desire to learn. Does anyone think this would be a problem? Should I do something else (like WWOOF) to get more experience?

If anyone has any stories, first or second hand, about the Peace Corps, I’d love to hear them.

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14 Answers

Carly's avatar

I personally haven’t heard any amazing stories, however, I’m sure I just haven’t come upon the right people yet. My aunt and uncle joined after they finished their degrees. They enjoyed it for the first year, but after that they found it quite miserable. My mom told me their experiences there drove them to consider divorcing, but as soon as they got back to the states everything was fine. I don’t really know what happened there though, but it must have been more stressful than enlightening.

On the note about agriculture, most of my friends who are applying for that aspect of the Peace Corps are being asked to teach English – and these are kids with a B.S. in Biology, Environmental studies, and even Agricultural studies who have all interned at farms. There must be a reason why they’re not interested in people in that area, but once again, I don’t know all the facts.

wundayatta's avatar

I know a lot of people who have been in the Peace Corps and every single one of them found the experience to be very valuable. They were all thrown into the experience with little preparation. They were taught some things about the culture, but there’s only so much you can learn in training camp. The rest has to be learned on the job.

Most likely you will be assigned to a place where people have relatively little education. You’ll be able to read a couple of pamphlets about agriculture and know things the farmers don’t know. But don’t devalue their knowledge. Take care to question everything and see whether it makes sense to adapt to your place before making a big push for it.

People who have been in the Peace Corps have gone on to be major government officials and business figures. The Corps teaches you an awful lot—I mean, the experience teaches you an awful lot. Just go. Do it. You won’t regret it.

linguaphile's avatar

I know several people—all of them have amazing stories, but almost all of them do talk about the hellacious adjustment period at the very beginning. Serious culture shock, hygiene shock, food shock, gender-roles shock, but once they adjusted, all of them talk about the most exhilarating, eye-opening experiences ever. Their world-view is forever altered and they mostly come home appreciative of what the US has to offer, but also with a very different view of our role in world politics.
I agree with wundayatta —go and come back with stories!

rts486's avatar

Almost 30 years ago I was in Central America and knew some of the peace corps people there. To me they fell into one of two catagories. Hard working and well intended; or didn’t want to get a real job and knew this would look good on their resume. I did have to wonder if all their hard work really contributed anything, or was it more to make the U.S. Government feel like it was doing something. But regardless, living overseas is almost always a great experience.

I suggest you talk to some people who were recently in the peace corps.

Hobbes's avatar


“I suggest you talk to some people who were recently in the peace corps.”

I don’t know any, is the problem, which is why I’m asking you guys.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I was in college with a woman that spent a year overseas, and one of my fraternity brothers served in the Phillipines. They loved it.

marinelife's avatar

Some close friends of mine are in the process of joining the Peace Corps. They had to jump through extensive medical testing hoops, do interviews, fill out forms and get recommendations.

They are now awaiting their assignment. They are really looking forward to it.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Yes, a cousin of mine and his wife. He went in for an initial 2yrs, became a teacher and met his current wife who was also enlisted. They have a wonderful life in Indonesia, they both say they couldn’t have dreamed or planned to make out as well as things have gone.

Cruiser's avatar

My cousin did a stint in Honduras and my wife’s cousin spent time in South America and both said it forever changed their lives and outlook on life. The stories are simply amazing and such a stark contrast to life in my country we seem to take for granted.

From what I can tell Peace Corps is well organized and can monitor you and get you help if and when you need it.

SavoirFaire's avatar

I know one person who has been in the Peace Corps, and he talks about it like it was the best time of his life. This was about 30 years ago, mind you, but he says he learned most of what he needed to know after joining.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

The Peace Corps was run by me briefly when I was getting ready to graduate high school. At the time I didn’t have much energy or drive to check into it further. Instead I plodded along through Jr. College and series of low level jobs just trying to get by, all the while make believing to myself that I’d go into a 4 college and a vocation just right for me would come into play.

When people ask what I would have done differently, I would have gone and looked into joining the Peace Corps.

snowberry's avatar

I had a boyfriend in it 40 years ago. He told me some pretty wild stories. He was assigned to an area in Lybia and ended up being a mercenary during his time there. This got him in trouble with the other side, and he informed me that he had a price on his head from those days. I have no way of knowing if any of this was true, and I’d say his experience was unique, and not typical of the Peace Corps of today.

Hobbes's avatar


>Peace Corps
>Being a Mercenary


Doing it wrong, bro.

snowberry's avatar

@Hobbes LOL, I’d say you’re right.

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