So You Want To Change the World

My oldest son is a philanthropist. As a first year college student he wants to join the Peace Corps. I’ve heard about the Peace Corps, but I don’t have a clue how you join or what volunteers actually do. To help my son achieve his dream, I better get educated. The world needs him!

The Peace Corp is a volunteer service that usually starts out with a two year commitment. Almost one quarter of a million people volunteer in almost 140 countries. Service is about making a far flung place on the globe your new home. My son will need to be able to be content in a place that may have him isolated from everything that is familiar. In other words, he needs to be adaptable, self-confident and independent.

Volunteers provide a practical skill that contributes to advance the region where they are living. This could be construction of buildings or fisheries. All sorts of teachers are in need. All work side by side with the locals. My son will need to cultivate relationships with people who have a very different background than his own. He should be kind, unassuming, accepting and non-judgmental.

The Peace Corps is there to do a job. It doesn’t matter if you have a doctorate. If the job requires slinging a hammer or emptying a trash bin, the volunteer needs to do it. Volunteers need to be humble.

Many volunteers deploy to remote areas. Getting around may involve hiking, riding a bike, a taxi, a cart pulled by donkeys, river canoes, or transport trucks. To get the job done takes grit, determination, courage and a positive attitude.

Although living in a foreign country sounds romantic the reality can be trying. Learning a new language can be daunting. Adjusting to a strange diet can be wrought with complications. Romantic satisfaction must come from falling in love with a new culture and the vulnerable peoples which bring that culture to life.

Although many young college graduates join the Peace Corps as a break between college, hoping their resumes will be enhanced by their service, my son’s intentions are purely humanitarian. He also has all of the qualities it seems a great Peace Corps volunteer needs. That is why I believe that he will be one of the few who starts out with a two year commitment and then remains with the Peace Corps for a lifetime of service.

Although my son often talks like a dreamer, he is actually very well grounded. I am certain, knowing my son as well as I do, that he will discover that in order to truly bring about change, two years will simply not be long enough for a distant, disadvantaged, impoverished village. Yes, he will go. He will even come back. But I feel certain he will not be coming back “home”. He will come to visit his mom and dad and then he will return “home”. He hasn’t left yet, but in my heart I am already proud.