Are you thinking about joining the Peace Corps? Have you been looking at the Peace Corps website for hours, trying to picture yourself moving to another country and roughing it with some natives? Have you repeatedly asked yourself "Can I do this? What would my family think? What would I even do?". Hopefully, by sharing my personal experience, I will be able to help you make a decision. First, let me give you a little background info on the Peace Corps!
What is the Peace Corps?
In 1961 President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps. He stated its purpose as follows "To promote world peace and friendship through a Peace Corps, which shall make available to interested countries and areas men and women of the United States qualified for service abroad and willing to serve, under conditions of hardship if necessary, to help the peoples of such countries and areas in meeting their needs for trained manpower." Since then over 220,000 Americans have volunteered to serve in over 141 countries.
Why did I choose the Peace Corps?
My consideration started back in in 2010. I had just graduated high school and was trying to solve the endless puzzle of what I wanted to do with my life. I knew that I loved helping others, the outdoors, travel, and wanted to take life head on. After months of soul searching, I stumbled across the Peace Corps website.
I immediately knew that I wanted to join the Peace Corps, It was a perfect match! Unfortunately, after further research, I found out that it's highly unlikely that I would be accepted without a college degree.
My next move
So, I moved forward and decided to further my education at Wentworth Military Academy. It was a two-year Jr Academy that is built around the Army ROTC program. After graduating Wentworth, I finished my schooling at the University of Central Missouri where I obtained my BA in Sociology.
Upon graduation, I had the opportunity to commission as an officer in the United States Army but I just didn't feel like this was the right career for me. I had invested a lot of work into becoming an officer and was incredibly thankful for the experience, but under tough circumstances, I decided to go another route.
That's when life happened....
As you can imagine, joining the Peace Corps and not having an income wasn't something that crossed my mind. My priority became paying back my student loans.
My Stepfather was a successful business owner, so it only made sense for me to go into the family business and try and take over the reigns. I started selling insurance and was headed down a lucrative road and was really starting to build a name for myself. Even with my success, I still had a feeling of unease. I couldn't help but think I was settling for the next best thing instead of pursuing my actual dreams.
My entire life, I've always taken the path of adventure and helping others. I suddenly realized that I was letting student loan debt dictate my life. I was letting my education redirect me off of my chosen path and towards the corporate ladder.
Soon after, opportunity came knocking. My step dad, who was looking to retire, offered to sell me the agency. He gave one condition, I had to be sure that running an insurance agency was what I wanted to do with my life. He was always good at leading me down the path of self-discovery.
Pros and Cons
obviously, this was a big decision. I had to look at the many pros and cons of joining the peace corps:
Some pros of going:
- Follow my childhood dream
- Impact lives
- Learn another language
- Possible extension of education
- Possible government job
- See the world
Some cons of going:
- Away from family,
- Put off repaying some student loans
- Give up owning an established business
- Won't have an income for two years
- It's scary
There were far more reasons for both sides, but the determining factor came down to having money or no money.
I decided to follow my love of travel and helping others. I would join the Peace Corps under the condition that I would get the exact job and country I applied for. If I didn't then I would continue to work in Insurance.
Thereafter, I narrowed down my country by simply picking a place that I've always dreamed of going.....Thailand. On top of that, youth development was the job available in that particular country. I always loved working with kids, so this seemed like a perfect fit for me!
On February of 2016, I went to the Peace Corps website and applied. I received an email shortly after saying that I was being considered for Thailand and would be interviewed come March. After smashing the interview, I waited a few months to finally hear that I got my position of choice!
Did this help?
Remember, everyone will have their different reason for joining. This article was to provide you with my decision-making process that led me to take on the extraordinary. I hope it will give you the insight that you may be looking for.
Read some of my other post about applying and preparing for The Peace Corps!