“I always wanted to do that,” is the response Peace Corps Volunteers most often hear when they tell someone about their Peace Corps experiences. People often say this with a sigh, and a hint of remorse as if they had allowed the opportunity to pass them by forever.
While many people carry this misconception that Peace Corps service is only for recent college graduates there are increasing numbers of mid-career people who are using the Peace Corps experience as an opportunity to transition into more satisfying and interesting careers in fields like health, education, and international development.
” Many of the people who are coming into our office had started working right after college, but have since realized that they are not satisfied with their career path,” said Mona Nyandoro, a recruiter in the San Francisco Peace Corps office. “I think they are finding that Peace Corps satisfies their need to do something useful, both for themselves and for the world”
According to Nyandoro, another misconception that many people have is that they need to have a specialized skill or degree in order to be an effective volunteer. However, many of the most effective volunteers possess only a liberal arts degree, and a strong desire to participate in their community In general, many people are more qualified for service than they believe they are,” she added.
As an example, she explained that many countries are requesting volunteers to help teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). While this program requires that volunteers have good communication skills, many people can qualify to serve as an English teacher with virtually any liberal arts degree from an accredited college.
” The world is opening up and embracing technologies that we already take for granted in the United States-like the Internet,” said Peace Corps Regional Director, Harris Bostic II. “Peace Corps Volunteers are playing a significant role in this transformation by teaching students to read and speak English as a second language.”
Volunteers in the TEFL program work in middle schools secondary schools and universities teaching English around the world. In addition to classroom teaching and training host-country teachers with new methodologies, Peace Corps Volunteers have developed secondary projects based on the needs of their schools or communities.
‘They form student clubs and summer camps, teach HIV prevention or environmental education, and help bridge the information technology gap,” Said Bostic, “For example. Volunteers in Micronesia are teaching communities and school children how to access the Internet set up e-mail accounts, and create Web pages,’ he added.
The demand for volunteers to help teach English is so high, currently, Peace Corps is seeking more than 300 new volunteers to provide quality English instruction in developing countries like China, Kazakhstan, and Jordan. Assignments can begin as early as this Fall.
Nyandoro expects that many of the volunteer positions will be filled by people who have come from other career paths and decided to move on and look for new careers. “Peace Corps is giving people an opportunity to learn a new language and gain international experience while they consider their other career options,” she added.
” For people who are already established as ESL professionals, Peace Corps can offer a rich cross cultural experience, and can harness their advanced skills by allowing them to train other teachers in the host country,” Said Nyandoro. She explained that regardless of someone’s skill level, whether they are fresh out of college or newly retired, Peace Corps can provide them with both a challenging work assignment and a life-transforming personal experience.
To learn more about the Peace Corps, visit https://www.peacecorps.gov. Please note that U.S. Citizenship is required to become a Peace Corps Volunteer
by Dennis McMahon