Lately, I’ve noticed a trend in blog posts addressing the following questions:
- How can I make my life more meaningful?
- What is my life purpose and what can I do to make a difference?
What do you think?
Since our return from Belize in 2005, I have volunteered once with a group of nurses in a Mayan Village. Since that day, I’ve thought about joining the Peace Corps. Last Saturday a recruiter from the Peace Corps offered a seminar at Borders Books in Costa Mesa, California. I decided to attend. Here are a few points for those of you who might be interested.
- There is no upper age limit for volunteers
- Entire application process takes 1 to 1.5 years.
- Safety and security of volunteers is highest priority
- 27 month commitment, (includes a 3 month training period)
- Living allowance covers cost of housing and other necessities
- French and Spanish a plus
- 48 days vacation to visit country or go home
- Graduate school opportunities before and after
- Develop skills for global marketplace
- Receive advantages for federal employment
- Earn $7,425 for transition when you return
- Health and dental benefits, extended up to 18 months after your return
Education 33%, Youth and Community 18%, Health and HIV/AIDS 18%, Business and IT 17%, Agriculture 8%, Environment 7%.Peace Corps Main Locations:
Africa 41%, Latin America 23%, Eastern Europe and Central Asia 17%, Asia 8%, Caribbean and N.Africa and Middle East 8%, Pacific Islands 3%.
The one comment I keep hearing from all Peace Corps Volunteers is: “I feel like I received more than what I gave.”
Cora L. Foerstner says
Sonia, sounds as if you are suffering from empty nest syndrome?
However, I think joining the Peace Corp would be a wonderful opportunity to do something constructive and productive for others. It's only a two year commitment and would probably be deeply satisfying.
Since the application process is long, there is plenty of time to think things through and figure out if it's an empty nest syndrome response or something you really want to do.
Very interesting post, Sonia. Not surprised that you've done this. I can;t say why I feel that way; this just seems to be so "you."
I once was seriously considering going to Cuba (not a problem for Canadians), to work as a communications consultant and part-time university lecturer. Then the job description changed, and I didn't really fit the new qualifications.
How far would I go in my vocation(s) as pastor, journalist, and ethicist? "To the Wall," more than once. For things and people in which/whom I believed passionately. (I still have the scars, mostly invisible, for choosing to live like that.)
Thanks for your comment, although I wanted your opinion on whether young people are shifting their views on work. I think there's a trend to find a more meaningful life than simply the 9-5 job that many, not all, seem to complain about. As far as empty nest, the Peace Corps is something I've wanted to do, even when my kids were home. I think it's more of a wanting a life of new experiences, learning about other cultures, and seeing the immense pleasure of kids in third world countries when someone teaches them something. I know you've lived for many years in South America.
I am always happy to hear from you as I know you've been through a lot. What do you think about what I said about young people though? Is there a growing trend to do more of what you're passionate about rather than accept the "good-old-fashioned" job, perhaps due to the global economy?
I have to honestly say I haven't noticed a trend of younger people looking for more purpose or meaning in their lives. Most that I know have young children and they do see raising those kids as a meaningful endeavor.
I do like the idea of a year of service between college and a job.
Are you thinking of joining the Peace Corp? It really is an excellent organization.
I think there are many ways to give, some in our own neighborhood. I volunteer a lot and while it does not always make me feel good, I am convinced that volunteerism is the backbone of the United States. I think we do a pretty good job at that.
I've been reading blogs that are related to young people who seek a different approach to life. So perhaps I have a different audience.
Yes, but it's something I'm planning for in perhaps the next four to five years. I still have a sixteen-year-old.
Patricia Stoltey says
The Peace Corps would be an amazing experience, but it's a relatively long-term commitment. There are plenty of opportunities for short-term volunteer projects that might be as rewarding but would give you the chance to work on a variety of tasks in a variety of locations. For older Americans, Elderhostel is a possibility. For you younger folks, you have to go a-Googling…
After leaving university, I became a volunteer for VSO – Voluntary Service Overseas – which is the British equivalent of Peace Corps. I spent three years in China as a volunteer teacher. There were quite a lot of older people, who found they had time and energy to volunteer too.
I'm sure you won't regret it, if hubby comes along to!
Oh, and to answer your question: I don't think it is a new trend at all. As I said, I and many others volunteered straight out of university. But perhaps it is becoming more widely known, which is why it feels like a new trend?
this is valuable information, sonia, and very thought-provoking. as a new empty nester this interests me very much as a way to use my time to help others.
thanks for your comment on my blog – i'm currently traveling with intermittent internet but would love to discuss our writing projects. if you are interested i'd love to 'talk' via email – my address is on my blog – look forward to hearing from you!
Thanks for your suggestions. I like the idea of immersing myself in a foreign country and learning the culture. I'm still doing research for the future.
I wonder if VSO is shorter than Peace Corps?
Hi Amanda. Of course we can "talk." We can also talk. Shall e-mail you.
Robert the Skeptic says
A friend of ours went into the Peace Corps out of engineering school, it vastly changed his life and he is very proud of his service and how it was helpful to him.
Though I believe it is a laudable service, I wonder if in our age group, it would be more practical to help those in need in THIS country? We have this growing disparity between the wealthy and the under classes here, there is so much one can do in our own community. One of my retired friends volunteers with Dial-a-bus which takes seniors who cannot drive and for whom public transportation is inefficient, to medical and other appointments. He loves doing it as well.
I couldn't honestly speak for today's youth. Although I don't feel as though their thoughts and dreams of their futures, are much different than ours were. Very individual. I always dreamed of being a mother and a wife while others chose careers and perhaps volunteerism.
I guess what I'm trying to convey is that while the economy has changed and technology has advanced, people are still people.
Love Di ♥
Miss Footloose says
Being a Peace Corps volunteer is often a life-changing experience. I married my Peace Corps volunteer husband in Kenya (not an American, I was not a PC volunteer myself).
It led to an interesting globetrotting life, because my husband got himself a career as a development economist /agribusiness consultant and we've lived in several developing countries where he worked on foreign aid projects.
Peace Corps will teach you not only about the world but about yourself, and like you said Sonia, many volunteers feel they received as much or more than they gave.
PS: We've met 70 year old people in the Peace Corps, doing great work.
Ballerina Girl says
Once my children are off on their own, I would really like to get invovled with my husband in something like this…let's see when the time comes. Right now, I am committed to my children…and we already live in far off places!!
A typical VSO placement is two years. I stayed three – i.e. an extra year.
Sometimes I wonder whether there is any purpose to life at all!
One side benefit of joining the Peace Corps is all the writing that gets done about the experiences. You can check some of that prose and poetry at:www.peacecorpsworldwide.org a blog that focuses on Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of the agency that will be 50 years old next year, 2011.
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My only concern is that the effort and energy spent in trying to answer such questions might just suck out all the joys of living!
@Robert the Skeptic
I agree. There is always a need for help; in the US too. I shall check out the Dial a Bus. I didn't know that existed. Thanks.
Yes, people are still people, however, I know I've changed with different ages and stages of my life. As my kids get out of the house, I have become more interested in the Peace Corps and other activities.
So you know what I'm talking about. I hear a lot of Peace Corps volunteers end up falling in love with one another. Love to read your expat stories.
I know you travel from country to country. Do you think you might like to settle down with your husband, one day instead?
I've found that helping people gives me more happiness than I realized.
I agree. I have the wonderful book with stories written by Peace Corps volunteers and am fascinated by their stories. Thanks for the link. I also just attended a meeting where I met some returning volunteers. What a fascinating group of people I met.
Thanks For blog with useful informations.