PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER – PHILIPPINES
I know I told most of you, but I want to officially announce that I have accepted a position with the Peace Corps. I have been assigned to the Philippines as a Secondary English teacher. I will be on assignment for the next 27 months. I will receive Pre-Service Training from the Peace Corps for the first three months to learn the language, the culture, and everything else I will need to execute my duty as a Peace Corps Volunteer to the fullest.
I want to thank everyone who has helped me along my journey to make this all possible. I have been inspired by humanitarian work for quite some time now and it is surreal that I am finally on my way to accomplishing my life’s dream. I haven’t really shared this with everyone, but my life’s dream is to make a difference in as many lives as I can so they can, one day, make a change. I will be departing on July 1st. I’ll try to keep this blog as updated as I can for everyone to follow!
I’m sure there are a few questions on why I made this decision. Let me try to answer them.
How did I get into humanitarian work?
I volunteered for an organization called Liberty in North Korea (LiNK) in the Fall of 2013. I was one of their Nomads, or traveling represents, for the Fall term. There were a total of 22 (I think) interns, 15 of us were Nomads. The Nomads were broken up into 5 teams of 3 each responsible for a specific region. My team was the Heartland Nomads, now known as the Greater Plains Nomads. We were assigned the Central United States.
It is the most memorable experiences of my life to date. We spent six weeks in Torrance, CA in the LiNK office learning about the organization and working on our presentations for when we hit the road. It was intense. We spent about 12-15 hours per day scheduling presentations, practicing our presentations, and learning everything we could to prepare for the questions we would receive from individuals while on the road. Honestly, I almost quit due to the stress I was experiencing and expectations the organization wanted. I would have never forgave myself if I did.
My team and I finally hit the road after a long six weeks. We were ecstatic to be on our own and spreading the word about LiNK. We ended up having over 100 presentations in a 10 week period across 13 states. It was intense. The days were long, but the weeks went by like nothing. We met hundreds of middle school, high school, and university students alike interested in the organization and how they could help make a difference in the lives of the North Korean people. It was enlightening to meet these young individuals who wanted to put their own time into raising money for the organization and possibly intern when they had the chance. The feedback from various individuals we met kept us going and has inspired me to keep on this path.
Why do I want continue this path?
For the first 21 years of my life, I have had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. The realization that I can make a difference, whether it be small or large, in someone’s life speaks wonders for me. The fact that I was able to interact with students to get involved with LiNK and even see them intern at the organization was awesome. My friends have continually told me how much I’ve impacted their lives and how much I mean to them. I want to test myself and see how much impact I can make on a larger scale.
The number one question everyone asks me, “Will I be able to visit home at all?”
The answer is no. I do not get a substantial vacation time to have the time to fly back to America to visit my family. I will be spending the holidays in the Philippines with my community and possibly other volunteers in the area. I do receive 1 day of vacation per 1 month worked, which I probably will never use anyway. My family does support my decision and they understand they won’t really see me for the next two years. There’s always Skype!!
Why not help here in America?
It is somewhat difficult to help those here in America. I cannot full-time with a nonprofit as most do not pay enough to even live. I have been offered a position before, but I would have only received $16,000/year to live in Southern California. I do believe that there are enough programs, organizations, government assistance, and individuals to help those in need here in America. I have heard heroic stories of people picking themselves back up here in the states due to these programs and willingness to succeed. Those overseas do not have the infrastructure or resources to support such heroic stories that we hear of here. Organizations such as the Peace Corps will support housing and provide me with minimal resources to potentially make the difference I want to make. Yes, I could try to volunteer after my current job, but why stay at a job that I absolutely hate? I’m taking an opportunity that I feel will have a tremendous impact on others and, most of all, myself. I will seek a position with a nonprofit organization when I do decide to settle down back in America.
Plans after the Peace Corps?
Yes! I actually applied to another organization at the same time I applied to the Peace Corps called Grassroot Soccer. They have a program in South Africa to educate young children about HIV/AIDS prevention. I just got an interview request from them, but respectfully denied due to my offer with the Peace Corps. I hope to intern with them after my completion with the Peace Corps if all goes well. I, also, want to volunteer for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). There has been a lot of controversy involving the acceptance of refugees from Syria and the surrounding countries due to war. Internet trolls and conversations I overhear here in the states always criticizing our government for accepting such refugees because of the potential danger. I disagree. These are human beings looking for better lives. The possibility of individuals coming via these channels is possible, but the majority are honest families looking for a home away from home. Rather than claiming that these people are an imminent danger to us, I want to go help them resettle into better lives. If you have an opinion against me, I ask you this: What will you do to stop me or them? I bet the answer is nothing. I will go help them, first hand. But I don’t know whether or not by the time I volunteer that I will be assigned, but it’s worth a shot!
Let the adventure begin!