Wild hearts, search no more. Do you dream of seeing a life few Americans will ever get the chance to? Do you want to help people first hand? Has it always been a dream to live abroad? Does service make you whole?
Look no further, the Peace Corps may be the choice for you after graduation.
Keep in mind though, you should probably apply one year to nine months before you plan on graduating.
Started in 1961 by John F. Kennedy, the Peace Corps exists to personally assist countries in need. Volunteers spend two years and three months in a foreign country on leave with the aim to help the people there one-on-one. The first three months are spent learning the language, meeting other volunteers, and understanding the new cultures. With 63 countries currently participating, numerous opportunities exist for volunteers integrate into a new culture.
At this point, you may be saying, “So that’s all well and good but what do we do to get in?”
Well, if you are a college student, your campus probably has a recruiter. Start by contacting them or attend one of their events or workshops. But since your interest has been piqued, I’ll give you a quick idea of what the process looks like to apply for the Peace Corps.
1. Apply online
The process literally only takes about an hour so count your lucky stars and get excited. It’s certainly a lot quicker than the applications for grad school. Make sure to contact your recruiter while you are applying. “Working with a recruiter is really helpful because they can offer insight into the application process and help tailor your resume, target the jobs you will be competitive for, and prepare the interview. Your resume is the most important piece of your application,” said the University of Virginia Peace Corps Recruiter Anna Sullivan.
2. Complete a health form
Time to get serious, these villages you will move to need help for a reason. This isn’t a two year vacation, it’s work and that means you will live like the villagers do. In many places that means spotty electricity and hospitals that are miles away. This step is to understand the risks you would be taking if you choose this path in life. It won’t always be easy or fun and you will be at risk for diseases you never knew were still a concern. In these places, dirt does hurt.
3. Choose your Destination
You will browse the website for countries or in-field roles you want. Like being a teacher or an agriculture expert. The site choices range from French Polynesia to Southeast Asia to Africa to South America or even the Dominican Republic.
4. Show off what you can do
This form is just what abilities you think you will be able to perform on site, like your foreign language skills or childcare. Keep in mind it is soft skills, you don’t need three years of French to get in (though that would be helpful). However, if you plan for work in healthcare, those skills are required.
5. Let them meet the off-paper you
Time for that dreaded interview. “They’ll ask you about your motivation for applying to the Peace Corps and about experiences you’ve had that demonstrate how you’ve been able to handle an important but difficult commitment, an unstructured work environment, failing to meet an important goal and other questions that help them determine if you’re able to successfully navigate challenging situations,” said Sullivan. This is your chance to wow them with your sense of humor and passion for this organization.
6. The acceptance
Invitation! Pop your champagne bottles! You are in! Start counting the days until you get to escape the land of McDonalds and Donald Trump.
7. Get Medical Clearance
I hope you like doctor’s offices. Like I said, this work isn’t easy. You have to gain medical clearance. AKA shots. And not the fun kind. Keep in mind it’s all a precaution to prevent you from getting in a sticky situation abroad when help isn’t as close as it is in the USA. This also means acquiring all political clearance too. You have to store your car, pause your cellphone account, store all valuables and start packing your life up as that departure date starts drawing nearer.
8. Say goodbye to your friends and family
Throw a going away party. Have one last beautiful night with all your friends and family before contact becomes unbearably more difficult. Eat cake, surf the Internet and discover dank memes. Do every sentimental thing you can before you start missing it all.
Be warned, this is not the job for everyone. After training finishes in your host country, the hardest transition begins. “Suddenly you’re out in your site, often the only Peace Corps Volunteer, and you feel like you’re all on your own,” said Sullivan. But, this isn’t true, you just need to find the strength to go out and meet people and make a difference. You need to find within yourself resilience, flexibility, the ability to keep an open mind, courage, and more that will all help you grow as a person throughout this experience. “A sense of humor will come in handy, too,” said Sullivan.