Every PCV goes through three months of pre-service training (PST) to get prepared for the two-year service experience ahead of them. PST includes everything from language and safety trainings to getting to know the culture of your host country — and everyone lives with a host family. From packed lunches to over-protective parents, here’s my list for how PST reminds me of some of my earliest memories.
1. On my first day at my home stay, my father writes out a card detailing all of the family’s names, their ages and my village name. If I get lost, I am to show people the card so I can get help finding my way home. Continue reading
2013 marks the 30th anniversary of the Special Projects Assistance program, familiarly known as SPA, a joint effort of Peace Corps and USAID. SPA gives small grants to PCVs so they can launch projects in their community that will have an impact long after they leave service.
During a conversation with President Obama and Peace Corps Acting Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet on November 22, the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s death, a PCV in Tanzania said that she was able to design and build a water catchment system with just $500. When the president offered to write her a check, she graciously declined because the SPA grant, and materials and labor from her community, were all she needed to make the project happen.
SPA’s 30th year has seen numerous milestones. Most notably more than 1 million people have benefitted from SPA projects around the globe in just the past year. Continue reading
Last week, I traveled to Guatemala and visited with Peace Corps Volunteers Mark, Annie, Jessica and Nicole. All four PCVs spoke passionately about the challenges their community members face every day with HIV/AIDS – and that the challenges and success of working with communities on HIV/AIDS issues have overwhelmingly to do with health in general.
I learned about Mark and Annie’s participation in the Healthy Schools project, where they work with school principals and teachers to teach students about hand washing and sanitation, HIV and hygiene. In Nicole’s community the health center has organized a day full of healthy and informative events to commemorate World AIDS Day 2013, from a mini marathon to a soccer tournament, followed by a talk given by a person living with HIV. Jessica is the head of Peace Corps Guatemala’s HIV Committee, and as such is instrumental in assuring that all the PCVs there have accurate and current information about HIV that all PCVs can use in their communities.
This year’s World AIDS Day theme could not be any more relevant for Peace Corps and the work we do: Shared Responsibility: Strengthening Results for an AIDS-Free Generation. Continue reading
Juan Rodriquez comes from an Ecuadorian background that helped him integrate into his community in Guyana.
Feats of engineering are, for the most part, not even noticed in the U.S. Did you drive across a bridge to get to work today? Exit the freeway in a tangle of ramps? Do you know how hard those things are to build?
In developing nations, a relatively simple footbridge can make the difference between getting an education and staying at home, between receiving health care and being sick. Peace Corps Response Volunteer Nate Bloss has been working with Bridging the Gap Africa as a project supervisor in Kenyan communities where people and economies are affected by the ability to cross waterways safely. Check out these pictures from the “walking world” – and see how a bridge can make all the difference. Continue reading
Today we celebrate the life of President John F. Kennedy by remembering his tragic death 50 years ago. His influence is remembered not only throughout our nation, but also throughout the world. At 1:50 in this video, catch the story of two PCVs in Colombia who were surprised and pleased to learn that the president’s memory and legacy still lives where they serve.
Across the globe this week, Peace Corps is joining organizations celebrating International Education Week, which aims to increase global competencies to create a competitive workforce, and highlights the benefits and value of a high-quality education and study abroad programs.
Why I joined the Peace Corps – and the fact that I work for Peace Corps today – have everything to do with my college study abroad program. Like many PCVs, I had an “ah-ha” moment when I first began to seriously consider service as a next step in my life, and I began to think about ways to continue living abroad. Continue reading
These days it’s not lost on anyone – especially Peace Corps Volunteers – that women in developing nations have far less access than men to education, land ownership, credit, training and jobs. Not to mention women are less likely to be politically active than men and far more likely to be victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.
So with all the work that development organizations are doing to lift up women and girls, why do we celebrate International Men’s Day? Continue reading
The first night is always the most nerve-wracking. Sitting around a table staring into the faces of my new parents, all I could do was smile and drink more tea. I would regret it later, stumbling out into the dark at 3 a.m. to find the outhouse somewhere past the guard dog. But tonight tea was my “welcome home” sign, my “hello Kyrgyzstan” and my savior in the awkward silence. So I sipped on.
These new people were now my family. I had been dropped off here after only three days in country to get to know them, learn the language and acclimate myself to a culture I was to call home. Continue reading
PCV Tiffany Saria knows that sports are great for kids to keep busy, keep active, and stay away from risky behaviors. She runs a Grassroots Soccer program in Zambia.