Give peace a chance?
June 25, 2004 9:50 AM   Subscribe

Anyone have any peace core experiences they'd like to share? I have a friend who is thinking of joining and would like to hear if people think it's a worthwhile experience.
posted by puppy kuddles to Grab Bag (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My experience is seeing it spelled Peace Corps.
posted by pieoverdone at 10:03 AM on June 25, 2004

see this AskMe thread
posted by obloquy at 10:04 AM on June 25, 2004

thanks, my inablility to spell created an inability find something searching the archives :)
posted by puppy kuddles at 10:30 AM on June 25, 2004

One of my fiancee's closest friends was in the Peace Corps. She was in a village in Africa. One day, she got in a truck accident in the village and she died.

That said, she was very, very happy for the couple of years that she was there, and no one wishes that she hadn't gone -- she died feeling very fulfilled.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:17 AM on June 25, 2004

There's a fascinating new book called "American Taboo: Murder in the Peace Corps,", that I'm eager to read. Don't know that it would be the kind of thing you're looking for, though.

My brother was in a similar program, VISTA.
posted by GaelFC at 11:37 AM on June 25, 2004

Last fall, my usually dull local paper (Dayton Daily News) did a huge piece on some of the unpublicized dangers of the Peace Corps... it sparked a huge amount of controversy among current and former peace corp participants, but its definitely worth a read to anyone considering it. The main feature page is here, reg req'd (here's the google cache of the page)
posted by dicaxpuella at 12:02 PM on June 25, 2004

My sister had a bad experience (for her) in the Peace Corps in Poland. She was placed in a small village about four hours train ride from Warsaw where she was the only English-speaker. She had a lot of discipline problems with her students (she was teaching English to 15-16 year olds) and problems with cheating. The hot water in apartment was broken for weeks and she couldn't get anyone to fix it.

In general, she felt that she wasn't getting any support from the Peace Corps organization either with landlord issues or with student issues and she ended up leaving her post after one year, though she had committed to two. I went to visit her for a couple weeks and the impression I got was that it was a huge struggle for her to communicate with the Peace Corps people and also with the people in her village. Often, she had to travel to Warsaw to deal with bureaucracy and to solve problems.

I don't know how much of this was my sister's non-assertiveness and/or lack of experience teaching, but the impression I got from her was that she felt extremely frustrated by her teaching experience and unsupported by the higher-ups that were supposed to be helping her.

I also have an aunt who was in the Peace Corps in Jamaica in the 70s and raped by a soldier during some sort of coup -- being cautious when in a potentially dangerous (politically) environment is good advice to anyone.

That said, I think in theory the Peace Corps is a good idea, but you just have to be confident that you can adapt to an entirely new culture, standard of living, and level of comfort.
posted by bendy at 12:38 PM on June 25, 2004

A friend of mine was so upset with the Peace Corps in Central America in the 80s that she early-terminated just before she finished, forfeiting her compensation. Evidently at the time it helped only the people who didn't need it and provided a convenient excuse for the American military presence, which was embroiled in the Contra fiasco and in building Nicaragua into "America's Aircraft Carrier" in the region.

She later travelled around colleges discouraging people from the Corps. She had some scary stories, too, like being picked up on a walk back to her village one night by a black sedan that hailed her first in perfect local dialect of Spanish, then finally in English with an American accent. She came to the conclusion that America had heavy ops infiltrating the area, including some Israelis passing themselves off as being native to the region.
posted by Shane at 1:50 PM on June 25, 2004

My sister told me of a friend of hers who had a very negative experience with the Peace Corps. She was sent to a small village in Africa and after only a few months she had to return home because she couldn't take it. This was very surprising to both me and my sister because this girl is extremely strong both emotionally and physically (came from a family of strong, socially conscious, adventure-loving women), intelligent, and seemed to understand completely what she was getting into when signing up and being trained. She said that the conditions of where she was, the lack of support (she was alone), and the feeling that she wasn't going to be able to really help the people she was working with all led to her needing to return home. This story really surprised me and gave me a bad impression in general of the Peace Corps. I think your friend needs to really do a lot of deep soul searching to make sure he/she is really ready to join.
posted by rio at 3:27 PM on June 25, 2004

On the more positive side, Matthew Baldwin's accounts of his Peace Corps experience over at The Morning News are a great read and paint a realistic picture of his volunteer experience.

You won't be a camp counselor-- there is a lot of freedom and independence; the volunteer often has to come up with projects on their own, drum up support from the locals, and implement the projects without hand-holding from the Peace Corps organization.
posted by bonheur at 4:56 PM on June 25, 2004

Just to help balance out the positive/negative a bit, one of my best friends from college was in the Peace Corps from 1999-2001. She was stationed in El Salvador, I believe, helping with farming and agriculture. She absolutely loved it - and believe me, if you ever meet her, she'll show you hundreds of photographs to illustrate that fact.
posted by web-goddess at 5:38 PM on June 25, 2004

Also check out this thread I got on my LJ from a MeFi lurker.
posted by jmd82 at 7:05 PM on June 25, 2004

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