Why I decided to Join the Peace Corps

I get this question a lot.

I guess the story starts at the sleep away camp I always attended and worked at, Camp Shohola. There are a lot of counselors from all over the world at Shohola. The Directors have always taken advantage of programs that bring university students from overseas to America for the summer. I really admire the international staff for coming to the US for long periods of time, some of them not even speaking English. I used to wish that there were programs to send American counselors to camps overseas, such as in Spain or Mexico, since I was learning Spanish in school.

An idyllic picture of the lake at camp. Credit to Larry Aaronson.

An idyllic picture of the lake at camp. Credit to Larry Aaronson.

I went to Shohola for 12 straight summers, but it never occurred to me what an important part of the international counselors’ lives it had been to live in the United States. I just thought it looked fun and interesting. It took someone from outside of the “Shohola bubble” to impress that upon me. His name was John Trinder, a Brit I met through a series of random events while I was touring a few of the Greek Isles in June 2012.

John, courtesy of his Facebook

John, courtesy of his Facebook

I met John, along with a bunch of his friends, on the island of Syros. We had all taken the same ferry from the Dodecanese that dumped us on Syros some time after 3:00 AM. Over the next day that I spent with the Brits on Syros John talked about how he had spent many summers at camps in America, just like my international Shohola friends. And through our conversations I realized that it had become a very important part of his life. And then it hit me that it was a very important part of my friends’ lives as well! I especially thought of my Shohola friend Catherine who loves America and spending time here. Her love for experiences abroad has even now brought her as far from her home as Australia where she is living with her boyfriend Luke (like John, she is a Brit).

Me with the Brits in Greece

Me with the Brits in Greece

When I got home from Europe that summer I found myself in a slow project at work. It turned out to be an atypical project – I liked most of my projects and clients, but John had already flipped the switch for the lightbulb in my head, and I got to thinking about working and living abroad. I decided to apply to the Peace Corps, knowing that I could be doing a bit more helping for the world. Don’t take me wrong. My job was great; I was helping my clients. But compared to the grand scheme of things where there are people in the world suffering, risk management in banking just didn’t compare. So I spent an entire weekend working on my application, and by the end of the summer I submitted the application with letters of recommendation and all.

My brother, me, and Catherine

This blog will be an important part of my service in the Peace Corps. One of the goals of the U.S. Peace Corps is to promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans. I plan to contribute to that mission by writing about Nicaragua in this blog. I hope that you will follow along over the next two and half years. There are many other Peace Corps Volunteers doing similar blogging work. I have provided links to a few I have come across in the “Blogs I Follow” section on the right hand side of this site.

So why haven’t you applied for the Peace Corps?

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3 Responses to Why I decided to Join the Peace Corps

  1. Pingback: Why I Decided to Join the Peace Corps, Reconsidered | Incidents of Travel

  2. Pingback: My Aegean Odyssey | Incidents of Travel

  3. Pingback: Do I like Nicaragua? Would I Do It Again? | Incidents of Travel

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