As I'm preparing to leave for Panama, I thought I'd share the top five reasons I decided to join the Peace Corps after college.
- International Experience. While I was a student at Saint Vincent College, I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad in Spain. Instead of curing my travel bug, my semester in Málaga made me want to seek out new international experiences more than ever. During my two year term in Panama, I will have the opportunity to live with local families, become a part of the community I work in, travel around Central and South America and become completely fluent in Spanish. Needless to say, I can't wait!
- Future Career Opportunities. Though I never would have known it before all of my research, the Peace Corps actually offers incredible opportunities for professional development and future education and/or career placement. Did you know that each Peace Corps Volunteer is selected based on his or her skill set and placed in sector specific assignments? That means Volunteers around the world are working in health, environmental science, business, technology, education, and more! Since I studied Spanish and Business Marketing at Saint Vincent College and had internship experience in non-profit marketing and development, I'll be working in Agri-Business development in Central America. Furthermore, after I return to the United States in 2015, I will be given priority to government jobs and tons of opportunities for scholarships for a Master's degree. How awesome is that?
- The Challenge. Christian author Neale Donald Walsch once said, "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." As someone who has grown because of constant efforts to step outside my comfort zone, I couldn't agree more with Mr. Walsch. The many challenges that accompany life as a Peace Corps volunteer were one of the biggest things that attracted me. After all, what could be harder than living in a foreign country, potentially without running water or electricity, working in your sector full time, serving as an unofficial ambassador of the United States, AND doing it all in a foreign language?
- An Opportunity to Give Back. Ever since an internship in the non-profit sector, I've known that I wanted to work for a cause and not merely for sales or profits. The feeling of knowing that I made a difference in someone's day is incredibly important to me, and I can't wait to spend the next two and half years dedicating my work to helping those around me.
- The Timing. The response I get from most adults I speak to about my adventures abroad usually goes something like, "I wish I had done that when I had the chance." As a young college graduate, I don't have many of the things that are typically seem as obstacles to travel- kids, bills, etc.- so there really is no time like the present!