This is one of the biggest parts of the Peace Corps. It’s not only about being physically active, but active in learning, exploring, building relationships, and more. For me as a Peace Corps trainee, being active started with filling out the application.
That first step kickstarted my current journey, landing me in Morocco.
Every Peace Corps journey is different, some last longer than others, some are more positive than others, but all start with an application. From that invitation, you might get an interview, and from there, (if you’re what Peace Corps is looking for at that time) an invitation to serve. In May 2022, I was invited to serve in Morocco, which started the clearance process. Gaining medical and legal clearance is a far from easy, months-long process. If it’s something you decide to do, always remember, there is light at the end of the tunnel!
Once an invitee has been cleared, there will be a staging date. On September 12th, I boarded a plane by myself for the first time to fly from my home in Omaha, Nebraska to Washington, D.C. for about two days of staging. I had no idea what to expect.
Most of the meetings were about the mission and core expectations of the Peace Corps. Those leading the sessions challenged us to think about why we applied to the Peace Corps. I applied to the Peace Corps for many reasons. For the long version, reach out to me, I’d love to talk to you! In the meantime, here’s the short version. I set four main goals for myself after graduating college:
- Get a job that involved writing.
- Buy a car.
- Get my own place.
- Pay off my student loans.
Within about four years, I had accomplished all my goals. Plus, I had great friends, was starting to build a career network, and had a few freelance writing clients. On the surface, things were going great and I felt happy. So why did I leave?
Because I thought I could be more happy, more fulfilled. I have always been an advocate for service, but I haven’t set aside time to truly focus on it. I’ve also always believed in servant leadership, which involves never asking others to do something you wouldn’t be willing to do yourself. So, I joined the Peace Corps and the more I learn about how I will serve others and the impact it can have (whether I personally see that impact or not), the more excited I become.
My friend, Katie, served in Peace Corps Thailand and she was one of the main influences in my joining the Peace Corps. One thing she talked about constantly was the relationships she built with her fellow Peace Corps volunteers, so it was one of the things I was looking forward to the most. I didn’t know anyone going into staging and was a little nervous, but the instant I got to the hotel elevator, room key in hand, someone took one look at me (surrounded by what I thought was a ridiculous amount of luggage) and said with a giggle, “You look like someone here for Peace Corps.”
That one phrase put me completely at ease. I knew in that one moment, these were my people. Everyone I met from then on was so helpful, giving me directions, asking if I needed help, giving a reassuring smile. I’d never met so many people from so many backgrounds all there to simply serve and support, making a difference one interaction at a time, something I’ve embraced more and more with age. The more I talked to each of the 51 other trainees at staging, the more I realized how truly connected I felt to these people. I thought it would be our experiences “in the trenches” that would make us inseparable. That it would take at least a few weeks, if not months for us to bond so deeply, but after only a week, I already can’t imagine not having these people in my life.