The hardest job you’ll ever love

Elisabeth Davies

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Carey Davies with his host family cousin, Shindou. Photo courtesy of Carey Davies

Carey Davies with his host family cousin, Shindou. Photo courtesy of Carey Davies

With summer on the horizon and the stress of AP tests over, the only hurdle left for the school year is finals. For juniors. however, getting the perfect SAT and ACT scores, college applications, and applying for scholarships are becoming a serious reality. Seniors going off to college have many new worries such as financial aid, choosing their majors, and potential graduate school. Trying to beat out the competition and find a job in the hustle and bustle of everyday life can be challenging. There is no time to slow down, contemplate life, or find your true passion. Joining the Peace Corps is an alternative to the increasingly fast pace of life.

Volunteering for the Peace Corps is an opportunity to travel, make an impact, save up for graduate school, and become immersed in different cultures. Established in 1961, over 220,000 Americans have served in the Peace Corps, with education and health care being the most popular areas of service. It is typically a two-year commitment, with the option of extending one’s assignment for an extra year. The main goal of the Peace Corps is to provide aid, while also being a platform for culture exchange.

Sarah Davies B’00, served in the Peace Corps for two years. She taught science to high schoolers in The Gambia, West Africa. When asked about the impact it had on her life, she said, “It broadened my horizons in a lot of ways, and it showed me that I was capable of far more than I ever thought I would be.”

With over 130 countries in rotation, there are many opportunities to serve. After applying and being accepted, prospective volunteers choose an area where they would like to serve, and are assigned a country. Volunteers can work in education, health, environment, youth in development, community economic development, agriculture or Peace Corps Response.

After initialing serving in Guinea, East Africa, Carey Davies B’10, was evacuated due to the Ebola virus. He is currently serving out his first year in Comoros, East Africa where he teaches English. When asked what he has learned from his experiences so far he said, “I have learned that people are the same everywhere; a young Comorian child with limited access to electricity, clean water and a regular, healthy diet has the same hopes and dreams as young children in the United States.”

As of 2015, no state beat Washington in the number of students joining the Peace Corps. The University of Puget Sound, Gonzaga University and the University of Washington had more students join the Peace Corps than any other schools equivalent to their size.

Exposed to Jesuit curriculum, Bellarmine students understand the importance of service and involve themselves in different service projects. Volunteering for the Peace Corps would be an extension of many of the service projects being worked on by Bellarmine students.

While being a part of the Peace Corps is a rewarding and enriching experience, it is not an easy job. Sarah said, “I thought the hardest part would be the bugs, the lack of water, or the lack of electricity, but it was really living in a foreign community and trying to understand what was going on. I lived in The Gambia for two years and I truly still don’t know how they decided the order of who got to fetch water. I would stand by the pump and look sad until someone would say I could go, so trying to live in a culture that’s so different with a language barrier was
the hardest part.”

Joining the Peace Corps helps people in need, teaches individuals about other cultures, and opens many doors down the road. While two years in a foreign country with limited communication to your friends and family may seem like a scary and impossible task, it is the chance of a lifetime and allows for immense self growth. It is an adventure that sticks with someone for their entire life.

For more information and to read about the thoughts and insights of a current volunteer, visit Carey Davies’ blog, “To Keep Mona Happy” at https://careyinguinea.wordpress.com

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The hardest job you’ll ever love