Is the Peace Corps worth it?

One of my favorite Peace Corps blogs I follow is Fishing in Zambia. On Christmas Day, he posted “Is the Peace Corps worth it?” Beautifully expressed, poignant and real, it seemed worth reposting here.

Fishing in Zambia

At some point during their service, nearly every Peace Corps volunteer reflects back on the past month or year or two years and asks themselves the million-dollar question (er, well, in my case, the $280/month question):

Is it worth it?

Is the Peace Corps worth it for our host countries? Does the work we do really make a difference? Is bringing Americans to live in underdeveloped communities worth constantly provoking the jarring contrast between privilege and struggle? Is it worth the potential to incite jealousy and resentment, worth the possibility of engendering false hope and unfulfilled dreams?


And is it worth it for us volunteers? Is spending two years of our lives here worth the infinitesimal gains we may make, worth the three steps back for every one step forward? Is it worth the job opportunities passed by and the friends’ weddings and grandparents’ funerals and annual family Christmas feasts…

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2 thoughts on “Is the Peace Corps worth it?

  1. Hi Kathleen,

    First of all, I was logging on to email to say Thank You for sharing of Christmas Day. It was good to have you and Elaine here and it was fun to pull it off on our end as we rarely have the energy to entertain. It was also nice for us all to interact with the animals! I enjoyed that a lot too.

    Your generosity and prefect selection in gifts and obvious pleasure and astute sense you experienced in gifting them (and knitting them…Elaine’s scarf is a masterpiece) is what the Christmas spirit is all about and the pleasure is received with gratitude.. We are so enjoying the presence of the “The Rooster’s Daydream” and OMG! — I look so forward to Consolations. I see what its format is about, his using everyday words for poetic essays of meaning. I am very excited about it.

    “REST is the conversation between what we love to do and how we love to be. Rest is the essence of giving and receiving; an act of remembering, imaginatively and intellectually but also psychologically and physically. To rest is to give up on the already exhausted will as the prime motivator of endeavor, with its endless outward need to reward itself through established goals. To rest is to give up on worrying and fretting and the sense that there is something wrong with the world unless we are there to put it right; to rest is to fall back literally or figuratively from outer targets and shift the goal not to an inner static bull’s eye, an imagined state of perfect stillness, but to an inner state of natural exchange. more OMG!!!! The Blog entry “Fishing in Zambia” is amazing and I am so glad you shared it. I went directly to his blog and hopefully will try to read some more of them. What a good expressive writer he is and co-sojourner and teacher through his sharing! He seems to be from the Bay Area. “And yes, sometimes my life here feels like one long and convoluted detour. I bounce over potholes and swerve around roadblocks on a daily basis… And through it all we ourselves are constantly changing. I think of the transformations we’ve undergone and will undergo, the strengths we’re discovering, the self-esteem we’re building. I think about the friends we’ve made, the tears we’ve fought to hide, the laughter we’ve shared. I think about the certainties that I’m coming to realize aren’t quite as certain as I once thought they were. I think about the humility that I am slowly learning, the compassion and respect for my fellow human that is surging within me.”

    Thank you for your sharing. Human and earthly existence is a wonder and offers so much goodness including the 7 deadly zins! Hope you are enjoying some rest and personal time. It will be turning cold again Mon-Fri. Maybe we will have farm animal visit next weekend, hard to see that far. We should really get you here perhaps on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day morning to see Gary feeding the chickens….makes you appreciate all of them..we’ll see.

    Love, Wayne

    Date: Fri, 26 Dec 2014 17:55:47 +0000 To:

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