Returned Peace Corps Volunteers' Perception Of Impact: On Their Community And The Volunteer

Date
2019-05-01
Authors
Baish, Milana
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Abstract

Peace Corps is fondly referred to as “the hardest job you’ll ever love”. Peace Corps volunteers live and work alongside members of a community for two years in a third world country. During their service they do many things, including, but not limited to: learning the local language and culture; empowering their community to start health, education, agriculture, or economic projects; and sharing their American culture. Volunteers serve in many different countries around the world and each Peace Corps service experience is inherently different. A total of fifteen returned Peace Corps volunteers (RPCVs) were interviewed for this study. Volunteers served at various intervals between the years 1964 through 2015. Each volunteer interviewed served in a different country and there was at least one volunteer representing each of the six Peace Corps sectors (Education, Community Economic Development, Agriculture, Environment, Youth in Development, and Health). Those interviewed were asked about how they perceived their impact on the community and how their service affected them. In the volunteerism literature, volunteers who feel as though their service made a valuable contribution are more likely to be satisfied with their experience. By analyzing the data collected from the interviews, we will better be able to understand the various perceptions of impact. Additionally, in this thesis, cross-national volunteering and how Peace Corps and its volunteers fit into that conversation will be addressed by focusing on the experiences of Peace Corps volunteers and their role in their communities

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