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Why Join the Peace Corps?

The first time I considered joining the Peace Corps was the spring of my junior year at university. I had a professor who was a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) and was doing amazing things in healthcare communications. After hearing my mom talk about the Peace Corps for years, something finally clicked when I heard my professor’s stories about her time in Africa.

(Sidenote: I actually wrote a post in my personal blog at the time that basically said I had my dream internship in sports, but that maybe my heart was somewhere else… like doing volunteer work in Africa.)

I toyed with the idea of applying on and off for five years. At one point a recruiter gave me a call, but nothing came of it. Finally, last June I went to my first info session. My dog ate the recruiter’s card. True story.

In September, I finally pushed the send button and started a whirlwind yet extremely slow going, patience testing process as an applicant.

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So why did I do it?

Have you ever gotten the feeling that there’s more to life? Have you ever thought that not only could you be doing something bigger than yourself, but you should be?

The young idealist in me wants to do ggood for some people born into far less fortunate circumstances than I was. Another part of me wants to learn, and I mean really learn, about what is important in life and what isn’t. I can’t help but feel frustrated with the state of my life, with the materialism and the lack of appreciation for things like clean water, education, energy, etc that I’ve always taken for granted in my life. Not just taken for granted, but that I always felt entitled to.

So, this is my chance to hopefully do something bigger than myself… To make a difference in a life.

My sister has always loved “The Starfish Story,” adapted from The Star Thrower by Loren Eiseley.

An old man had a habit of early morning walks on the beach. One day, after a storm, he saw a human figure in the distance moving like a dancer. As he came closer he saw that it was a young woman and she was not dancing but was reaching down to the sand, picking up a starfish and very gently throwing them into the ocean.

“Young lady,” he asked, “Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?”

“The sun is up, and the tide is going out, and if I do not throw them in they will die.”

“But young lady, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it? You cannot possibly make a difference.”

The young woman listened politely, paused and then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves, saying, “It made a difference for that one.”

I just want to throw the starfish back.

(image via Fearless Expressioner)