“Well, what does a Peace Corps volunteer do?”
This is usually the question I get when I reconnect with friends I haven’t spoken to in a long time.
My response: Our main purpose is to promote peace and friendship between host country nationals and the U.S.
(Cue puzzled expression)
Haha no but seriously, many people in America still don’t have a clear understanding of the goals for this organization.
Let’s take a look at the ” The three goals of Peace Corps”:
The Peace Corps‘ Mission. To promote world peace and friendship by fulfilling three goals :
To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
- To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.
Funny enough I spend a lot of time in Botswana rehashing the goals and mission during conversations. And also explaining what it is I am here to do and learn.
Most people in Botswana that do know about the organization are usually confused when I tell them I am a volunteer…mainly because I am not white. But that is another discussion for another blog post!
My volunteer role is as a Local Government Capacity Builder or LGCB for short. If we function correctly in our roles, the LGCB volunteer, is the liaison between the District AIDS Coordinators’ office and the community.
Regardless of the sector you belong to as a PCV in Botswana your programming should be geared towards HIV/AIDS prevention & awareness.
We also have two specific frameworks our projects need to adhere to, one falls under Health the other under Youth.
Oh wait…let me back up and mention the sectors for Bots PCVs.
(Bots =Botswana, PCVs = Peace Corps Volunteers, DAC =District AIDS Coordinator, S & CD = Social and Community Development, CHT= Clinic and Health Team)
1. Local Government Capacity Builder (works in the DAC office or S & CD office)
2. NGO Capacity Builder (works with local NGO)
3. Life Skills ( mainly work in schools)
4. Clinic and Health Team ( works with local clinics)
OK…back to the three goals of Peace Corps.
Now let’s take a look at at all of them and decipher what they would mean for a PCV in Bots.
I’m going to start backwards.
Goal #3 “To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.”
In this sense the “other peoples” would be “Batswana” (Saturdays will be all about the Setswana language so I will not detail it here, but this word means “people of Botswana“).
On a “global” scale (let’s dream big!) I am using my website as a tool to inform family and friends about life in Botswana. Though this is my own experience and most things will offer a subjective view, I hope this site will help readers to appreciate this tiny land locked country and you’ll want to travel here! 🙂
Goal #2 “To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.”
As a PCV in Bots you are an ambassador to the U.S. and your home state. You will most likely be the first American the community member in your village has met.
You will embody everything go and bad that people relate to America.
And lastly you will need to remember to use every opportunity as a teaching moment because quite frankly Hollywood has painted a very unrealistic image of the US (in some movies and TV shows) and this image may be all your community members know.
So here in Bots, we have to try our best to help people understand what it means to be American.
I my case I also have to explain on numerous occasions that not all PCV volunteers (American, missionaries, travelers, etcs) are white.
But I’m use to this conversation since I’ve had to dispute it in EVERY foreign country I’ve lived and worked in. for the past 5 years.
Goal #1 To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
You can guess this one right? If you are considering becoming a PCV what skills do yo think you can contribute to a host countries village/town/school/workplace? Those talents ( that you just thought of) are what you will rely upon to help teach your counterparts, students, and community members sustainable skills at your site.
Botswana is a site where the service you do is what you make of it. I’m learning there is no right or wrong in terms of what you have to offer but you have to be willing to be flexible and creative!
So now that you know the three goals of Peace Corps, the next time anyone says
“Well, what does a Peace Corps volunteer do?”
You can answer for me!
Any questions?…Leave a comment down below!
See you tomorrow.