24 February 2008

Thoughts on Volunteer Contributions

"Too Many Innocents Abroad" - An Article on Peace Corps

The Peace Corps has long shipped out well-meaning young people possessing little more than good intentions and a college diploma. What the agency should begin doing is recruiting only the best of recent graduates — as the top professional schools do — and only those older people whose skills and personal characteristics are a solid fit for the needs of the host country.

I read recently this article by a previous Peace Corps volunteer, recruiter and country director. Attached to it are some interesting arguments about the effectiveness of young volunteers in country.

It makes me wonder about my own experiences here in Fiji and how often I feel ill-equipped to do the work I am being encouraged to do. My personal solution has been to create projects that play on towards my strengths and still work towards fulfilling the needs of those around me. These chosen projects, however, do not fall squarely within PC/Fiji's overall health promotion plan.

I've often dream of the position I was first offered in Morocco working with art/business development. Would I have felt more fulfilled there? It is hard to say, speaking from my current biased standpoint. I'll never truly know. I can only keep working towards helping the community around me reach the goals it hopes to reach.

But part of me wonders what it means that I am one of the most occupied volunteers (from those I have spoken with) and I am still not entirely sure I am accomplishing anything much. Are my standards too high for myself? For Peace Corps? For Fiji?

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