2006.10.12: October 12, 2006: Headlines: FAQ: Recruitment: Humor: Miss Lonelyhearts: Ask Metafilter: Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: My little brother's life is circling the drain. He graduated high school a couple of years ago, has never lived away from home, doesn't have a job, and spends his days in front of his PC watching anime and playing video games. If we encourage him to get out if his bedroom and join the Peace Corps, will they even take him?

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: 2006.10.12: October 12, 2006: Headlines: FAQ: Recruitment: Humor: Miss Lonelyhearts: Ask Metafilter: Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: My little brother's life is circling the drain. He graduated high school a couple of years ago, has never lived away from home, doesn't have a job, and spends his days in front of his PC watching anime and playing video games. If we encourage him to get out if his bedroom and join the Peace Corps, will they even take him?

By Admin1 (admin) (ppp-70-250-247-216.dsl.okcyok.swbell.net - 70.250.247.216) on Sunday, October 15, 2006 - 3:57 pm: Edit Post

Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: My little brother's life is circling the drain. He graduated high school a couple of years ago, has never lived away from home, doesn't have a job, and spends his days in front of his PC watching anime and playing video games. If we encourage him to get out if his bedroom and join the Peace Corps, will they even take him?

Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: My little brother's life is circling the drain. He graduated high school a couple of years ago, has never lived away from home, doesn't have a job, and spends his days in front of his PC watching anime and playing video games. If we encourage him to get out if his bedroom and join the Peace Corps, will they even take him?

"Like everyone else said, the Peace Corps ideally is for people with college degrees (usually in science or something practical) that want to apply their knowledge in the real world. I had lots of friends that went to Africa to improve farming and fishing techniques and built wells and things like that. It was tough work, and they were all alone out there, living out of sleeping bags with minimal shelter. You need to be very highly motivated to go into that kind of isolation and it's usually way outside most people's comfort zones."

Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: My little brother's life is circling the drain. He graduated high school a couple of years ago, has never lived away from home, doesn't have a job, and spends his days in front of his PC watching anime and playing video games. If we encourage him to get out if his bedroom and join the Peace Corps, will they even take him?

Never lived away from home, no college. Is Peace Corps an option?

October 12, 2006 8:56 AM

Is Peace Corps an option for a young guy with no college?

My little brother's life is circling the drain. He graduated high school a couple of years ago, has never lived away from home, doesn't have a job, and spends his days in front of his PC watching anime and playing video games.

We love him dearly, and are concerned that he's building a catastrophic future for himself.

The good part: Drugs, alcohol, tobacco are not part of the equation. He's smart. He's lean and fit (amazing, for his lifestyle). There are also no girlfriends to worry about, and he's not gay. (It would be ok if he were, though.)

The family's religious background is LDS, but there's been absolutely no pressure on him to serve an LDS mission, as he's made it clear he's not interested.

So the question is (sorry it took so long to get here):

If we encourage him to get out if his bedroom and join the Peace Corps, will they even take him?

Do you know of anyone from a similar situation who's joined the Peace Corps? Good stories? Horror stories? Solutions to similar family situations?
posted by SlyBevel to human relations (24 comments total)

Well, if this helps, they didn't want me even after college. I didn't have the specific skills they were looking for--I was a liberal arts major, and they wanted hands-on type people, people who knew a lot of languages, people with organizational experience, etc.
posted by black bile at 9:02 AM PST on October 12


I believe I remember reading on thePeace Corps website that they prefer candidates with at least an Associate's degree. I have a friend with B.S. who was recently turned down for lacking relevant courses (he was a psychology major) so it seems like they take the education requirement pretty seriously.

Also, Peace Corps volunteers are often placed at sites on their own, requiring them to be tremendously self-motivated. So it doesn't seem like the program would be a good match for this kid.
posted by chickletworks at 9:05 AM PST on October 12


SlyBevel, first off, please do not inflict your beloved but immature little brother on an organization, community, or country that needs dedicated and committed people to make change happen in this world. Peace Corps and things like it are for people who want to make a difference.

Second, if part of this stems from a desire to see him acknowledge his ways and choose a better path, have you considered trying to get him involved in local opportunities? It's harder to distance yourself ("oh, well, it's different - they grew up in blahblahblah") when the homeless or unemployed you work with were teenagers just like yourself.

(All of this ignores the fact that it's hard to get someone to volunteer who doesn't want to, and especially to be a good volunteer. And whatever the Peace Corps' requirements are.)
posted by whatzit at 9:09 AM PST on October 12


Ok, the Peace Corps' website seemed to suggest the above.

Any other options, other than military?
posted by SlyBevel at 9:10 AM PST on October 12


Oh, I should have mentioned...

He is a good kid, and he does care about other people. His non-motivation so far is a big drawback, but I do believe that if he were immersed in work--especially for the greater good, he'd really run with it.
posted by SlyBevel at 9:12 AM PST on October 12


AmeriCorps*NCCC might be an option.

Peace Corps isnít about clearing brush to build a clinic-- itís about running the clinic and building a sustainable infrastructure to support it. In other words, it requires extensive managerial and other skills. NCCC, not so much. Plenty of AmeriCorps programs make demands similar to those made by the Peace Corps (especially AmeriCorps VISTA) but NCCC is more for people who want to help others but have limited employment experience.
posted by chickletworks at 9:20 AM PST on October 12


If money isn't too much of an issue (meaning that your folks are willing to shell out some dough to get him an experience that could kickstart motivation and/or he's willing to do some fundraising for a trip) check out all the travel options done in association with groups like OxFam or their own "Global Challenges." While the goal of the projects is obviously to provide structure and assistance to communities, less expertise is expected from the volunteers.

Of course, there are plenty of eye-opening experiences for him closer to home. Can you get him to do volunteer work where you live? Community center, soup kitchen, etc?
posted by desuetude at 9:25 AM PST on October 12


1 of the 43 in my PC group did not have a college degree. He apparently lied to PC and said he had 8 years of creating a successful music business, and this was enough to get him into PC as a health volunteer. He was very charming - not sure how much that helped. (In fact, he had very little work experience at all.)

So I don't think that college is an absolute requirement, but almost all PCVs have a college degree at least. Is he 21? That's another req if I remember correctly.

And specialized college studies are not a req either - I had a poli sci background, essentially. Depends on the program, and perhaps the PC interviewer.

He'd also have to survive the interview, where it seems to me he would have to convince the PC interviewer that he was motivated, flexible, capable.

Once he was in PC, depending on the program, he could very easily do nothing for the whole 2 years - you have to be very self-motivated in most of the programs (not so much the teacher positions, bc you clearly have a job to do every day), and with the depression/loneliness that many PCVs feel initially (or always), it's easy to do nothing.

So I agree with those above who said it doesn't sound like a good fit for him at this stage in his life. (Not to mention a bad fit for the country/village that received him as their PCV - at least in the country I served in, the village leapt through many hoops in order to have a PCV in the first place, and really deserved someone who would stay the 2 years, and contribute something meaningful to the village.)

I don't know a ton about City Year, but that sounds much more his speed, judging by your description.
posted by Amizu at 9:26 AM PST on October 12


How about Americorps? Some of their programs require a college degree, but the NCCC program might fit the bill. In any case, they have a wide variety of programs, from outdoorsy stuff to social work. And he'd get money for college afterwards if he was interested then.
posted by jessicak at 9:26 AM PST on October 12


I realize that this may sound harsh, but if your family is worried about your brother's future, why do they continue to allow him to live at home, rent-free, while he's doing nothing to advance himself? Someone is paying for his food, his internet access, etc., and it doesn't seem to be him. Your family is enabling his laziness, and while I'm not blaming you for wanting to protect him from the ravages of the cold, cruel world, you're not helping him at all by shielding him from the consequences of his actions.

If I were you (or your parents), I'd set a deadline of, say, 30 days. Within that time he must either a) get a job and begin paying reasonable rent or b) apply to go to school or some sort of job training program. If he fails to do one of those two things within a month, he gets evicted from your home and receives no further financial support until he accomplishes one of the above.

Most adults don't behave responsibly because they magically grew up and got motivated one day. They behave responsibly because there are consequences to behaving irresponsibly, like homelessness and starvation. Your brother needs to face the consequences of his actions, and he's not going to grow up until he's forced to do that.
posted by decathecting at 9:29 AM PST on October 12


I'd say have a talk with him about AmeriCorps or Habitat for Humanity. They'll take motivated but unskilled people and teach them what they need to know and I haven't met a single person that has been through either that doesn't deem it a very positive experience. The motivation part might be hard to convince him of, because they probably don't want people that aren't happy to be there.

Like everyone else said, the Peace Corps ideally is for people with college degrees (usually in science or something practical) that want to apply their knowledge in the real world. I had lots of friends that went to Africa to improve farming and fishing techniques and built wells and things like that. It was tough work, and they were all alone out there, living out of sleeping bags with minimal shelter. You need to be very highly motivated to go into that kind of isolation and it's usually way outside most people's comfort zones.
posted by mathowie at 9:30 AM PST on October 12


The idea of throwing him out on his ass (or potentially doing so) will simply not be entertained.

My parents wouldn't hear of it, and we just don't do things that way in this family.

Yes, he's being enabled by my parents. I can't stop that. This is why we're trying to encourage him to do something useful.
posted by SlyBevel at 9:39 AM PST on October 12


Great tips on Americorps. Any more on this?

Personal experiences?
posted by SlyBevel at 9:41 AM PST on October 12


I second decathecting
posted by milarepa at 9:43 AM PST on October 12


I third decathecting.
posted by The Michael The at 9:45 AM PST on October 12


I understand not wanting to kick him out, but it appears encouraging him is not enough. When I was young, being on my own was encouraging enough to get my ass out into the world.

At some point, if encourage breaks down, consequences need to come into play, e.g, no internet access, free food, etc.
posted by milarepa at 9:45 AM PST on October 12


They didn't bother with me after a phone interview and I have a college degree with good engineering experience. I think I sounded like I wouldn't blend in with a foreign culture too much or had a personal agenda. No.

Have yourself or your parents set up him up with some of the ongoing cleanup of Katrina in New Orleans. There are plenty of organizations down there with needs that are secular. The best way to get him to go is not to give him a bus ticket but to take him down there and help him get set up. Talk to people in advance though, don't go down cold.
posted by JJ86 at 9:48 AM PST on October 12


If it's international stuff that he wants to get into he can look into teaching english somewhere: Asia, South America, etc...
posted by stratastar at 9:51 AM PST on October 12


To second milarepa, with an emphasis, I don't think the alternatives are (a) kicking him out, or (b) enabling him. I would start the ball rolling by denying/restricting PC use. The ensuing boredom will help motivate. Your original post addressed some lifestyle issues that you thought might be relevant and require addressing -- e.g., drugs, girlfriends -- but it seems to me that electronic entertainment may be part of the problem.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 10:07 AM PST on October 12


I fourth decathecting (but to not be quite that extreme). It doesn't matter how much you *encourage* someone to do something. If he can do nothing with no problem, why would he do something? Just because you guys want him to? Clearly that's not enough of an impetus, or else he'd be doing something already.

If I could live rent-free and play on the internet all day with no consequences, it wouldn't matter how much "encouragement" I received, I wouldn't change my MO. I am not saying to kick him out, since you mentioned that is not an option, but I'd say that some limits need to be set and enforced. All of these ideas about Americorps and volunteering are great, but if he's not motivated and you guys are just encouraging these activities, I can't really see there being a change.

In order to effect change, you'd either have to provide a tangible benefit or threat. Where is that here? "Because we want you to succeed" is not a benefit to him. Now, maybe saving the world would be a tangible benefit, but it certainly doesn't sound that way given what we've heard about him. Making money would be a tangible benefit if he weren't provided for. Do you see where I'm going here?
posted by ml98tu at 10:14 AM PST on October 12


Is he good with kids? If you wanted to start small, there's got to be after-school programs for underpriveliged kids somewhere nearby - he could teach computer skills, help with homework, get some practice at getting out every day and fulfilling a commitment.

Would your brother really be able to take care of himself if shipped off to volunteer, particularly in less than urban conditions? Habitat for Humanity and Americorps aren't there to install those skills, and it will cost them money in time and resources if he can't deal.

And, before anyone does anything, has he been evaluated for depression, social anxiety, and other factors that might keep an otherwise healthy young man from going out and conquering the world? As much as most people would enjoy a nice long veg now and then, it's not actually normal to bo so unmotivated.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:15 AM PST on October 12


I'm amazed that being straight is considered a good thing.

But in any case, the Peace Corp is not a rehab program for slackers.

Maybe try the military? :)
posted by DieHipsterDie at 10:17 AM PST on October 12


One more thought: If he's being enabled by your parents and they don't want to change, I'm not sure that there's a whole lot you can do. It's really nice that you want to help, but he knows there's other stuff he can be doing, and you suggesting it isn't really going to change anything if your parents continue to enable/allow his behavior. Maybe you can start with them?
posted by ml98tu at 10:21 AM PST on October 12


I second the suggestion that he be evaluated for depression. Does he have friends he hangs out with when they're not in school/at work? Hobbies besides video games and anime-watching? Are these habits relatively recent, or was he like this all through high school too? He may not act particularly sad or "depressed", but it's worth finding out if he's got a medical condition that can be treated.
posted by rtha at 10:25 AM PST on October 12





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