April 21, 2003 - Personal Web Site: Peace Corps Essay for the Application from Volunteer Christy Fuller in Benin

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Benin: Peace Corps Benin : The Peace Corps in Benin: April 21, 2003 - Personal Web Site: Peace Corps Essay for the Application from Volunteer Christy Fuller in Benin

By Admin1 (admin) on Tuesday, April 22, 2003 - 12:49 pm: Edit Post

Peace Corps Essay for the Application from Volunteer Christy Fuller in Benin

Peace Corps Essay for the Application from Volunteer Christy Fuller in Benin

Why the Peace Corps??

Essay 1 from the original application

I graduated high school in Missoula, Montana. Missoula is, by Montana standards, a big city. We have a modest mall, our own university and a plethora of national fast food chains. Most of us do not live on a farm, but life does move at a slower pace here. My father, for example, is fond of using the word "ain’t" on a daily basis, my mother has no clue what hummus is, and most of my friends are married with children. I had heard that a "more cultured folk" lived somewhere on the other side of the Continental Divide, so I set my sights on attending college in Boston, Massachusetts. I was on the usual quest for independence and life-altering experiences. It was in going to Boston that I learned the value of respect for new and different cultures, even if it merely meant taking that first, frightening step out of my own front door. It seemed like such a simple lesson to learn, but I soon learned that that first step is always the hardest.

Since I am a French major, I decided to continue my growth process by studying abroad in Fribourg, Switzerland. Fribourg is a quaint country town not unlike Missoula. I attended the university there, ingested as much Swiss culture as I possibly could, and traveled Europe extensively. I not only met and shared opinions and experiences with Swiss people, but also met people of all sorts of other nationalities, from Iranians to Australians. I soon learned just how small my little world in the United States really was, and how much I could learn just by being around people different from myself. I loved Europe, I loved the challenged it posed, but I soon came to the realization that European culture is still very similar to American culture. Halfway through the year, I felt a sudden and violent need to experience a culture completely different from my own, where I would be well outside of my comfort zone, where I could learn a whole new way of life in order to be able to better appreciate my own way of life.

After much research, I decided that the Peace Corps was the best way to build an intimate relationship with a new culture, and that volunteering would be a much more meaningful experience than merely traveling or working abroad. I know all too well that such a life-changing opportunity will pass me by if I do not seize it now.

During my college years, I learned that the more experiences one has, the more passionate one becomes about life, the more confident one becomes in oneself, and the more accepting one is of personal differences. In the future, I hope to become a teacher and pass on to my students the wisdom and passion for life that I hope to gain during my service with the Peace Corps.

Description of a relevant cultural experience

Essay 2 from the original application

Split, Croatia, was once an oasis for the rich and famous. Before the political unrest which resulted in the break-up of Yugoslavia, it was considered the place to be. Located on the beautiful Adriatic, the town’s oceanfront walkways lined with palm trees, its fashionable hotels, its quaint hospitality, and the impressive ruins of Diocletian’s palace attracted tourists from around the world. In fact, it was tourism that largely supported the economy of this ancient city, until 1991 at least. Due to the violence of the then highly volatile Yugoslavia, tourists no longer felt safe traveling to the region, and Split’s economy consequently fell to ruin.

Peace has recently been reinstated, however, and tourists are slowly, but cautiously beginning to return to the area. I visited Split last February while on vacation with a group of four other Americans. We started our adventure in Slovenia, taking an overnight bus from Ljubljana to Split. We were dropped off on the oceanfront in the early hours of the morning, with little idea of where we were. Having nowhere to go that early, we sat on a bench along the boardwalk to watch the sun rise over the Adriatic. Since there are few budget hotel rooms to be found in Split, we found a local man who was renting out a room in his house. We ended up paying around seven American dollars per person to cram all five of us into a room with one queen size bed. It smelled like vinegar, it was freezing, and the sheets were so dirty that we dared not sleep in them. That experience alone could easily have ruined the entire rest of our stay in Croatia, but we were able to laugh it off with the realization that we were in Croatia, after all, and not in a four-star hotel in New York City.

Our short stay in Split was great. The architecture of the city and palace were amazing, the people were friendly and welcoming, the sun was warm, and the food was great. One afternoon, we took a trip to a nearby island called Supetar. From the boat, we spied a beautiful mausoleum nestled in a small cemetery along the shore. We hiked over to the cemetery and spent some time wandering among the graves. Upon nearing the mausoleum, we encountered a strange man, who beckoned us to enter the building. Closer observances told us that he was homeless and had obviously taken up residence in the mausoleum. He was unshaven, with blood encrusted on his chin and cheeks, and was surrounded by three of four dogs (all of which had the same name). He was friendly, however, and gave us a tour of his home, showing us pictures and recounting the somewhat boring history of the family that was buried there. It turned out that that family was his own, and he was quite proud to share his noble lineage with us.

Our guide also turned out to be a rather smart businessman for, as we were leaving, he pointed to the until then unnoticed sign that demanded an entrance fee of twenty Krona. We did not argue, just paid him and hurriedly left the building. He seemed to be lonely with the lack of visitors, however, so he followed us out of the mausoleum and continued on with his story. While I was more than willing to leave the cemetery, I took the cue from my intrigued friends, and stopped to listen in on an unlikely conversation. I listened as the man talked in flawless English about the current trial of Milosevich, about the war, and about the consequent failing of his livelihood – the tourism industry. At that point, I knew absolutely nothing about the history of Yugoslavia, and was fortunate to sit in on the greatest history lesson imaginable. I watched as his face contorted with emotions as he discussed his pain, his anger, his hatred for the politics of the region and the economic state of his home.

I thought the lesson was over, that I had just received cultural contact that had far surpassed that of any other trip, when we met another Croatian man strolling along the beach next to the cemetery. We told him about the strange man we had just met, and our new acquaintance just smiled and nodded. I listened again, as I got a second great history lecture. As it turned out, the man in the cemetery was a genius, and once one of the wealthiest men on the island. He had inherited most of the land from his family, most of which was buried in the mausoleum. Early in his life, he had left Supetar for Harvard University, where he went to school and learned English. He returned home after several years, revealing his homosexuality to his neighbors. This was no more acceptable in Croatia then than it is now, and he was exiled, losing everything he owned and everything he had worked for. Such an amazing story in such an unlikely place.

Looking back, I now realize that in one day, I had learned more about being open-minded and about how to learn from a new culture than I had learned in 15 years of school and nearly six months of living in a European country. That single afternoon in Croatia will stand out in my experience abroad as by far the most influential and eye-opening. I was able to, for one day, put aside my prejudices and tourist mentality in order to learn an important lesson that will serve as a model of cultural understanding for the rest of my life.

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Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Benin; Application



By from split (st01-135.dialin.iskon.hr - on Tuesday, December 02, 2003 - 10:21 am: Edit Post

Dear Mr Fuller,I'm so glad that you like my hometown so much,and I hope you will come again
sou you can finally determinine that Adriatic is
not an ocean,but sea...did you even look at the map?

By KristinJohnson (103-202-29-134.mre.mnscu.edu - on Tuesday, August 31, 2004 - 2:41 pm: Edit Post

Ahh! I am interested in joining the peace corps. I have always wanted to help others and want to use my knowledge of the french language. Last year I studied abroad at College St-Michel in Fribourg, Switzerland. I would really like to talk to you but I do not know how to contact you! Please write me, I would enjoy speaking with you about Fribourg and the Peace Corps in Africa!


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