Ron Schaefer served his two-year commitment in Afghanistan

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Afghanistan: Peace Corps Afghanistan: The Peace Corps In Afghanistan: Ron Schaefer served his two-year commitment in Afghanistan

By Admin1 (admin) on Thursday, June 28, 2001 - 12:46 am: Edit Post

Ron Schaefer served his two-year commitment in Afghanistan

Ron Schaefer served his two-year commitment in Afghanistan

Peace Corps an option for further education

Melinda Hawkins LifeStyles Stringer ...

As my graduation with a bachelor's degree becomes ever more imminent, I started thinking about what I would do with that degree and where I would go from here.

There were the obvious choices of graduate school or a job, but I was looking for alternative options. I wanted to do something that spoke to my commitment to humanity rather than my pursuit of the almighty corporate dollar. In other words, I wanted a chance to help others before I started helping myself. I became curious about the requirements for service in the Peace Corps. I spoke with professor Ron Schaefer in the English department and associate professor Dennis Hostetler of the department of public administration and policy analysis. They are both returned Peace Corps volunteers, or RPCVs.

Schaefer served his two-year commitment in Afghanistan while Hostetler served in Tunisia. Both agreed service in the Peace Corps had a profound impact on their lives.

"I learned more during my two years in the Peace Corps than in four years as an undergrad," Hostetler said.

Schaefer said, "It had a very significant impact on my life. It gave me my first international experience and solidified my interest in other cultures."

Both men had to overcome language and cultural differences. Although the Peace Corps requires an intensive three-month training period that covers culture and language, both men faced the difficulties of living somewhere without easy access to water, food and electricity.

Both said they felt the benefits outweighed the adversity and both appreciated the excellent chance to find out how others in the world live. Americans tend to forget that many, many people live without the benefit of indoor plumbing.

As the two instructors pointed out, we forget that most peoples don't have problems with obesity because they don't have enough food to get fat, let alone enough food to waste. It is easy to forget, living in America, that the majority of the world population does not have access to all the luxuries that we take for granted.

"The Peace Corps gave me an education on how the world sees America and how misplaced our obsession with materialism is," Hostetler said.

Perhaps some people go into the Peace Corps with the idea of bringing Western values to the Third World. Instead, they gain the perspective to see how skewed those values really are.

"I think many people go in thinking they will change the world and instead they change themselves and their priorities," Schaefer said.

Hostetler also spoke of experiencing a change in the perception of his own culture. "The real payoff in general was having the opportunity to immerse myself in another culture so I could look back and see what it is to be an American," he said.

What kind of person should consider service in the Peace Corps? Schaefer and Hostetler agreed that flexibility is key to getting the most out of the Peace Corps experience.

"You need to have a flexible personality. That is a very important element," Schaefer said.

Hostetler said, "It was more demanding to my intellect and imagination that anything I had ever done before."

Both agreed that a sense of curiosity and adventure helped to temper the difficulties of living under unusual and sometimes adverse conditions.

There are benefits to serving in the Peace Corps other than the challenge of being out of your element. Many employers and graduate programs seek out returning volunteers for their flexibility as well as their worldly experience.

"I think in a global economy that worldly experience will be the thing that helps you stand out to employers. I don't know of anything that gives you that kind of experience like the Peace Corps," Schaefer said.

The Peace Corps Web site, at , keeps updated lists of opportunities for returning volunteers. Student loans can be deferred during your time of service. On completing your service, you receive $6,075 as a readjustment allowance to give you time to acclimate yourself to American society.

The Web site also includes a list of colleges that allow students to use their service as credits toward their graduate degree.

The Peace Corps is an excellent opportunity to learn more about the world and yourself. By making a commitment to challenging your perspective, you develop an avenue for personal growth and bring back your dedication to improving your community.

"Service in the Peace Corps gives you a comparative perspective on government, social norms, religion and the role of men and women in society," Hostetler said.

Bringing that kind of perspective home can be an essential part of participating in improving democracy.

"The Peace Corps is not financially lucrative, but it gives you values and experiences that cannot be measured by any financial means," Schaefer said.....

Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.