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Thread: Peace Corps

  1. #1
    Aug 2010
    Buffalo, New York

    Peace Corps

    Has anyone joined the Peace Corps for the 'urban and regional planning' program? If so, I would love to know more about it. It sounds like an amazing opportunity to volunteer and serve the world, while gaining practical work experience. The PC website is quite limited on the amount of information they offer on individual programs.


  2. #2
    There's one person here doing it... their basic job is to help relocate the bus depot in a small town. Another one with a background, but not officially part of the program is also helping with planning. Peace Corps, in general, provides fairly broad training with fairly broad assignments.

    That being said, if you have a background, and you're in an urban area (even a small town), pretty much any town council will work with you. Many countries also have national planning units that will also work with you as a sort of satellite officer.

    Many programs also have the psuedo-planning area of "community development," which is more grassroots, and lots of health/building departments in towns/cities work with volunteers with health backgrounds in sort of an environmental/health planning role.

    One bummer about the formal programs is they're in some of the more depressing/cold countries.

    PC also has a more specific "PC Response" program for more highly qualified people to sign up for a specific project and a shorter duration than the two years.

    My service is finished tomorrow.... sigh....

  3. #3
    I should also add that many developing countries, especially nice ones with any sort of tourism, often have "experts" visiting for short stays and helping them develop comprehensive plans, etc.

    The most organizations will want these experts to foot the bills for all the training and working with them, and many will go on doing what they've always done even after years of working together.

    I wrote a fairly informal paper of planning suggestions that i though got tossed in the bin, but saw many of those suggestions being implemented years later.

    In short, it's what you make of it. If you're a go getter, go get it.

  4. #4
    Jul 2008
    I've been looking into this for the last several months and I think I'll probably go for it. It sounds like most of the assignments and where you are located is pretty hit or miss though.

    From talking with a recruiter, most of the planning positions are located in Central and South America. There's a Spanish language requirement for these countries but that requirement seems to have been reduced compared to when I talked to them 6 months ago to now. It was 3 college semesters worth of Spanish, now it is one. So I would imagine they were having a hard time finding that many people who had that much formal Spanish.

    Community Development seems to be the most open ended position you can be in in the Peace Corp. You may have a primary project you should try to accomplish but how you do it is largely up to you. You also have the freedom of doing other projects while you're there.

    It would seem the Peace Corp is more to build goodwill toward America rather than being a true development organization. So I wouldn't necessarily go in with the expectation that you'll change the world since you probably won't. Often times, there's no tangible results from the Peace Corp volunteer's projects. The Peace Corp provides a college educated individual to a community and really no other resources beyond that. How you're ultimately utilized is largely up to the community.

    Since experiences can vary so much, that's the reason they say your experience in the Peace Corp is what you make of it.

    Personally I'm going for it for personal growth aspects of it and look at it as a challenge. I'm not necessarily banking on it to advance my career but I know Peace Corp service certainly can't hurt. There's apparently no guarantee that you'll be assigned to something that best fits your credentials or interests. Also the opportunity to do something like this may not present itself again to me due to other obligations, so I won't let the opportunity pass up.

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