So… What is Peace Corps Response Anyway?


Peace Corps Response (PCR) is an offshoot of the more well-known Peace Corps program, and its focus is on “short-term, high-impact” assignments in Peace Corps countries worldwide. Recruiters working for PCR seek to hire either Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs), people who served in the traditional two-year program, and/or considerably experienced professionals who are savvy in their field and are willing to live and work independently in a developing country for anywhere typically from three to twelve or more months.

Unquestionably, differences exist between the longer, extant Peace Corps program and its newer counterpart, PCR. For example, upon arrival in the host country of service, volunteers undergo an accelerated orientation (10 to 14 days) before they hit the ground running in the communities where they will serve in any of the six sectors (education, health, youth development, community economic development, agriculture and environment) wherein Peace Corps operates programs across the globe. This orientation can be quite mundane for recent RPCVs already familiar with the policies and procedures of Peace Corps at large (as was my experience).

However, it serves a necessary purpose in equipping the volunteers to be successful in their respective roles as not only specialized professionals in education or health (the two programs in Rwanda), for instance, but also in being outstanding cultural ambassadors for the United States of America in their daily lives as neighbors, friends, patrons and residents in the host country.

In fact, many [but not all] PCR volunteers tend to be older and more mature with more life and work experience, and the volunteer cohort is almost always much smaller than the traditional two-year volunteer cohort. As a result, the PCR experience can be all the more isolating and individualistic, requiring an extra dose of grit and gusto to maximize the experience for what it’s worth.

Unbelievably yet believably, it’s been five months since I’ve started this journey of Peace Corps Chapter Two (if you will). And what a roller-coaster ride it’s been! Unarguably, I have been challenged, stretched and developed in ways that left me uncomfortable. But as I have learned, new realms of power, prestige and prosperity are birthed from adversity, of the kind that is discomforting, different and dynamic. I have been discovering more about myself such as my inner fortitude to stay the course and learning how to perform my work and to handle responsibility without letting my fickle emotions get the best of me in the moment.

The maxim of never making a permanent [significant] decision based on fleeting feelings rings true for both the monotonous and spontaneous realities of life in the Third World. Surely, I am a work in progress, always learning, growing and seeking to actualize my best self, best life. Writing helps me introspectively to assess my journey of personal development in a way that I cannot always verbally articulate. It’s part of my self-care protocol; we all need one.

How are you actualizing your best self and best life? What advice can you share from your life experience about how you deal with adversity (be it from embracing the unknown, dealing with transition, mending broken relationships or forging new ones, etc.) Feel free to express your thoughts and insights!

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