I’m seriously considering going into the Peace Corps after I graduate. The thought has occurred to me off and on for the last year or so, and some of Barack Obama’s comments on service at his Wesleyan commencement address brought it back to my attention today:
I also began to realize that I wasn’t just helping other people. Through service, I found a community that embraced me; citizenship that was meaningful; the direction that I’d been seeking. Through service, I discovered how my own improbable story fit in to the larger story of America.
Now, each of you will have the chance to make your own discovery in the years to come. And I say “chance” because, as President Roth indicated, you won’t have to take it. There’s no community service requirement in the outside world; no one’s forcing you to care. You can take your diploma, walk off this stage, and chase only after the big house and the nice suits and the other things that our money culture says you should buy. You can choose to narrow your concerns and live life in a way that tries to keep your story separate from America’s.
But I hope you don’t. Not because you have an obligation to those who are less fortunate, although I believe you do have that obligation. Not because you have a debt to all those who helped you get to where you are today, although I do believe you have that debt to pay.
It’s because you have an obligation to yourself. Because our individual salvation depends on collective salvation. Because thinking only about yourself, fulfilling your immediate wants and needs, betrays a poverty of ambition. Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential and discover the role that you’ll play in writing the next great chapter in the American story.
The Corps has a program specifically targeted at CS and IS graduates – helping people in developing countries to increase their skills and access to technologies, building labs, helping schoolchildren gain job skills, helping adults with business development.
I have no idea of where I’d go, but my guess is that my Spanish experience might have something to do with it.
The only part that intimidates me, rather than exciting me, is the thought of leaving for over two years. But it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I’m going to look further into this and see if it’s a possibility.