Reader's Corner

Published on August 8th, 2014 | by Taylor Dempsey

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Life as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Africa: The Three Goals

The official mission of Peace Corps is to “promote world peace and friendship.” Call me an idealist, but I love this. I love that this is my job.

A little more concrete, and more often referred to, are the Three Goals. They are a big deal to our bosses in both Uganda and DC, as you can see by their proper noun status. Everything we do in country is supposed to fall under one of these three statements.

1. To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.

Education. Health outreaches. Youth empowerment. Reproductive health workshops. Literacy. These are my day-to-day activities, and all of this is considered Goal 1. We treat our projects not just as a way of transferring information, but as a way of “capacity building,” or equipping locals with skills that will eventually create personal and national independence.

2. To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.

I accomplish Goal 2 by simply living in my community, giving visibility to my identity as an American, and talking about it. Easy, right? Getting my host family hooked on PB&Js, showing my students how to play frisbee, chatting with my co-workers about the customs of Halloween and Thanksgiving… all of that goes here.

I am the first American that most people in my village have ever seen, let alone have had a relationship with. Every conversation is important because everything I do or say, or don’t do or don’t say, is interpreted as This is What All Americans Are Like. We just don’t come around these parts enough for that not to be the case.

3. To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

As the complement to Goal 2, they also want to see us telling people at home about our experiences here. It’s a way to bring the world a little closer together. Not everyone can live abroad for 2+ years, but everyone should understand as much as they can about their fellow Earthlings.

Ways I accomplish this: calling or emailing friends, sending local dried pineapple to my brother, guiding my Dad around Uganda during his visit, and writing to an elementary school class of pen pals.

This column is another example of Goal 3; by reading it, you are helping us achieve our mission. Thanks for that!

Questions and comments welcome at taylordempsey9@gmail.com.

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