Peace Corps People
Our new CouchSurfing hostess is a Peace Corps volunteer. At 28, I think she's older than most, but still of that disillusioned age where perhaps they think volunteering abroad will make some sort of positive, tangible impact.
Now I'll be the first one to say that I don't know much about the Peace Corps, or NGO (non-governmental organization) volunteering. In fact, Laura is only the second of such people I've ever met (after the sweetheart of a character Mike in our previous city, Lugoj). It would seem that Romania is just chalk full of Peace Corps people, many of which have started popping up on my CouchSurfing searches.
Peace Corps, United States agency created to promote world peace and friendship by training American volunteers to perform social and humanitarian service overseas. Originally an agency of the United States Department of State, it was created by executive order in 1961, and made an independent agency of the United States government in 1981. The volunteers help communities in developing countries improve their social and economic conditions. Each volunteer serves for a 2-year term.
So, Peace Corps people, perhaps my opinion on the subject will change slightly as I meet more of you, but I've just got to ask—why?
You tell me that you're treated like children; given numerous restrictions on travel and daily life; given a monthly stipend of next to nothing for living expenses; given a "readjustment allowance" of about $6,000 upon the completion of your two-year contract ($225 for each month of service); and given unfulfilling duties and responsibilities in a country that you and your colleagues seem to care little for.
Did you really think you needed to sign a contract to live abroad, to take you someplace interesting, or to take you someplace tropical? Did you think that teaching English to undisciplined students or creating the monthly Peace Corps newsletter or wiping your ass with the now discontinued Newsweek magazines you've been provided with, piled in your corner, would bring satisfaction, or get you closer to a government position back in the States? Do you really enjoy your living conditions, of which you have little control over, or even your place in the country that you've been stationed (of which you have no control over)?
Do you really enjoy your lifestyle, when you could be in entertaining Guatemala, living on less than $8/day, traveling about as you wish, or even freely volunteering your time to a local school?
How does this organization manage to perpetuate itself?
A damn good tagline, that's how! "Peace Corps: The hardest job you'll ever love"