The summer of 1996 was a time of great change for me as an individual. This was the summer that I was fortunate enough to get to spend six weeks as part of a traveling abroad program. These six weeks changed the way I viewed different places, people and cultures. I was lucky enough to experience many different things in many different places. I met many people from interesting cultural backgrounds and learned a lot from them. These six weeks prepared me for many new experiences in life. While traveling, I stayed with different families who were kind enough to take me in.
Living with people who had different cultures and sometimes even different languages was a challenge for me since I had never even been out of the United States before this trip. I got to learn how to adapt to new situations by finding inventive ways to communicate with other humans. This was invaluable to me because it forced me to really pay attention to other people and learn about their cultural values through observation. This is a skill that has stayed with me. I have learned to slow down and really listen and observe in order to learn new things and gain new perspective.
I was also able to visit many historic sites, landmarks and museums during my travels that I had only read about in books. I was able to apply a picture in a book to the real setting and this was an incredible experience. In these visits I was also able to learn a great deal about the culture in which I had immersed myself. This allowed me a deeper understanding of the people around me. These visits also told me about the rich histories of different groups of people and how they shaped the culture as it is today. In addition, I was able to try new and different foods which only added to my cultural experiences.
At the same time, as I was experiencing new cultures I was also able to reflect on my own culture and the importance that it holds in my life. My travels have helped shaped the person I am today. I was forced to learn patience as I was immersed in cultures with different values and languages. I learned how to be creative in finding ways to communicate respectfully. I built my self confidence as I began to realize how capable I was of learning about different cultures in ways other than reading books. I got the opportunity to meet interesting people who helped me understand different ways of life and apply those to my own life.
I learned how to be flexible in adapting to new ways of doing things, new ways of communicating and even new ways of eating. I experienced a great deal of personal growth in these travels that will prove invaluable to me in my future accomplishments. Changing lives is a great experience. This sentence sums up why I would like to be a Peace Corps Volunteer. I have a deep desire to change the world by changing the lives of people less fortunate than me. I have been fortunate enough to have access to a high quality education. I have always enjoyed learning and experiencing new things and I would like to pass that on to other people.
My college education was only a starting point in my life long learning endeavors. I have a passion for knowledge that has allowed me to reach a point in my life where I wish to give 27 months serving as a volunteer and enriching the lives of people around the world. Habitat for Humanity has given me valuable life skills but more importantly gave me the opportunity to help people less fortunate than me. I have been able to build homes for people and at the same time learn about their individual lives. I have taken my passion for helping others and in the process began to realize how one person can make a great difference.
I can be that one person that takes the initiative to make small changes that will eventually lead to big changes. I desire to take this realization and travel the world helping others through small changes. Four years in the workforce has also given me valuable experiences that will enable me to be an effective volunteer. Through working, I have gained leadership skills that will serve me well when working with a team of other volunteers. These leadership skills will help me work cooperatively to make positive changes in the world.
I have also gained a clear understanding of globalization outside of the United States and I wish to build on that knowledge through my volunteer work and opportunities I wouldn’t be able to have if I continued working in the corporate world. Working as a volunteer will provide me with international experience and new insights about the world around me. I can learn new values and perspectives that will make me a more well rounded and empathetic person. I will gain new understandings of different people and cultures and be able to apply some of that to how I live my own life.
At the same time, I will have a great responsibility to show others my values and teach them new and exciting things about my own culture. Twenty-seven months is a short time in my life but those months will mean big changes in my life that will last long after my time serving as a volunteer is over. My life would be greatly enriched by helping others through small changes. I look forward to the chance to start making small changes right away and watching those small changes turn into big changes that have positive impacts on people around the world.
Courtney from Study Moose
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