Last week, I received an email asking me to be a last minute replacement on a Peace Corps panel about older volunteers. I, of course, said yes.
I served in Kenya, 1986/88, Armenia, 2017/19 and Ethiopia, 2019/2020. I was among the 7,000 Peace Corps volunteers, evacuated, due to the worldwide COVID pandemic, March 2020.
My area of service has always been the same, Education. When I first joined, I was sure that my prior enlistment in the United States Air Force would land me a spot in Ethiopia. The famine there was getting worse, in 1985. Peace Corps kindly reminded me of my undergrad and grad work, in English. They posted me in Kenya, as a high school English teacher.
When I retired, in 2017, I rejoined the Peace Corps. I was 60 years old. Today, about seven percent of Peace Corps volunteers are over the age of fifty. We are called 50+ volunteers. These volunteers serve in the same fashion as their younger cohort.
Both work experience and life experience equals extra bonus points for seniors. Many older volunteers are able to connect with host country nationals with stories about marriage, children, and grandkids. Plus, a strong American work ethic, goes a long way.
Over the hour and a half Zoom session, there were lots of questions about motivation. Quite a few people asked, “How did you know that Peace Corps was the right choice?” “Who, in their right mind, would leave a good paying job, store and/or give away their worldly belongings, and head into the unknown?”
Either that sounds good to you or it doesn’t. For me, it was simple and when you name your blog GhettoGirlTravels, you sort of have to travel. And, so …. I did! —GGT