Michelle Obama and the Peace Corps are teaming up, here’s why
Together the Peace Corps and US government are committing to girls education.
The first week of March was a sentimental time for me. It was Peace Corps week, and as a former Volunteer, I couldn’t help feeling a little nostalgic (ok, a lot) after looking at all my fellow Peace Corps friends’ posts and pictures about their services and experiences, not to mention my own.
For those who don’t know, the Peace Corps is a U.S. Governmental organization that sends Americans abroad to tackle the most pressing needs of people around the world. Peace Corps strives to promote world peace and friendship by fulfilling the following three goals:
-Help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women
-Help promote a better understanding of Americans on other parts of the peoples served
-Help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans
This is me during my second round Peace Corps service in Burkina Faso from 2011-2013 (first one in Niger from 2010-2011) with my 2 little neighbors, Carol and Filda, whom I adored so much!
Peace Corps Volunteers (aka PCVs) work at the grassroots level in their assigned sites in collaboration with their respective communities. The aim of the program is to promote sustainable development that lives on long after their 27 month long service (a key difference from voluntourism) while at the same time becoming global citizens. When they return home, Volunteers are encouraged to share their knowledge and experiences with those around them (which is what I’m doing now!).
Before joining the Peace Corps I had always been interested in learning about other cultures and customs as well as international development. The Peace Corps gave me first hand experience of what it is really like to live in another country, immersed in that culture, learning the language, and living with the people. It gives you the opportunity to form relationships with people you wouldn’t otherwise encounter, not to mention the experience of a lifetime, and a whole new perspective on what it’s like to live in the developing world.
So what does this have to do with the First Lady? In conjunction with Peace Corps week, the U.S. Government just launched a super exciting new initiative highlighting its commitment to girls’ education! First Lady Michelle Obama and the Peace Corps have formed a collaboration called Let Girls Learn to expand access to education for girls around the world. Not only is this initiative exciting in and of itself, but to see the First Lady championing Peace Corps and girls education simultaneously is truly amazing!
To celebrate new steps to help #LetGirlsLearn across the globe, we'll be posting @PeaceCorps photos here over the next week. To start off the series in Paraguay, these students had just asked their Peace Corps volunteer to march with them in their school's annual parade. That school, Escuela John F. Kennedy, was named for the President who founded the Peace Corps in 1961.
The Peace Corps’ collaboration with the First Lady will start this year in 11 targeted countries: Albania, Benin, Burkina Faso (where I served!), Cambodia, Georgia, Ghana, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Togo, and Uganda.
Under Let Girls Learn, Peace Corps Volunteers and counterparts will be trained to become local champions of girls’ education, working hand in hand with communities on projects through a new Let Girls Learn Fund, and increasing the number of Volunteers working to break down barriers to girls’ education in the communities they serve. Education is vital to development, and when you educate a girl, you educate a nation!
5th grade teacher, Mrs. Toe with her students at "Ecole A" and school director Mr. Boro in Di, Burkina Faso, West Africa; such amazing counterparts that I worked with!
Volunteering with Peace Corps is a great way to make a sustainable impact since you’re there for a whole 2 years and 3 months. But, if you're reading outside of the US, there are many other governments that have volunteer initiatives and programs similar to Peace Corps. You also don’t need to feel like you have to go abroad to make an impact! Volunteering locally and within your own community is a great way to get involved as well!
For more information about Peace Corps and the Let Girls Learn initiative please visit: https://letgirlslearn.peacecorps.gov/
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