Phoebe, a fellow Peace Corps volunteer, asked me a few days ago what got me interested in Peace Corps. It's a pretty common question, and certainly a good one, but as I started answering her I got to thinking about how much support I have gotten from the Peace Corps community and how much that has helped me in making my decision to join the organization. Let me see if I can share it here in numbers:
  1. I started talking about Peace Corps with Zoe, who was very supportive
  2. We went together to a National Peace Corps Association meeting in Raleigh where I met the Assistant Director, spoke with four Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) and met the founder of the Exploris Museum who was also a Peace Corps Volunteer
  3. I called Peace Corps' toll-free number, spoke with a representative and got the e-mail of a very helpful RPCV who was in currently in medical school
  4. I went to a Peace Corps Recruiting Session at NC State and met 1 recruiter and 3 RPCVs who I asked questions
  5. I went to another Open House at Fayetteville State and met 1 recruiter
  6. I went to Costa Rica and met 1 Country Director, 1 Volunteer Coordinator and 4 current Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) who I asked questions to for months
  7. I talked with Anna Marie who introduced me to Shawn who was in Peace Corps in the South Pacific
  8. I talked with one Campbell grad who is now in Africa
  9. I met my interviewer at NC State who answered tons of my questions
  10. I was invited to Kyrgyzstan and e-mailed back and forth with 4 volunteers
  11. I was invited to Turkmenistan and messaged back and forth with 6 volunteers
  12. I was invited to Mongolia and messaged back and forth with 4 volunteers
  13. After accepting to Mongolia I have been messaged by 6 volunteers, e-mailed 4 different ones myself and had questions answered by 4 others entirely
  14. All told, after about two years of Peace Corps interest, I have been surrounded by a community of over 40 volunteers who have helped me tremendously and almost half of those are from Mongolia alone in the last month!

I know that was a long list, but that's my point. Every step of the way I have been able to talk with someone, e-mail someone, or meet in person with someone who knows exactly what I am going through. I have never had anything like that before, in Boy Scouts, in college, preparing for medical school, etc. After only a few weeks of knowing that Mongolia is my destination country, I have had dozens of my questions answered and tons and tons of advice shared with my from volunteers who are there or have been there. Some of them I e-mailed myself and some of them messaged me on their own entirely writing things like: "Hi, we heard you were coming to Mongolia, congratulations!", "We really look forward to meeting you!", and "Let me know if you have any questions!" All week I have been thinking about how incredible that is to me. I literally feel overwhelmed by the helpfulness and kindness of the Peace Corps Volunteers I have been able to meet. Overwhelmed in a good way though, definitely - like seeing a bunch of people you really like all in one place. I have told you each thank you many times, but I guess I wanted to write this to say thanks again. I hope to be as good a Volunteer as I have seen in all of you and I appreciate your support and your kindness very much. Bayarllaa. (Thank you in Mongolian)