When Ken Shaw from San Francisco joined the Peace Corps in rural Zambia as an agricultural specialist, he was 61 years old. He added, "my old hippie dream came true."
"It's the greatest experience you'll ever have," said the New York native from Hicksville. "Maybe not the most pleasant, but the biggest."
There were plenty of surprises. "You have to be able to squat down and ride your bike," he said bluntly to the hole in the floor toilet and how he cycled every morning and night seven miles from the home of his host family, where he was in one separate 400 lived -square-foot house, to his job.
But the ebullient extravert, one of about four percent of Peace Corps volunteers over the age of 50 (the average age is 27), loved his stay in Africa, even though he had never been abroad. He found revelations at every turn. "I learned how to build a solar panel in my house and how to handle a bull. I never thought that I eat caterpillars. "(He does not recommend them.)
" I also learned how well other countries treat their older people. In the US, I've been told that as an older American, I'm treated like a king. Men opened doors for me ̵
" The experience of older Americans is a benefit to their host, their host community, and their volunteers-as they share their expertise, they also learn about a new culture, language, and way of life, "said the Peace Corps spokeswoman. Marjorie Wass.
Joining the Peace Corps
Peace Corps stints, which take two years plus three months of domestic training, cover six areas: education (the largest of health, agriculture, community economic development, youth development and the environment. However, as part of the Peace Corps Response program, there are shorter stays of three to twelve months for professionals and technical experts – select a country (or have it sent to where the need is greatest), and your abilities and preferences Many concerts do not require language before you leave (some require Spanish or a Romance language), and couples are often recorded.
Alice Carter, the The oldest known volunteer was 86 when she served in Morocco. "Each person is tested on a case-by-case basis in countries where the Pe ace Corps, some health problems are more difficult to overcome, but diabetes or a previous heart attack does not automatically result in a rejection, "Wass explained. A comprehensive collection of medical and dental examinations and tests is required. "The good news: If you're not accepted, you'll find out what's wrong with you," joked Shaw. Measles, mumps, rubella, polio, chickenpox and tetanus (and yellow fever in certain countries) require vaccines (or immunity) in advance.
Not everyone is admitted to the Peace Corps service. Another 60+ men in Shaw's group left the training after a week and a half in Zambia. "His host family did not speak English and he kept banging his head because the ceiling was so low he started turning around."
Apply here for a response from the Peace Corps Apply here See Shaw's Photos From Zambia
Interested? Read These Tips First
- Talk to former volunteers and connect to Peace Corps recruits online Northern California Peace Corps Association, one of 185 members of the National Peace Corps Association located across the country, probably your state or city has one.
- Do your homework to make your expectations realistic the conditions in the country and region you will live in. It is unrealistic to expect flush toilets in rural Africa.
- Be open to new ones Experience. You'll eat foods you've never eaten before, and do things you've never done before. If you hate change, stick to your habits and think the American way is the only way, this is not for you.
- Be friendly. Shaw said, "Hello, how are you?" In the local language to the rural Zambians, which he passed. "They were thrilled and laughed in astonishment." It is only polite to reciprocate a greeting.
- Expect to be stared and watched. They may be the first white person American or black American natives have ever seen. You are the exotic. Remember, you represent America: leave a good impression.
Photo: Ken Shaw
Sharon McDonnell is a freelance writer. see her work here.