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Author Topic: Peace Corps or Posh Corps  (Read 7154 times)

Alexandra

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Peace Corps or Posh Corps
« on: January 25, 2014, 04:30:34 PM »
I saw the video on the Peace Corps/Posh Corps and it got me to thinking.   I hadn't heard the term Posh Corps before. 

My first thought was that no... I don't want it easy, I want the stereotypical Peace Corps experience.  But, I bet if I was given the choice of water or no water; or electricity or no electricity; I would make the comfortable choice. 

Does the amount you suffer have anything to do with how successful your Peace Corps service is?  Does it have anything to do with how much you get out of it?  Do you even have any choice in the matter?

Offline Marion

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Re: Peace Corps or Posh Corps
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2014, 04:44:29 PM »
My wife and I had a fairly "Posh Corps" experience, while others in our group in more isolated areas did without electricity and indoor water and plumbing.  What I realized was that no matter what the living conditions, the Volunteers adapted.  The ones who "suffered" never complained.  It just became normal to them and was not a problem. 

I don't think it makes a bit of difference in your service, or in what you get out of it, and we had no choice as to where we went or where we lived.  One of the biggest problems is with people back home who might think you had it easy, and Peace Corps is a piece of cake. 

In my opinion he true hardships aren't lack of water or electricity or whatever -- they are separation from family, friends and your country of birth for two years. 
Marion
RPCV, Botswana (2011-2013)

Offline PeaceCorps1

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Re: Peace Corps or Posh Corps
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2014, 10:10:25 PM »
I have lived in a developing country before. No matter where you are, 'posh' in a developing country is still living 'without'. Now of course, there are really rural sites out there. Some volunteers want the 1960s experience. Others want the electricity and running water. There should be no judgment on either option.

In my past job overseas, I had electricity (8 hours a day) and cold running water. But, I had a propane tank that I deeply feared. I also found 3 scorpions in my home at three different occasions. Posh? For me it was the best of both worlds. I was not so comfortable that I did not have time to reflect. But not so uncomfortable that I ran home to America.
"If it were not for the reporters, I'd tell you the truth"', President Chester A. Arthur

Offline koji

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Re: Peace Corps or Posh Corps
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2014, 12:26:37 AM »
I was definitely in a "posh corps" country. Part of the EU, some of the fastest internet you can imagine (oh, the download speeds)... never had to worry about electricity or water and to be perfectly honest, my place in Bulgaria was bigger and nicer than the place I could afford in the states. I was a bit disappointed because my background is in camping and survivalism and the ONLY times I got to put that to the test was when I went out with the scouts.

That being said, the mental and emotional struggles can often be intense when things are at such a similar level to the states. It can be frustrating to work in different bureaucracies, and to deal with corruption. It can be very difficult to see kids in your own neighborhood go without proper food, water, or clothing simply because they are a different ethnicity than the majority. It can be difficult to cut ties with the homeland and actually immerse yourself in your new culture rather than just downloading your favorite shows and paying a little more for your comfort foods... finding projects, developing projects, and learning to respect a culture different from your own is difficult no matter what conditions you are living in. (The respect part is especially key... many volunteers, myself sometimes, just bring in american ideology and expect it to work in their host country... it can reset the way you think about sex, relationships, consumerism, capitalism, religion... if you let it)

So yeah, not many volunteers will be getting the 1960's experience these days, but I think the Peace Corps is doing a decent job of evolving with the times and the experience, for me, was still well worth the time and emotional investment.

Offline Branden Ryan

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Re: Peace Corps or Posh Corps
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2014, 02:39:06 PM »
Posh Corps/Peace Corps can vary within country, too, and it all depends. You never know what kind of experience you're going to get! I'm in the bush in South Tanzania and I'm one of the farthest out down here, but I'm one of the only ones with any Internet signal, though electricity is spotty. No water though. Some people have sites with great houses, full electricity, and running water, too. Some posts, like Zambia, are a lot more rural in general. Eastern Europe is generally a lot nicer than somewhere like Africa... It all depends, but like Koji said - I think that there are a lot of other challenges to the Peace Corps than your living arrangements that make it worthwhile and difficult!
Branden Ryan
PCV, Tanzania, 2013-2015

Offline shawn

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Re: Peace Corps or Posh Corps
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2014, 11:42:22 AM »
I had the unique experience of getting both ends of the spectrum during my time in Rwanda.

I spent my first 2 years at a rural school near the Burundi border without power, running water, internet, cold beer, glass, or skittles. That last one was by far the hardest.

When I extended, i moved to the capital city and had MANY more amenities, including a fridge. While the base point of my service had changed (I had become a PCVL), almost nothing else did. I found that having a real city with real cold beer and a nightlife that didn't include drinking banana spirits by candlelight didn't really change my purpose or intent. I did not feel advantaged or disadvantaged in really any way when it came to my ability to serve. but I would say going in, its important to be aware of realities, but err on the side of expecting less amenities. That way you'll never be disappointed.

Oh, and have some Skittles sent in a care package; they make the day better 100 fold. If that's not your thing, have your parents send them to me.
PCVL - Rwanda 2010-2013
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Offline cdillon8769

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Re: Peace Corps or Posh Corps
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2014, 04:51:25 PM »
Oh, and have some Skittles sent in a care package; they make the day better 100 fold. If that's not your thing, have your parents send them to me.

Your love of skittles amuses me!
Caroline
Invitee: Lesotho, Africa June 2014

"The ones crazy enough to believe that they can change the world, do" Steve Jobs

Offline shawn

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Re: Peace Corps or Posh Corps
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2014, 04:51:14 AM »
Skittles, in my world, nay, IN EVERY ONES WORLD, are the greatest invention ever. i once found a rogue one in the remnants of a 2 month old care package. It was just as delicious.
PCVL - Rwanda 2010-2013
NPCA Serving Volunteer Advisory Council

Offline Stephanie Lynne

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Re: Peace Corps or Posh Corps
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2014, 12:12:26 PM »
Where's the like button when you need one?!

Offline poshcorps

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Re: Peace Corps or Posh Corps
« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2014, 10:40:23 AM »
I served in Peace Corps South Africa, a country with cities which are as modern as any place in the US. It also happened to be a medevac hub, so we constantly had volunteers telling us we were posh corps. It was always difficult to explain that just outside the city was a very different standard of living. I agree with koji's comment about the mental and emotional struggle of a 'posh corps' country. Serving in a country with vast differences in wealth is another sort of hardship.

After service I wanted to tell people the story of volunteers in countries like South Africa, so I want back and shot a documentary about Posh Corps:   
http://poshcorps.com

Offline Steve S

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Re: Peace Corps or Posh Corps
« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2014, 09:20:16 AM »
Posh camping became fashionable among the smart set in the United Kingdom a few years ago. "Conspicuous Consumption" or "hardships" are widely available. The burlesque portrayal of the  Peace Corps spectrum "Out in the Boondocks" (the spurious dichotomy of PC service as hell or a lark) sometimes misses the mundane volunteer experience such as it can be as boring as watching a campy Warhol movie of the Empire State Building for hours.
Steve