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02:56 PM on 11/17/2011
Speaking as a former West African Peace Corps Volunteer I think this is the most accurate description of Peace Corps and Peace Corps Service. Thank you for writing it!
01:52 PM on 11/17/2011
I LOVE this article!!!! I'm former Peace Corps myself, and this sums it up terrifically. Despite the illnesses, the setbacks, the people who actually resented my being there, going into it saying I'm not doing it for any thanks, and then never getting thanked, and even the days I couldn't get out of bed due to lethargy and disinterest, despite it all, Peace Corps was still the best damned thing I've ever done with my life!!!!!
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darquelourd
You Get What You Play For
12:52 PM on 11/17/2011
I have to work alot with kids who have just graduated college. There is a painful period of adjustment that occurs when the kids actually get real world work experience as opposed to the academic work they did in school. Grad students can be particularly irritating due to their lack of ability to distinguish between a textbook world and the real day-to-day world especially in the area of interaction and communication with others.

I want to congratulate the author of this column for accepting that and allowing it to change her for the better. That is maturity and wisdom - or their ignoble beginnings.
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12:36 PM on 11/17/2011
Great article. Working for the Peace Corps might be a great adventure but the application process would put anyone off and their health requirements seem so strict. Probably giving a cash bribe to the government agent would have gotten the ball rolling faster. Americans are maybe too altruistic. By now the Peace Corps could've been a giant in the development industry, promoting American technology and goodwill. Seems like all the efforts were so piecemeal without an overall plan. If America wants to stay #1 in the world they should've been spending all the war money gaining friends. Their overall mindset is too shortsighted and based on making a quick buck.This is one area of foreign policy that was grossly overlooked and mismanaged.
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brinniewales
03:14 PM on 11/17/2011
American technology doesn't always work in developing countries (the "Third World") for a variety of reasons. First and foremost it isn't an American culture. Second, American infrastructure is not in place so developing an industry takes on a whole new meaning. Third, supplies are limited or non-existent.
Every culture has its quirks and part of aiding or assisting in that culture is learning the quirks and how to incorporate and embrace them or work around them. Not an easy job. It becomes a study in patience, especially when someone has the "can-do" fever of the U.S.
Kudos to the United States Peace Corps and Maya Lau for her service! It sounds as though it has been a life altering experience for her.
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Roses
In a gentle way, you can shake the world.
12:17 PM on 11/17/2011
Sounds like you just grew up. Instead of taking 15 years as in the average american life, it only took you 2 years.
Congratulations for surviving and all that you did and found out about yourself. Our country will be the better and stronger for it.
11:45 AM on 11/17/2011
Nice article!
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11:23 AM on 11/17/2011
I've found similar experiences volunteering in America. Except there is the added disappointment that all volunteers are always seen as slave labor in America and not simply generous people taking their free time to help out.
12:41 PM on 11/17/2011
you bring up a good point. When a volunteer contributes skills, time and talent, beyond his or here means, then resentment may creep in. Know your limits to your generosity and know that altruism is a state difficult to achieve.
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02:36 PM on 11/19/2011
Thank you for this reminder! :-)
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Holly Smoke
Humor is the best defense for absurdity.
10:48 AM on 11/17/2011
What a beautiful and efficient way to grow up and be wise. I think every young people should take two years off college and join the peace corp.....
Did I said efficient ???
' "We'll meet tomorrow at 5," means, "We'll meet tomorrow at 5" -- where you put a stamp on an envelope and it gets delivered.' That is American or Western exceptional-ism !!
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Richard Bartholomew
My micro-bio isn't empty.
09:46 AM on 11/17/2011
'They knew not to rest their hopes in government offices and the men who shuffle within them.'

A lesson lost on most US Americans apparently.
03:31 PM on 11/17/2011
you may think this lesson is lost to most americans, but if that's what you choose to focus on, you missed the lesson of the article.
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Richard Bartholomew
My micro-bio isn't empty.
02:43 AM on 11/18/2011
What might that lesson be in your considered opinion if I may make so bold as to enquire? And do you deny that the lesson to which I referred in my original post is lost on most US Americans?