Peace Corps Fellows Reflections

On the 50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps, we asked a few of our current RARE members to reflect on their experiences in the Peace Corps and the RARE program.  Here is one of the responses we received:
Noelle Richards, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Pendleton ’10 – ’11 and `11 – `12

Peace Corps:  Kamenka, Ukraine ’07 – ’09, Teaching English as a Foreign Language

What parallels are there between your Peace Corps and RARE experience?

My favorite part about the Peace Corps is also my favorite part about RARE, just on a different scale. A person going into the Peace Corps envisions the work that they are going to be doing for their host country and host site. They imagine projects, build skills and educate themselves on the culture, ways, and issues of their host site. Then are shipped off to their site and tables turn. They must learn from their community the language, how to get and cook food, how to manage their schedule and daily needs. The lesson is quickly learned that the beauty of the experience is that you bring to your host country so much less than they give you. That is how the relationship forms. I feel the same way about my RARE experience. It begins with a relationship and I give of my time and engage the community and the projects are as successful as the community response.

How has RARE helped you transition from Peace Corps?

The set-up of the RARE program is extremely similar to the Peace Corps, its just in the US. I feel that RARE is ideal for an RPCV because it takes the exotic concept of serving over-seas and shows the necessity of it back home as well. Too often RPCV’s feel that their lives and work in the Peace Corps were somehow much more meaningful than their work back home. I think that they feel this way because of the service and community development aspect of EVERY PCV’s experience. You expect to serve in the Peace Corps, but we all to often forget the need to serve back home as well. RARE fosters and encourages participants to engage in service in your community and make it a part of how they are as a community member. RARE promotes the idea that the work of a RPCV is never complete, that we must take our Peace Corps mindset home and continue in service of our community be it foreign or family.

How did your RARE experience contribute to where you are today?

I have been in RARE for 6 months now and can honestly say that I have learned more and gain more skills and confidence in these 6 months than I have in any other job. The position that I am in is incredible. I have the freedom to create work that is meaningful to my community and to me and the support and structure from the RARE staff and program to make it credible and solid.