Peace Corps Chief Touts Life of Service
Published: Friday, September 21, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 21, 2012 02:09
Peace Corps Chief of Staff Stacy Rhodes discussed his organization’s role in international development on Tuesday.
The talk was held in Intercultural Center as a part of the School of Foreign Service’s Global Human Development program.
Rhodes entered the Peace Corps in the late 1960s to pursue a life of international service.
“It was a life-determining, life-changing experience in many ways, and [without it,] I certainly wouldn’t have taken the career path I had and wound up where I am today: back at the Peace Corps,” he said.
Founded in 1960 by Senator John F. Kennedy (D-Mass.), the Peace Corps is a volunteer organization that works to promote outreach and cooperation in developing countries.
“You know with Peace Corps, the one thing you really do gain after a couple of years is something that you can’t gain in school, which is this ‘hot-stove’ understanding of what it means to be poor in this world and what a struggle it is for the vast majority of people in the 130 developing countries of the world,” Rhodes said.
He also spoke about the challenges of working in the global development field.
“It’s not easy to pick up and move everything, including your spouse, your kids, your possessions [and] your pets every three or four years to another continent and take another job with another language and another group of people,” he said.
But the job also comes with its fair share of rewards. According to Rhodes, the Peace Corps is uniquely designed to allow Americans to experience life in a developing country.
“Peace Corps is the only volunteer organization in which young and old Americans commit to go out to the village level, to that last mile, and stay there two years to learn the local language, to understand the people and the culture of the area and to work for two years to create opportunities [which] otherwise didn’t exist,” he said.
During his talk, Rhodes encouraged students to apply to the Peace Corps and advised them to study foreign languages and cultures and to engage in volunteer work as preparation.
Rhodes’ account of his experience with the Peace Corps and his original interest in global development resonated with members of the audience.
“I was fascinated by Chief of Staff Rhodes’ career trajectory, and it was very inspiring to hear his reasoning behind why he got into development and why he continues to work in development,” Michaela Core (GRD ’14) said. “At the heart of everything he does is his belief in the mission of the organization for which he works.”