“To promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.”
Like hundreds or maybe thousands of volunteers, I too have jumped on the blog bandwagon to start accomplishing Peace Corps (PC) Goal #3. Aside from Facebook and Instagram (follow me there too!), a blog is the best way for me to share my PC experience in more detail with not only Americans but my family and friends who are scattered around the world. I also hope this blog serves as inspiration for those wondering if PC is for them and as a glimpse into what to expect for future PC volunteers (to Ghana or not). Lofty aspirations but if it helps one person, I will be happy.
So, first, a little background on Peace Corps, where I am serving and what my service will (I hope!) be about.
Peace Corps was founded in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy and he appointed Sargent Shriver as its first Director. The overarching mission is to promote world peace and friendship and the two other goals of the organization are:
1. To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women;
2. To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the people served.
Over 220,000 Americans have served since its start and the first country to ever accept volunteers was *drumroll please* GHANA!
The very first volunteers arrived in PC’s founding year, when Ghana itself was only 4 years old. With no interruptions, despite various bouts of political unrest in the young country, this means PC Ghana holds the record for longest country served. I am proud and excited to be part of this legacy.
I am as average a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) as you can get – when it comes to age (28). As a female, I am in the majority of those serving (63%) although my group was quite the exception with an even split of male/female. I am part of the agriculture group serving Ghana from 2015 – 2017 and more specifically I am an agriculture extension volunteer. Agriculture goals are to:
1. Improve farm productivity
2. Improve farm income
3. Improve organizational capacity
I am based in the West Mamprusi District, Northern Region and when planting season rolls around (when will those rains come? Climate change is REAL) I have been assigned to have demonstration plots for various crops such as rice, maize and soybean. As harmattan (strong dusty winds) is in full swing and I am on site integration*, this is the time to figure out what challenges farmers in my community face in growing and harvesting the aforementioned crops. With assistance from other agencies and experts, the demonstration plots will address these challenges and see if the methods and practices used can be adopted the following year. Not all PCVs get spec ific project assignments like this, while others get even more specific ones. In Ghana for example, that could be working on cashew farms. These projects had been developed by in-country staff long before our arrival and we are encouraged to also assist our communities in developing other areas of their interest and need. From what I have gathered so far, I have opportunities to help in education (i.e. reading, writing and English comprehension) and youth development (i.e. girls’ empowerment, basic health education).
I feel the need to emphasize that these are the things I *hope* to do. Development projects are tricky to successfully carry out and they fail all the time for various, complex reasons. So I will start out “small small,” as they say here in Ghana.
**Disclaimer: The content of this blog is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Ghana Government.**