Peace Corps has the potential to be fierce, and it should be. Like RuPaul, Peace Corps should push boundaries and break barriers and create a fierce group of volunteers, ready to take on the world.
Some ask if the Peace Corps, as we know it, is still necessary for this day and age. With improved education, transportation, agriculture, and technology benefitting the developing world, do we still need US volunteers serving overseas as teachers, health care professionals, business advisors, technologists and so on?
The answer to this question is yes.
Not only do volunteers continue to bring updated knowledge to developing countries, Peace Corps is the most cost efficient and effective form of diplomacy our country maintains. Volunteers serve at the invitation of the host country, and if the leadership in the host country finds the program no longer useful, then Peace Corps leaves.
What do current Peace Corps volunteers need to improve effectiveness?
Volunteers need access to updated tools and methodologies to catalog their own projects, a clear understanding of what ‘effectiveness’ means, and how best to measure the work they have done in their host country. Here are four ideas for improving volunteers’ experiences and projects during their service.
1. Provide an easy way for any volunteer to communicate with any other volunteer anywhere in the world. Whether this is an intranet or some other system, as long as it facilitates communication and documentation, awesome!
2. Grant volunteers access to a database of all past projects (regardless of country), including proposals, budgets, plans, photos, maps, and any other information that would benefit a volunteer project.
3. Educate volunteers on how to map their surroundings, this provides for a myriad of advantages to the volunteer and the community.
4. Metrics, teach volunteers necessary metrics for understanding how projects have performed, whether the project is truly sustainable, and ultimately the project ROI.
Providing volunteers with the tools and resources to create sustainable projects, measure effectiveness, communicate ideas with fellow volunteers, and to document projects and experiences provides the groundwork for an effective and enduring Peace Corps partnership.