Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Peace Corps Application Essays

During the initial application process (which is basically the longest application of your life), applicants are required to write two essays.  Since reading examples online helped prompt me, I thought I would share mine.

A word of advice- be aware of application deadlines and give yourself plenty of time to work on the essays.  I realized that I really wanted to apply several days before the deadline, so I wrote these in one sitting.   Reading them a full year later, I definitely wish I had more time to dedicate to writing and editing them.  That being said though, essays are only one small part of the application process.  Do your best, but don't stress over them!

Click through to read my Peace Corps Application essays.

Essay # 1  Peace Corps service presents major physical, emotional, and intellectual challenges.   You have provided information on how you qualify for Peace Corps service elsewhere in the application. In the space below, please provide a statement (between 250 – 500 words) that includes:
  • Your reasons for wanting to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer; and
  • How these reasons are related to your past experiences and life goals.
  • How you expect to satisfy the Peace Corps 10 Core Expectations (please be specific about which expectations you expect to find most challenging and how you plan to overcome these challenges).

I am from Tennessee, which has the nickname the “Volunteer State.”  Although my state got this common nickname from its history of active military volunteers, it seems to fit many of its common residents as well.  I grew up actively volunteering with my friends and family in many areas of our community, especially in the local 4-H program.  My experiences shaped me as an individual, but when it was time for college, I always assumed I would take the average path- a fairly average major, Marketing and International Business, followed by an average life where I would take an average job and raise a family.

This past semester I studied abroad, something that is far from average.  Though I had an incredibly fun time, I was challenged, intrigued, and forced to re-consider my definitely average plans.  

Although I had interned with the State 4-H program in the past and even considered a career in non-profit marketing, I began to realize that I am capable of achieving something far from average and to really make a difference in the lives of others.  At that point I began to look into programs that I had previously thought were out of my reach, which is where the Peace Corps came in.  

A girl from my church joined the Peace Corps about two years ago and is now nearing the end of her assignment in Mongolia.  I have always looked up to her willingness to serve and her passion to make a difference, and I have recently found myself filled with that same passion.  

I am well aware that a term in the Peace Corps won’t be easy.  At this point I believe the hardest part will be to gain the trust and confidence of the local people, and to prove to them that I am not there to change them into a subset of the United States, but instead to help them reach their fullest potential.  To overcome this challenge I will need to not only show empathy, respect, and confidence, but also to develop a life long relationship with them.  

Pope John XXIII once said, “Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential.”  An assignment in the Peace Corps would be scary, frustrating, and exhausting.  However, I have no doubt that it would be among the most rewarding of all experiences and that it would allow me to live a life much more than average.  

I look forward to living that type of life; one that is constantly questioned and challenged and that makes a true difference.  Furthermore, I would be truly honored and extremely humbled to include a volunteer term in the Peace Corps as part of that challenge.  

Essay # 2  Your success as a Peace Corps Volunteer is based on the trust and confidence you build by living in, and respectfully integrating yourself into, your host community and culture (Core Expectation #4). Describe an experience you have had in living or working in a social or cultural environment different from your own. What specific challenges did you face concerning trust, confidence, and/or integration? What did you learn from this experience that you will bring with you to your Peace Corps service?

Many people think of travel and the exploration of other cultures as a vacation, something that has a clear beginning and a clear end.  To me, experiences with new people and places have a much deeper meaning.  By consistently having an open mind when encountering something different than that which I am accustomed, I have been able to learn about and appreciate other cultures.  These lessons have taught me that there is no “right” way to live.  Instead, we must understand that each culture is unique, and the differences between us should be celebrated, not condemned.  

This past fall I had the opportunity to study abroad in Spain, which was nothing short of life-changing.  Though Spain most certainly enjoys many first world luxuries, simply being outside the United States of America was a learning experience.  Growing up American, many of the things I experienced in Spain were new and different to me.  While some of these differences bothered other students, I found ways to appreciate and learn from them.  It was not easy.  Multiple times I found myself wanting to just go to a Target and pick up everything I needed.  In times like that I had to remind myself of the positives of my experience.  There may not be a convenient Target, but there was a baker, a fruit shop worker, a butcher, and a drugstore clerk that were all eager to hear about my day and spend a few moments talking to me.  
During my time in Spain I lived with a Spanish family who spoke absolutely no English.  Although I had studied Spanish for about five years at that point, I was nowhere near fluent.  Becoming a part of María and Jose’s family was both my favorite and most challenging experience.  Some days I felt emotionally exhausted, and being unable to simply relax and get away seemed to be frustrating.  However, by the end of my program, it was hard to even imagine life without my new “parents.” María and Jose taught me to constantly work hard and appreciate what was around me, and I am blessed to still have them in my life today.   

Instead of being eager to return to my easy American way of life, the end of my program had me searching for opportunities to challenge myself for the benefit of others.  I am confident in my abilities to problem solve and persevere and I am passionate about making a difference in the lives of others.  Above my experience in the work force and abroad, it is this passion that will make me a valuable member of the Peace Corps.  


  1. I pasted a website that might be helpful to you: Good luck!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing these, Abby! I am beginning my application process and feeling really nervous. But, here goes! It helps to hear from people who have already done it. :)