Photo by Mikhail Nilov

Gary Lindberg’s Peace Corps memoirs, The Vegetable Grows and the Lion Roars are a clear testimony to his experiences with and a good introduction to the Peace Corps.

Although primarily a great example of Peace Corps memoirsThe Vegetable Grows and the Lion Roars by Gary Lindberg is equally a great call to action to serve in the organization. 

Service in the Peace Corps can be intensely demanding, but the rewards are immense. 

What is the Peace Corps?

The Peace Corps is an independent agency and program within the executive branch of the United States government that was established for the express purpose of deploying and training foreign volunteers who would be fully equipped to provide international development assistance. 

The organization was founded in 1961 under an executive order from then-President John F. Kennedy, which was then subsequently authorized by Congress through the Peace Corps Act

The stated goal of the Peace Corps is the provision of assistance to developing countries by way of assigning individuals who are educated in the fields of education, health, business, feminism, and sociology. 

Most foreign volunteers are typically college graduates who are able to participate in projects in certain countries based on their qualifications and experiences.

The Peace Corps works closely with other American entities, governments, private organizations, schools, NGOs, etc.

The Benefits Foreign Volunteers Receive in the Peace Corps

Economic Benefits

Foreign volunteers are given access to free lodging and an appropriate allowance which helps them settle in the communities they find themselves in for the duration of their service and time there.

Unlike other programs that are geared toward international volunteers, the Peace Corps does not expect fees for participation, although necessary medical examinations might be borne by the recruit. 

When foreign volunteers finish two years of service, they are given $10,000 to do as they wish.

Medical Benefits

The Peace Corps will freely offer medical and dental care to foreign volunteers, including preventative care and problems suffered during their tenure.

When a health crisis occurs, which cannot be remedied in the host country, the volunteer will either be taken to the nearest country that can or be sent back to the United States at no cost to the individual.

Professional Benefits

When one becomes a foreign volunteer, the Peace Corps offers in-depth and comprehensive training to prepare them for service, including cultural immersion and basic language instruction.

Through their time in the Peace Corps, foreign volunteers are given chances to acquire new skills and develop pre-existing ones further.

So, for foreign volunteers who wish to find other professional possibilities, the experiences and the expertise they accumulate will be of great assistance in finding them.

For foreign volunteers eyeing a path to teaching, the Peace Corps gives out opportunities to earn certified teaching credentials (i.e., a Teaching English as a Foreign Language certification), which allows them to fulfill global standards for professionally teaching English.

For foreign volunteers who come from disenfranchised communities, the Peace Corps provides a path to receiving higher education via reduced tuition, assistantships, and allowances.

Travel Benefits

The cost of the trip to and from the assigned country is all paid by the Peace Corps.

Foreign volunteers have two paid days of vacation for each month of their service—which is a good opportunity to visit neighboring countries (or if they want, they can also go back home), although the expenses will be borne by them. Paid leave is also available in the event of significant emergencies, e.g., family-related.

Networking Benefits

There have been hundreds of thousands of Americans that have worked with the Peace Corps as foreign volunteers.

This means that current and former Peace Corps members have access to a growing, active, and diverse network of alumni in the form of the National Peace Corps Association.