What is the Peace Corps?
My short answer for this is that the Peace Corps is an American Government Volunteer Organization founded by JFK in the early sixties. A Peace Corps service is a twenty-seven month commitment to serve in a country that has requested help from the United States. There are six sectors that volunteers can work in: Youth in Development (my sector), Health, Education, Community Economic Development, Agriculture, and Environment. The Peace Corps puts a lot of emphasis on keeping their volunteers safe and healthy. They provide a monthly living allowance to keep their volunteers living well, health care for the full service, and a readjustment stipend to help with the reverse culture shock that can come after living in a country with a much different culture than the United States.
For more information on the Peace Corps, visit peacecorps.gov.
What exactly are you going to be doing?
I am working in the Youth in Development sector as a Life Skills Volunteer. I will be getting a lot more detail about what my position will look like in training, but I have a broad idea currently. I will be working in a school implementing their life skills curriculum to promote HIV/AIDS prevention strategies and awareness, as well as youth and girl empowerment. It is also likely I will be conducting GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) camps and doing other secondary projects throughout my two years.
When will you be back?
Who knows! My service technically ends October of 2017, but who knows if I’ll extend my service! I currently think that it would be great to stay an extra year or even do another service in a different country. I won’t decide for sure until I am part way through this service.
Why did you decide to do the Peace Corps?
I honestly don’t remember what first got me thinking about the Peace Corps. When I was eighteen and finishing up my associates degree, I was looking into colleges and specifically the Evergreen State College. I remember reading that Evergreen was number 7 in the top list of schools to have graduates join the Peace Corps. I remember considering changing my major in order to make myself more competitive for the Peace Corps. I just had this drive to participate in this program. I felt like it was the opportunity of a lifetime. Why would anyone not want to do the Peace Corps? You get to live in a different country, immerse yourself in a new culture, learn a new language, help people who truly need and want help, challenge yourself in countless ways, and know that you have people who are supporting and helping you with the whole process. So even though I didn’t change my degree for the Peace Corps, I still managed to get here. When I was trying to decide if I wanted to pursue social work or clinical psychology, I was really feeling burnt out and ready for a break from school. So I started looking further into the Peace Corps to use it as a break from school. Through exploring the Peace Corps website, I found the Masters International programs. I felt like that was such an amazing mix of continuing my education and taking a small break from it. So I applied to the Masters in Global Youth Development and decided that if I did not get accepted into the program, I would just try applying to the Peace Corps by itself. Luckily, I was accepted into the program and I’ve had an amazing year to help me prepare for the Peace Corps and to help me decide what I may want to do after the Peace Corps. At this point, I just feel like I am too young to try and settle into a career or a life path that I may not actually want. This is the time in my life that I should be exploring other options and opening myself to all the possibilities that life has to offer.
What is Master’s International?
The Peace Corps works with multiple different universities to offer Master’s programs that a Peace Corps service can satisfy the internship or practicum requirement for. I can’t speak for all programs, but in my Master’s International program, we had to complete a year of academic work and at least nine months of an international internship before our final paper could be written. For more information on Master’s International programs follow this link: http://www.peacecorps.gov/volunteer/graduate/mastersint/
What can you do with your Master’s in Global Youth Development?
I will be using my degree primarily just to help me get another degree. I was mainly interested in this program to help prepare me for the Peace Corps and because I didn’t see why not to get a graduate degree while doing the Peace Corps. I also saw it as an opportunity to take some of the classes that I may not have time to take while obtaining my other degree. I’m very happy that I pursued this path because I was originally planning to continue onto a doctorate in clinical psychology and through this program, I discovered that that was not actually a path I wanted to go on. Essentially, this degree is my scenic route. However, others have used theirs to do non-profit work with refugees or immigrants, work in schools on many capacities, and pursue other education. It really strengthens you to be able to better help youth in the community whether that is working at a higher level in something like the boys and girls club or if that’s starting your own non-profit to help youth.
Can I visit you?
YES PLEASE!! The only times that I am not allowed to have visitors are my first five months and last three months. So I can have visitors from January 2016 (the month I turn 22) to July 2017. As long as I know in advance, I should be able to take time off (we get 2 paid vacation days a month that we can accrue up and use) and travel with you!
Are you afraid?
No, my philosophy is that you can’t live your life in fear. If something is going to happen to me in Botswana, it’s probably something that would happen to me in the States. Peace Corps is very protective and careful with their volunteers. They won’t put me in danger intentionally and they are going to take every precaution possible to keep me safe. It is also really common for your village to become like family and be very protective of you. So, no, I am not afraid, I am just excited to see where this adventure takes me.
Is your mom afraid or worried for you?
This question I get in 90% of the full conversations I have about this adventure. The answer is simple, no. She is not worried about me. She holds a philosophy much the same as my own. If I am going to have something bad to me, I will most likely have something comparable happen here if I don’t go. She knows that I am strong and capable and is not worried about me taking care of myself. She has said though, that the fact that everyone asks if she is worried, makes her worried because she’s not worried.
Is your dad afraid or worried for you?
I actually have never gotten this question, but for the sake of gender and parent equality, I figured I’d throw it in. His answer is also no.
Who is this awesome person who is taking care of your life while you’re in Botswana?
Funny you should ask that, it’s my awesome and amazing brother Nick. You can learn more about him at his website and this fancy page dedicated solely to him.
How are you communicating with us and what is the internet like there?
I will mostly be emailing my brother, Nick, and he will be editing and uploading my posts. He will also be my main stateside contact and will monitor my “contact me” page and may respond to some emails for me. If you are trying to reach me and need help he is the person to work with. I do not know exactly how often or how well I will be able to get online and will find out better once I am in country.
What is the farthest from home you have traveled before?
The farthest I have traveled was to Florida.
What are you doing there?
I work in the Guidance and Counseling department of a Senior Secondary school. I mostly teach. I have a 40 minute lesson once a week with 14 different classes. My classes are about healthy living, sex-ed, self-care, etc. I also spend time in the guidance office providing guidance and counseling to students. I didn’t want to teach and was very resistant to it, but I have come to love it. I have great students, we have great discussions, and we are all learning together.
When will you be back?
Of course, I can’t say for sure, but I believe I will be back the beginning of November of 2017. I had toyed with extending or doing another service somewhere else, but I don’t think there will be any reason I would want to extend here, and I believe that two years is long enough to be away from my family, especially all my cute nieces and nephews. My service will end mid-October and then I think I will travel for two weeks before coming home.
How are we communicating with you?
I have WiFi! So I can easily do video chats, Whatsapp calls, e-mails, and messaging through Whatsapp or Facebook. I also love to send letters, so if you want to do snail mail, I’d love it. My Whatsapp number is +1 360–870–1050. My address is
Joiwyn Lewis, PCV
C/O Seepapitso SSS
Pbag 007
If you have other questions, feel free to ask them below!

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