Norbert and Carol Hoffmann's Peace Corps Journal


My Motivation for Wanting to Join the Peace Corps

(Essay not Used)

In some sense, I’ve always seen myself as part of the world community. As a teenager I had pen pals in Germany and England. My first trip abroad was at 17 to visit relatives in London. As they moved on to Rome and then Calgary, Alberta, I would keep track of their relocations on an Old World map. After our move to Germany and back, I continued to make friends from other countries and to take interest in their culture and customs. When my own children were older, we hosted students from Mexico, Japan, Switzerland, Peru and other places, sometimes just overnight, other times for longer stays. As a foreign language teacher, I often enjoyed time with colleagues hearing of their stories and experiences abroad, but I also felt a special connection to the students I taught. I loved to learn about their life experiences back in Vietnam or Laos, in Mexico, El Salvador, or Somalia.

I’ve also always been actively involved in my local communities. Back in the 1960’s and early 70’s I participated in a group that worked with churches in Austin, Texas to establish a network of "safe homes" for victims of domestic violence. I helped as a relief house parent in a home for unwed teen mothers. In Raleigh, my volunteer work was on the crisis hot line and my paid job was with the poor, many of them migrant farm workers from Mexico. In Tulsa, with the Adopt-a-family program and here in Minnesota with the Northfield Youth Taskforce, I have continued this involvement.

My life has been so rich and full of opportunities. I was thinking that, once my children were grown and gone and once my husband retired, I would be ready to relax and to take it easy for a while. Instead, I found myself searching the Internet for still new ways to be involved in life. I learned about the large animal research project in Fairbanks, Alaska where summer volunteers help further studies on the musk oxen. There were also environmental projects all around the country. Some in water quality and working in rain forests preservation were of particular interest to me. Still, as the search continued and as I took a look back on all that had drawn me in the past, I began to see   the Peace Corp as the best fit. This is the one possibility that draws both on my interest in active local involvement and my interest in the larger world community. As a volunteer, I see myself not only doing my assigned job, but going a step further to becoming part of a new community and encouraging others to do the same when the time comes for me to return. I suppose that under all of this is the need to think my life counts for something and the confidence that it does.

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