I had to submit an updated Motivation Statement after the Peace Corps asked me to reapply when I wasn’t accepted for Jamaica. If interested, here is what I sent (without the photo, which is from my current weekly volunteer assignment) a month or so ago that led to the interview and offer for Uganda as an Agribusiness Specialist (which I just accepted):
When I received the recent news that I was not selected to serve in Jamaica, I felt heart-broken. As an optimist who believes “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” I was already learning Patois/Patwah, growing amaranth and okra and other hot-weather crops, buying and cooking breadfruit, and “smalling up myself” by cleaning out our house in the fingers-crossed hope that I would be selected.
Immediately after I got the news, I led a ten-year celebration of the community garden I helped start (now the largest volunteer-run community garden in the State of Georgia, still donating to those in need every week), and I looked out at the beautiful, diverse people who showed up and reminded myself to trust the journey (as is my philosophy, mentioned often in my most recent book, Traveling at the Speed of Bike). I planted radishes in my home garden so that I could visibly see new growth again quickly. I then underwent the required multicultural and trauma-informed-service training to start volunteering at the Global Village Project, the only school exclusively for refugee girls in the USA, which I’ve been doing for the past three weeks. As I’ve been riding my bike eight miles to serve there each Thursday, I’ve tried to accept that my Peace Corps journey was done.
But then the day after I harvested the radishes this week, just five weeks or so after I got the news about Jamaica, I got both a phone call and an email from a Peace Corps recruiter named Natalie Smerkanich. She told me my skills were in demand and that my prior application was considered highly competitive. She asked if I would consider serving elsewhere. We talked on the phone and I shared my belief in the journey and that this call indicated that perhaps I was not yet done with the Peace Corps. What’s more, if I were to apply again, maybe I should just roll the dice and see where the world needs me. After talking with my husband, that’s exactly what we decided I should do. So here I am, asking for your kind consideration.
In my earlier motivation statement, I shared how when the planes flew into the Twin Towers in 2001 and no one knew what was going to happen next, I took the only action over which I felt like I had some control. I planted seeds and grew food. I soon fell deeply down the rabbit hole of sustainability, and I fell in love with it. Over the next 18 years, I grew food, community and knowledge and, in doing so, served my family; my city; various communities in need; and whoever may have read my books, blogs, and articles. Throughout, I proved to be the kind of positive, optimistic person who brings creativity, commitment, and cooperation to shared objectives that cross cultural and political borders. I try to empower people, especially women and girls (note that I’m a mother of two grown daughters), and have fun along the way.
As a regular bike rider with simple, healthy eating habits and an enduring spirituality, I would be entering the Peace Corps strong and stable both physically and mentally. I have normal concerns about my safety and my family while I’m serving but I know that the Peace Corps provides ways to address those issues. I desire representing my country in a positive light while serving in a capacity aligned with a community’s needs and my personal and professional passions. I just want to help, while learning things that could continue to be useful after service, to others in our changing world.
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