The Peace Corps is an international service organization of the United States where volunteers make a difference through meaningful service. This service tackles the most pressing needs of people around the world and develops cross cultural, leadership, language, teaching and community development skills. This past spring, ASU student, sophomore, Clarice Bayne packed her bags, hopped on a plane (for the first time in her life) and traveled from Seattle to the Dominican Republic for “Taste of the Peace Corps.” Her life hasn’t been the same since.
Clarice has always juggled a lot; multiple jobs, living independently and going to school when she could. She started at ASU Online through the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, and fell in love with the university. She was impressed with the engaging environment, flexible learning, and her ability to manage the coursework on top of three jobs. She has always been passionate about the environment and reducing her impact, and is now working towards making her passion a career through her major, a Bachelor’s of Arts in Sustainability.
When Clarice saw a My ASU ad pop up for Taste of Peace Corps, a nine-day alternative Spring Break Study Abroad, she knew absolutely nothing about what the Peace Corps did or stood for, but she decided to learn more. She was drawn to the program in the Dominican Republic because it focused on building sustainable infrastructure in a developing country and lasted a little over a week. She signed up immediately and worked tirelessly to save over the next six months, even creating a GoFundMe account where she offered her own paintings and postcards from her travels in exchange for donations.
Leading up to her departure Clarice was nervous. She boarded a plane to travel alone for the first time to a country that she’d never visited to work with a group of people she’d never met. But shortly after arriving she easily found a group of 22 additional ASU students and instructors to help make her feel at home.
For the next week the group worked on many different projects focused on improving the community. They would start around 7AM and each day was slightly different. With the help of community members, they built houses and schools with recycled materials, constructed vertical gardens, completed community assessments, lead different projects and activities with students at local schools, and attended lectures to learn more about their impact and responsible international development.
“The community was so eager to help and thankful for all the work they were doing. They were extremely welcoming, open in sharing stories and humble, something that I find can be lacking from US culture.”
As the week continued, Clarice noticed her Spanish improving, her friendships with new people developing and realized the importance of sustainable practices in developing nations. She loved that 22 strangers could come together for the same reason and be so passionate about helping others, all while becoming friends and truly enjoying themselves.
Clarice already considered herself a humble person, but this experience made her learn not to take advantage of anything, even fresh water. Since returning home she has changed many daily routines to ensure she isn’t wasteful and she is more thankful.
“This experience was such an eye opener in every single way, with trusting people you don’t know, doing things you’ve never done, speaking with people you just met about really personal topics and addressing and helping with important, life-changing projects.” said Clarice.
Her time with the Peace Corps gave her a reason to remember why she is so passionate about sustainable practices. Being able to contribute to a sustainable change gave her the motivation she needed to know she’s on the right track, and to continue pursuing her passion with ASU.
Moving forward, Clarice plans to do much more international travel, including Norway and another stint with the Peace Corps. While the experience started with nervousness, she came out stronger in the end and upon returning home was able translate that into a new job and home.
Clarice's advice to anyone considering the Peace Corps?
“Just do it! Take the opportunity to do something new. Before I left for the trip I made a pact with myself to say yes to everything that presented itself, if someone asked for help-yes, if someone wanted to do an activity (within the guidelines)-yes. I didn’t want to think back and say “I wish I would have done that.”
Learn more about The Peace Corps for ASU Online Students!