As an ASU Online student, it can be challenging to connect with other classmates over the Internet. Participating in this study abroad program allowed me to meet other like-minded Sun Devils who were just as passionate about international service and learning more about the Peace Corps as I was. I engaged in meaningful discussions and critical thinking with my fellow program participants through our nightly lectures. Through our fun service days and exciting excursions, I made friendships, connections and unforgettable memories with some amazing people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise.
While in the Dominican Republic, our itinerary was organized in a way that could give us the best possible taste of the different Peace Corps sectors. We built a house out of plastic bottles, we taught English lessons at a local elementary school, we took part in a medical brigade, and visited the sites of Peace Corps volunteers.
Our program activities and lectures coincided seamlessly. For example, one night our lecture was about taking community diagnostics, which meant interviewing community members about the needs of their community. The following afternoon, we all went to a local town, split up into groups, and actually spoke to locals and interviewed them about their communities.
There were some “fun” days, or excursions planned into the program itinerary as well. All of us took a ride on a cable car overlooking Puerto Plata, spent the day at a National Park, had some time to go shopping and hang by the beach in Cabarete, and hiked up Mount Brison.
This experience significantly changed how I think of the Peace Corps. Jessica and Julia, our two ASU program leaders, are both returned Peace Corps volunteers. Therefore, at any time throughout the program, we could talk to them about their experiences and ask them any questions we had.
Some of our nightly lectures also gave us tremendous new and valuable information about the Peace Corps. We learned about the different sectors, the type of work one will actually doing there, what goes into implementing projects, how and when to apply to the Peace Corps, and much more! One of the most helpful parts of the program was doing site visits to Peace Corps volunteers actually serving there. It was insightful, honest, and inspiring to speak with the two wonderful volunteers that we met.