Peace Corps Essay 1 Examples

During the initial application process (which is basically the longest application of your life), applicants are required to write two essays.  Since reading examples online helped prompt me, I thought I would share mine.

A word of advice- be aware of application deadlines and give yourself plenty of time to work on the essays.  I realized that I really wanted to apply several days before the deadline, so I wrote these in one sitting.   Reading them a full year later, I definitely wish I had more time to dedicate to writing and editing them.  That being said though, essays are only one small part of the application process.  Do your best, but don't stress over them!

Click through to read my Peace Corps Application essays.

Essay # 1  Peace Corps service presents major physical, emotional, and intellectual challenges.   You have provided information on how you qualify for Peace Corps service elsewhere in the application. In the space below, please provide a statement (between 250 – 500 words) that includes:

  • Your reasons for wanting to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer; and
  • How these reasons are related to your past experiences and life goals.
  • How you expect to satisfy the Peace Corps 10 Core Expectations (please be specific about which expectations you expect to find most challenging and how you plan to overcome these challenges).

I am from Tennessee, which has the nickname the “Volunteer State.”  Although my state got this common nickname from its history of active military volunteers, it seems to fit many of its common residents as well.  I grew up actively volunteering with my friends and family in many areas of our community, especially in the local 4-H program.  My experiences shaped me as an individual, but when it was time for college, I always assumed I would take the average path- a fairly average major, Marketing and International Business, followed by an average life where I would take an average job and raise a family.
This past semester I studied abroad, something that is far from average.  Though I had an incredibly fun time, I was challenged, intrigued, and forced to re-consider my definitely average plans.  
Although I had interned with the State 4-H program in the past and even considered a career in non-profit marketing, I began to realize that I am capable of achieving something far from average and to really make a difference in the lives of others.  At that point I began to look into programs that I had previously thought were out of my reach, which is where the Peace Corps came in.  
A girl from my church joined the Peace Corps about two years ago and is now nearing the end of her assignment in Mongolia.  I have always looked up to her willingness to serve and her passion to make a difference, and I have recently found myself filled with that same passion.  
I am well aware that a term in the Peace Corps won’t be easy.  At this point I believe the hardest part will be to gain the trust and confidence of the local people, and to prove to them that I am not there to change them into a subset of the United States, but instead to help them reach their fullest potential.  To overcome this challenge I will need to not only show empathy, respect, and confidence, but also to develop a life long relationship with them.  
Pope John XXIII once said, “Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential.”  An assignment in the Peace Corps would be scary, frustrating, and exhausting.  However, I have no doubt that it would be among the most rewarding of all experiences and that it would allow me to live a life much more than average.  
I look forward to living that type of life; one that is constantly questioned and challenged and that makes a true difference.  Furthermore, I would be truly honored and extremely humbled to include a volunteer term in the Peace Corps as part of that challenge.  
Essay # 2  Your success as a Peace Corps Volunteer is based on the trust and confidence you build by living in, and respectfully integrating yourself into, your host community and culture (Core Expectation #4). Describe an experience you have had in living or working in a social or cultural environment different from your own. What specific challenges did you face concerning trust, confidence, and/or integration? What did you learn from this experience that you will bring with you to your Peace Corps service?


Many people think of travel and the exploration of other cultures as a vacation, something that has a clear beginning and a clear end.  To me, experiences with new people and places have a much deeper meaning.  By consistently having an open mind when encountering something different than that which I am accustomed, I have been able to learn about and appreciate other cultures.  These lessons have taught me that there is no “right” way to live.  Instead, we must understand that each culture is unique, and the differences between us should be celebrated, not condemned.  
This past fall I had the opportunity to study abroad in Spain, which was nothing short of life-changing.  Though Spain most certainly enjoys many first world luxuries, simply being outside the United States of America was a learning experience.  Growing up American, many of the things I experienced in Spain were new and different to me.  While some of these differences bothered other students, I found ways to appreciate and learn from them.  It was not easy.  Multiple times I found myself wanting to just go to a Target and pick up everything I needed.  In times like that I had to remind myself of the positives of my experience.  There may not be a convenient Target, but there was a baker, a fruit shop worker, a butcher, and a drugstore clerk that were all eager to hear about my day and spend a few moments talking to me.  
During my time in Spain I lived with a Spanish family who spoke absolutely no English.  Although I had studied Spanish for about five years at that point, I was nowhere near fluent.  Becoming a part of María and Jose’s family was both my favorite and most challenging experience.  Some days I felt emotionally exhausted, and being unable to simply relax and get away seemed to be frustrating.  However, by the end of my program, it was hard to even imagine life without my new “parents.” María and Jose taught me to constantly work hard and appreciate what was around me, and I am blessed to still have them in my life today.   
Instead of being eager to return to my easy American way of life, the end of my program had me searching for opportunities to challenge myself for the benefit of others.  I am confident in my abilities to problem solve and persevere and I am passionate about making a difference in the lives of others.  Above my experience in the work force and abroad, it is this passion that will make me a valuable member of the Peace Corps.  

So this is my essay for my Peace Corps application. This is only a rough draft and grammar is rough at the point. I am focusing on main themes and flow. Let me know what you think/ if you think I would make a good candidate!

Prompt: Peace Corps service presents major physical, emotional, and intellectual challenges. In the space below, please provide a few paragraphs explaining your reasons for wanting to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer and how you plan to overcome the various challenges associated with Peace Corps service. This essay is the writing sample Peace Corps uses to assess your professionalism and maturity as a candidate. Please spend time editing your essay/writing sample (less than 500 words).

Essay:
June, 10 2007 - I sat quietly in my cap and gown in an uncomfortably warm auditorium. "Michael Andres Cook" the announcer began as I received my diploma. I began to shake hands as the announcer continued, "voted by his class as most likely to live in another country." This sounded like a lofty goal in the distant future as an eighth grade graduate. Now a senior at the University of Wisconsin, Peace Corps offers me this and much more.

Although I've been abroad numerous times for internships and family visits to Colombia, I've never been able to dedicate myself to creating change, however small or large. I strive to become a PCV so I can apply my education to improve the lives of a community. I look forward to living modestly and creating sustainable health changes in a community during the adventure of a lifetime. Many ask why I don't continue local service. I respond, "Only Peace Corps offers me intense cultural immersion where I can be a positive American ambassador while learning about myself and a different culture."

Being able to share my stories and pictures between my hometown and Peace Corps community will hopefully influence others to learn about our global community. These international experiences can change an individual's thought process; moreover, they have the potential for creating peace, small and large.

But what makes the journey meaningful are the challenges encountered. I began to think of physical complications: weather, sickness, and extreme discomfort I've been fortunate enough to avoid throughout my life. As I considered applying more seriously, I pondered various emotional challenges: missing my family and their milestones, feelings of alienation and loneliness, living in a metaphorical fishbowl, and two years away from everything I know. I wondered, How will I apply what I've learned while respecting cultural norms? How will I function without an app-for-that? Will my community like me? Can I handle the extreme death-rate of developing countries? These questions have made me deeply consider my success as PCV and planning will make this difficult and rewarding adventure possible. Ongoing preparation and communication with family and friends will create a smoother transition.

My flexibility and adaptation have been proven by motivation and commitment during extreme weather, sickness, and sleep deprivation. I'm creative and live for a challenge. I'm willing to step far outside my comfort zone to form new comforts away from home by trying something new: a new cuisine, way of life, and a second family! Most importantly, I understand I will not be instantly successful and I remain positive and committed until success.

Gaining trust within the community will be the greatest challenge. Learning the language and customs as early as possible will be the first step. Further, I've learned that trust forms when a community and culture is shown the respect it deserves. One must completely embrace and follow their way of life at all times with all preconceived notions aside. Trust formed, I hope to share my skills while my community enriches me.

I am aware the Peace Corps won't be easy. These difficulties and hard times will be worth new culture, learning, and enriching myself. Living with, learning from, and serving people in need is one of my greatest passions and I know I am ready for the challenge, because even one life changed is an opportunity for a better tomorrow.

Words: 565

Thanks!

Hi macook3! I'm EF_Season and I'm here to help you with your essay today. First, I LOVE the way you began this essay by relating your 8th grade self experience. I would have liked to see that experience return near the end of the essay (and maybe even briefly in the middle)--in theatre we say that three times is a charm in storytelling so if you intend to involve a motif (8th grade you), then having it relate even in a word or two all the way through the essay is useful to help you maintain the reader's attention.

Since you're more interested in flow/themes, I will comment on these things as opposed to grammar for now, okay? Your essay left me with a few questions, mainly about the accuracy of your language to convey what you intend. Here is an example of what I mean. You write:

"My flexibility and adaptation have been proven by motivation and commitment during extreme weather, sickness, and sleep deprivation."
How can flexibility and adaptation be proven by motivation? What did you DO to become flexible or adapt? What motivated you to do so? How can you be committed to extreme weather, sickness, or sleep deprivation? Again, what did you DO during these instances. I know you have few words; however, providing examples is often much more useful (i.e. your 8th grade self) than simply stating empty phrases--I don't know what or how the words you use in this sentence apply. Instead tell your reader about a moment when you WERE flexible and had to adapt due to weather, sickness, or sleep deprivation...

Another fleeting thought I had (and this may NOT be the case in your instance, but you should know that your reader COULD think it) was that "sleep deprivation" because of an upcoming exam (etc...) is a very different experience than sleep deprivation due to extreme poverty, etc... Keep this in mind as you write. You seem to be aware of the privilege you do have but sometimes, even those of us who are aware, make assumptions.

"will be worth new culture," --Do you mean will be worth learning a new culture? Understanding a new culture? You're missing a verb in this instance.

" because even one life changed is an opportunity for a better tomorrow" -- Here is probably my biggest question for you. My area of expertise is ethnography (examining other cultures) and a major fallacy is that people from developed countries can go into "underdeveloped countries" and "save" the people there. If you're applying for the Peace Corps, I'm sure it's unlikely that you feel this way; however, the quoted piece from your writing here suggests that you plan to swoop in and save the day. Be careful with statements such as these (unless you mean YOUR OWN life changed, in which case, you should clarify). Okay?

I hope this helps. I'd be curious to see how your essay develops! Good luck to you, EF_Season.

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