This summer I am interning at the Peace Corps Headquarters in Washington, D.C. in the unit of Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) under the Office of Overseas Programming and Training Support (OPATS). There are three goals of the Peace Corps and remarkably, they are the same three goals instituted by the agency at its creation under President John F. Kennedy. The goals are the following: to help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women, to help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples serve and to help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans. I find the first goal to be extremely unique in comparison to other development and diplomacy organizations and agencies. The Peace Corps only sets up posts in countries that request PC Volunteers.
In the M&E unit, I am responsible for a variety of tasks including: creating visuals and graphics, improving data collection tools, updating data collection sheets and attending all relevant OPATS and M&E meetings. There are also more tasks and responsibilities that pop up as the summer continues.
I was given a contact at the PC through a family friend and emailed her asking abut internship opportunities for the summer. She then forwarded me to the person responsible for finding interns and a few weeks later I heard back after my interview that I had secured the internship.
Overall, my first week has been absolutely more than I could have ever imagined. The agency as a whole is incredible and filled with talented and passionate employees. I have been given real projects to work on and treated as a team member. The PC has Brown Bags where upon returning back from abroad (either training posts, doing field work or research), employees share their experiences with their coworkers. I’ve gone to a few of these lectures and have learned so much (about literacy workshops in the Pacific island of Tonga, the first PC trip to Nepal, etc.). There is also a PC Library that includes travel books, language cds and books and training manuals used for PCVs that employees are allowed to check out. In addition, there is always food and snacks from a variety of different countries around the world available around the office and every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday there are free Yoga, Zumba and Pilates classes. One thing I found surprising and very cool is that the Peace Corps not only recycles but composts!
My expectations are high for the rest of the summer. I’ve interned at other organizations and I can honestly say this one is extremely unique. I know the agency is going to not only use me to the fullest but improve my understanding and knowledge of M&E, development and diplomacy.