Kate’s Assignment

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps to promote world peace and friendship. Advocating for the people as the world’s most valued resource, he sought out volunteers to execute his vision by placing them in sectors of education, youth outreach and community development, the environment, and information technology. In these sectors, Peace Corps Volunteers collaborate with local community members, and today serve throughout Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Central and South America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. Education represents the largest sector, and is also the area to which I’m assigned.

I am currently serving as an early generation volunteer in Surade, West Java. An Early Generation Volunteer (EGV) is someone who is serving as part of a group in a country where Peace Corps recently entered, or reentered, within the past two-three years. The first Peace Corps Indonesia program was initiated in 1963 and sent a total of 46 Volunteers to work in physical education. In 1965 the governments mutually consented to close the program as a result of the escalating political unrest in Indonesia. It wasn’t until 2006 that the Indonesian government sought to re-invite the Peace Corps to Indonesia. The first group of Volunteers arrived in January 2010 and since then the program has been steadily growing and expanding. I am one of twenty volunteers to serve for the first time in West Java. In the upcoming years, Peace Corps Indonesia is looking to expand to some of the more remote islands surrounding Java.

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, is of strategic importance to the Peace Corps as it is one of only eleven Muslim countries where volunteers are currently serving. All volunteers in Indonesia live with a host family, and the relationship fostered with them and our community help establish our integration and safety. We are trained to speak and work in the language of Bahasa Indonesia (this is the official language of Indonesia, but is mostly used in Government setting), but at home my family speaks Bahasa Sundanese.

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