I found The Onion’s take on Norm‘s motivations for joining the Peace Corps absolutely hilarious. That said, a coworker who I like and trust found the piece offensive. So I hope that it doesn’t offend anyone, that is certainly not my intention. I think it’s funny because I get a lot of emails at work from people who want to help themselves via helping others:
“I want to go to someplace exotic and extreme like India or Brazil for three months during my summer break. I am a high school senior, have taken some Spanish classes, and would like to be on a co-ed program. It’s ok if you don’t pay me any money since I’m sure that I will be in an economically disadvantaged community, so I’ll be perfectly happy with free room, board and a plane ticket (and a safari/trek after the program). I have always wanted to help people, and view your program as an excellent way to help others and give me the insight I can use to be accepted at a top university. I’ve heard that I really need to play up my volunteerism, but working with the poor in tropical countries seems more exciting then helping those in my community.”
Ok, I made that up. And it’s more exaggerated than what actually crosses my desk. But lots of people seem to think that volunteering is about the volunteer. Norm does. I don’t.
I must admit that when I was younger I had thoughts like these. I wanted to help others but not give anything of myself. Well, that’s not often the case. It really took me a long time to understand that I can be happy knowing that I am helping those in need doing thankless work that is imminently needed. Even if it’s not exotic, co-ed or fun.