National Peace Corps Association Launches Next Step Travel Program
By Molly Mattessich on Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) love to travel. It pretty much comes with the territory.
Many of us take advantage of a short vacation during service or a few months after COS to explore the sights of our country of service and surrounding countries, often with a group of fellow Volunteers. Fifty-eight percent of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) said that a love of travel and adventure motivated them to join the Peace Corps in the first place (Source: A Call to Peace).
Now, the National Peace Corps Association has a program that creates special trips for the adventurous Returned Peace Corps Volunteer and their friends and families.
Next Step Travel is the new service travel program that brings together the Peace Corps Community for new adventures overseas. Each trip itinerary contains components that a Peace Corps Volunteer would love, from building a “bottle school” to painting a world map, and of course the requisite hikes through waterfalls and free time to explore markets and the culture of remote towns.
The program begins with trips planned to the Dominican Republic and Guatemala. (In future we hope to expand these trips to other Peace Corps countries). Depending on your trip, some highlights will include:
- Hiking through the forest to a series of 12 stunning waterfalls
- Visiting with Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and witness their work in rural communities
- Volunteering to help improve the livelihood of communities in need
- Riding a catamaran in the Caribbean
- Wandering the cobblestone streets of the colonial city of Santo Domingo
- Volunteering on projects to improve the education of Maya children
- Creating a world map with community members
- Learning firsthand from local artisans about traditional weaving, music and art
- Participating in a community-based tour to learn about religious syncretism and Maya cosmology
- Exploring the boutiques, galleries and cafés of colonial Antigua
The lodging for the trip is typically a spacious house in an authentic community, off the beaten path. Accommodations are carefully selected for their quality, location, and character, offering an opportunity for trip participants to relax, unwind, and get to know fellow travelers, creating a sense of community.
“RPCVs like helping other people, they’re curious about the world, and they have a sense of adventure. In short, they’re ideal travel companions.”
Discover Corps, a program of Terra Education, will operate Next Step Travel in partnership with the National Peace Corps Association. Started by RPCV Andrew Motiwalla (Honduras 96-98), Terra Education staff understand the unique personalities and preferences of RPCVs. In-country, your ticket price covers the accommodations, transportation, excursions, entrance fees, and most meals.
You do not have to be a Peace Corps “alum” to join the trip. This is a perfect opportunity for someone who couldn’t spend two years serving overseas. They will get a taste of the Peace Corps experience in just two weeks!
Janet Greig (India 66-68) explained her enthusiasm: “The Next Step Travel program promises to be rich in so many ways. Whether I can count on fellow travelers who served there or the local ex-pat RPCVs to be my unofficial guides, I know I will gain insights I could never glean from another travel experience. The opportunity to be of service and to work shoulder-to-shoulder once again with host country nationals and with fellow Americans will prove rewarding.”
The trips are also a fantastic way for an RPCV who served in Eastern Europe or Africa to understand what serving in Latin America was like. Peace Corps reunions can happen on the trips (just book your spots early for a larger group!). Bring your kids or your parents on these trips of a lifetime. A member of the National Peace Corps Association staff will also travel on each trip so you can be assured that your group will stay connected long after it’s over.