One of the missions of the Peace Corps is to promote a better understanding of other cultures among people living in the United States.
Photo: J. Emilio Flores / Impremedia
As Hispanics we meet many people of Hispanic origin who work day after day to help our community. But very rarely do we meet a Hispanic who helps change the world. Rhina Lara is one of these people. Born in Miami to Dominican parents, she joined the United States Peace Corps, to change the world. To put his grain of sand helping people in another country and teaching them what Americans can do for humanity.
Rhina studied at the University of Florida where she developed a vocation to serve the community and did several volunteers helping different groups. During one of her volunteers, Rhina worked with refugees and had the opportunity to meet a former Peace Corps volunteer. And although Rhina, like many Hispanics, was unaware of the Peace Corps and its role, she did learn about the organization and how she could grow personally and professionally. For this reason, she decided to become a volunteer. Participation in the Peace Corps was an opportunity to continue his desire to help different communities and to have a career working for the federal government.
But the application process can often be daunting, when family or friends do not understand the benefits or role of the Peace Corps, they already tend not to support the candidate. In Rhina’s case, she had the support of her mother, but not necessarily that of the rest of her relatives. Many of them told her that she was being selfish for wanting to go volunteer in another country. Especially after everything his parents had done to give him a better life in America. They let him know that he was not doing his best to take advantage of the education and benefits he had had.
The attitude of the relatives is caused by the lack of knowledge about the benefits that Rhina would receive during and after completing the volunteer service. During her service she received a stipend, which is similar to the basic salary of a teacher in the area where she was located and did volunteer work. But that’s not all, volunteers are provided with housing, medical services, vacations and the cost of travel related to the service. In addition, once volunteering ended, Rhina had access to a number of benefits that the Peace Corps provides. Among the most prominent benefits are financial assistance to do a master’s or doctorate in the United States, up to $ 10,000 for your service and preference when applying for a job in the federal government.
Although the benefits she received have helped her a lot with her professional career. The intrinsic benefits Rhina received were greater. She decided to volunteer in Ecuador, where she learned more about its Hispanic culture and improved her Spanish language. Rhina developed her self-esteem and skills like adaptability and flexibility. Which will be part of her for the rest of her life. But not only Rhina benefited from being part of the Peace Corps, her mother had the opportunity to visit her in Ecuador and see how her daughter contributed to a better world, which filled her with great pride and joy knowing that the values instilled as a family they were being fruitful.
Today, thanks to the service Rhina provided to the Peace Corps and the preference when applying for a job with the federal government, Rhina obtained a position with the Department of Environmental Protection known by its acronym in English as the EPA. Where she practices as an Environmental Protection Specialist in the communications office, spreading news related to pesticides and how they affect the general public to the media and EPA staff. Also, like most volunteers when they return from volunteering, Rhina continues with the third mission of the Peace Corps, which is to promote a better understanding of other cultures among people living in the United States.
To contact a recruiter for more information about the Peace Corps visit PeaceCorps.gov.
-Milton Rivera is a Public Affairs Specialist, Peace Corps.
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