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For Community-Driven Global Development

FSD: An Impact-Driven Alternative to Peace Corps

In the summer of 2012, I embarked on a journey that influenced my life trajectory. After nearly a year and a half of waiting for my official assignment, I arrived in the Philippines as 1 of 72 United States Peace Corps Volunteers. I was ready to work alongside the community and learn the local ways. Over the course of 27months, I collaborated with my community to implement educational and health-related projects, and I gained a deep appreciation for Filipino culture and customs. In fact, it is a place I call home. This experience was arduous, but definitely remarkable in its own regard and one that I remember fondly.

Looking back, I admire my service and the way it taught me about international and community development, and it was definitely a once in a lifetime experience. Since many people do not have two years to commit to the Peace Corps, I am grateful for organizations like FSD who offer short-term international programs that parallel the culturally immersive and community-focused programs the Peace Corps offers and is a viable alternative to a long-term Peace Corps placement.

Why, you ask? Take a look below at the reasons why I think an internship with FSD is the best alternative to government-sponsored programs like the Peace Corps.

1) Citizenship and Academic Status

Unlike the Peace Corps, students and professionals wanting to pursue an international internship with FSD may be citizens from any country. FSD offers diverse programs for students and groups alike who have the desire to support projects that genuinely reflect a host community’s priorities. Our interns represent a wide array of university levels and areas of study, working professionals that pursue opportunities through our ProCorps program, and pre-college Gap Year students looking to gain development training. Regardless of citizenship and academic status, FSD has no requirement for interns to be of a certain nationality or have a college degree. What is required is a willingness to engage as a catalyst for sustainable change in a culturally respectful and collaborative manner.

2) Short-Term Programs

The Peace Corps’s 27-month undertaking is a significant commitment, which can mean postponing other professional and academic opportunities. Given FSD’s truly flexible programming, you can tailor your experience to fit your needs. We offer programs ranging from 10 days to 52 weeks with multiple start dates throughout the year. Although, many of our interns serve in 9 to 12-week internships during the summer months when they have the time to fully commit to an internship opportunity. FSD works intentionally to accommodate you while meeting the needs of the community-based organizations you are assigned to.

3) Selection of Country, Project, and Sector

Due to recent changes in programming, the Peace Corps now permits applicants to choose their country of service, but with FSD students have always had the option to select where they wish to intern. FSD’s newly designed application process allows you the added flexibility of applying to 1 of our 6 countries to pursue an internship or a project-specific assignment you feel most called to. Whether you are interested in being placed in urban Bolivia or working specifically as an adolescent health education intern in rural Kenya, you will have the option to a select the country or project that is most fitting for you.

4) Asset- Based Community Development

Purpose and intentionality are large drivers of FSD’s programming and operations. Our focus on achieving community-driven goals centers around the Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) model. This model puts local communities in control by focusing on the existing strengths, practices, and incredible knowledge base within these communities. Other development approaches place community deficits as the focal point, but ABCD helps communities discover sustainable solutions through assets and resources they already possess. As an intern with FSD, you will gain valuable training in sustainable development through the ABCD model and learn how to build community ownership while ensuring long-lasting impact.

5) Career Starter

FSD offers programs for you to not only learn skills related to international development, but also research, project management, and budgeting which are applicable and valuable to real-world professional opportunities. You will broaden your global perspectives and understanding of real-world concerns through collaboration with community partners in a cross-cultural setting. Not to mention, working in the international context will make you an effective communicator and team player equipped with the flexibility to work successfully through complex topics. You can check out our 5 Ways an International Internship Will Jump-Start Your Career to learn even more about how an internship with FSD can give you the knowledge and experience to set you apart from other graduates.

Excited about this impact-driven alternative? Find out which FSD program would be the best fit for you by reading about our international programs

Karla Piacentini served in the Peace Corps from 2012 - 2014. She holds a Master’s in International Education Management and Public Administration from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. She interned with FSD in 2017.