This is a sample aspiration statement that is required of all applicants by the Peace Corps upon being invited to serve.
Applying to the Peace Corps is like being a contestant on a game show. Except the results change the course of your life forever.
After the long application process, you’re finally invited to serve. You know where you’re going. You know when you’re going. But you have a packet of papers with many menial tasks sitting on your desk in front of you. You don’t know where to start.
A week later, you’re finished with everything. Well, not quite everything. Just like college, you saved the most daunting task for last. The dreaded essay. In this case, it comes in the form of an “Aspiration Statement”. What the heck does that mean, anyways?
Even though the Peace Corps sends you a format that you are to follow, in true Peace Corps fashion, you’re left with more questions than answers. Sections A, B, C, and D may look different at first glance, but after three or four more read-overs you’re wondering how you can separate them into different ideas. You haven’t even left the country yet and you’re already fed up with the ambiguity.
Well, some people have written these things with success. Here is my example from when I was a Peace Corps aspirant.
What follows are my five tips to writing your aspiration statement with success. Unlike the Peace Corps, these tips should leave you with more answers than questions.
1. Keep it simple
This isn’t a college essay, and this isn’t going to be published. Keep in mind that in the big picture, this essay isn’t about the style or the language. It’s about the substance. Don’t try to “wow” your readers. Write well, but don’t try to be William Faulkner or Gabriel García Márquez.
2. This is mainly for you, so put some though into it
You will find yourself in your mud hut after three or four months of service asking yourself why the heck you signed up for this crazy experience. What were you thinking? What did you want to accomplish? You’ll remember that you put all of that down on paper many moons ago in a distant land. Take some time to figure out why you want to spend two years of your life doing something like the Peace Corps. Brainstorm. It also helps to think about why you wouldn’t want to do it, and what you’re sacrificing to do the Peace Corps.
3. Non-native English speakers will be your primary audience
Your project team usually consists of non-native English speakers, so keep that in mind as you write. Keep your language clear and concise.
4. Be your unique self, with all your faults and greatness
The point of the aspiration statement is that your project team gets an idea of you before you arrive in country. It’s not about how much you know about crop rotation or city planning, it’s about you and who you are. The better idea they have of you, the better your Field Based Training (FBT) will be for you. And that means what you know just as much as what you don’t know. Don’t be afraid to tell the truth. They don’t expect perfection, but they do expect honesty.
5. You’re already accepted, relax.
This isn’t a job application. You’re already in. If you write that you don’t know much about your project or if you don’t feel qualified in a certain area, that’s fine. Most people don’t feel qualified to do what they think they are going to be doing in the Peace Corps. Concentrate on the important things about the aspiration statement, like getting your essence down on paper the best you can. Take a deep breath and realize that this is just part of the craziest experience you will have in your life.