Motivation, the Peace Corps, and China

What is my motivation for going into the Peace Corps? Back in 1998, I decided that I will go to China. I wanted to know more about the culture, to be fluent in written and spoken Mandarin, and to reconnoiter various U.S.-China joint business ventures. I know then, as it is true now, that I could not afford to just go on my own. I needed a bigger purpose. I chose teaching English in China. Many J.E.T.-like programs were popping up in China, and they could sponsor me.

Then I found the Peace Corps. Not only are they more prestigious, but there is greater security, too. Private-based programs can be fraudulent. Peace Corps has decades of reliability. There is medical care, and an established infrastructure. I chose the Peace Corps over other programs simply because the former is better.

So if my motivation for going into the Peace Corps is to have security when I go to China, what is my motivation for going to that country? Why not some other developing country, like Vietnam or Madagascar? I would decline an offer to go to any other country other than China because my career plans revolve around China. Although I would fulfill the purposes of the Peace Corps, going to Vietnam or Madagascar would not fulfill my personal goals. I have taken over four semesters of Mandarin and read much literature on China, its ancient history, its government, culture, and social system. Since 1998, I have formed my career goals with China in mind. Accepting an offer to a country other than China would make all that time, effort and preparation for naught.

What are these life/career/personal goals that I speak of? I was crossing my fingers for Congress during the Clinton Administration to support China’s entry into the World Trade Organization. China is a developing market economy. In fact, a report to the Congressional Committee on Foreign Relations in 1995 said that, for all practical purposes, China is now a market economy. Its membership in the WTO would assure continued development in that direction, and numerous career opportunities would arise for individuals willing to travel to or live in China. I anticipated this. So, I planned my studies with the intention of eventually going to China. I planned my career goals with China in mind, too.

As far as careers go, I have many options: NGOs focused on the development of China’s rural economies; the Grameen Bank; the U.N.; the World Bank; the W.T.O.; U.S. State Department; U.S. foreign service officer; Citigroup in China; or other investment banks.

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