As I was listening about the Peace Corps Prep Course I couldn’t help but think of my time in the LDS Missionary Training Center (MTC) where I spent 3 months prior to living in Cambodia for two years. The new Program at OU seems similar as it helps prepare undergraduates better acquire all the “Core Competencies” needed for their time in Peace Corps. You learn language skills, gain specific sector knowledge, gain intercultural competence, and develop leadership skills.
This is precisely what I did as I learned Cambodian (Khmer) in a full immersion program, became more aware of my purpose as a missionary, learned of cultural norms, and had opportunities to practice various leadership skills through the different assignments and responsibilities I had over the other missionaries that were in my assigned “district”.
The benefits of Peace Corps Prep seem useful. As for myself I know I would not have been as successful upon arriving in Cambodia without the help of my teachers and all those that prepared me while I was in my version of a “prep course”. While I didn’t learn the language fluently in those few short weeks while in the MTC I was able to learn enough to understand how I could teach myself more once in the country. While I could never really grasp the significant culture differences until actually arriving in Cambodia, I was nonetheless ready to embrace whatever culture differences there would be.
All in all my experience preparing for my time abroad was tremendously beneficial to help me become integrated into the country quickly and efficiently upon arriving. More important than that, my time preparing was fascinating and got me more excited than ever to spend two years in Cambodia. The more you know, the more you can appreciate!