Peace Corps, Volunteerism, and Culture Shock


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Village classroom. Image by Karri Stout.

This village classroom would benefit from additional books. Image by Karri Stout.

The School Library Project

Volunteer Karri Stout reports that in Tanzania, “The overall literacy rate in 2011, according to the UNDP Human Development Indicators Index, was 73%.  The overall literacy rate in this village and most villages throughout the country is probably less than 40% of individuals who are able to read.”  This makes her work even more challenging.

Stout reports “My greatest hope is that the students at the school will read and nourish their starved imaginations.  Their classrooms are bare, with no colorful pictures or posters adorning the walls, their workbooks are insufficient for the number of children per class so they have to share three to four children per book.  The library will give these children a chance to hold and keep a book of their own for a short time, but the beauty of a library is you can read a new book each month.” Stout’s asking donors worldwide to donate funds online to set up a library for her village.

The beauty of volunteers like Karri Stout is that, like books, their experience opens up a new world for the rest of us, without the accompanying culture shock.


Corporation for National and Community Service. Volunteering Among Americans Hits Five Year High (2012). Accessed March 2, 2013. Culture Shock. (1998). Accessed March 2, 2013.

Peace Corps. Learn about Volunteering. (2012) Accessed March 2, 2013.

Peace Corps. Peace Corps 2011 Annual Volunteer Survey Results (2011). Accessed March 2, 2013.

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