A Global Community through local Environmental Service.
EarthCorps is a non-profit environmental organization located in Seattle and associated with AmeriCorps where half of its volunteer staff are American citizens from around the nation and the other half are citizens from around the world. EarthCorps teaches environmental restoration techniques to its volunteer staff during the 11-6 month program (11 months for Americans, 6 months for Internationals) so that every member can take what they have learned back to their home town, state, organization or country and continue to teach those techniques to others so that people the world over can work towards making their environment healthy. EarthCorps’s mission statement is “to build a global community through local environmental service.”
I was lucky enough to participate in a program-and-a-half with EarthCorps and I learned so much not only about environmental restoration, but also about diversity and overcoming its obstacles. Now, let me clarify that I have always been an open-minded and generally accepting person, but I had not been exposed to a large amount of variety in terms of people and culture until EarthCorps. I had crew mates from Alaska, Armenia, Brazil, California, Cambodia, Cameroon, China, Czech Republic, France, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Maine, Massachusetts, Mexico, Minnesota, Mongolia, Morocco, Nigeria, North Carolina, Ohio, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, Serbia, Washington and Wisconsin. And there were still so many other people involved with EarthCorps that I had the pleasure of working with. With people from around the world, I laughed, I cried, I argued, I sweat, I bled and I learned. I learned about the many and vastly different cultural beliefs of my crew mates. I learned words and phrases in four different languages (most of which I can still remember). I laughed at jokes that somehow are known across the globe and others that I had never heard before. I also cried with my crew mates at the loss of one of our own. Every day was a learning experience about how even though we are so different, we aren’t.
This diverse community provided me with a more-than-perfect setting to butt heads with different cultures, to learn the extent of my patience and to create friendships that will never break no matter the distance.