If you are a Harry Potter nerd as I am, this post is for you. If not, exit stage right or do yourself a favor and educate yourself.
The Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is divided into four houses, each bearing the last name of its founder: Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw and Salazar Slytherin. Houses at Hogwarts are the living and learning communities for its students. The four houses are separate entities. Each has its own common room and dormitory, its own table in the Great Hall, and students mostly share lessons with classmates of their same house. There is no rule against students from different houses mingling, but in practice, a good majority of social interactions occurs within the same house. Much like how Peace Corps Volunteers are when they are accepted. We have four sectors, Small Business Development, Health, TEFL, and Environment. There is a training round done approximately once every six months, where Health and Business train together and come in at the beginning of the year and graduating around June. TEFL and Environment trainees come in around August and graduate in November. Once through training, each sector splits off and essentially only work with its sector for things like In-Service Training. However, social interactions intermingling sectors occur all the time volunteer to volunteer.
Despite its negative connotation, Slytherin is not a bad house. Although their members have a propensity to join the dark side, Slytherin house values ambition, cunning, and resourcefulness. As a business volunteer, we often are the most ambitious. It is a well-known fact our program is the most work intense. We teach 11th and 12 th grade entrepreneurship classes as well as consult with community businesses. That means we have to look for resources all over the place. Every business and its owner are different, with different needs. We can be a little cunning as well, from convincing our students into making a business product and competing in a regional then national competition to working with the delegate to make all our coworkers co-plan.
Ravenclaw values intelligence, knowledge, and wit. This just reeks of a TEFL volunteer. Often they know a little about everything. Their entire mission is to teach English, which leaves a lot of room for others things. They are teachers at heart and most innovative in how they share their wealth of knowledge. It’s what they do, plus they are the quirkiest of the volunteers. From their style, personality and witty humor, they are the brains of the bunch. They help students get scholarships to go to college and work with whoever wants to learn English. They also work in the schools and host English singing competitions. Karaoke to improve your English speaking skills, really, I can’t think of anything better.
Hufflepuff values hard work, dedication, patience, loyalty, and fair play rather than a particular aptitude in its members. By far, Health volunteers have more patience than I could ever display. There are the only sector not partnered with the board of education and don’t automatically work in the schools. Therefore, it’s up to them to put in the hard work to meet with community members and show their selves worthy of teaching a few health workshops in school. They usually are partnered with the health department to work in houses for pregnant women or the hospital, but that’s not always guaranteed. Some sites are too underdeveloped to have one. In addition, they teach Sex-ED, which is mostly stigmatized in third world countries. No one wants to talk about how little they know about sex, and are afraid to appear like they want to know more about sex even though the majority of them are having sex! You will know a health volunteer when you see them; they have dildos in their rooms and condoms in their bags like permanent accessories.
Gryffindor values bravery, daring, nerve, and chivalry. Environment volunteers go where no man has gone before. They live in the most rural, often the poorest parts of the country, because that’s who tends to own the farms and has land. They are usually very kind and humble, not wanting to take credit for all the problems they solve. They also work in schools, but only in primary schools, showing the importance of recycling and ways to nurture the earth, which is an uphill battle anywhere outside of the United States. They know all the DIY tips and because of all they’ve seen near their homes and on the farm, their scary, uncomfortable, or nasty tolerance is super high.
I, like Harry Potter, wonder if I should have been placed in a different house. I am a Slytherin and do adore my work as a Business Volunteer. Lately, however, I have been thinking of project ideas that scream environment. I can’t change sectors, but thankfully I am in the Peace Corps and can do inter-sector work. Which house are you in?