Three years ago, I started working on the Posh Corps project. The idea was simple: to discuss the modern Peace Corps experience honestly. I wanted to cut through the mythology and the marketing, and capture the experience of volunteering in a rapidly changing world.
I spent three months in South Africa shooting the film. I returned to the United States and spent six months editing the film. In 2014, I started selling the film and screening it around the country. By the end of 2015, Posh Corps sales had almost recovered the production costs, and I started thinking about making a change.
Today, if you visit poshcorps.com, you’ll find that all the feature films on the site are free. In fact, almost everything on poshcorps.com is now free, with theexception of licenses. I still ask people to pay for public screenings and educational licenses, as this helps cover the costs of running the website. We won’t be selling advertising. We don’t sell user data. The site is a service to the Peace Corps community.
I’d like to thank everyone who purchased Posh Corps, everyone who attended a screening, and everyone who went out on a limb and shared the project on social media. These actions helped prove that a Third Goal project could be successful and impactful. I owe special thanks to RPCV/LA, West Cascade Peace Corps Association, Katie Sell Garcia at USAID, and Socorra Camposanto.
Posh Corps will continue. We’ll still be posting new content, but less of it will be produced by me. We’re hoping to host content for recently returned volunteers who need a springboard for their work. We have a special interest in radical, controversial ideas about Peace Corps. We don’t do puff pieces. Returned volunteer Lauren Schwartzman will gradually begin taking over creative control of the site, so if you have a project to share, pitch her a story.
Breaking-even financially on Posh Corps is great, but I do have one last aspiration. I hope the project will inspire more people to seriously consider doing a Third Goal project. I can’t deny that it’s a challenging prospect. Though Section 2517 of the Peace Corps Actdirects the agency to support Third Goal projects, they never actually do it. Most returned volunteer associations and networks are woefully disorganized and very cautious with their support.
Despite the challenges, there has never been a better time to shake things up. Write a memoir, produce a film, start a podcast and push Peace Corps to support you. If you aren’t impressed with your local Peace Corps community, start a new one. I can’t promise that your experience will be financially rewarding, but it will be personally rewarding. You’ll push the Peace Corps establishment to do more and be better. You’ll also inspire the next generation of Peace Corps volunteers, hopefully with a more authentic vision of the Peace Corps experience.
- Alan Toth