Peace Corps is a bumpy adventure, but one filled with incredible friends. I joined the Peace Corps because of the incredible PCVs and RPCVs that I met and any success I’ve had as a Volunteer is thanks to those people too. Last month I launched a worldwide online course called Peace Corps 101 to bring those incredible people together, give them a forum to talk in real-time no matter where they might be on the planet, and collect their wisdom and enthusiasm together in one (recordable) place. It’s founded on a simple idea: alone we may go quickly but together we can go far.

Almost 5 years ago I started writing the Unofficial Peace Corps Volunteer Handbook (a year and a half before I even left for Peace Corps) not knowing that my scribblings would eventually turn into something in paperback form. All I knew was, “I wish someone would have told me these things.” I figured if the answers I discovered could be helpful to at least one other person, that was good enough for me. That’s always been enough.

During my service in Mongolia, I was lucky to bump into someone else who had a similar view about life - Brian Johnson. He is a philosopher, writer, a talented social entrepreneur, founder of several multi-million dollar businesses, and over the last few years he has devoted his life to reading, writing and teaching about wisdom. When I first read his PhilosophersNotes (like CliffsNotes for philosophy books) I was hooked. I asked Brian for a scholarship and received a free binder of 100 PhilosophersNotes sent all the way to Mongolia along with an MP3 player, PDFs and audio files for all the PhilosophersNotes. All for free. They are currently sitting in Peace Corps Mongolia headquarters and available for any PCV in country.

Amazed by his generosity, I’ve been following him ever since. I read all his notes, his book, and after I COSed in September, I signed up for his first classes in the en*theos Academy - an online learning program he created with classes led by professors, CEOs, writers and philosophers from around the world. In my favorite class PEAK, which was taught by the famous CEO & TED speaker Chip Conley, I was attending a lecture with hundreds of other students while I sat in the middle of the Mongolian steppe. It was an amazing feeling. I wrote Brian a simple email asking if I could teach a class of my own class on Peace Corps, expecting a “no” but hoping all the same, and within an hour he responded saying yes of course! Peace Corps 101 became the first en*theos Academy course focused entirely on service with proceeds going to charity (in our case the Peace Corps Partnership Program and NPCA’s Global Community Fund). The class is also available for free to anyone who wants to attend.

Our class has included current applicants, recruiters, serving Volunteers, former Peace Corps staff, National Peace Corps Association staff and RPCVs from every background imaginable. We’ve also had almost 50 outstanding Professors in the course with expertise ranging from Peace Corps training and recruitment to networking and medical separation. In our six-week class (which finishes up this Thursday night), we’ve tried to cover the entire Peace Corps experience from applying to coming home and being part of the worldwide Peace Corps family. Our first two weeks focused on the basics of applying and training for service, the third and fourth weeks targeted currently serving volunteers and how to make the most of service, and our last two weeks have centered on educational opportunities, job searching, understanding the RPCV world and understanding what a lifetime of service can mean.

The idea behind Peace Corps 101 all along has been to bring the Peace Corps community into a group call and help each other through our service, whether we’re just starting or we’ve been at it for 50+ years. I joined the Peace Corps because the Volunteers and RPCVs that I met were literally some of the best people I have ever met in my entire life and bringing all those people on to a conference call has been amazing. I feel very lucky to be part of such a great group. Even though the class finishes up this week, it will always be available for download anytime at PeaceCorps101.com. And that’s just the beginning…

Starting tomorrow we are launching Peace Corps 101 Interviews hosted by en*theos Radio, where we sitting down with PCVs and RPCVs from around the world, including many of the outstanding Professors from our class.

Also starting in June we will be launching a new course called Everyday Service where we talk with everyday humanitarians from around the world about awesome ways they are changing the world. We’ll be featuring national and international organizations like AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, the Fulbright Program and more, but we’ll also be taking a look at unconventional service, making a difference while making a profit, and the changing landscape of the new economy, social businesses, nonprofits, corporate philanthropy and much more. Also, just like Peace Corps 101, proceeds from this class will go to service organizations around the world - only this time class participants can choose from the dozens of organizations we have represented in class.

Just like Peace Corps is an adventure filled with amazing people, these courses have been a blast to organize and take part in.

I’d love for you to come along for the ride.