PeaceCorpsJournals.com got it’s start in March 2006. After returning home from his service in The Gambia, West Africa and traveling, Mike Sheppard tried to find more journals and blogs on the Internet that were written by Peace Corps Volunteers detailing their adventures and projects. He was new to the blog “scene” and in fact, he didn’t even know what a blog was until two weeks before he finished his service! That was when a fellow volunteer showed him what they were, and how to even set one up in the volunteer computer lab within minutes. That was in July 2005; he uploaded past emails from the previous two years and continued blogging while traveling through Africa (original blog: Journey Across Africa).
After he arrived back home and while looking for more volunteers blogs he became frustrated with finding deadlink after deadlink, or random lists scattered all around. That’s when he decided to make his own website listing the all the links he could find to volunteer blogs – the question now became: How do you find them? Starting with an original list of just six journals he searched in his spare time, keeping track of those he found and from what country they were serving. Six months later he could not find any more links and in mid-August of 2006 PeaceCorpsJournals went online!
The set up was simple; due to lack of programming skills than anything else. You selected which country you would like to view, and the country page had a map with a table of links. The date listed for a journal was when it was added to the list.
When a new blog wanted to be added to PeaceCorpsJournals the volunteer would send the link to us through e-mail, and we would manually change the code on the webpage. This was the way things were for 2.5 years and over 4,000 new blog additions. In November 2008 the site was approaching over 5,000 blogs and talk of upgrading the site, and even making it real-time, was discussed. We decided to through with it and found an excellent programmer to help us, Yi Huang, a PhD student in Computer Science and Engineering at Michigan State University.