Friday, October 11, 2013

What is this Peace Corps thing anyway?

 Here is a rundown of what the Peace Corps is and what the Peace Corps does:

Ø  The Peace Corp is an independent United States agency which sends qualified volunteers to other countries around the world to promote peace and build positive foreign relations.


Ø  The Peace Corps was established March 1st 1961.


Ø  Over 210,000 Peace Corps Volunteers(PCVs) have served.


Ø  Over 60% of PCVs are women.


Ø  Volunteers do not carry arms and they do not get paid during their service.


Ø  Volunteers are assigned to specific countries (countries that request volunteers) to utilize their skills to help improve the lives of the people and environment.


Ø  The term of service for a PCV is 24 months, and an additional three months of training. PCVs can extend their service beyond the 24 months.


Ø  The Peace Corps application process is grueling; most who attempt to apply do not complete it.


Ø  Time it takes to complete the Peace Corps application is 6-12 months and not all applicants are accepted for various reasons, including health issues.


Ø  Qualifications to serve are:

·         U.S. citizenship,

·         Four year degree, or possess technical skills,

·         Over 18 years of age.


Ø  PCVs are not allowed to drive during their service.


Ø  Job areas held by PCVs:

·         Education

·         Health

·         Community Economic Development

·         Environment

·         Youth in Development

·         Agriculture


Ø  Parts of the world PCVs serve:

·         Africa

·         Central and South America

·         Eastern Europe and Central Asia

·         Asia

·         The Caribbean

·         North Africa/Middle East

·         Pacific Islands


Ø  PCVs do not serve in the United States. Volunteers for the AmeriCorps do.


Ø  Current number of countries served: 76.


Ø  The average age of a PCV is 28.


Ø  7% of PCVs are over the age of 50. There is no upper age limit.


Ø  Married couples can serve together.


Ø  A foreign language is not a requirement to join the Peace Corps, though a certain degree of fluency of a foreign language may determine where a PCV will serve.


Ø  Many PCVs will learn a foreign language while in training.


Ø  PCVs are not placed in areas active in war.


Ø  Peace Corps applicants do not choose where they serve, though are asked for preferences.



Ø  List of some well-known Returned Peace Corps Volunteers:

·         Bob Vila…former host of This Old House…Panama, ‘71-‘73

·         Chris Matthews…host of Hardball with Chris Matthews…Swaziland, ’68-‘70

·         Chris Dodd…former U.S. Senator…Dominican Republic, ’66-‘68

·         Reed Hastings…founder and CEO of Netflix…Swaziland, ‘83-‘85

·         Joanie Laurer, aka Chyna...former pro wrestler...Costa Rica, ‘93-‘95

·         Paul Theroux…author of several non-fiction/fiction books including Mosquito Coast…Malawi, ‘63-‘65


*there are several women who have served and have achieved great success, but I am only mentioning those people most of you are familiar with.


(works cited:


Other things I know, but aren't found on the Peace Corps site...

The Peace Corps is a great way to see the world and learn about different cultures, but it is not a vacation. I’m sure you may have heard the motto: “this is the toughest job you’ll ever love”. And it is a job.

I will have to poop in a hole, fetch my water from a well, and I will live as the locals do.

I may have cooked grubs offered to me; we’ll see if I accept in my future posts.

Many PCV women in Zambia keep their hair short, or even shave their heads! Stay tuned to whether I do that or not.

I will ‘live simply and in community’.

I will be trained by the Peace Corps how to live in the country, what to say and not say, what to do and not do, and how to dress.

I will learn my place in my new society as a woman.

My recruiter gave me advice during my interview (she was a PCV): “If you are ever in a situation and you don’t know how to act or respond; do what the women do. If they’re washing clothes, start washing something, if they are cooking, cook something.”  

The wild animals that live in Zambia do not frequent the villages. I will have to go to the Parks to see the lions and Zebras. So, I most likely won’t be eaten by a lion. (phew!)

I have been looking forward to this experience for a very long time. It runs in the family. My father lived in different countries around the world for eight years teaching English as a second language. I am about to follow in his footsteps.

I have plans now when I return, but coming back from living in a place so different from my country, I can only guess what my plans will actually become.


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