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Anyone know anything about the peace corps?

Just wondering if anyone has volunteered, where they went, if it was a good experience, etc.

Update:

Thanks for all your answers so far. I wanted to ask this, since someone mentioned that they only take 1 in 10 applicants; what kind of qualifications do you need? I graduated with a BS in finance three and a half years ago, and I've worked as a consultant for the last 3. Unfortunately, i don't really have that much experience with volunteer work, other than the work i did in college. That was a little surprising to hear that the application process is a lot like what'd you'd go through trying to get any other job. I thought volunteering for the peace corps was just as easy as joining the army. What are the reasons they would have for not taking somebody?

7 Answers

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  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    I came back from my 27 months in Peace Corps this past December. I was very much welcomed for my teaching, and I made friends that I will never forget -- both among my fellow volunteers, and among the people of Tanzania.

    What Peace Corps requires is that you have a skill you can use in volunteering. What have you done with your life so far? Do you know anything about health? Anything about agriculture, carpentry, or another skill with your hands? Do you have experience in teaching, or a degree in science or math?

    It is most definitely an experience worth having! It gave me two years' experience in teaching, with ESL experience that helped me to get a job teaching at a good private school. Beyond the gain back at home, I was able to show some of my family the country (a visit from home) and I was able to make a difference in the lives of many students and a large number of friends from every country in the world. If you have the freedom to spend two years away from the States, you should definitely volunteer!

    The Peace Corps is for US citizens only and is therefore more careful with its volunteers than many organizations. As a fellow volunteer stated, the organization is perfect for someone who has never left the country before. There are many weeks of training, and the volunteers are assigned "homestay families" who are also coached in the safety and teaching of their volunteer. Some of our volunteers who had experience outside the country found their extra care tiresome, but it does mean that the volunteers are safe.

    Peace Corps does not have an active program in any country that is volitile, and if an area becomes volitile they will evacuate the volunteers. There are drills and plans to follow for each volunteer so that they know their role in such a situation.

    That said, you may also want to check in the VSO or Volunteer Services Organization. If you join Peace Corps, you may choose a region of the world -- such as South America or Sub-Saharan Africa.

    With the Peace Corps, there are contacts in every town and the people in your village have all necessary contact information with headquarters should they be needed. They also provide free medical care at the headquarters. If there is any danger by terrorists or civil unrest, they will bring you to headquarters and, if necessary, help you all to evacuate.

    The "food allowance" is about the same as your "Host Country National" counterparts, housing is provided, and they give you language training and a "counterpart" or helpful local resident to help orient you. The "food allowance" depends on the country you are assigned to, but it is usually about $150 - $300 a month -- more than enough to buy your food in a country where basic groceries cost about $50 a month!

    You really should look into it and see if you would like to join; it is most definitely an experience worth having. You can contact me also, if you have questions. You have plenty of time to research it.

    And yes, the volunteers made a tangible difference in their communities and the ones nearby. There are environmental volunteers (digging wells, teaching agriculture, teaching sanitation), health volunteers (teaching both in schools and in communities, including HIV/AIDS education), and education volunteers (teaching primarily in schools, science and math subjects).

    There are also NGO's (Non-Governmental Organizations) in many countries, which can give you a long-term or even a permanent position. They work with more specific issues, such as AIDS education, literacy in general, or religious education.

    Try looking into things! You have Americorps, Peace Corps, VSO, Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, Caretakers of the Environment, and NGO's. Most of these will give a (small) food allowance for your help.

    If you have other questions, let me know! If you have experience with the Spanish language, there is a very good chance that they would accept you for the Western Hemisphere assignments, and there are many more environmental needs there. Depending on what your abilities are with other areas, fluency in Spanish alone can be a useful qualification. Fluency in French can be a benefit in gaining an assignment in Western Africa. Just FYI!

  • 1 decade ago

    I applied after graduating from college but had to back out because I did not have enough personal references. Since then I have built up a long list of references from numerous volunteer projects. I now plan to join once I retire. Clearly that wasn't my original plan but it will do.

    I think people join because they want to make a difference in the world. They want to experience first hand what it is like to live and be apart of a vastly difference community.

    The best time is either right after college or once you retire. It is very difficult to do it any other time, especially after you get married, own a house and have children.

    Having spoken with prior peace corp volunteers, many state that they got a lot of job interviews as a result of people being curious to hear their experiences. Thus, it can open doors yet also be a bit of a nuisance since people might be more curious than seriously considering you. But, I figure, getting more interviews is always a good thing.

    There is such a variety of peace corp positions and they vary from country to country. You really need to speak with several former peace corp members to grasp the overall experience. And so much depends upon what you are expecting and what you contribute.

    Most people love it but you must have the right expectations. You're a government employee caught between two government bureaucracies, ours and the host country's. Be patient, be flexible and do the best you can with what you have.

    Contact universities in your area to see if there is a peace corp representative you can meet with.

  • 1 decade ago

    I know something about it. I was a PCV many years ago. The two biggest things to make it a good experience seem to be

    1) Working in a country with a progressive government. If the main point of the government is to KEEP 95% of the wealth in the hands of 5% of the populace (Or to increase the "President for Life"s Swiss bank account), then you won't enjoy working for them. You get paid by the US Government, but your supervisor and his/her manager, all the way up, are the Host Country Nationals.

    2) Have a well-defined job; teacher, nurse, engineer, accountant.

    They only take one applicant in ten, by the way.

    You can write to me via my profile if you like. This is a nom de Yahoo.

    ==========================================

    Later:

    The biggest reason applicants don't get an invitation is they lack the skills the host countries want. If you can teach accounting, you would be in demand. To take an extreme example, if the Peace Corps had applications from 5,000 zoo keepers, and requests from host countries for 5,000 accountants, no one would be happy.

  • 1 decade ago

    The Peace Corp does not allow missionary work, so you go and teach skills to help the natives survive. Its best if you formulate first in your mind that you have something they need, so they do the work to understand the skill, otherwise you end up doing the work and they gain only the benefits. The rewards you receive are well worth the energy expended. I have a friend who is a good chemicsl engineer who does nothing but peace corp work because he didn't want to be employed by our defense people. I was and understood his stance. It is adicting, the ability to help people improve their lives.

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  • 1 decade ago

    I have a good friend in the Peace Corps now, They have enjoyed their experience. At first they were to go to Haiti, but now they are in the Phillippeans. They get homesick a little, but has seemed to have enjoyed the experience.

  • 1 decade ago

    One of my best friends went to Russia and taught English to school children for two years. She has the best stories. If you respond to this I can ask her if I can have you email her!

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    They pay a small amount of money for living expenses, but you are essentially a volunteer.

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