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Claire Etim (
Posted on Tuesday, November 08, 2005 - 2:35 pm:   

How intensive is the selection process? Kennedy established the agency in 1961, but only about 168,000 volunteers have served. With a 44 year history, that number of volunteers seemed low to me. So, are the Peace Corps standards exceptionally high? Do they only have a limited number of spots? Or are Americans not interested in the program? Are they intimidated by it?
Anonymous ( -
Posted on Wednesday, November 09, 2005 - 2:40 pm:   

Hi Claire,

The answer is "There are a limited number of spots in Peace Corps." Peace Corps is awaiting
a larger promised allotment of income.
Admin1 (admin)
Username: admin

Post Number: 698
Registered: 7-2008
Posted From:
Posted on Thursday, September 25, 2008 - 4:32 pm:   

Hi! I'm very interested in joining the peace corps. But I have some questions. I am absolutely willing to sleep on the floor, shower in cold water, deal with bugs and dirt. I absolutely want to be challenged. However, I have my limits. I would prefer to be placed in Central Asia, China, or Eastern Europe. I do not want to go to Africa. I have quite a bit of background in tutoring in reading and esl work. I just finished a study abroad for 9 months. Do you guys think the peace corps is for me? I know for everyone it is a personal choice, but I want to make sure that it is even close to a good idea before I start what appears to be a very difficult application process.


(Post a new comment)

2008-06-17 09:56 pm UTC (link)
Why do you not want to go to Africa??
(Reply to this)(Thread)

2008-06-17 09:59 pm UTC (link)
primarily because of my mother. I know it sounds silly, but she has very strong feelings against me going to Africa. I know a lot of success on the program depends on support back home.
(Reply to this)(Parent)(Thread)

2008-06-17 10:17 pm UTC (link)
nobody supported my wanting to go to Africa either.
I pretty much dashed that idea, too.
(Reply to this)(Parent)

2008-06-17 10:19 pm UTC (link)

Well if you tell them you do not want to go to Africa, they’re going to want to know why.
I know of a woman who was supposed to get a Latin American in the summer… She was mid-career and they called her in the spring and said “Okay, can you go at the end of April?” She said, “I can’t I have not quit my job or sold my house!” So they said, oh okay… so she quits her job, she sells her house. and is ready to go to Latin America… She gets an invite… Africa. She calls her PO “I thought I was going to Latin America?” PO “well this is open and it fits your skill set.” The woman has an elderly mother who asked that her daughter not go to Africa, because she’ll worry and she thinks it’s unsafe… She explains this to the PO and the PO says, I understand, many people feel that way, but safety is the number one priority, etc etc… Woman declines invite. Peace Corps does not issue another invite… She is SOL an has no house or job. The end.

Another quick story… My father told me he did not want me to go to Africa. He said it was dangerous and that there is disease, etc… I told him “exactly, that is why I want to go!” I unfortunately did not get Africa – I got Eastern Europe (the one place I told PC I would prefer not to go b/c I wanted to experience a completely different culture and anything in Europe would still be to similar to America…

The support of your family is important… true. But you’re family also has to be supportive of you and what you want to do, regardless of which continent you’re on. If your mom is concerned about your safety you should have her attend a PC meeting… It’s normal! However, if they only support you are assigned one place versus another. That is unfortunate. :-(
(Reply to this)(Parent)(Thread)

2008-06-18 12:37 am UTC (link)
Explain at your interview you don't want to go to Africa. I did, and my recruiter didn't even blink at it -- she just nominated me for EE/Asia.
(Reply to this)(Parent)(Thread)

2008-06-20 06:59 pm UTC (link)
This doesn't always work. The two choices of nomination I got were the two places I said on my application and at my interview that I didn't want to go.
(Reply to this)(Parent)

2008-06-18 04:41 pm UTC (link)
Trust me, EE is still a culture shock. Maybe not as much as Africa, but there are definite major cultural differences.
(Reply to this)(Parent)(Thread)

2008-08-05 05:54 pm UTC (link)
I'm all up for culture shock. I'm just not sure my mom can handle me being in Africa. She is a single parent, and it would really freak her out.
(Reply to this)(Parent)

2008-06-17 10:21 pm UTC (link)
Just be clear about where you want to or don't want to go. It's fine to have preferences. People think you must be this "please make me suffer" person to be in the Peace Corps, and yet I have internet at home, wear nice clothes, sleep on a bed, and even have a cat. My suffering is solely based on not having a washing machine in my house, and having a shitty shower.

Go through the application process. It's designed to weed people out. You should know by the time you get through with your interview if it's for you or not. The big thing for me is that you can't make money for those two years. That's tough knowing you can't supplement your income on your own. You are a representative of the US, EVERY DAY. That's one of the toughest things for me.

Good luck, but really, only you can answer this question about whether PC is right for you or not.

And sure, Africa's not for everyone--we had a gal who had to leave Ukraine because of a parasite she picked up in Africa.
(Reply to this)

2008-06-17 10:48 pm UTC (link)
I didn't (and certainly don't now) have strong feelings against Africa, but I was more interested in being other places. It seems to be a very popular notion, as stated above, that if you have ANY sort of preferences whatsoever, you're not eligible for the Peace Corps. And that's not true.

When you do the initial application, there is a place where you put down if you have placement preferences. Of course, if you say that you absolutely cannot go to Africa, they'll want to know why. I don't think your particular reason would be a deal breaker, though, and you can explain your reasons in your interview.

Alternatively, I elected to go with "no preference" on my application, and during my interview my recruiter asked me if, in fact I had a desire to go anywhere specific. She ended up sending me a list of programs that she could nominate me for, and let me pick. (In the end, though, it didn't matter: my invite was in a different place than my initial nomination.)

As for whether the Peace Corps is right for you, it depends on a lot more than just placement. I agree with scifigal. Go through the application process. You have to get through about two applications and the interview before you have to shell out the dough for the medical clearance, and by then you'll probably have an inkling on whether this would be a good path for you or not.
(Reply to this)(Thread)

2008-06-17 11:08 pm UTC (link)
dough? how much does it cost?
(Reply to this)(Parent)(Thread)

2008-06-17 11:52 pm UTC (link)
depends on your insurance. you have to have blood tests and a physical and depending on any pre-existing conditions you have you may require additional tests (i had to shell out quite a bit for my former therapist to fill out the paperwork PC wanted regarding why i had been seeing a therapist).

I also went with the "no preference" option and also got to choose from a list sent by my recruiter. i was nominated for "non spanish speaking central or south america" i ended up in Central america but with a spanish speaking region. I was also nominated to leave in june but i'm not leacving until august. so you never know.
(Reply to this)(Parent)(Thread)

2008-06-18 02:12 am UTC (link)
you had to pay your therapist just for her to fill out some forms? geez.
(Reply to this)(Parent)(Thread)

2008-06-18 03:03 am UTC (link)
I'll also put in that you can theoretically get all your blood tests/required shots and the ilk done for free: aspiring PCVs can to go to wherever your "local" VA hospital is, and they'll do all your tests for free. However, this can also be riddled with problems: the VA is, after all, a government-run service, which can mean long waits and lots of getting paperwork filled out and shuffled between you, the PC, and the VA. Also, the quotations around "local" refer to the fact that "local" to you does not necessarily mean "within reasonable commuting distance."


That said, it is very kind of them to offer a free service, and it's definitely not the VA's fault that it's pretty much understaffed and underpaid. I ended up giving up and just getting all my tests done privately. It cost me about 300 dollars. But, I was also working on somewhat of a timetable (I wanted to get into the Peace Corps in the time immediately following my matriculation), and I didn't have a car, which would have made getting to the VA problematic, to say the least. I think most people just end up getting it done privately, if there's any possible way they can afford it.

Haha, I ranted. But yeah... sometimes, bureaucracy is scarier than bugs and cold water. At least you can hit bugs with a shoe. :-)
(Reply to this)(Parent)(Thread)

2008-06-18 06:28 am UTC (link)
I got mine done at my university's health clinic for relatively little cost; I avoided the VA because of time constraints.
You can hit bureaucrats with a shoe but they may send you home...
(Reply to this)(Parent)

2008-06-18 12:48 pm UTC (link)
well she hadn't seen me for over 6 years and I only saw her a handful of times, so she had to pull my old file and research, etc around what I even saw her for so, yeah, it did cost me a little bit.
(Reply to this)(Parent)

2008-06-17 11:29 pm UTC (link)
My mom said the same about Africa. No matter what I tried to say/do to convince her that it would be okay, she wouldn't go for it. I told this to my PO and she understood entirely and placed me elsewhere.

I know that everyone is different though. I say, go through the process (it takes 6-9 months) and in that time you should figure out if it is right for you or not!

Good luck!
(Reply to this)

2008-06-20 07:04 pm UTC (link)
My mom, also, is not happy about Africa. I pointed out that I had a greater chance of dying living on the South Side of Chicago for 3 years. She's not happy about it, but she's accepted that's where my nomination is for.
(Reply to this)
"Africa" Africa

2008-07-11 02:41 pm UTC (link)
Heh, funny. I wanted to go to Asia. I'm the only child in the family and my father is very over-protective, and I cried when I said I'd been nominated for the PC...and swore to him I'd never, ever go to Africa.

But due to medical stuff, they couldn't send me to Asia. They said they'd send me an invite to EE...and an invite to Africa arrived.

I was sent to Lesotho, which is a mountain kingdom landlocked within South Africa. It was completely different than I expected Africa to be. I thought "Africa" meant desert and sand and heat and all that stuff...but that's mostly West Africa. Lesotho even gets snow. I loved it and wouldn't have had it any other way...even came home with a fiance, who was a fellow PCV who was supposed to go to Asia.

I'd say keep an open mind and let them send the always have the option to refuse. You never know what life has in store for you, though.

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