Fifty Frequently Asked Questions from Prospective Volunteers

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Fifty Frequently Asked Questions from Prospective Volunteers

Fifty Frequently Asked Questions from Prospective Volunteers

50 Frequently Asked Questions - FAQ's

Please review these questions prior to contacting your Regional Recruiter!

Question: What is the Peace Corps?

Answer: - The Peace Corps is a US government agency. We send American citizens to work overseas in developing countries for a 27-month assignment. President Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961 to "promote world peace and friendship" through:

· Helping people of interested countries and areas in meeting their needs for trained manpower;

· Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the people served;

· Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

The Peace Corps ' basic mission of grassroots, person-to-person development work, combined with intense cross-cultural exchange, is the same now as when it was founded in 1961. For nearly 40 years, Peace Corps Volunteers have been fighting hunger, disease, illiteracy, poverty, and lack of opportunity around the world.

Question: Where do Peace Corps volunteers work?

Answer: - PC Volunteers work in nearly 80 countries (currently 77) in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet Republics.

Question: What is the average length of an assignment?

Answer: - Peace Corps assignments are 27 months: 3 months of training, plus the 2-year assignment.

Question: What is the typical age of volunteers?

Answer: - The average age of a Peace Corps Volunteer in 1999 was 29 years old.

Question: How old is the oldest volunteer?

Answer: - The oldest Peace Corps Volunteer ever was 86 when he completed his service. The Peace Corps and the countries where Volunteers serve often welcome and value the wealth of experience that older Americans bring to their overseas assignments.

Question: How many people have served in PC?

Answer: -Since 1961, more than 155,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps.

Question: How long does the application process take?

Answer: - The entire application process may take anywhere from 6 to 12 months. Many issues can impede the process, including medical or legal concerns, incomplete or missing reference forms, or the fact that the applicant's particular skill is not needed at the time of application.

Question: Can I choose where I go?

Answer: - In the application, you can indicate a preference for a region, but not a specific country. The Peace Corps makes every effort to accommodate your interests and preferences for serving as a Volunteer, but we cannot guarantee placement in any specific country or region. Our main priority is to place you in a country where your skills are most needed, so we encourage you to be flexible when you are offered an assignment. Peace Corps assignments are for two years plus three months of training in your country of service.

Question: Can I bring my pet?

Answer: - Peace Corps strongly discourages bringing a pet with you. If you truly love your pet, you wouldn't want to bring him/her with you. Many countries won't allow you to bring a pet in at all. Those that do, often require the animal to be quarantined. In many countries, adequate health-care is not available for your pet. There can be significant cultural differences in the way that pets are viewed and treated. Most pets would live outdoors and be expected to fend for themselves, living a "wilder" and more violent lifestyle. Sometimes, it is difficult to justify feeding a pet nutritious food, when the people around you are all on the verge of malnutrition. And then in some countries, these animals might even be seen as food. Bottom line, if you really love your pet, leave him/her at home.

Question: What if I am a vegetarian?

Answer: - There is no country in the world which has a solely vegetarian diet. Therefore, Peace Corps is not always able to take an applicant's eating habits into account when making placement decisions. Vegetarians are welcome to adapt locally available food to their eating philosophy, but you should be aware of the following challenges:

· In some countries it is very difficult to get a balanced diet without meat and substitutions are scarce;

· Peace Corps may sent a Volunteer home who shows signs of malnutrition;

· It is essential that Volunteers respect the cultural norms of their host country. In many cultures, it is considered impolite to turn down offers of food of any kind. It is also considered very "stingy" almost everywhere in the Peace Corps world to serve food without meat;

Volunteers may be asked to participate in the slaughtering of animals, especially during holidays or feast time.

Question: Can I bring my laptop computer?

Answer: - As the world is changing, so does this answer. For volunteers serving just 5 years ago, it may have been completely inappropriate to have brought a computer (or a stereo for that matter!) It depends on the country and the type of assignment. It would be more likely in a more developed country in a business or education program, and less likely in an agriculture outreach program in a less developed, rural area. Keep in mind the golden rule that you shouldn't bring expensive items.

Question: How much will I get paid in the Peace Corps?

Answer: - As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you are not paid a salary. Instead, you will receive a stipend to cover your basic necessities -- food, housing expenses, and local transportation. While the amount of the stipend varies from country to country, you will receive an amount that allows you to live at the same level as the people you serve in your community. The Peace Corps pays for your transportation to and from your country of service and provides you with complete medical and dental care. At the conclusion of your service as a Volunteer, you will receive a "readjustment allowance" of $225 (rate as of January 1999) for each month of service. If you complete your full term of service, you will receive $6,075.

Question: What do I have to pay for as a Volunteer?

Answer: - You will receive a stipend to cover your basic necessities -- food, housing expenses, and local transportation. While the amount of the stipend varies from country to country, you will receive an amount that allows you to live at the same level as the people you serve in your community. The Peace Corps pays for your transportation to and from your country of service and provides you with complete medical and dental care.

Question: Will I be the only Peace Corps Volunteer in my community?

Answer: - Every Volunteer's experience is unique. Some Volunteers are placed in rural communities, hours or even days away from the nearest Peace Corps Volunteer. Others live in bustling towns or large cities, where the nearest Volunteer lives down the street or even in the same apartment building. Serving in the Peace Corps requires flexibility and independence. So be prepared to live alone, with another Volunteer, or even with a host family.

Question: Will I be in an isolated area or village?

Answer: - Some Volunteers are placed in rural communities, hours or even days away from the nearest Peace Corps Volunteer.

Question: Can I have a roommate?

Answer: - Yes, but be prepared to live alone, with another Volunteer, or even with a host family.

Question: Did the food/water get you sick? What did you eat/drink? Did you have clean water, or a toilet?

Answer: - For hygiene and sanitation, Peace Corps does have some minimum standards. You will have water to drink. It probably won't come straight out of a faucet, ready to drink, but you will have water. You might have to boil it and filter it, or pull it from a well, or pump it with a hand pump, but you will have water to drink. You will not starve. Food will be around. You will need to be careful that it is prepared well and cooked well, but you will be able to eat. You might not have your favorites. You might have to "get over" being a picky eater, but we will not send you somewhere where there is a famine, and there is no food to be had. Sometimes the choices are not as varied, and you might not get as much of certain nutrients as you are used to (maybe it is difficult or not safe to eat dairy, so PC will give you calcium supplements). In fact, everyone in Guinea is given super-strength multi-vitamins, with 100% of everything!! We can't guarantee a beautiful porcelain flush toilet, but you will have "facilities" to use that you can keep clean and sanitary and that won't put your health at risk. In my town, the people in my neighborhood all shared a big communal pit latrine, and PC said "no way." They were afraid I would "catch" something if I used that regularly. So I had my own private latrine. I was the only one who used it, and I cleaned it with bleach regularly. In Guinea, they also wanted all of us to have tin (not straw) roofs because snakes like to hang out in the straw roofs. (Julie Kaminsky, Guinea RPCV)

Question: What is it like to be a Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual Volunteer?

Answer: - Peace Corps Volunteers must be U.S. citizens at least 18 years of age. Married couples without dependent children may be accepted if the spouse also qualifies for an assignment. There is no upper age limit. The Peace Corps does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age (over 40), disability, sexual orientation, or political affiliation. All Peace Corps services are administered on this non-discriminatory basis.

Peace Corps accepts and considers applications for volunteer service from any qualified individual, whether heterosexual, bisexual, lesbian, or gay. However, in accordance with the Peace Corps Legal Eligibility Guidelines, we cannot give special consideration to the joint placement of any couples who are not legally married. As same-sex marriages are not legal in any state, it is the Peace Corps' policy to consider such couples only as individual applicants. This is true of any pair of applicants whether unmarried couples, friends, relatives or same-sex couples. Peace Corps will not make a special effort to arrange placement in the same location.

Peace Corps provides cross-cultural training in the local customs and laws of countries of service. As a guest of a host country, volunteers are expected to live and abide by their customs. It may be necessary for a volunteer to change aspects of his or her physical appearance -hair length, facial hair, clothing in order to serve effectively in a host country.

Open same sex relations may be prohibited by local laws. Out of respect of our host countries, same sex relations may be restricted conduct by volunteers. In some countries of service, Peace Corps Volunteers serving overseas have established gay, lesbian and bisexual support groups. Peace Corps staff is also trained to address concerns and cares for all volunteers, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Question: Is there an age limit?

Answer: - You must be at least 18, although most volunteers are older since most programs require either a college degree or 3-5 years of professional work experience. There is no upper age limit. Currently, a few volunteers over age 70 are serving overseas. Likewise, volunteers in their 80's have successfully served in Peace Corps. At present, about 8% of all volunteers are over age 50. In general, volunteers of all ages have noted that age and maturity are valued human qualities in most countries in which volunteers serve.

Question: Do volunteers need to speak a foreign language?

Answer: - The Peace Corps teaches more than 180 languages and dialects. During your pre-service training, you will receive intensive language instruction to prepare you for living and working in your overseas community. While some countries where Volunteers serve prefer people who have studied French or Spanish, it is not always a requirement.

Question: Can volunteers serve with their husbands/wives or boy/girlfriends?

Answer: - Peace Corps service can be a rewarding, enriching experience for married couples. Today, about 10% of Peace Corps Volunteers are married. In all cases, both spouses must serve as Volunteers and live and work in the same community. The Peace Corps is unable to place couples with dependent children and cannot guarantee placement in the same country of couples or friends who are not legally married. Applicants can begin the Peace Corps application process while engaged, but must be married before departing for their overseas assignment.

Question: I'm not a U.S. citizen. Can I join Peace Corps?

Answer: - We appreciate the interest of our friends around the world, but the answer is no-- only U.S. citizens may join Peace Corps. You may wish to learn about other volunteer organizations.

Question: Does working for the CIA or having a background in intelligence disqualify you from serving in the PC? Why? Is that discriminatory?

Answer: - Persons who have been employed by an intelligence agency, or otherwise have been associated with intelligence activities, are ineligible to serve as volunteers. This exclusionary policy is one aspect of the broader, long-standing policy of maintaining an absolute separation between Peace Corps and intelligence activities conducted by the U. S. government. This absolute separation is necessary to protect volunteers' safety and to maintain the trust and confidence of the people in the countries in which volunteers serve.

Question: How tough is it to get in?

Answer: - Annually, Peace Corps receives about 10,000 applications and sends about 3,500-4,000 trainees overseas. A large percentage of those who apply and do not become trainees have decided, on their own, to drop out of the applications process. Only about 5-10% are "rejected" outright. When evaluating an applicant the Peace Corps considers the "whole person," including your life experiences, community involvement, volunteer work, motivations, and even your hobbies. Your Peace Corps recruiter can work with you to help you gain the skills and experiences needed to qualify for a Volunteer assignment.

Question: What are the minimum requirements needed to be accepted into Peace Corps?

Answer: - Most volunteers have at least a 4-year college degree (currently, 96% of all volunteers have a BA or higher). You can qualify without a degree if you have significant agriculture experience, have worked full-time in carpentry, construction or woodworking, have four years experience as the manager of a business or if you have five years full-time experience working with at-risk youth.

Question: What if applicants don't have a college degree?

Answer: - Most Volunteer assignments require a four-year college degree. Applicants without a college degree may qualify by having three to five years of work experience in an area such as managing a business or. In general, this is the type of experience we are looking for:

· Agriculture & Forestry Extension: Demonstrated ability in planning, organizing, counseling or leadership and one year experience in vegetable gardening, nursery work/management, tree planting, tree care, urban forestry, fish (fresh or marine) cultivation/production.

· Construction & Skilled Trades Education: 18 months work experience in general construction, cabinet making, machining, plumbing, carpentry, masonry, electricity, welding or metal working.

· Urban Youth Development: Five years full-time experience with at-risk youth between the ages of 10 and 25 in a youth-oriented organization.

· Water and Sanitation Extension: Demonstrated ability in planning, organizing, counseling or leadership and one-year experience in construction, masonry, carpentry or plumbing.

· Business Advising: Four years experience as the manager of a business

· NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) Development: Five years full-time management or organizational development experience with non-profit organizations.

Question: Can I receive college credit for my Peace Corps Service?

Answer: - There are two ways you can receive credit:

The first is called Masters International; the other is called Fellows USA. Some of these programs do offer scholarships or stipends or fellowships. Each program is different, depending on the hosting university. You can find detailed information on both programs through our website: From the home page, go to the bottom to the section marked "take me directly to..." and choose Fellows USA or Masters International.

Here is a brief summary. Through partnerships with more than 30 schools offering master's level studies in a variety of subjects, the Master's International Program allows qualified applicants to both serve as a Peace Corps volunteer and earn a masters degree at the same time. In the "MI" program, individuals become Peace Corps Volunteers as partial fulfillment of a graduate degree. In fact, many schools will grant credit at no cost for Peace Corps service. Programs are not offered in every area, but are offered only in disciplines where there is a shortage of skilled people who can serve as Volunteers. The Fellows USA program offers opportunities to continue with graduate studies after completing the 27-month Peace Corps Assignment. In exchange for a two-year commitment to work in a community that needs your help, you can earn a master's degree and establish your career. 26 Universities currently have Fellows USA programs. Each university, with financial support from foundations, government agencies, corporations, and individual donors, will assist you in this process. You may receive any number of benefits such as tuition assistance, yearly stipends, housing, paid employment, and health benefits. The exact nature of the award varies with each university.

Question: What are you looking for with regard to volunteers?

Answer: - Every year, close to 4,000 Peace Corps Volunteers head overseas for two-year assignments. Approximately two-thirds of these volunteers have Liberal Arts degrees! The most competitive candidates are those with experience in planning, organizing, counseling, or leadership within the past 4 years. In addition, specific experience and skills are required to qualify for programs, as listed below.

If you're interested in:

ENGLISH TEACHING You will need a BA/BS in any discipline with at least 3 months of English, foreign language or literacy tutoring experience or library science experience. The tutoring must have been done within the past 4 years in a structured program that provides pre-service training. You must have tutored a student(s) at least 12 years old, and the tutoring must have been performed at least 10 hours a month. Even if you are still in the process of gaining this experience, you can still submit your application now, and continue with your tutoring throughout the application process. Tip: When filling out your application, remember that the overall quality of the application (e.g., spelling and grammar) will be considered when determining the competitiveness of the applicant.

HEALTH & NUTRITION: You will need a BA/BS in any discipline with First Aid, EMT, or CPR Certificates and/or at least 3 months of health-related experience (e.g., AIDS outreach, peer health educator, Planned Parenthood counseling, nurse's aide, hospital/clinic/ emergency room experience, etc.)

PUBLIC HEALTH/SANITATION: You will need a BA/BS in any discipline with an expressed interest in hygiene education/ sanitation and at least 3 months experience in hands-on skilled work (construction, masonry, carpentry, set design, mechanical repairs). The most competitive applicants have experience with concrete and building forms.

AGRICULTURE/FORESTRY: You will need a BA/BS in any discipline with at least 3 months experience in vegetable gardening, nursery or greenhouse work/management, tree planting, tree care, urban forestry, livestock care/management, fish cultivation/production.

COMMUNITY SERVICES: You will need a BA/BS in any discipline with at least 3 months of experience in planning, organizing, counseling, or leadership within the past 4 years. Community services assignments are extremely competitive. Many assignments require specialized experience such as: AIDS counseling, health education, medical and mental health counseling, social work, business experience, teaching, curriculum development, youth development or work with youth-at-risk.

Things you can do to become more qualified...

o Join a student club or local community organization, and take on a leadership role. Volunteer to plan a community event; organize a service project on campus; identify an area of need in your community and start your own organization. The most competitive Peace Corps applicants have experience in planning, organizing, counseling, and leadership.

o Take French or Spanish classes. While language study alone will not qualify you for a Peace Corps assignment, it is often a required component for certain requests. With one to two years college or high school level study, you will have many more opportunities to be placed in a Peace Corps assignment.

o Learn more about people from other cultures. Join a language or cultural club; be a conversation partner to an international student; work with local immigrants; attend cross-cultural events.

o Apply early! By submitting your application a full year before you wish to begin an assignment, you will have the largest number of assignment opportunities.

Question: What are some of the reasons why people are rejected?

Answer: - Applicants must qualify for Peace Corps in four different areas:

· Technical Skills: each program (assignment area) has certain technical skill requirements including a specific degree and major, or relevant work or volunteer experience.

· Suitability: includes motivation/commitment, productive competence, emotional maturity and social sensitivity

· Legal: applicant must be free and clear of all legal and financial obligations

Medical: all applicants must pass a medical screening (see sheet for list of medical requirements, and conditions that might prohibit someone from doing Peace Corps)

Question: What is the drop out rate?

Answer: - Somewhere between 20-30% of all volunteers don't complete the full 27 months assignment, for a variety of reasons including: people who are sent home for family emergencies, country closings, medical problems, and lots of other reasons, so it is really hard to give an accurate account of how many simply "drop out" because they just didn't like it.

Question: What if I have a DUI?

Answer: - You can only be cleared for Peace Corps service if you are free from all legal and financial obligations. If you paid your fine/ served your time, your DUI will not automatically disqualify you from Peace Corps service. It is something we ask you to explain in the application, and will certainly talk about during an interview.

For a DUI, we are typically concerned about a few things:

1. Does this indicate an alcohol abuse problem?

2. Does this show the person disregards rules and laws of society? (does not respect authority)

3. Is this someone who blames others when things happen, and does not take responsibility for his/her actions?

Question: What kind of training does Peace Corps provide?

Answer: - Training usually takes place in the host country of service. Make no mistake that the training is rigorous and designed to ensure that all volunteers are fully prepared to serve. Trainees do not become volunteers unless they successfully complete training and meet the standards set by the Peace Corps program.

· Technical: Trainees will be trained in their field of assignment. Training varies in intensity and depends upon the skill-base of a particular group of Trainees when they enter the Peace Corps.

· Cross Cultural: Trainees will learn about the customs, manners, protocol, religions, festivals, history, rules, and laws of their host country. Generally, training will give Trainees a comparison between life in the U.S. and the host country.

· Language: Where English is not widely spoken, all Trainees will receive intensive language training.

Health & Safety: Trainees may be instructed in everything from how to clean their food and cook their meals, to how to test themselves if they think they have malaria, as appropriate to their country of service. Trainees will be issued a copy of Where There Is No Doctor, a simple but complete guide to health issues encountered while living in developing countries.

Question: Do volunteers get vacation time while serving overseas? Can families visit volunteers?

Answer: - Volunteers receive 24 vacation days per year. The Peace Corps provides two vacation sdays for every month of service. You may wish to travel home for a visit, or your family and friends can make the trip to see you in your overseas community. Traveling with a Peace Corps Volunteer is one of the most exciting ways to see and learn about another country's people, cultures, and traditions. The cost of your vacation travel, home or elsewhere, is your responsibility. Peace Corps does provide a small "travel allowance" that is usually enough to cover small vacations or travel within the country.

Question: How does PC help volunteers after they return home? What kind of job placement assistance does Peace Corps provide when I complete my Volunteer service?

Answer: - The Peace Corps' Office of Returned Volunteer Services (RVS) provides career, educational, and other advice and assistance through its Career Center in Washington, D.C., and through the Peace Corps regional recruiting offices. RVS publishes bimonthly job bulletin and career manuals, provides self-assessment tools to help returned Volunteers explore career options, and facilitates career-planning activities throughout the United States. In addition, returned Volunteers have non-competitive eligibility status for appointments to U.S. government executive branch agencies for a period of one year after the completion of their service. Under some limited circumstances, this status can be extended up to a maximum of three years after completion of Peace Corps service.

Question: I have student loans. Can they be deferred or canceled while I serve in the Peace Corps?

Answer: - In general, while you are a Volunteer, you may defer repayment of your Stafford Loans (formerly known as Guaranteed Student Loans), Perkins Loans, Federal Consolidation Loans, or Direct Loans. In addition, Volunteers with Perkins Loans receive a 15% cancellation of their outstanding balance for each year of their two years of service. The Peace Corps does not grant deferments, cancellations, or grace periods for government or private loans. You must obtain these directly from your lending institution. The regulations that authorize loan deferment and cancellation are sometimes complicated. I recommend calling your loaning institution and asking them about their policy concerning Peace Corps.

Question: What are some of the benefits after service?

Answer: - It's important to join the Peace Corps for the right reasons. Because of a sincere desire to make a difference. To change something for the better. But it's important to know that, for all the giving Peace Corps Volunteers do, they also receive a great deal in return. From practical benefits such as student loan deferment to career benefits like fluency in a foreign language to the intangible benefits that come with making a difference in people's lives, there are a variety of reward for the dedicated service of Volunteers. Rewards that last a lifetime. And, the benefits of Peace Corps service don't end with one's overseas service. The experience will affect your life long after you return home. It's an experience to draw upon for the rest of your life. As is often said, the Peace Corps isn't simply something great. It's the beginning of something great.

· Career Benefits: In the global marketplace of today's business world, the overseas experience, cross-cultural knowledge, and language skills that you gain as a Volunteer are extremely valuable and highly sought by employers. From government to business to literature, returned Volunteers have used their Peace Corps experience as a foundation for successful careers in a variety of areas.

· Educational Benefits: The Peace Corps is, in itself, an education, but there are many other benefits to your previous or future education. Volunteers can defer payments on many types of student loans. In some instances, academic credit is granted for Peace Corps service. More than fifty colleges and universities offer scholarships and assistantships for returned Peace Corps Volunteers. And the Master's International Program allows select Volunteers an opportunity to earn a master's degree while serving overseas. And the Peace Corps Fellows Program helps Volunteers continue their education and their service here at home.

Financial Benefits: While the other benefits are of lifelong value, Volunteers' financial needs are not ignored. A monthly living allowance enables Volunteers to live similarly to others in their community. Medical and dental care is provided, as is transportation to and from the country of service. Volunteers also receive 24 vacation days per year. Finally, after the completion of three months of training and two years of service, Volunteers receive $6,075 (monthly allowance increased to $225 in January 1999) to help them readjust and begin life upon their return home.

Question: Does the Peace Corps provide medical coverage for Returned Volunteers

Answer: - Peace Corps provides extended medical coverage to volunteers who take that option upon close of service. Also, the National Peace Corps Association offers affordable health insurance to RPCV's.

Question: What happens if volunteers get sick?

Answer: - In each country there is a Peace Corps office (usually located in the capital city) where a full-time Peace Corps Medical Officer (PCMO) is on duty. The PCMO provides medical care for volunteers in country. If something were to happen that the PCMO could not treat in country, the volunteer would be evacuated to the closed country where that problem could be treated, or back to the US if necessary. Peace Corps covers all medical costs while you are a volunteer, and if something happens that requires treatment after you finish your volunteer service, you can apply to receive worker's compensation.

Question: If you get sick, who is your doctor? How far away is the doctor?

Answer: - There is a PCMO in each country, who will be providing you with most of your medical care. Depending on the medical standards in your country, you MIGHT see someone locally, if you can't get into the capital, but usually, PC prefers that you get your medical care from the PCMO. The PCMO is usually located in the capital, so it could be several hours away. But PC will always pay for you to come in if you are sick or injured, and if something serious were to happen, PC would come out and get you. If it were so serious that the PCMO could not care for you in country, you would be evacuated to the closest place where they could care for you by our standards, back to the US if necessary. And PC covers ALL the costs of your medical care.

Question: What happens if someone at home gets sick or dies?

Answer: - Peace Corps provides an emergency home leave in the event of the death of an immediate family member. In an emergency, the Office of Special Services can be reached 24 hours a day. They will be able to get a message to the volunteer overseas.

Question: Do I need to get shots first (before I go)?

Answer: - Peace Corps will provide you with all the shots, vaccinations and medicines you will need while serving. You don't need to get any before hand.

Question: What if I have braces?

Answer: - You won't be able to start your Peace Corps assignment until your braces are off. Unfortunately, we can't guarantee that there will be a dentist or orthodontist in your COUNTRY, let alone in your town, or anywhere nearby. So in order to be medically (dentally) cleared, you'd have to be finished wearing your braces.

Question: I'm afraid to go to Africa because I might get AIDS/HIV/Ebola virus..

Answer: - Cases of AIDS/HIV are now found everywhere - in the US as well. You know how to protect yourself in the US, and you will need to take those same precautions overseas. I personally didn't feel like I was at any more risk in Guinea than in the U.S. As for ebola and all those other viruses you hear about. First, Peace Corps provides you with all the vaccinations and medications you will need. And an overwhelming majority of these viruses and infections can be prevented if you take care of yourself. If your PCMO tells you not to go swimming in the river, don't swim in the river. If you are told to boil and filter your water, do it. If you drink unclean water, you'll probably get sick, feel awful, and then they'll give you drugs and you'll get better, and you won't drink from that water source again!!

Question: What if volunteers have special health needs? What if they are in a wheelchair? Blind? Deaf?

Answer: - We make every effort to accommodate special health needs. In many countries we are able to accommodate these applicants, but in some countries it is just not possible.

Question: What is the healthcare coverage like for volunteers?

Answer: - Protecting the health and safety of volunteers remains the Peace Corps's highest priority. The Peace Corps provides comprehensive medical and dental care to all volunteers during service. The Peace Corps will administer the required vaccinations before and during volunteer service. In-country medical professionals will brief volunteers and trainees about staying healthy and will provide all volunteers with an appropriate medical kit.

Question: How safe is it? What does PC do if a region becomes unsafe?

Answer: - What happens if there is unrest/civil war in a country?

In each country Peace Corps has an emergency/evacuation plan. You will develop a personal plan for your town. There have been a few countries that had to be evacuated. As soon as anything starts "brewing" in the country, Peace Corps knows about it, and the PCVs are the first ones out, along the spouses and children of Embassy personnel. That's one nice thing about being affiliated with the U.S. government. The PC office is in direct communications with the Embassy and the State Dept, so they know about things before they happen. The U.S. government also officially knows about your presence in the country- they know where all the PCVs are, and will come in and get you if they need to. But, for the most part, PCVs are NOT serving in countries that are unstable. We are doing long-term development work, so we are not in the countries that are in the middle of a civil war. They need emergency relief, not long-term development projects. Also, most volunteers are serving in rural areas, or small towns and cities... NOT in the capital or large cities, where most of the civil unrest occurs. By establishing close relationships with the people in your village, you know that if anything happens they will take care of you. Peace Corps is very careful NOT to be affiliated with local/ in-country politics. The people in your town know that you are not choosing sides in any of these political/ ethnic debates. Also, PCV are only serving in countries where we have been invited to serve. We are not in countries where they HATE Americans, so Americans would not be the intended target of any violence.

Question: What if there's a war, civil unrest, hurricane, flood...etc.

Answer: - Each Peace Corps post has an emergency plan to be activated in case of a natural disaster or other threat to a Volunteers well-being. Volunteers are never placed in areas known to be dangerous.

Question: How many deaths, rapes, assaults, thefts occur in PC countries?

Answer: - Some 1999 statistics: In 1999, the mortality rate was 3.1 per 10,000 Volunteers (Annual Report, health section, figure27). In 1999, the incidence of major physical assaults was 1.9 per 100 Volunteer/trainee-year (Annual Report, safety section, figure 1).

Question: How many deaths have occurred during the Peace Corps history?

Answer: - The 1999 Annual Report noted that between 1961 and 1999 there were 239 deaths

Question: What is the leading cause of death among PC volunteers?

Answer: - Car accidents.

Question: Women's safety issues: did you live by yourself? did you feel safe? did you know anyone who got assaulted or raped?

Answer: - Most volunteers live by themselves, and feel very safe. Some volunteers share sites or housing with other volunteers, but the majority of volunteers live alone, or as the only PCV in that town. Each country and each site is different. Each site is visited by a PC administrator, and a health/ safety evaluation is performed at the site before any PCV is placed there. You will be discussing these issues with your APCD when site assignments are made (usually some time during training). Some PCVs are victims of assault or rape, but this happens everyday in the US too. PC volunteers are probably no more at risk in the PC than you would be at home, but you must take precautions and be aware of your surrounding. You need to take responsibility for your personal safety, and follow the guidelines and recommendations that PC gives you in your country. Just like in the US, often alcohol plays a role. Don't be stupid.

Question: I heard a "horror" story about a volunteer who was shot or killed in a car wreck?

Answer: - Horror stories happen. They happen in the US too. People get shot; people get in car accidents. Personally, I felt much safer living in a small village in Guinea than I do walking from my car into my apartment in Atlanta. When you develop close relationships with people in your community, those people will want to take care of you, look out for you, and protect you. In many communities where PCVs serve, social interaction and personal relationships are an important part of the culture. Your neighbors will "adopt" you, and they will look out for you. They won't see you as some foreigner and outsider because you will be living the way they do, dressing the way they do, eating what they do. You become one of them, and they will protect you like one of their own. Sure, you need to be cautious and take necessary precautions. I wouldn't walk around alone at 2am in downtown Atlanta. I wouldn't do that in Guinea either. You need to listen to your friends and neighbors. If you want to go to some club, and they say it's not a good idea to go alone, listen to them. You need to understand that the "rules" are different in other countries, and until you learn the "rules" you need to rely on friends, neighbors, and other PCVs. You will also attend several sessions during your training on personal safety issues in country.

If you would like to contact the UF Peace Corps office directly for more information, email or call 1-352-392-6783.

Currently, more than 7,300 Peace Corps volunteers are working in 76 countries. Since 1961, more than 161,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps.

For General Information about the Peace Corps visit or call 1-800-424-8580

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: University of Florida

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; For Prospective Volunteers



By Amber Sills on Sunday, June 01, 2003 - 4:07 pm: Edit Post

My boyfriend of 2 years is joining the Peace Corps in a few months. I am having a really hard time dealing with the fact that I may not have any contact with him for 27 months. How are relationships like mine usually affected by the Peace Corps?

By delo on Monday, September 15, 2003 - 4:15 pm: Edit Post

My son is interested in the Peace Corps, however, he does not have a degree. He majored in mass communication, computers and has worked as a legal clerk in law firms. Basically, he does not have a work history, but you would think he was a Philadelphia lawyer with his diction and actions. How could he be used in the peace corps?

By delo on Monday, September 15, 2003 - 4:15 pm: Edit Post

My son is interested in the Peace Corps, however, he does not have a degree. He majored in mass communication, computers and has worked as a legal clerk in law firms. Basically, he does not have a work history, but you would think he was a Philadelphia lawyer with his diction and actions. How could he be used in the peace corps?

By Richard ( - on Sunday, October 05, 2003 - 11:01 pm: Edit Post

I am a prospective volunteer. I am also diabetic. I am in good health, but I am curious as to how this may affect my application process. Any information would be appreciated. The more specific the better.

By Anonymous ( - on Thursday, October 09, 2003 - 7:21 pm: Edit Post

Call Peace Corps and ask. You don't have to give your name.

By Diane Hill ( - on Monday, November 24, 2003 - 2:21 pm: Edit Post

can diabetics join the peace corps?

By Anonymous ( on Monday, November 24, 2003 - 4:10 pm: Edit Post

I went to the Peace Corps, typed in Diabetes and looked it up under 'Medical Information for Applicants.' According to the document you can be cleared to be a PCV with diabetes, but site selection may be limited.

By Natasha ( - on Wednesday, March 17, 2004 - 9:50 am: Edit Post

Richard, any other diabetics, or friends of diabetics who have gone through the entire application process- How stringent were the guidelines? I'm currently waiting for medical clearance, and the nurses I've spoken to at PC will not give me specifics on expectations as far as glucose levels, HbA1C levels.

By kathryn Brownfiels ( - on Tuesday, November 23, 2004 - 3:57 pm: Edit Post

I am interested in the Peace corp. What is the application process.
I have an EdD.and teaching experience in a college.
How do I get an application form?

Kathryn Brownfield
2116 South Peoria
Tulsa, Okla


By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Tuesday, November 23, 2004 - 6:33 pm: Edit Post

If you'd like to learn more about the Peace Corps, read About the Peace Corps that includes just about anything you might want to know about what it's like to serve as a Volunteer. If you're ready to apply, click here to visit Peace Corps' Apply Now section.

Best regards and good luck,


By Lucy ( - on Saturday, January 08, 2005 - 12:56 pm: Edit Post

Is it possible to make working for the peace corps a full time career?

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Saturday, January 08, 2005 - 1:42 pm: Edit Post

Dear Lucy,

Sorry, but volunteers are limited to a two year term of service (with extensions possible) and employees are limited to five years employment (with some exceptions) with the agency. However, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers can look forward to a lifetime of service following their time overseas.

Best Regards,


By Jenna Givens ( - on Sunday, January 09, 2005 - 4:54 pm: Edit Post

I am interested in joining the peace corps in the future. How great is the need for someone with a degree in nutrition? I also have 3 years of highschool french credits. Does this benefit me greatly in the way of being selected?

By Sarah ( - on Saturday, March 19, 2005 - 2:50 pm: Edit Post

that is not true. with the peace corps you can choose to serve again in a different region. I know of volunteers who have served for many many years

By Carol LaBonte ( - on Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - 11:28 am: Edit Post

MY husband and I finised our applacation and interview the end of sep. We have not heard anything to date. Should we just continue to wait or call.
Thank you

By Jessica James ( on Sunday, December 10, 2006 - 6:12 pm: Edit Post

I am currently finishing up a degree in English and am considering both graduate studies and Peace Corps as options for the next step. Though I am a quick learner I have not had any foreign language classes since high school. How much will this impact the application process? Also, what kind of information can I find about the M.I program, and how do I go about obtaining it?
If I choose to continue my studies here but also plan on trying for Peace Corps after my masters, is there some similar kind of doctorate program? I have many little questions like these. Thanks!

By Anonymous ( - on Wednesday, July 25, 2007 - 11:42 am: Edit Post

I recently was given medical clearance, but with a restriction to countries where psychiatric care is readily available. this is because of a previous history of depression (for which I am no longer on medication and have no symptoms). Does this mean that I will be restricted from going to Africa as I had hoped? Does anyone have any idea what this means? Thanks very much.

By Anonymous ( on Thursday, October 25, 2007 - 3:57 pm: Edit Post

Will you please send me an application form for undergraduates in connection with your scholarship. i am currently studying for my degree in Community Water and Sanitation

By Anonymous ( - on Thursday, May 15, 2008 - 12:10 pm: Edit Post

i am interested in possilby joining the peace corp but do not think i can leave behind all of my current responsiblities for and entire 2 years. is it possible to serve for twelve months?

By chikelu newton chika ( on Thursday, August 28, 2008 - 11:53 am: Edit Post

i'm a nigerian dat has once work as a teacher bt i'm a marketer by proffession. i wish to join the peace force volunteer . my phone no; 08069630698 .
pls i want to know about the following persons that work as a member of US peace corps volunteer that came to nigeria in 70's and 80's;
mrs scott pearson
mr scott r. pearsor
mr willand b. stouffer
mr john w. blaine.
tanks fr ur cooperation.

By natalieavila ( on Sunday, January 25, 2009 - 2:01 pm: Edit Post

why is the peace corps necessary for our global society?

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