July 1, 2001 - Adventure Divas: Peace Corps. hard core.

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Liberia: Peace Corps Liberia : The Peace Corps in Liberia: July 1, 2001 - Adventure Divas: Peace Corps. hard core.

By Admin1 (admin) on Friday, February 14, 2003 - 8:52 pm: Edit Post

Peace Corps. hard core.

Peace Corps. hard core.

Peace Corps. hard core.

by Susannah Guttowsky

the JOB: Peace Corps volunteer

the WORK: If you're from the U.S., and you've had that urge to live and work abroad, chances are you've considered the Peace Corps. Since 1961, the service agency created by President John F. Kennedy has sent some 161,000 volunteers to 134 countries to take on - you guessed it - the toughest job they'll ever love. Toughest job? Former PCV (Peace Corps volunteer) Francesca Minikon doesn't see her stint in West Africa that way: "I was having too much fun to consider what I did merely a job!" The Peace Corps places volunteers throughout every major region of the world and has an extensive map highlighting international volunteer assignments ranging from agriculture, business, and education to the environment, health, and community development.

Francesca served in Burkina Faso, West Africa, as a health volunteer who saw a unique opportunity to return to her African roots (her parents are from Liberia) and explore that culture from within.

Renée Bouvion served as an agricultural extension agent with the Peace Corps in a small village in Hamdallye, Mauritania, primarily helping with a women's cooperative doing vegetable gardening and occasionally assisting with some health and sanitation education.

Training/Education/Requirements: It's true. Peace Corps volunteer positions are reserved for U.S. citizens only. Do not be dispirited though if you have a burning desire to help and live in another part of the world; the Peace Corps website offers suggestions for other volunteer organizations geared toward non–U.S. citizens.

Most PCV positions require a bachelor's degree, and individuals must meet certain work experience requirements explained in more detail on the site. Within certain regions additional experience or an ability to speak another language, like French or Spanish, might be required. Renée's previous gardening expertise was limited to "just a backyard vegetable garden," but that was enough to earn her a placement.

The Peace Corps has a reputation for being hard to get into, with stiff competition and the continued popularity of the program creating a waiting list for openings. According to Returned Volunteer Services stats, approximately 11,000 applications are received annually with only 4,000 volunteer positions available overseas each year. Those numbers suggest that even qualified applicants might find themselves on hold.

Once you’ve scored a placement and have landed "in country," you will go through 3 months of intensive training with American and local country instructors. You’ll take courses in the language dialect for that region, receive education in the cultural and sociological expectations of the community, as well as obtain guidance in your specific area of expertise (business, health, agriculture, etc.). Volunteers live with a host family during this time and get their first dose of the challenges ahead.

The Peace Corps boasts a consideration for the "'whole person' including your life experiences, community involvement, volunteer work, motivations, and even your hobbies." It is - by most accounts - an experience that transforms you. Renée recounts with a smile how far from her little apartment in Seattle her Peace Corps experience was. She lived in a mud house with no running water or electricity, where sheep and goats would wander in and out periodically - and where she found previously undiscovered personal strengths.

After the standard two-year completed service, the Peace Corps helps volunteers to transition back home, with job-hunting or graduate school assistance in the Returned Volunteer Services program.

Pay range: No one considers it a salary, not even the Peace Corps, but you do get paid! It's more like a stipend or living allowance that provides for basics - food, local transportation, and housing. Volunteers also receive a "readjustment allowance" at the end of their service, which is currently $225 for each month of completed service, totaling $6075 for the entire two years.

Okay, so all the visitors to her little mud hut weren't goats; the children in the village loved to visit with Renée.

Best part: Like many volunteers, Francesca saw real opportunities within her community to make a tangible difference: "Garden projects and a soap fabrication project were important because of the ability to establish a small business in the community... The money always flowed back into the community." After a pause, Francesca adds, "If I had to identify my most important accomplishment from the two years in Burkina, it would have to be the fact that I was able to mature so much as a human being."

Downside: For Renée, this part is simple: "At times, two years seem like forever, but I can't imagine getting as much from a shorter amount of time."

an insider's look at the peace corps

contributed by Katie Goodman

1) PCVs are under a non-binding contract; they can stay for two years or two weeks. Who knew?

2) PCVs can determine their own work schedule, intensity of effort, and level of participation.

3) Let's be honest - the freedoms afforded in #2 can lead to the occasional PCV getting paid to live far more comfortably than the hard-working folks in their villages, drinking their paychecks away, and exhibiting distasteful attitudes toward the local community.

4) Volunteers are often given local names to help identify them to the local community - even as a visitor in Senegal I was given the Pularr name "Khadiatou Sy."

5) PCVs - living on a stipend, mind you - are still often perceived as wealthy Americans with more money than the locals, and can find themselves in an environment where sharing is culturally expected, and the concept of "mine" and "yours" nonexistent.

6) Service locations are not always desperately remote. In fact, there is an elaborate support system in place linking smaller villages to a larger hub usually 20-30 minutes away, complete with a PCV hangout, medical facilities, and modern conveniences for volunteers to refresh and recoup.

7) With an understanding of what the community needs and wants, PCVs can effect positive change. However, in the developing world, where it takes great effort to see even small successes, little victories become oh so sweet! Baby steps… Baby steps…

8) Not all assignments are in Africa. The Peace Corps has locations in Europe and the Mediterranean, the Pacific, Central and East Asia and Central and South America, but they choose where PCVs are placed based on need in the different areas.

9) PCVs range widely in age, and married couples are accepted as well; however the vast majority are of the straight-outta-college variety and they travel in packs - be advised!

10) The Peace Corps boasts that it's the "toughest job you'll ever love." We talked to some who loved it and some who thought it was harder than hell. There's only one way to know for sure...

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Recruitment; COS - Liberia; COS - Burkina Faso



By Mary Boreman (70-228-205-200.ded.ameritech.net - on Tuesday, September 27, 2005 - 11:34 am: Edit Post

I am 15 years old and the one thing i want to do in my life is go into the peace core i dont want to work in the USA for the rest of my life i mean dont get me wrong i love it here but i am from a big city called chicago and moved to sheboygan, wisconsin a couple of years ago. Ive seen it all and now i want to see the rest of the world! this would be the one chance that i had to see the world and try to change the violence and the uneducated, the sick, elderly and and children. i think the peace core is one of the best things they have ever come up with!!!

By Antonio Amanoni (ppp-69-236-156-52.dsl.pltn13.pacbell.net - on Thursday, November 17, 2005 - 12:56 am: Edit Post

My granmother's name is Lua Mafoa, she has worked as a cook for the peace core in the years 1969-1980. She has also worked with dr. Wiley,Dr. Robertson , and Dr. jonson in the Islands of Tonga. We would much aprecciate it if she could reccevive her resume in her service. We are not certain if any of these docters are still living , but we are hoping that you could help us by contacting any family relatives that may help her to be recognised in her duty of service.
we are very much obliged if you could help us,
you can contact me at (650) 533-0641 ( california , bay area)

By Anonymous (cpe00140466c1cb-cm00137188b8d0.cpe.net.cable.rogers.com - on Friday, January 06, 2006 - 11:01 pm: Edit Post

wait..is the peace corps, like the peace core..or is that the same thing? im kinda confused..How old do you have to be to join the peace core?

By Anonymous (pcp02280050pcs.newhav01.mi.comcast.net - on Sunday, January 22, 2006 - 7:41 pm: Edit Post

i want to join the peace core right out of high school im 16 and I love to help people in need i want to know if you can join it right out of high school and if you can pick were you go and if you have to pay your way to the destination?

By Samantha Straub (cpe-066-056-239-088.ec.res.rr.com - on Wednesday, March 22, 2006 - 7:26 pm: Edit Post

I ama a sucker for cultural experiences. I love to be helpful and really want to join the peace core when I'm 18. Sadly enough I'm only 15. Is there anything I can do at this age along the lines of the peace core?

By callie leonard (cache-dtc-ae04.proxy.aol.com - on Wednesday, July 19, 2006 - 7:56 pm: Edit Post

i am 13 and i know that i want to help people in some sort of way. i love helping people and when i die i want to leave behind a legacy. i want people that i go to school with to say oh that's callie...she made a wonderful diffeence in the world and i think that joining the peace core is the thing that i am meant to do with my life...sadly...my mom says that i have to go to college OR ELSE!!! but the truth is i dont want to go to college..as soon as i get out of high school i want to do something with my life.

By Katharine Nattrass (d220-236-224-105.dsl.nsw.optusnet.com.au - on Friday, July 28, 2006 - 5:45 am: Edit Post

hey my last message got erased so just seeing if this works

By Marie Richardson (66-168-172-165.dhcp.chtn.wv.charter.com - on Friday, July 28, 2006 - 12:42 am: Edit Post

Iam 14 and i live in West V. nothing exciting happens here.Ive been wanting to join the peace core because it will let me travel and plus it will give me a better veiw of people around the world not just the people down the street! I want to go right after i complete high school!

By Admin1 (admin) (ppp-70-129-40-161.dsl.okcyok.swbell.net - on Friday, July 28, 2006 - 12:54 pm: Edit Post

Dear Katherine Nattrass,

Your message was not erased. You can find it here.

Best Regards,


By Jennah (adsl-76-224-83-116.dsl.emhril.sbcglobal.net - on Wednesday, September 19, 2007 - 4:29 pm: Edit Post

I am 18 at the time.. and i am going to school for teaching.. after that i plan to go into the peace core. You usually need 4 years of school.. I was wondering if we can go with a husband or family member?

By KarinStarling ( on Friday, October 31, 2008 - 12:28 pm: Edit Post

I live here in georgia and i have been coresdonding with a young man living in west africa on line he is bright and could use a heiping hand. him and is family he would like to go to school and see that his family has what they need to live. i hoe you could get in touch with me to se how he may get help from you or some other group working in that part of the world my e-mail address is karinstaeling@ymail.com Please contact me on who i may have to talk to to help thizs young man.

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