Mackenzie Crozier and Benjamin Manne served in the Peace Corps for two years. They were stationed in Tanzania.
1. You commit to serve for 27 months.
In most countries, volunteers spend 2-3 months living with a homestay family and undergoing intensive language training before being assigned to a site for the next two years.
Volunteers are allowed to terminate their contract early and return home at any time for any reason without repercussions, but you should enter in expecting to stay for the entire 27 months.
2. You can now apply to serve in a country of choice, but you still have to be flexible.
With new Peace Corps policy, applicants apply to serve in a specific country. (Be careful-if you are hoping to get a free beach vacation to Jamaica or Costa Rica, you likely won’t be accepted!). That said, once you arrive in country you probably won’t have much say in the location or quality of site placement. Some volunteer houses have running water and electricity while some have neither. Flexibility is key.
3. You create your own projects and have little oversight.
Once at site, you are tasked with working with the locals to identify the needs of the community and creating projects together. Peace Corps staff will not tell you what projects to complete or how to get them done, so there is plenty of opportunity for innovation and leadership.
4. You will learn a second language.
Peace Corps uses an immersion model to teach volunteers the local language. Whether it’s Spanish or Kiswahili, you will be expected to become proficient and communicate effectively in a second language.
5. You receive a living stipend, but it’s not much.
Be prepared to live like a local. Your stipend will not allow you to stay in nice hotels or buy the imported groceries. Unless you want to dip into personal savings, you will ride the crowded buses and eat the same food as your neighbours.
6. There is ample opportunity to travel.
Volunteers do accumulate vacation days, and most Peace Corps volunteers travel throughout their country of residence and surrounding countries during and after service.
7. Fellow volunteers will become lifelong friends (or more).
After 27 months of trials and triumphs, your fellow Peace Corps volunteers will know you better than most of your friends back home, and will become a huge part of your life. Many volunteers also start romantic relationships, and it’s not uncommon for two Peace Corps volunteers to end up getting married after service.
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