Anyone here been in the Peace Corps?

I have a family member joining soon and shipping off to a land far, far away.

I’d like to hear some firsthand experiences, both the good and the bad.

OK, you can tell me about the ugly as well.

I’m pretty sure even sven was.

Nope, but I’ve known a lot of them. In fact, a good friend just rejoined and is on her way to Liberia. People who were in the PC either love it or hated it. The latter are usually the ones who join with some romantic notions that rarely come to pass. They become disillusioned with how little impact they are having or the indifference of the locals they are trying to help, or the really shitty living conditions in remote areas, and pack it in early.

Spent some time with them.

It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. It gave me a new career, the best friends I’ll ever have, and some incredible experiences. There is really no other time in your life where you’ll have the same opportunity to live as a part of a remote community so different than your own. Even if you end up working abroad in the future, you’ll never be as close to a community as you will in Peace Corps.

It’a also very, very hard. It’s hard physically, emotionally and mentally. The challenges are different for everyone, but it’s not a two year vacation.

The people who adapt the best tend to be the people who come in with the fewest expectations, an attitude of learning and flexibility, and ample patience.

Happy to answer specific questions here or via PM.

My parents were in Nepal in the PC. And my sister is just finishing up in Malawi- but she is staying in the country with another NGO thereafter. I will PM you her blog which is really well written and I think shows the excitement at the beginning and then slowly the wearing down and finally the renewed vigor as some of the effects of her work are being seen.

The foreignness of being immersed in a place often alone cannot be understated. There is a lot of respect for her but she will never fit in fully- my dad visited her and drank some beer with some of the locals there. In his opinion he was just being friendly; whereas it really undermined my sister’s position on trying to reduce alcoholism and spousal abuse that are so problematic in her village. Echoing even sven, patience and understanding are key to success. And that is not just within the community, as even stupid organizational things like being trained in one language and then sent to an area with a different language; being banned from travel to specific locations; etc.

It has been life changing for her and for my parents and they can’t recommend it highly enough.

My daughter was in the Peace Corps for two years. She started out in Mozambique, but had trouble learning Portuguese, so they moved her to Namibia. She ended up teaching school in Aroab, a small town on the edge of the Kalihari desert.

It was a dream for her, though I don’t think it matched up to her dream. Not that she hated it, but Namibia is very westernized so it was not as exotic as she had hoped. She also learned she really didn’t like teaching.

But overall, she enjoyed the experience.

Or other full-time volunteer jobs or religious life.

I was in the Peace Corps {Ecuador} from 88’-90’.
Whatcha want to know?