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Volunteering in the Peace Corps: A Datasheet
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Chunnel Offline
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RE: Volunteering in the Peace Corps: A Datasheet
(01-17-2015 12:06 PM)Hector_St_Clare Wrote:  
(01-16-2015 03:21 PM)Chunnel Wrote:  So this is my run down on what the Peace Corps has to offer. I'm pissed that my time was cut shorter than it needed to be. I am still considering signing up again for a different country, cause it was just that dope an experience. The learning, self growth, free-time for hobbies and reading, language skills, chicas, and friendships are second to none. So for anyone unsure about what they wanna do in life, and are looking for an unforgettable adventure, the opportunity to do crazy shit, I urge you to seriously consider Peace Corps.

Chunnel,

Thanks for your great post!

I was also a Peace Corps Volunteer, from 2004-2007 (when I was 23-26 years old). I worked in agriculture/forestry in an African country, I'll give more specifics hopefully once I get to know this community a little better. I did a ton of tree planting (fruit trees, edible moringa trees and nitrogen fixing trees), worked with farmers to improve their agricultural techniques, did some environmental education and helped people start up beekeeping, brickmaking and poultry raising. It was all in all a great experience, although in many ways pretty tough.

Just to supplement your post a bit:

1) yes, you will get sick. I got amoebic dysentery, giardia, shigellosis, and various other illnesses. I was somewhat lucky, some people got even sicker. I knew one guy who got malaria (he recovered of course). Oddly enough I only got sick when I travelled: the water in my village was from a deep fountain and I didn't need to purify it, it was totally clean coming right out of the pipe.

2) my experience was different, our medical staff was awesome. One guy was a native in country physician, the second (he left shortly after I arrived, because he got promoted) was an ex-Soviet doctor who'd served with the Red Army in Angola. Both were great.

3) The isolation was pretty bad, but I did read an amazing amount of books, and got a lot of time alone to think about who I was. As I got more integrated into the community I ended up hanging out more at people's houses, chatting about politics and gossip and stuff.

4) My house was amazing, I lived in essentially a gated compound with some national park officials. One of them had a TV (which was cool considering it was an electricity free village). I lived on a main regional road (not paved) about 20 miles from the regional capital, and on a river about 7-8 miles from the coast, so I could get a ride to the city (or bike) when I wanted, and use my cell phone / check email / go to the market there. I got amazing vegetables, fresh fish and seafood, occasionally game.

5) I learned a lot of the same things you did, and had similar experiences. I ended up mixing concrete with shovels, riding in ox carts, occasionally weighing babies, digging peanuts and cassava plants, killing and gutting chickens, clearing brush from a field to make it suitable for agriculture, growing papayas from seeds into fruiting plants, learning how to make bricks and teach other people.

6) One of the most exciting experiences was just realizing that I was helping transform people's lives. One of the couples I worked with very closely were neighbors of mine, when I got there the husband was an unemployed alcoholic with no land, and the family were generally among the poorest and most miserable people in the village, who often had to ask other people for food. I decided to take them on as a project, I ended up planting papaya trees in their yard, helping them plant in lines and mulch their fields, helping them lay manure on their land, etc.. By the time I left, the husband had stopped drinking and was a respected lay Lutheran leader in his village, and everyone was complimenting them on how amazing their new compound and papaya trees looked. It was one of the best experiences of my life, and one of the times I felt closest to God and that he was working rthrough me.

7) Peace Corps girls are fine, and I'm still good friends with some of my peace corps female companions. That being said, I'd encourage (and actually the Peace Corps encourages too) dating local women rather than fellow Americans. (I'd recommend the same for Peace Corps women too- date local guys.) You have the rest of your life to date American girls.

On the whole, this is a great experience: do it!

Awesome insight! I'm happy that medical care for you and the other volunteers was top notch. It seems medical care varies widely by country. But I were ever to do Peace Corps again, I think French speaking Africa would be my first choice.
01-17-2015 01:11 PM
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RE: Volunteering in the Peace Corps: A Datasheet - Chunnel - 01-17-2015 01:11 PM

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