Frequently Asked Questions

When I tell friends and family about my decision to join the Peace Corps, many questions often surface. Select a link to view FAQs by category, or choose a specific question from the list below.

BENEFITS

  • How much will you get paid in the Peace Corps? What do you have to pay for as a Volunteer? read
  • Why did you decide to join the Peace Corps? What do you hope to get out of it? read
  • What kind of job placement assistance will the Peace Corps provide when you complete your Volunteer service? read

VOLUNTEERING

  • Did you leave for Guyana alone? read
  • Did you choose Guyana for your volunteer location? read
  • How long is your Peace Corps assignment? read
  • Are there other Peace Corps Volunteers in Guyana? read
  • When you were in training, did you have a choice in where you'd be placed for your two years. Did you choose a rural site as opposed to an urban site? read
  • Do you get vacation time? Can you come home for a visit? Can I come to Guyana to visit you? read

QUALIFYING

  • I hear it's very hard to get into the Peace Corps. Is that true? How competitive was it? read
  • Do you need to speak another language to get into the Peace Corps? read

HEALTH AND SAFETY

  • How is medical care provided during Volunteer service? read
  • What kind of health insurance coverage do you have in Peace Corps? read
  • What does the Peace Corps do to protect the health and safety of its Volunteers? read

ABOUT THE PEACE CORPS

  • What is the mission of the Peace Corps? What are the agency's goals? read
  • Where do Peace Corps Volunteers serve? How many Volunteers are serving now? read
  • How does the Peace Corps decide where to establish Volunteer programs? read
  • How long are the Volunteer assignments? What are the age requirements? read


BENEFITS

How much will you get paid in the Peace Corps? What do you have to pay for as a Volunteer?

As a Peace Corps Volunteer, I am not paid a salary. Instead, I receive a stipend to cover my basic necessities - food, housing expenses, and local transportation. While the amount of the stipend varies from country to country, I receive an amount that allows me to live at the same level as the locals in Guyana. My personal expenses - souvenirs and vacation travel - are my responsibility. The Peace Corps pays for my transportation to and from Guyana and provides me with complete medical and dental care. At the conclusion of my service as a Volunteer, I will receive a "readjustment allowance" of $225 for each month of service. If I complete my full term of service, I will receive $6,075.

Why did you decide to join the Peace Corps? What do you hope to get out of it?

I had long wanted to live in a foreign country long enough to fully understand its people and culture. As a Peace Corps volunteer, I am immersed in Guyana's daily activities. I was also interested in the Information Technology focus. My logic for applying for the IT focus was that if computers are present, so must be electricity. And if electricity is present, there will likely be water and plumbing. I hope that as a Peace Corps volunteer I will learn more hardware Information Technology skills while expanding my leadership and training capabilities.

What kind of job placement assistance will the Peace Corps provide when you complete your Volunteer service?

The Peace Corps' Returned Volunteer Services (RVS) provides career, educational, and other advice and assistance through its Career Center in Washington, DC. RVs publishes a bimonthly job bulletin and career manuals and provides self-assessment tools that will help me explore career options. In addition, I will have noncompetitive eligibility status for appointments to US government executive branch agencies for a period of one year after the completion of my service.



VOLUNTEERING

Did you leave for Guyana alone?

No. Several days before my departure, I meet my fellow Peace Corps trainees in Miami at a pre-departure orientation (also called a "staging"). During orientation, Peace Corps staff members gave me my passport and airline tickets, prepared me for the first few days in my new country, and gave me the first of my vaccinations.

Did you choose Guyana for your volunteer location?

I told the Peace Corps that I would serve anywhere but Africa. The Peace Corps made every effort to accommodate my interests and preferences for serving as a Volunteer, but they did not guarantee placement in any specific country or region. Their main priority was to place me in a country where my skills are most needed.

How long is your Peace Corps assignment?

Peace Corps assignments are for two years plus three months of training. I will serve from June 2002 to August 2004.

Are there other Peace Corps Volunteers in Guyana?

There are about 30 Peace Corps Volunteers stationed in Guyana. Only five of us are focused on Information Technology.

When you were in training, did you have a choice in where you'd be placed for your two years. Did you choose a rural site as opposed to an urban site?

During training, I meet individually with Peace Corps staff, so they could find out more about my expectations concerning site placement. They tried their best to match me to a site while accommodating as many of my preferences as possible. I was interested in living in an urban area with electricity and plumbing.

Do you get vacation time? Can you come home for a visit? Can I come to Guyana to visit you?

The Peace Corps provides two vacation days for every month of service. I may travel home for a visit, or family and friends can make the trip to see me. The cost of my vacation travel, home or elsewhere, is unfortunately my responsibility. If you are a friend of mine, you are welcome to come to Guyana for a visit. I would love to see you and show you around.


QUALIFYING

I hear it's very hard to get into the Peace Corps. Is that true? How competitive was it?

Less than one third of all applicants are invited to serve in the Peace Corps. To become a Peace Corps Volunteer, I had to meet certain education and work experience requirements. When evaluating me, the Peace Corps considered my life experiences, community involvement, volunteer work, motivations, and even my hobbies. In most cases, a bachelor's degree in any discipline, strong motivation, and a commitment to Peace Corps service will be competitive enough to become a Peace Corps Volunteer.

Do you need to speak another language to get into the Peace Corps?

The Peace Corps teaches more than 180 languages and dialects. During my pre-service training, I would have received intensive language instruction had I been stationed in a country that required me to learn a foreign language. Guyana is English speaking, so no language skills were required for my assignment.


HEALTH AND SAFETY

How is medical care provided during Volunteer service?

The Peace Corps has a basic medical unit and medical provider in Guyana. They briefed me on staying healthy and provided me with the basic medical skills and supplies needed to do so. If a health problem occurs that cannot be treated locally, the Peace Corps will send me to an appropriate facility in a nearby country or back to the United States. All requisite vaccinations were given to me before my service began.

What kind of health insurance coverage will you have in Peace Corps?

Peace Corps is self-insured. It provides a comprehensive health program from the time I departed for service until the time I complete my Peace Corps service. At the completion of my service, Peace Corps will provide me with one month of paid medical insurance.

What does the Peace Corps do to protect the health and safety of its Volunteers?

The safety and health of every Volunteer is the Peace Corps' highest priority. The Peace Corps has developed an extensive training and support program to ensure my well-being. First, I am serving in a country that needs and wants Peace Corps assistance. The Peace Corps conducts an extensive assessment of the security circumstances in every country before a program is established. Second, the Peace Corps does everything possible to ensure that I am assigned to an area where my safety needs can be reasonably met. In addition, I am trained regularly on safety and health issues relevant to Guyana. In addition to these procedures, the Peace Corps expects me to enhance my personal health and safety by exercising mature, appropriate behavior and sound judgment.


ABOUT THE PEACE CORPS

What is the mission of the Peace Corps? What are the agency's goals?

The Peace Corps mission hasn't changed since the agency was formally authorized by Congress in 1961 to "promote world peace and friendship." The Peace Corps has three goals: to help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women; to help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served; to help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

Where do Peace Corps Volunteers serve? How many Volunteers are serving now?

There are 7,000 Peace Corps Volunteers currently serving in 70 countries around the world. Since the Peace Corps' founding, more than 165,000 men and women have joined the Peace Corps and served in 135 countries.

How does the Peace Corps decide where to establish Volunteer programs?

A request for Peace Corps service is normally initiated by the government of the country that would like Volunteers to serve. This is normally done directly from the government to the Peace Corps, usually through the office of the Peace Corps director. The countries also request the type of assistance they need, which could be teaching English, environmental awareness, or small business advising. In the last few years, Peace Corps has established new programs in South Africa, Jordan, Mozambique, Bangladesh, and Georgia.

How long are the Volunteer assignments? What are the age requirements?

All assignments are for two years plus three months of training in your country of service. Only US citizens may join the Peace Corps. You have to be at least 18 to join, and most assignments require four-year college degrees. 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 working in a skilled trade. There's no upper age limit for Peace Corps service - 7 percent of Volunteers are over age 50.