Think local. Act global. Learn more about the Peace Corps


2/25/09 Your Peace Corps Toolkit

There is a tremendous amount of information available to potential PCVs. Here are some sources that I've found helpful:

The Official Peace Corps Website

SoYouWanna Join the Peace Corps

The so-called "Real Peace Corps," which says in a page what I've said in a month.
Campbell to Cameroon, the excellent, up-to-date (revised just last month!), and free 26-page book that walks you through the application process, by Travis Hellstrom

...just Google "join Peace Corps" and you'll find dozens more.

Many books have been written by PCVs about their experiences, but the world is changing so fast these days that some of the classics (my favorite is A Life Inspired) don't always reflect the current reality. I'd recommend reading Peace Corps Volunteers' blogs. They've recently given the site a big facelift, but they haven't addressed their biggest weakness, which is out-of-date blogs. Once a blog is listed, apparently it's there forever, even years after the Volunteer has left their country.

There's also a Peace Corps Wiki site, but it's not as useful as I'd hoped it would be.

Once you know which country you're going to, I'd recommend buying the Lonely Planet guide and the Culture Shock! for your nation, if they exist. Lonely Planet offers a 20-50 page overview of the history and culture of each nation, as well as detailed and constantly updated information about places to go and things to do, for when you take a weekend (or longer) trip around your new country. The Culture Shock! series delves more deeply into the culture and practices of the countries. It's written primarily for Americans living abroad - like you soon will be! - and therefore focuses a bit too much (imho) on the opportunities available to the monied foreigner, but includes vital information on everything from transportation options to hammam mores, as well as anthropological discussions about the origins of current practices. (Oh, and like all books, you can often find them for less on or another online bookseller. This is one case where the used book option may not be your friend, though - make sure you're getting the most up-to-date edition.)

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Think local. Act global. Learn more about the Peace Corps