My Peace Corps Service FAQ

One of my fellow M28s (our Mongolia group number), Courtney, wrote these questions and I thought I'd answer them too.

What is the Peace Corps? What do they do?

Peace Corps was started by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 and since then over a quarter of a million Americans have answered the call to serve in over 140 countries who are "motivated changemakers to immerse themselves in a community abroad, working side by side with local leaders to tackle the most pressing challenges of our generation." Volunteers work in one of six areas: Agriculture, Community Economic Development, Education, Environment, Health, and Youth in Development

What made you decide to join?

I actually wanted to join when I graduated from college back in 1982 but never sent in the application (although I filled it out several times in the past 30 years). But when I was teaching in Mongolia, I met a few Peace Corps volunteers. So, when I finished my contract and was thinking what to do, I thought again about the Peace Corps. From 2014-17, I served as an English Teacher Trainer in rural Thailand. And I re-applied and am now training in Mongolia.

Mongolia? Where is that? Africa?

Mongolia is in Asia, along the northwest border of China and below Russia. Currently the Peace Corps has volunteers in 68 countries on every continent. And when I re-applied, I specifically asked to go to Mongolia. Ever since I left there in 2012, I had wanted to return.

Mongolia

What are you going to do there?

I will be serving as an English teacher trainer but won't really know the specifics until my 'pre-service training' is over.

How long will you be gone?

In total, I will be in Mongolia for 27 months. That breaks down to three months of training and two years of service.

Isn't it cold there?

Yes, it is extremely cold. Winter snows come as early as mid-September but there is little snow because it is so cold. Winter temperatures are between a high of -15F and a low of -40F. Summer is very pleasant and warm but very, very short.

What do they eat in Mongolia?

Because of the climate, the Mongolians are traditionally herders. So food is based on livestock and dairy products. Very little int he way of vegetables are grown in Mongolia and no fruit, so prices are pretty high. Livestock include cows, sheep, goats, horses and camels.

Will you be safe?

Peace Corps #1 priority is safety and security. We'll get plent of training so that we are prepared. I'm not worried as I lived there before. Plus, I'll get insurance for my laptop just in case.

We need help here in the US? Why not serve locally?

65 million people do volunteer work in the US. I think the 7000 volunteers who head overseas can be spared to help others in need.

What are you going to do with all of your stuff?

My whole life has been about paring down lifes essentials and even now, after two decades of paring down (ever since I hiked the Appalachian Trail in 1998), there is still room to be free of my stuff.

How old are you?

I am 59. Believe it or not, 7% of all Peace Corps volunteers are over 50. It think the oldest currently serving volunteer is 80.

Are you scared?

No, not at all. I'm excited to be returning to Mongolia. But I wouldn't be honest if I didn't say I miss my host-family and my community back in Thailand.

Won't you miss your friends/family?

Of course I'll miss them. But life goes on, whether I'm here or not. And I've been gone 7 out of the last 9 years, so I'm guessing they are used to it.

Can you come home during service?

Sure, but it is expensive to fly back so I probably won't.

What are you going to do after service?

I want to return to my village in Thailand and find a teaching job in the area. I really felt part of the community and I know they could use a good English teacher.