Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How the Peace Corps Works


Leaving Home for the Peace Corps
Not all volunteers work in agriculture or teaching, some train people on computers and other technology.
Not all volunteers work in agriculture or teaching, some train people on computers and other technology.
Photo courtesy of the Peace Corps

Preparing for more than two years living in a developing country takes some forethought. If the volunteer owns a house, someone has to take care of it. If not, he'll have to find storage for his possessions or sell some of them. The Peace Corps doesn't allow volunteers to bring pets, nor is there any accommodation made for volunteers with boyfriends or girlfriends - in fact, being in a serious relationship is a red flag that could prevent someone from being accepted into the Corps in the first place. However, married couples who both qualify can be sent to the same location to complete their Peace Corps service together. There are few spots open for this type of arrangement, but it's possible.

Packing presents its own problems. The Peace Corps asks volunteers to pack up to two bags with a weight limit of 80 pounds (36.287 kilograms). How can you possibly pack everything you'll need for two years and have it weigh less than 80 lbs.? The solution is to pack those things that you can only obtain in the United States. Toiletries, basic clothing, towels, pots and pans and other essentials can be purchased without much difficulty in the host country. Previous volunteers recommend bringing good, comfortable underwear and any specialized clothes, such as a good pair of hiking boots, rain gear and cold weather gear if you're heading to a country where that might be an issue. A camera, a few recently published books (older books can usually be found in the country), a shortwave radio for listening to news and a small portable CD player for listening to music will also be invaluable. Some volunteers bring laptop computers, though access to electricity can be hit or miss (or just miss) in some areas [Source: Dillon Banerjee].