The other day one of my students asked me if I am excited about becoming a Peacekeeper. I smiled and explained that I will be a Peace Corps Volunteer, which is a little different. (I think she’s seen a bit too much of the Hunger Games movies.)
Later that day another student asked, “Brittany, when do you leave for Koko-Soso?”
These questions inspired me to make a brief list of misconceptions about Peace Corps service. The list is by no means comprehensive and is only meant to cover the most common questions I have had to address.
1. I’ll be a Peace Corps Volunteer, not a Peacekeeper.
I will be teaching English, not escorting Katniss to the arena. I will be working in a safe area, not wielding a gun to protect civilians in a post-war country. In comparison to these two things, I guess being a PCV seems pretty boring.
If you’d like to read about what a PCV does, check out my About the Peace Corps page or visit their website at peacecorps.gov.
2. Kosovo is not Kuwait.
You may laugh, but this is probably one of the most common mistakes I have tried to correct. When I was in college I met someone who said they were from Kosovo, and I had to look it up. So after receiving my invitation I was expecting that most people would have no clue where Kosovo is located.
This has proved true for the majority of the people I talk to.
What I was not expecting, however, is the sizeable chunk of people who think they know where Kosovo is, but who are actually thinking of Kuwait.
I get comments like, “Yeah, I know someone who served over there. He said living in the desert was miserable. Are you gonna wear a burqa?” “Dang, it’s gonna be hot there. Are you learning Arabic?” “That’s by Saudi Arabia, right?”
No, you are thinking of Kuwait.
In their defense, we did have a military presence in Kuwait and Kosovo at the same time, and they are both small countries with a Muslim majority, so the confusion is somewhat understandable.
3. Peace Corps service is 27 months… not a few weeks in the summer
People keep asking me what I’ll be doing in the fall. When I say I’ll be in Kosovo, they say, “But I thought that you are doing that in June.”
“Yes, I will be there for over two years.”
This statement is met with surprise. I guess people assume that Peace Corps service is similar to a short-term missions project or a humanitarian internship. The truth is that PCVs complete about three months of intensive training and then are sworn-in for two full years of service.
4. Will it be a paid position, or will you have to fundraise for it?
The answer is neither. Being a PCV is not a salaried position, but it also does not require support raising.
After you receive an invitation to serve and are medically cleared, the Peace Corps covers everything. They pay for your international travel, your living expenses, and comprehensive medical/dental coverage. Keep in mind, however, that your living arrangements are modest and the monthly stipend is only intended to cover the absolute necessities.
“So my taxes are paying for you to have a two-year European vacation?”
Hmm… I may have to respond to that one in a separate post.
Until then I will keep this list short. After all, I probably have my own misconceptions about what being a PCV will look like, so stay tuned as I figure out what those are. If you would like more info check out my About the Peace Corps page or ask a question in the comments.
Koko-Soso is just one month away!