Concerned Parents of a Peace Corps Volunteer: A quick Q&A

You care. 

From that care comes feelings of anxiety, concern, worry, excitement...fear. We understand.

As your child is serving overseas, you feel like you are right there with them. And while the internet and safety policies of the Peace Corps have made things considerably better for everyone involved, it never hurts to get a few of your outstanding questions answered directly from those that have gone through the experience. 

So let's get into the Q&A.

Bonus: The Q's were compiled from our parents as well as some others we found through internet research. The A's come directly from us.

If you don't see your question on the list, do not hesitate to comment on the article or reach out to us directly!

Q) How do I get in contact with my child while they are in the Peace Corps?

A) The Peace Corps has a lot of procedures in place so volunteers can get in contact with their loved ones when needed, and vice versa. Volunteers always have access to the internet and phone services in the country headquarters that they can use to reconnect with home. 

And while your child's country and site in the country can impact their access to a signal, generally speaking, most volunteers have basic cell service and some kind of internet access. 

Q) What happens if there is an emergency in the Country?

A) Peace Corps Service does come with risk. It would be irresponsible to say otherwise. From natural disasters to political unrest, many countries that host Peace Corps Volunteers are prone to some kind of risk. 

Each Peace Corps post is required to have a Saftey and Security office as well as a highly qualified medical team. 

During Pre-Service Training (PST), volunteers are required to complete various safety and security sessions. These sessions cover topics including public transportation, personal safety, as well as regionalized emergency evacuation plans. 

Q) How does the Peace Corps keep track of my child?

A) The ability to travel is one of the most fulfilling opportunities Peace Corps Volunteers get to experience. From traveling throughout their host country to hiking a regional trail; when Peace Corps Volunteers have the opportunity, we tend to move. 

The Peace Corps requires volunteers to report their travels to the Safety and Security team whenever they leave their site. Furthermore, if the volunteer wants to leave their host country, they must complete a vacation request form specifying where they will be going, with whom they will be staying, and an emergency contact number. 

Q) What if there is an emergency back home?

A) If an emergency happens back home, there are multiple ways to contact volunteers. If you cannot reach your chid directly, The Peace Corps has two emergency lines available toll-free.

Simply call 855.855.1961 or 202.692.1470.

Calls made to these lines are passed from the Peace Corps headquarters directly to your child's country of service. From there, the appropriate staff members will be informed and will connect you with your child ASAP. More information on this topic can be found here.

Q) Could my child get seriously hurt?

A) Of course. Your child is undertaking a 27 month adventure to a foreign country - increased movement generally associates with increased risk. But what is important to focus on is that your child will not be alone. From the Peace Corps Staff, to fellow Peace Corps Volunteers, your child will have a lot of people looking out for them. Not to mention the abundance of policies and resources available if something does go wrong.

Q) What is the outline of my child's Peace Corps training?

A)This is a big topic. We recommend that you read Peace Corps Training 101 for a more thorough breakdown.

But to give you an idea -

Peace Corps Training (PCT) is generally a 3 month extensive course in country language, culture, and history. Depending on your child’s sector, they will have training in an assortment of areas including farming techniques, micro-business, and sexual health.

PCT is extensive and varies country to country. But the end result in the aggregate is that your child will get a good amount of training and preparation before being sent to their future site.

Q) Can you tell me more about the safety and security?

A) We don’t mind admitting that the Peace Corps website does a great job of explaining safety and security in great depth. We recommend reading it.

What we can say is that safety and security in the Peace Corps is not perfect, but is constantly striving to improve based on Peace Corps Volunteer feedback and other factors. There is still a lot of areas, specifically sexual assault, that need to be addressed. We recommend reading both the CBS story about this topic, as well as the Peace Corps response.

Q) How can I send packages to my child?

A) There is no greater feeling than arriving to the capital city and finding a care package with treats, cards, and other goodies from family and friends. It’s like a shot of energy and always seems to arrive right when we need it the most.

Sadly, sending care packages to Peace Corps Volunteers is still quite difficult and is not considered as necessary. Hopefully we can change that.

Each country has their own regulations on customs and prohibited items. We can’t give great advice that will be applicable to every country, but we can share resources and leave some basic tips.

  • Make sure to mark the package as a 'gift’.

  • If the value of what you’re sending is over $10 USD, make sure to say the item is used.

  • Make sure to write your PCVs name and address clearly and itemize the contents as best you can.

  • Use flat-rate shipping methods

Other useful resources can be found here…and here.

Q) How can I send money to my child?

A) This topic is a bit troublesome on which to give advice. Our best suggestion is to review this resource or others like it. If all else fails, a reliable method is to slip money into the pages of a book and send it in your care package.

Congratulations on making it through this article and gaining a fuller perspective on Peace Corps life. You can find more information about the Staging Process, Preparing to Leave, and Packing Suggestions in our future articles. 

Remember you can support this website by clicking the "support' button and purchasing all of the items you'll need for the upcoming experience through our Amazon Affiliate link. Anything you buy, we get a small % from Amazon. It really helps us keep the site updated and running. 

Hope to hear from you!

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