Susan Walsh, EC81 Saint Lucia, produced a video documenting Peace Corps Volunteer service on the beautiful island of Saint Lucia.  This video was in recognition of Peace Corps 50th Anniversary!
Click here to view a fifteen minute video on Saint Lucia Peace Corps

Shortly after my return to the United States, I was one of many RPCVs asked to participate in recording my experience documenting Peace Corps Volunteer service
Click here to view a one hour interview I gave at UCLA in late 2010

From time to time I receive emails about my service.  
This is my attempt to answer the common questions that are asked.

FAQs are from my point of view. 
If you have other questions or if you want to add to this let me know. 
I will be happy to add to it.

How long will the application process take?

It can take anywhere from 6 months to a year.  Be patient.  Be Flexible.  Don't worry.  Be happy.  Go on with your life during the process.  Don't sell your house and quit your job before you have the invitation in hand.  This can be a monumental process for those who own homes and are 50+ applicants.  You have to do what is best for you. There are no clear answers.

What should I do to make my application more competitive?

Apply for Peace Corps for the right reasons.  Whether or not you have submitted your application, begin volunteering now.  Get experience that you feel might be beneficial.  There have been nominees who have been asked to get more experience and reapply when their application reached the placement desk.  Make sure that you highlight past volunteer experience.  This could be anything from coaching a soccer game to packing food at a food bank to tutoring a peer in college. When there is a shortage of jobs the PC applicant process becomes more competitive.

Should I tell them where I would like to go during my interview?

They will likely ask so have an answer ready for them.  Just don't plan on them placing you exactly where you want to go.  This process is a test of flexibility which will be your mantra during your 27 months of service.

Let me answer this from an Over 50+ standpoint:  When I went for my interview I was asked about regions - I told them I wanted Eastern Europe and I would not go to Africa.  They confirmed my nomination at the interview, said they were going to call Washington because of my credentials and gave me several job descriptions to look at.  I said I would like University Teaching.  A few days later they said they were going to send me to the Caribbean for NGO Development...obviously nothing I wanted.  

Many times the assignment and/or region will change.  Don't get attached to your region or assignment.  Once again, be patient and flexible.  It turned out that I loved Saint Lucia and my assignment and cannot imagine going anywhere else.

When should I hear from Washington?  Should I call them?

My experience with the application process was likely as frustrating yours.  It took about ten months.  I had to have a wisdom tooth pulled and see a Cardiologist...neither were necessary, but if I wanted to go, I had to comply.  The Cardiologist just shook his head in disbelief.  I had a legal hold like everyone else did.  I never understood why.  I think they just put a hold on it before they review.  I was at a Returned Peace Corps event recently and some of the RPCVs told applicants to call once a month.  Your file won't be reviewed until just before you go.  My advice - don't panic and enjoy the time before you leave.  Be patient.

How do I find out when invitations will go out in my region/country?

Check out the Wiki Timeline.  It will help you understand when countries are taking new invitees.

How do I find others who I can talk to about the application/invite process, Peace Corps experience, etc.

Facebook is a good place to start.  The Eastern Caribbean has a page:
I'm sure other countries have their own page as well.
Future Peace Corps Volunteers:
National Peace Corps Association:

Blogs are also a great place to connect.

Returned Peace Corps associations are a great contact.  Applicants often attend the meetings where they meed people who have returned.

Peace Corps Connect

I got my invitation to the Eastern Caribbean. How do I know which island I'm invited to?

You likely have a separate piece of paper about your island.  That is the island that you are scheduled for.  There have been last minute changes and people don't find out until they get there.  However, this has been the exception rather than the rule.

What are the best things you brought or should have brought?

  • Wireless router
  • EReader
  • Laptop
  • Something WiFi (there are a few places in the capitol where I caught WiFi on my ITouch)
  • Small travel speakers
  • Some people actually had a printer sent to them. I never found that necessary.
  • Actually everything electronic.  Your IPhone will likely not work although I've heard of one volunteer in Antigua who succeeded.  I like technology and found my ITouch and the flip phone I got on the island were really enough.
  • Nuts and dried fruits. I put them in my backpack for snacks.  Family replenished my supply several times.
  • Things that will help you teach children.  There will be a bunch of them at your doorstep most nights.
  • Crafting supplies
  • Magic Jack
  • Camera
  • A few children's books

What should I have left at home?

  • Most of the clothes I brought. I suggest you pack and then take most of it out and leave them behind. Save your space for things above.
  • Short wave radio
What should I bring for my host family gift?
Don't stress about this too much.  A good kitchen knife would be a nice gift.  A family gift could be something edible that travels well or a favorite DVD or CD or possibly a game.  I was surprised that my host family would have liked American chocolate.  It is so hot there that it wasn't a consideration because it would have melted.  Go figure.  I spent more time worrying about this than I should have.