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|Peace Corps Welcome Book|
Volunteers currently serving in Belize are applying new approaches and cutting-edge technologies to address the needs of the country. Currently, the Peace Corps is working in collaboration with government ministries, schools, and local organizations to carry out projects in education, youth development, rural community development, and environmental conservation.
Peace Corps History
Main article: History of the Peace Corps in Belize
Since the first Peace Corps Volunteers arrived in Belize in 1962, more than 1,600 have served in the country. They have worked in education, alternative agriculture, health, conservation, and small business development. In the early years of Peace Corps/Belize, most Volunteers worked with the Ministry of Education to expand and diversify the secondary school system in rural areas. Since the early 1990s, Volunteers have focused their educational efforts on teacher training, curriculum development, HIV/AIDS awareness, and at-risk youth. They have also worked in rural community development, focusing on ecotourism, alternative agriculture, and environmental education.
Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyle
Main article: Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyles in Belize
Once you have been assigned to a site, you will spend the first month living with a host family. This will accelerate your language skills and provide a safe, welcoming environment to begin learning about Belizean culture. After one month, you may decide to stay with your host family or you may decide to move into an apartment or house of your own. Once you have identified safe and adequate housing that you can afford with the Peace Corps’ living allowance, Peace Corps staff will check your housing to ensure that it fulfills the Peace Corps’ site selection criteria (see the chapter on Health Care and Safety for further information). Volunteer housing ranges from one-room houses to small bungalows with bath and latrine facilities. Houses generally have electricity, but may or may not have running water and inside toilets. You will have to be very flexible in your housing expectations as there is no guarantee that electricity or running water will be available. Most Volunteers live in towns with populations of 4,000 to 20,000. A few Volunteers live in Belize City, and some live in small rural communities. Wherever you live, Peace Corps staff will visit you on occasion to provide personal, medical, and professional support.
Main article: Training in Belize
Training is an essential part of Peace Corps service. The goal is to give you the skills and information you need to live and work effectively in Belize, building upon the experience and expertise you bring to the Peace Corps. We anticipate that you will approach training with an open mind, a desire to learn, and a willingness to become involved. Trainees officially become Volunteers after successful completion of training.
The training program is approximately two months long. During training, you will receive training in language, cross-cultural communication, area studies, development issues, health and personal safety, and technical skills pertinent to your specific assignment. You will also practice new skills as they apply to Belize and meet and work with current Volunteers as a group. Additionally, by living with a host family during training and by taking field trips, you will have a chance to experience local culture and customs on your own.
Health Care and Safety
Main article: Health Care and Safety in Belize
The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the good health and safety of every Volunteer. Peace Corps medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative, approach to disease. The Peace Corps in Belize maintains a clinic with a full-time medical officer who takes care of Volunteers’ primary healthcare needs. Additional medical services, such as testing and basic treatment, are also available in Belize at local, American-standard hospitals. If you become seriously ill, you will be transported either to an American medical facility in the region or to the United States.
Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues
Main article: Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues in Belize
In Belize, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteers’ behavior, lifestyle, background, and beliefs are judged in a cultural context very different from their own. Certain personal perspectives or characteristics commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in Belize.
Outside of the bigger towns and tourist areas, residents of rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What people view as typical American behavior or norms may be a misconception, such as the belief that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. The people of Belize are justly known for their generous hospitality to foreigners; however, members of the community in which you will live may display a range of reactions to cultural differences that you present.
- Possible Issues for Female Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color
- Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers
- Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities
- Possible Issues for Married Couples
Frequently Asked Questions
Main article: FAQs about Peace Corps in Belize
- How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Belize?
- What is the electric current in Belize?
- How much money should I bring?
- When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
- Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
- Do I need an international driver’s license?
- What should I bring as gifts for Belizean friends and my host family?
- Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
- How can my family contact me in an emergency?
- Can I call home from Belize?
- Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
- Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
Main article: Packing List for Belize
This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Belize and is based on their experience. Use it as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that experience is individual. There is no perfect list! You obviously cannot bring everything we mention, so consider those items that make the most sense to you personally and professionally. You can always have things sent to you later. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have an 80-pound weight limit on baggage. The less you bring, the easier it will be for you to travel to and within Belize. Do not do all your packing in one day. Fill your bags and then return later to reevaluate your decisions. And remember, you can get almost everything you need in Belize.
- General Clothing
- For Women
- For Men
- For Women
- For Men
- Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items
Peace Corps News
The following is automatic RSS feed of Peace Corps news for this country.
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PEACE CORPS JOURNALS
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Contributions to the Belize Country Fund will support Volunteer and community projects that will take place in Belize. These projects include water and sanitation, agricultural development, and youth programs.
- Volunteers who served in Belize
- Sites where volunteers have served in Belize
- International Friends of Belize
- Inspector General Reports
- Pre-Departure Checklist
- List of resources for Belize