Difference between pages "Georgia" and "Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Kenya"

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{{CountryboxAlternative
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<div style="float: right; font-size:90%; background-color: white; min-width:20%;" margin: 0 0 1em 1em">
|Countryname= Georgia
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{| cellpadding="1" cellspacing="5" style="border: 1px solid #9866FF; background-color: #f3f3ff" width="300"
|CountryCode = gg
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| align="center" | '''<big>Country Resources</big>'''
|status= [[Present]]
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|-
|Flag=  
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| width="50%" |  
|Welcomebooklink = http://www.peacecorps.gov/welcomebooks/gewb242.pdf
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*[[Packing lists by country]]  
|Region= [[Eastern Europe and Central Asia]]
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*[[Training by country]]
|CountryDirector= [[Rick Record]]
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*[[Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles by country]]  
|Sectors= [[Education]]<br> [[NGO Development]]
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*[[Health care and safety by country]]  
|ProgramDates= [[2001]] - [[Present]]
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*[[Diversity and cross-cultural issues by country]]  
|CurrentlyServing= 69
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*[[FAQs by country]]  
|TotalVolunteers= 297
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*[[History of the Peace Corps by country]]
|Languages= [[Georgian]]
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|}
|Map= Gg-map.gif
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</div>
|stagingdate= Apr 26 2010
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|stagingcity= Philadelphia
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}}
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The first Peace Corps Volunteers arrived in March 2001. They serve in rural communities and towns throughout the country, where they focus on offering and enhancing English education for Georgian students and teaching methodologies for Georgian teachers. Technical sectors in Georgia include education and non-governmental organization development.
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===Communications===
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====Mail====
  
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Few countries in the world offer the level of mail service we take for granted in the United States. Mail takes a minimum of two weeks to arrive in Kenya. Some mail may simply not arrive (fortunately this is not a frequent occurrence, but it does happen). Some letters may arrive with clipped edges because a postal worker tried to see if any money was inside (again, this is rare, but it does happen). We do not want to sound discouraging, but when thousands of miles from families and friends, communication becomes a very sensitive issue. We would prefer you be forewarned of the reality of mail service in the developing world. Advise your family and friends to number their letters and to include “Airmail” and “Par Avion” on their envelopes.
  
==Peace Corps History==
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The length of time it takes for mail to reach Volunteers is as varied as their sites. Airmail from the United States to major cities in Kenya will take about two weeks. More remote post offices receive mail less frequently, and sometimes a local courier is employed to ferry mail from isolated villages to trading centers. The Peace Corps uses the Telkom Kenya network to send mail to Volunteers throughout Kenya.  Although mail is sent regularly from the Peace Corps office, the timing of its receipt depends on the location of the Volunteer’s site.
  
''Main article: [[History of the Peace Corps in Georgia]]''
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We strongly encourage you to write to your family regularly (perhaps weekly or biweekly) and to number your letters.
  
As early as 1994, the government of Georgia indicated its desire to host Peace Corps Volunteers. Although the Peace Corps sent an assessment team to Georgia in response to that request, a decision to enter Georgia was indefinitely postponed due to security concerns over civil unrest in the Abkhazia and Ossetia provinces. In 1997, the Georgian government formally reiterated its desire to host Peace Corps Volunteers, and again an assessment team was sent. Although the security situation had significantly improved by this time, budgetary constraints prevented the Peace Corps from acting upon this request, and the decision was delayed yet again. In late 1999, after repeated inquiries from the Georgian government and consistent accounts from the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi that the security situation remained conducive to the presence of Peace Corps Volunteers, the decision was made to reassess the possibility of setting up a program. The review was positive, and funds were set aside by the Peace Corps to establish a program in Georgia in 2000.
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Family members will typically become worried when they do not hear from you, so please advise your parents, friends, and relatives that mail is sporadic and that they should not worry if they do not receive your letters regularly.  
  
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Peace Corps Volunteers are allowed duty-free entry of packages for their first 90 days in Kenya. After the 90-day grace period, the customs office may begin assessing duty charges, which must be paid before a package is released.  Customs duties are based on the types of items as well as their value. Electronics may be assessed a particularly high duty rate. Packages normally take about three months to reach Kenya from the United States if sent via surface mail.  Volunteers are requested to follow the mailing procedures described in the Peace Corps/Kenya Volunteer Handbook.
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Your address during training will be:
  
==Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyles==
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Your Name/PCT<br>
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PO Box 30518<br>
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Nairobi, Kenya<br>
  
''Main article: [[Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyles in Georgia]]''
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It is your responsibility to forward the postal address at your site to the Peace Corps office in Nairobi so mail can be routed directly to you. Mail sent via international channels will take 10 to 21 days to arrive at your site. Remember that it is important to keep regular contact with relatives and friends, not just for them but also for you. Write often so that no one has cause to worry, which a lapse in letters for any period of time has been known to create.
  
Volunteers need to be very flexible about their housing expectations. Volunteers live in a variety of situations, including private rooms, shared houses, and small apartments.
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Once at your site, you will receive a notification slip in your post box when you receive a package. Respond promptly with your ID in hand. The sooner you pick up the package, the less storage fees will be. You will be responsible for paying any customs, storage, and handling charges before your package is released to you.  
  
For the first three months of your service, you are required to live with a Georgian host family. After the first three months, alternative housing arrangements may be considered in consultation with your program manager and the medical officer. For reasons of safety and security and for reasons of quality of life (especially during the winter months), most Volunteers opt to remain living with homestay families throughout their two years of service. In most areas of Georgia there are no guarantees of continuous electricity, running water, or phone service. Some villages and towns have only a few hours of electricity a day (or even none at all) in the winter months, and the natural gas supply is often cut off for periods of time. Without a central heating system, the inside of buildings is often colder in the winter than the outdoors. You should be prepared to tolerate cold and discomfort, especially during the work day at school. The Peace Corps staff will do its best to help Volunteers adjust and succeed in this environment. Peace Corps/Georgia provides all Volunteers with sleeping bags for the winter. These sleeping bags have a synthetic filling and are rated at 0°F for warmth.
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Trainees and Volunteers are responsible for mailing personal letters and packages. Airmail letters and stamps are available at local post offices.
  
==Training==
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====Telephones ====
  
''Main article: [[Training in Georgia]]''
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Most large cities and provincial capitals have domestic long-distance service; regional centers and some large cities also provide overseas telephone service. In some locations, the service is fast and efficient; in others, it may take several hours to get calls through.
  
Following a pre-departure orientation (staging) in the United States, you will participate in a 10-week, intensive pre-service training in Georgia. Peace Corps/Georgia uses a community-based training model that is designed around real life experiences and emphasizes community involvement. Trainees live with host families in one of several training villages around a central training facility outside the capital.
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Cellular telephones and service are widely avaialbe in Kenya. Peace Corps does not require Volunteers to purchase a phone, but most Volunteers choose to buy a phone and service once they reach their sites and have a clear idea of the network coverage in the area.  
  
The goals of community-based training are:
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Domestic long-distance calls: Volunteers are responsible for all toll charges on calls. But you may call the Peace Corps/ Nairobi office collect or reverse charges. The Peace Corps provides 500 Kenyan shillings per month (telecommunications allowance) to cover official and emergency phone calls.
  
# To provide in-depth, experiential learning in settings similar to those at Volunteer sites;
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Overseas calls: The Peace Corps occasionally authorizes a Volunteer to call home because of a family emergency. When you receive such notification from the Peace Corps, you may pay for toll charges and bring the receipt to the Peace Corps office for reimbursement. Personal overseas calls will not be authorized by the Peace Corps office, and Volunteers must use locally available public phones for all personal calls.  
# To give trainees the best possible opportunity to gain competence in technical, cross-cultural, language, and health and safety areas in a culturally and linguistically appropriate context;
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# To allow trainees to acquire experience and skills in self-directing their own learning so they can continue independent learning at site.  
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Pre-service training contains five main components: technical, language, cross-cultural, health, and safety.
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====Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access====
  
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Because Internet use appears to be primarily for personal reasons, you are expected to use your living and telecommunications allowances to cover your Internet costs.
  
==Your Health Care and Safety==
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Designated computers in the resource center at the Nairobi office do have Internet access. You are welcome to use these, though priority is given to Volunteers who are getting ready to finish their service, to assist them with graduate school and job applications. Volunteers are prohibited from using staff computers in all offices. Internet access is available at post offices and cybercafes in towns and cities.
  
''Main article: [[Health Care and Safety in Georgia]]''
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===Housing and Site Location ===
  
The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the health and safety of every Volunteer. Peace Corps medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative approach to disease. Peace Corps/Georgia maintains a clinic with a full-time medical officer who takes care of Volunteers’ primary health-care needs. Additional medical services, such as testing and basic treatment, are also available in Georgia at local, American-standard clinics. If you become seriously ill, you will be transported to either an American medical facility in the region or to the United States.
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As a Volunteer, you will most likely have to live in a rural community and not have access to indoor plumbing or electricity.  Expect to use hurricane lamps and candles for lighting and to cook using charcoal, wood, or a single-burner kerosene stove. Peace Corps/Kenya, for both philosophical and budget considerations, requires host ministries to provide all Volunteers with housing. The standard and condition of Volunteer housing vary widely, from mud houses with thatched roofs to very modern cement houses with running water and electricity. The type of house you have will depend on your project, the area of the country in which you are posted, and the types of houses available in the community.  You may also be required to share housing with other staff or to live in a room behind a shop at a market center. In short, you can expect to have, at the very least, a room to call your own. The decision as to whether housing standards are “acceptable” lies with the associate Peace Corps director and medical staff. When it comes to your housing, you should not lose sight of the guiding goal of the Peace Corps. Maintain your focus on service to the people of Kenya and not on the level of your accommodations.  
  
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Because Peace Corps Volunteers are often posted in poor rural areas to work with ministries with little or no money for housing, the Peace Corps sets minimum housing standards:
  
==Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues==
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* There must be at least a private, lockable room if housing is shared with other people.
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* The room should have windows.
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* The roof should not leak.
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* There should be a cement floor and a place for a Volunteer to take a bucket bath or shower.
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* There should be a latrine that is private or semiprivate (not used by all schoolchildren at a school but perhaps shared by other staff members).
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* The Volunteer will be expected to use the same water source as the community.
  
''Main article: [[Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues in Georgia]]''
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Your site assignment is made during pre-service training, in collaboration with the training staff. The assignment is based on their assessment and recommendation regarding community needs and your skill levels in the technical, cross-cultural, and language areas. You will be interviewed prior to an actual placement decision so that additional personal preferences can be considered in making the site assignment.  Site placements are made using the following criteria (in priority order):
  
In Georgia, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteers’ behavior, lifestyles, background, and beliefs will be judged in a cultural context very different from our own. Certain personal perspectives or characteristics commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in some host countries.
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* Medical considerations
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* Government of Kenya needs
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* Site requirements (community needs) matched with demonstrated technical, cross-cultural, and language skills
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* Peace Corps/Kenya needs
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* Personal preference of the trainee
  
Outside of Georgia’s capital, residents of rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What is advertised as “typical” cultural behavior or norms may also be a narrow and selective interpretation, such as the perception in some countries that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. The people of Georgia 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 differences that you present.  
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The final decisions on site placement are made by your associate Peace Corps director. If you choose not to go to the site assigned to you, you will be given the opportunity to terminate your service with the Peace Corps. Refusal to go to your assigned site will result in administrative separation from Peace Corps/Kenya.
  
* Possible Issues for Female Volunteers
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===Living Allowance and Money Management===
* Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color
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* Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers
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* Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers
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* Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers
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* Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities
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Each Volunteer receives a monthly allowance sufficient to cover basic costs. The allowance enables you to live adequately according to the Peace Corps’ philosophy of a modest lifestyle. It is based on the local cost of living and is paid in local currency. Your living allowance is intended to cover food, housing, clothing, transportation from home to work site, utilities, household supplies, recreation and entertainment, incidental personal expenses, communications, and reading material.
  
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===Food and Diet ===
  
==Frequently Asked questions==
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In most parts of Kenya, there is a wide choice of foods, ranging from fresh fruits and vegetables to meats. With a little creativity, you can enjoy a varied diet. Fruits and vegetables are seasonal, which means that some items may not be available at all times. Vegetarian Volunteers will have little difficulty in continuing their diets after becoming familiar with local food items and their preparation.
  
{{Volunteersurvey2008
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===Transportation===
|H1r= 36
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|H1s= 72.3
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|H2r= 28
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|H2s= 85.1
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|H3r= 23
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|H3s= 86.8
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|H4r=  34
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|H4s=  105
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|H5r=  13
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|H5s=  58.3
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|H6r=  20
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|H6s=  91.9
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}}
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''Main article: [[FAQs about Peace Corps in Georgia]]''
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All Volunteers will be expected to travel in Kenya using local transportation (i.e., foot, public buses, or matatu van). This includes getting from your training center to your site both during and at the end of pre-service training.
  
* How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Georgia?
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Volunteers may not own or operate motorized vehicles, but they are allowed to rent vehicles during approved vacation periods. Trainees and Volunteers are not allowed to drive any vehicle during training or at their sites.
* What is the electric current in Georgia?
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* How much money should I bring?
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* When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
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* Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
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* Do I need an international driver’s license?
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* What should I bring as gifts for Georgia friends and my host family?
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* Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
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* How can my family contact me in an emergency?
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* Can I call home from Georgia?
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* Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
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* Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
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Volunteers are provided 18-speed, all-terrain bicycles by the Peace Corps. This bicycle is to be used with your extension work, in conjunction with the use of public transport. They are also provided with a helmet, which they must use whenever they ride a bike.
  
==Packing List==
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===Geography and Climate===
  
''Main article: [[Packing List for Georgia]]''
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Kenya is located in East Africa and covers 582,650 square kilometers. It is approximately the size of Nevada and shares borders with Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Somalia.  The climate varies from tropical along the coast to arid in the interior, and the topography varies from low plains to central highlands (with an altitude of 3,000 to 10,000 feet) to mountain ridges (e.g., 17,040 feet on Mount Kenya). From the mountains flow Kenya’s four major rivers—Tana, Athi, Tarkwel, and Uaso-Nyiro. The spectacular Rift Valley, a result of geological faulting, stretches all the way to Zimbabwe.  Lake Victoria, in the Nyanza province, is the second-largest freshwater lake in the world.
  
This list has been compiled with the assistance of Volunteers serving in Georgia. 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. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have a 100 pound weight restriction on baggage. And remember, you can get almost everything you need in Georgia.
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Kenya has four seasons: January–March (warm, sunny, and dry), March–June (long rains), June–September (cool, cloudy, and dry), and October–December (short rains). Despite being on the equator, Kenya enjoys a temperate climate, with temperatures ranging from 55 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit and 70 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit depending on location. Kenya’s diversity of flora and fauna attracts visitors from all over the world, supporting the tourism industry.  
  
* General Clothing
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===Social Activities===
* Women
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* Men
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* Miscellaneous
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==Peace Corps News==
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The most common form of entertainment in rural communities is socializing with friends and family. Volunteers will take part in the various festivities, parties, and storytelling sessions within their communities. Many Volunteers bring or buy a shortwave radio to listen to international broadcasts (e.g., BBC and Voice of America). Satellite radio recievers and service can be bought in Nairobi.
  
Current events relating to Peace Corps are also available by [[News | country of service]] or [[News by state|your home state]]
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===Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior===
  
''The following is automatic RSS feed of Peace Corps news for this country.''<br><rss title=on desc=off>http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&ned=us&scoring=n&q=%22peace+corps%22+%22georgia%22&output=rss|charset=UTF-8|short|date=M d</rss>
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Kenyans regard dress and appearance as an outward sign of the respect one holds for another individual. Neatness in appearance is much more important than being “stylish.” You are expected to dress appropriately (long skirts for women and slacks for men) in training, while traveling, and on the job. It takes only one inappropriately dressed Volunteer for a Kenyan host agency to arrive at a generally negative conclusion about the Peace Corps. This jeopardizes the credibility of the Volunteer and the entire program.  Kenyan neighbors, counterparts, and supervisors may draw unfavorable impressions of a Volunteer’s appearance, and the Volunteer may never be aware that such impressions have been made. In such cases, Volunteers will never know how their work and credibility have been compromised. In addition, Volunteer dress should respect the cultural and religious norms of his or her community.  
  
<br>'''[http://peacecorpsjournals.com PEACE CORPS JOURNALS]'''<br>''( As of {{CURRENTDAYNAME}} {{CURRENTMONTHNAME}} {{CURRENTDAY}}, {{CURRENTYEAR}} )''<rss title=off desc=off>http://peacecorpsjournals.com/rss/gg/blog/50.xml|charset=UTF-8|short|max=10</rss>
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Volunteers should always wear clean and neat clothes. Buttoned shirts for men and blouses and skirts or dresses for women are appropriate wear during business hours. T-shirts are appropriate only for casual, nonbusiness activities. Tank tops, see-through blouses, or extremely low-cut blouses are not appropriate attire.
  
==See also==
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Men should not wear dirty or worn-out jeans. Jeans should not be worn during business hours unless the conditions of the job assignment or training activity allow it, and never when visiting government offices or the training center. In most cases, jeans are not acceptable attire for the Peace Corps office. However, should they be unavoidable (for instance, following travel), neat jeans are acceptable in the Peace Corps office and on “dress down” days at the training center. The Kenyan Ministry of Education has determined that jeans are not appropriate attire for classroom teachers.
* [[Volunteers who served in Georgia]]
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* [[Inspector General Reports]]
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* [[Pre-Departure Checklist]]
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* [[List of resources for Georgia]]
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==External links==
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Women may not wear casual slacks or jeans during business hours unless the conditions of the training activity or job assignment require it, and never when visiting government offices or the training center. Dresses and skirts to or below the knees are appropriate attire for women. Shorts may be worn only at home, when exercising (if appropriate), or when doing work where Kenyan counterparts are also wearing shorts. As mentioned above, only in specific circumstances are jeans, casual slacks, or shorts considered acceptable attire for women in the Peace Corps office or the training center.
* [http://www.peacecorpsjournals.com/gg.html Peace Corps Journals - Georgia]
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[[Category:Georgia]] [[Category:Eastern Europe and Central Asia]]
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Aside from the condition and type of clothing you wear, there are other standards of dress and appearance that need to be remembered. Female Volunteers should wear appropriate undergarments, including bras and slips. Your hair should be clean and combed. For men, beards should be neatly trimmed.  Men should never wear a hat indoors, unless custom in the area allows it. Wearing a hat in government, Peace Corps, or similar offices is not allowed, and sunglasses should be removed when indoors. Finally, smoking is prohibited in all Peace Corps and training center offices and in Peace Corps vehicles.
[[Category:Country]]
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These restrictions have been formalized only in response to specific instances of inappropriate dress and behavior by Volunteers. Because it is difficult to know automatically what is appropriate when entering a new culture, we present this list not to offend, but to inform. In general, the above guidance is meant to convey to Volunteers the point that adherence to professional standards is appropriate at all times and in all places.
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Peace Corps Volunteers are expected to maintain high standards of behavior. Any behavior that could jeopardize the reputation of the Volunteer or the Peace Corps could be grounds for administrative separation. All Volunteers are reminded that they are subject to the laws of Kenya and have no immunity from them. The Peace Corps will assist Volunteers in criminal proceedings, but if the proceedings necessitate professional legal counsel, Peace Corps/Kenya must obtain prior approval from the general counsel’s office in Washington. Any costs arising from such counsel are usually the responsibility of the Volunteer. Peace Corps/Kenya cannot pay fines but can arrange for fines to be paid from the Volunteer’s readjustment allowance.
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The matter of trainee or Volunteer sexual behavior is, of course, a highly personal one. However, because of other social implications of inappropriate behavior, it is important that Peace Corps standards be clear. Sexual mores in Kenya are very conservative and strict, and you are expected to respect them. Public displays of affection such as kissing, hand holding, or hugging, are not generally socially acceptable. Further information will be provided during your pre-service training on appropriate and inappropriate sexual behavior.
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If the country director determines that willful disregard of cultural standards is jeopardizing your credibility as a trainee or Volunteer or that of the entire program, you may be administratively separated from Peace Corps service.
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===Rewards and Frustrations===
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Before accepting this assignment, you should give ample thought to some of the potential obstacles that you will face. Until your adjustment to Kenya is complete, you will undoubtedly feel out of place speaking a new language and observing and trying to practice customs that seem strange to you. In addition, no matter what your ethnic, religious, or racial background is, you may stick out as someone from outside the Kenyan culture. However, many situations can indeed be overcome with a sense of humor and an ability to be open to new experiences. Your work situation may also present many difficulties and frustrations.
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Most of your work will be to educate, motivate, and organize community groups. These are slow and challenging tasks.  Co-workers, severely underpaid and burdened with extended family commitments, will have a much different outlook on life from your own, and rainy and agricultural seasons will delay many project activities. You must be able to work in an unstructured assignment and approach all of the above situations with flexibility, supreme patience, resourcefulness, and a sense of humor. Your commitment to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer will be tested throughout your service by any number of everyday events.
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Peace Corps service is not for everyone. More than a mere job, it requires greater dedication and commitment to serve than do most other work environments. It is for confident, self-starting, and concerned individuals who are interested in assisting in other countries and increasing human understanding across cultural barriers. The key to satisfying work as a Peace Corps Volunteer is the ability to establish successful human relations at all levels. This requires patience, sensitivity, and a positive professional attitude. If you have the personal qualities needed to accept the challenge described above and can demonstrate them for a two-year service in Kenya, you will have a rewarding, enriching, and lasting experience, while at the same time making a much-needed contribution to Kenya’s development.
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Often you will find yourself in situations that require an ability to motivate yourself and your colleagues, and take action with little guidance from supervisors. You may work for months without seeing any visible impact and without receiving feedback on your work. You must possess the self-confidence, patience, and vision to continue working toward long-term goals without seeing immediate results. Judging by the experience of former Volunteers, the benefits are well worth the difficult times, and most Volunteers leave feeling that they have gained much more than they sacrificed during their service.
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Even with the many economic, social, political, and environmental challenges facing Kenya today, there is an atmosphere of excitement and hope. The changes occurring are some of the most important in the country’s modern history. To join the people of Kenya in this effort, and to be part of this historically pivotal and defining moment, will be both fascinating and satisfying to any Volunteer willing to work hard, be tolerant of ambiguity, and give generously of his or her time.
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===Personal Safety===
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Information about the Peace Corps’ approach to safety is outlined in the Health Care and Safety chapter, but it is an important issue and cannot be overemphasized. As stated in the Volunteer Handbook, becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer entails certain safety risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment (oftentimes alone), having a limited understanding of local language and culture, and being perceived as well-off are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk. Many Volunteers experience varying degrees of unwanted attention and harassment. Petty thefts and burglaries are not uncommon, and incidents of physical and sexual assault do occur, although many Volunteers complete their two years of service without personal security incidents.  The Peace Corps has established procedures and policies designed to help you reduce your risks and enhance your safety and security. These procedures and policies, in addition to safety training, will be provided once you arrive in Kenya.  At the same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your safety and well-being.
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[[Category:Kenya]]

Revision as of 08:43, 8 December 2015

Country Resources

Communications

Mail

Few countries in the world offer the level of mail service we take for granted in the United States. Mail takes a minimum of two weeks to arrive in Kenya. Some mail may simply not arrive (fortunately this is not a frequent occurrence, but it does happen). Some letters may arrive with clipped edges because a postal worker tried to see if any money was inside (again, this is rare, but it does happen). We do not want to sound discouraging, but when thousands of miles from families and friends, communication becomes a very sensitive issue. We would prefer you be forewarned of the reality of mail service in the developing world. Advise your family and friends to number their letters and to include “Airmail” and “Par Avion” on their envelopes.

The length of time it takes for mail to reach Volunteers is as varied as their sites. Airmail from the United States to major cities in Kenya will take about two weeks. More remote post offices receive mail less frequently, and sometimes a local courier is employed to ferry mail from isolated villages to trading centers. The Peace Corps uses the Telkom Kenya network to send mail to Volunteers throughout Kenya. Although mail is sent regularly from the Peace Corps office, the timing of its receipt depends on the location of the Volunteer’s site.

We strongly encourage you to write to your family regularly (perhaps weekly or biweekly) and to number your letters.

Family members will typically become worried when they do not hear from you, so please advise your parents, friends, and relatives that mail is sporadic and that they should not worry if they do not receive your letters regularly.

Peace Corps Volunteers are allowed duty-free entry of packages for their first 90 days in Kenya. After the 90-day grace period, the customs office may begin assessing duty charges, which must be paid before a package is released. Customs duties are based on the types of items as well as their value. Electronics may be assessed a particularly high duty rate. Packages normally take about three months to reach Kenya from the United States if sent via surface mail. Volunteers are requested to follow the mailing procedures described in the Peace Corps/Kenya Volunteer Handbook. Your address during training will be:

Your Name/PCT
PO Box 30518
Nairobi, Kenya

It is your responsibility to forward the postal address at your site to the Peace Corps office in Nairobi so mail can be routed directly to you. Mail sent via international channels will take 10 to 21 days to arrive at your site. Remember that it is important to keep regular contact with relatives and friends, not just for them but also for you. Write often so that no one has cause to worry, which a lapse in letters for any period of time has been known to create.

Once at your site, you will receive a notification slip in your post box when you receive a package. Respond promptly with your ID in hand. The sooner you pick up the package, the less storage fees will be. You will be responsible for paying any customs, storage, and handling charges before your package is released to you.

Trainees and Volunteers are responsible for mailing personal letters and packages. Airmail letters and stamps are available at local post offices.

Telephones

Most large cities and provincial capitals have domestic long-distance service; regional centers and some large cities also provide overseas telephone service. In some locations, the service is fast and efficient; in others, it may take several hours to get calls through.

Cellular telephones and service are widely avaialbe in Kenya. Peace Corps does not require Volunteers to purchase a phone, but most Volunteers choose to buy a phone and service once they reach their sites and have a clear idea of the network coverage in the area.

Domestic long-distance calls: Volunteers are responsible for all toll charges on calls. But you may call the Peace Corps/ Nairobi office collect or reverse charges. The Peace Corps provides 500 Kenyan shillings per month (telecommunications allowance) to cover official and emergency phone calls.

Overseas calls: The Peace Corps occasionally authorizes a Volunteer to call home because of a family emergency. When you receive such notification from the Peace Corps, you may pay for toll charges and bring the receipt to the Peace Corps office for reimbursement. Personal overseas calls will not be authorized by the Peace Corps office, and Volunteers must use locally available public phones for all personal calls.

Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access

Because Internet use appears to be primarily for personal reasons, you are expected to use your living and telecommunications allowances to cover your Internet costs.

Designated computers in the resource center at the Nairobi office do have Internet access. You are welcome to use these, though priority is given to Volunteers who are getting ready to finish their service, to assist them with graduate school and job applications. Volunteers are prohibited from using staff computers in all offices. Internet access is available at post offices and cybercafes in towns and cities.

Housing and Site Location

As a Volunteer, you will most likely have to live in a rural community and not have access to indoor plumbing or electricity. Expect to use hurricane lamps and candles for lighting and to cook using charcoal, wood, or a single-burner kerosene stove. Peace Corps/Kenya, for both philosophical and budget considerations, requires host ministries to provide all Volunteers with housing. The standard and condition of Volunteer housing vary widely, from mud houses with thatched roofs to very modern cement houses with running water and electricity. The type of house you have will depend on your project, the area of the country in which you are posted, and the types of houses available in the community. You may also be required to share housing with other staff or to live in a room behind a shop at a market center. In short, you can expect to have, at the very least, a room to call your own. The decision as to whether housing standards are “acceptable” lies with the associate Peace Corps director and medical staff. When it comes to your housing, you should not lose sight of the guiding goal of the Peace Corps. Maintain your focus on service to the people of Kenya and not on the level of your accommodations.

Because Peace Corps Volunteers are often posted in poor rural areas to work with ministries with little or no money for housing, the Peace Corps sets minimum housing standards:

  • There must be at least a private, lockable room if housing is shared with other people.
  • The room should have windows.
  • The roof should not leak.
  • There should be a cement floor and a place for a Volunteer to take a bucket bath or shower.
  • There should be a latrine that is private or semiprivate (not used by all schoolchildren at a school but perhaps shared by other staff members).
  • The Volunteer will be expected to use the same water source as the community.

Your site assignment is made during pre-service training, in collaboration with the training staff. The assignment is based on their assessment and recommendation regarding community needs and your skill levels in the technical, cross-cultural, and language areas. You will be interviewed prior to an actual placement decision so that additional personal preferences can be considered in making the site assignment. Site placements are made using the following criteria (in priority order):

  • Medical considerations
  • Government of Kenya needs
  • Site requirements (community needs) matched with demonstrated technical, cross-cultural, and language skills
  • Peace Corps/Kenya needs
  • Personal preference of the trainee

The final decisions on site placement are made by your associate Peace Corps director. If you choose not to go to the site assigned to you, you will be given the opportunity to terminate your service with the Peace Corps. Refusal to go to your assigned site will result in administrative separation from Peace Corps/Kenya.

Living Allowance and Money Management

Each Volunteer receives a monthly allowance sufficient to cover basic costs. The allowance enables you to live adequately according to the Peace Corps’ philosophy of a modest lifestyle. It is based on the local cost of living and is paid in local currency. Your living allowance is intended to cover food, housing, clothing, transportation from home to work site, utilities, household supplies, recreation and entertainment, incidental personal expenses, communications, and reading material.

Food and Diet

In most parts of Kenya, there is a wide choice of foods, ranging from fresh fruits and vegetables to meats. With a little creativity, you can enjoy a varied diet. Fruits and vegetables are seasonal, which means that some items may not be available at all times. Vegetarian Volunteers will have little difficulty in continuing their diets after becoming familiar with local food items and their preparation.

Transportation

All Volunteers will be expected to travel in Kenya using local transportation (i.e., foot, public buses, or matatu van). This includes getting from your training center to your site both during and at the end of pre-service training.

Volunteers may not own or operate motorized vehicles, but they are allowed to rent vehicles during approved vacation periods. Trainees and Volunteers are not allowed to drive any vehicle during training or at their sites.

Volunteers are provided 18-speed, all-terrain bicycles by the Peace Corps. This bicycle is to be used with your extension work, in conjunction with the use of public transport. They are also provided with a helmet, which they must use whenever they ride a bike.

Geography and Climate

Kenya is located in East Africa and covers 582,650 square kilometers. It is approximately the size of Nevada and shares borders with Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Somalia. The climate varies from tropical along the coast to arid in the interior, and the topography varies from low plains to central highlands (with an altitude of 3,000 to 10,000 feet) to mountain ridges (e.g., 17,040 feet on Mount Kenya). From the mountains flow Kenya’s four major rivers—Tana, Athi, Tarkwel, and Uaso-Nyiro. The spectacular Rift Valley, a result of geological faulting, stretches all the way to Zimbabwe. Lake Victoria, in the Nyanza province, is the second-largest freshwater lake in the world.

Kenya has four seasons: January–March (warm, sunny, and dry), March–June (long rains), June–September (cool, cloudy, and dry), and October–December (short rains). Despite being on the equator, Kenya enjoys a temperate climate, with temperatures ranging from 55 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit and 70 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit depending on location. Kenya’s diversity of flora and fauna attracts visitors from all over the world, supporting the tourism industry.

Social Activities

The most common form of entertainment in rural communities is socializing with friends and family. Volunteers will take part in the various festivities, parties, and storytelling sessions within their communities. Many Volunteers bring or buy a shortwave radio to listen to international broadcasts (e.g., BBC and Voice of America). Satellite radio recievers and service can be bought in Nairobi.

Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior

Kenyans regard dress and appearance as an outward sign of the respect one holds for another individual. Neatness in appearance is much more important than being “stylish.” You are expected to dress appropriately (long skirts for women and slacks for men) in training, while traveling, and on the job. It takes only one inappropriately dressed Volunteer for a Kenyan host agency to arrive at a generally negative conclusion about the Peace Corps. This jeopardizes the credibility of the Volunteer and the entire program. Kenyan neighbors, counterparts, and supervisors may draw unfavorable impressions of a Volunteer’s appearance, and the Volunteer may never be aware that such impressions have been made. In such cases, Volunteers will never know how their work and credibility have been compromised. In addition, Volunteer dress should respect the cultural and religious norms of his or her community.

Volunteers should always wear clean and neat clothes. Buttoned shirts for men and blouses and skirts or dresses for women are appropriate wear during business hours. T-shirts are appropriate only for casual, nonbusiness activities. Tank tops, see-through blouses, or extremely low-cut blouses are not appropriate attire.

Men should not wear dirty or worn-out jeans. Jeans should not be worn during business hours unless the conditions of the job assignment or training activity allow it, and never when visiting government offices or the training center. In most cases, jeans are not acceptable attire for the Peace Corps office. However, should they be unavoidable (for instance, following travel), neat jeans are acceptable in the Peace Corps office and on “dress down” days at the training center. The Kenyan Ministry of Education has determined that jeans are not appropriate attire for classroom teachers.

Women may not wear casual slacks or jeans during business hours unless the conditions of the training activity or job assignment require it, and never when visiting government offices or the training center. Dresses and skirts to or below the knees are appropriate attire for women. Shorts may be worn only at home, when exercising (if appropriate), or when doing work where Kenyan counterparts are also wearing shorts. As mentioned above, only in specific circumstances are jeans, casual slacks, or shorts considered acceptable attire for women in the Peace Corps office or the training center.

Aside from the condition and type of clothing you wear, there are other standards of dress and appearance that need to be remembered. Female Volunteers should wear appropriate undergarments, including bras and slips. Your hair should be clean and combed. For men, beards should be neatly trimmed. Men should never wear a hat indoors, unless custom in the area allows it. Wearing a hat in government, Peace Corps, or similar offices is not allowed, and sunglasses should be removed when indoors. Finally, smoking is prohibited in all Peace Corps and training center offices and in Peace Corps vehicles.

These restrictions have been formalized only in response to specific instances of inappropriate dress and behavior by Volunteers. Because it is difficult to know automatically what is appropriate when entering a new culture, we present this list not to offend, but to inform. In general, the above guidance is meant to convey to Volunteers the point that adherence to professional standards is appropriate at all times and in all places.

Peace Corps Volunteers are expected to maintain high standards of behavior. Any behavior that could jeopardize the reputation of the Volunteer or the Peace Corps could be grounds for administrative separation. All Volunteers are reminded that they are subject to the laws of Kenya and have no immunity from them. The Peace Corps will assist Volunteers in criminal proceedings, but if the proceedings necessitate professional legal counsel, Peace Corps/Kenya must obtain prior approval from the general counsel’s office in Washington. Any costs arising from such counsel are usually the responsibility of the Volunteer. Peace Corps/Kenya cannot pay fines but can arrange for fines to be paid from the Volunteer’s readjustment allowance.

The matter of trainee or Volunteer sexual behavior is, of course, a highly personal one. However, because of other social implications of inappropriate behavior, it is important that Peace Corps standards be clear. Sexual mores in Kenya are very conservative and strict, and you are expected to respect them. Public displays of affection such as kissing, hand holding, or hugging, are not generally socially acceptable. Further information will be provided during your pre-service training on appropriate and inappropriate sexual behavior.

If the country director determines that willful disregard of cultural standards is jeopardizing your credibility as a trainee or Volunteer or that of the entire program, you may be administratively separated from Peace Corps service.

Rewards and Frustrations

Before accepting this assignment, you should give ample thought to some of the potential obstacles that you will face. Until your adjustment to Kenya is complete, you will undoubtedly feel out of place speaking a new language and observing and trying to practice customs that seem strange to you. In addition, no matter what your ethnic, religious, or racial background is, you may stick out as someone from outside the Kenyan culture. However, many situations can indeed be overcome with a sense of humor and an ability to be open to new experiences. Your work situation may also present many difficulties and frustrations.

Most of your work will be to educate, motivate, and organize community groups. These are slow and challenging tasks. Co-workers, severely underpaid and burdened with extended family commitments, will have a much different outlook on life from your own, and rainy and agricultural seasons will delay many project activities. You must be able to work in an unstructured assignment and approach all of the above situations with flexibility, supreme patience, resourcefulness, and a sense of humor. Your commitment to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer will be tested throughout your service by any number of everyday events.

Peace Corps service is not for everyone. More than a mere job, it requires greater dedication and commitment to serve than do most other work environments. It is for confident, self-starting, and concerned individuals who are interested in assisting in other countries and increasing human understanding across cultural barriers. The key to satisfying work as a Peace Corps Volunteer is the ability to establish successful human relations at all levels. This requires patience, sensitivity, and a positive professional attitude. If you have the personal qualities needed to accept the challenge described above and can demonstrate them for a two-year service in Kenya, you will have a rewarding, enriching, and lasting experience, while at the same time making a much-needed contribution to Kenya’s development.

Often you will find yourself in situations that require an ability to motivate yourself and your colleagues, and take action with little guidance from supervisors. You may work for months without seeing any visible impact and without receiving feedback on your work. You must possess the self-confidence, patience, and vision to continue working toward long-term goals without seeing immediate results. Judging by the experience of former Volunteers, the benefits are well worth the difficult times, and most Volunteers leave feeling that they have gained much more than they sacrificed during their service.

Even with the many economic, social, political, and environmental challenges facing Kenya today, there is an atmosphere of excitement and hope. The changes occurring are some of the most important in the country’s modern history. To join the people of Kenya in this effort, and to be part of this historically pivotal and defining moment, will be both fascinating and satisfying to any Volunteer willing to work hard, be tolerant of ambiguity, and give generously of his or her time.

Personal Safety

Information about the Peace Corps’ approach to safety is outlined in the Health Care and Safety chapter, but it is an important issue and cannot be overemphasized. As stated in the Volunteer Handbook, becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer entails certain safety risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment (oftentimes alone), having a limited understanding of local language and culture, and being perceived as well-off are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk. Many Volunteers experience varying degrees of unwanted attention and harassment. Petty thefts and burglaries are not uncommon, and incidents of physical and sexual assault do occur, although many Volunteers complete their two years of service without personal security incidents. The Peace Corps has established procedures and policies designed to help you reduce your risks and enhance your safety and security. These procedures and policies, in addition to safety training, will be provided once you arrive in Kenya. At the same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your safety and well-being.