Difference between pages "Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Mongolia" and "Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in the Eastern Caribbean"

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{{Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles by country}}
 
{{Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles by country}}
==Mail ==
 
  
Few developing countries in the world offer the level of service considered normal in the United States. Mail to Mongolia generally takes two to four weeks to arrive, and some mail may never arrive. Occasionally, letters may arrive with clipped edges because someone has tried to see if any money was inside; also, some boxes may be opened by customs officials to ensure nothing illegal is being shipped.  Advise your family and friends to number their letters and to include the word “Airmail” on their envelopes.
 
  
Check with your local post office for information on weight and size limitations for packages. Packages sent by surface mail normally take two to three months. Volunteers have found that letters and packages have a better chance of arriving if correspondents do not use a variety of interesting stamps; write the address (with the exception of “Mongolia”) in the Cyrillic alphabet; use sturdy, well-taped boxes for packages (to discourage tampering); write “via China” on mail; and use padding for breakable items (including cassette and CD cases).
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==Communications ==
  
===Mailing Address===
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===Mail ===
  
Your address while you are in training is listed below in English and in the Cyrillic alphabet. Peace Corps staff regularly bring trainees’ mail to the training site.  
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Few countries in the world offer the level of mail service we consider normal in the United States. If you expect U.S.  standards for mail service, you will be disappointed. Mail takes anywhere from one to three weeks to travel in either direction. At times, some mail may get lost in transit. Some letters may arrive damaged or opened. Since communication with friends and family is a very sensitive issue for most Volunteers, we want to forewarn you about the reality of international mail service. Advise your family and friends to number their letters and to write “Air Mail” on the envelope.  
  
“Your Name,” PCT <br>
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We strongly discourage having family or friends send you packages during the first phase of training in St. Lucia (which is your first three weeks in-country). If any packages sent to St. Lucia don’t arrive within that time, we will forward your mail to your island of assignment, but at your cost. You will be notified of the charges prior to any packages being sent by airmail to your island of assignment and will be asked to reimburse Peace Corps for the cost.
Post Office Box 1036  <br>
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Central Post Office  <br>
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Ulaanbaatar 13  <br>
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Mongolia (via China) <br>
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Once you learn the location of your site, you will need to send your new address to friends and family. Mail postmarked during your first four months in Mongolia (including pre-service training) and sent to the Peace Corps office in Ulaanbaatar will be forwarded to you along with the weekly Peace Corps mailing. Packages sent to the office and postmarked during your first four months in Mongolia will either be forwarded to you at your request (in which case the charge is deducted from your living allowance) or held at the office for you to pick up. Any mail sent to the Peace Corps office that is postmarked after your first four months in Mongolia will be returned to sender.
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If you absolutely need to receive mail during the initial three weeks of training, your address during training will be:
  
Be aware that you may incur customs charges on your personal mail, especially packages. How packages are labeled in the United States can influence these charges.  For example, if someone sends you a package containing both printed matter and “luxury” items such as music cassettes, the customs charges calculated by the post office in Mongolia will generally be less if the printed matter is emphasized and the luxury items are not.
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“Your name,” PCT
  
==Telephones ==
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Peace Corps
  
Long-distance calling to the U.S. from landlines is available from every soum (small city or town) throughout Mongolia, although the system is not foolproof. International direct-dial service exists in Mongolia, but only select phone numbers have this option. One way to make a long-distance call is to go to the communications office and book the call (i.e., arrange for the call to be made at a certain time and then pay at the time of call). These calls are for a pre-determined length of time, and may be cut off when time is up. The second option is to use prepaid phone cards that can be purchased at telecom branches and specified service agents.  You can then make a call from any pay phone by following the instructions on the phone cards. Difficulty in making a connection and interference are common, so patience is the key when telephoning to and from Mongolia. Several hotels in Ulaanbaatar (e.g., Bayangol, Flower Hotel, and Chinggis Khan) offer direct service to the United States using a calling card or by calling collect via AT&T. However, collect calls can be very expensive! Contact an international carrier before you leave the U.S. to find out if you qualify for a savings plan for such calls.
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PO Box 123
  
Pre-paid international calling cards are now available from certain kiosks in Ulaanbaatar and can be used when calling the U.S. from landlines in the capital. The cost for the call is very affordable if you buy the right card. Peace Corps/ Mongolia can offer you advice on which cards are the best to purchase while in Ulaanbaatar.  
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Castries, St. Lucia
  
Your host family during pre-service training may have a phone; if so, family and friends can call you directly there.  (Note that the time in Mongolia is 13 hours later than Eastern Standard Time.) Some Volunteers call home using an Internet phone service; the cost is generally whatever the charge is for the Internet connection.
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West Indies
  
Cellphone service is very common in Mongolia. Upon swearing-in as a Volunteer, you will receive a Peace Corps-issued cell phone. This phone is the property of Peace Corps/ Mongolia and should be returned upon completion of service. While trainees are not prohibited from purchasing a personal cellphone prior to swearing-in, Peace Corps/Mongolia will not reimburse the cost of a personally purchased phone.
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Cellphones purchased in the U.S. will not work in Mongolia.  
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This address will only be valid for your first three weeks in the Eastern Caribbean. After that, you will be on your island of assignment.  
  
==Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access ==
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We strongly urge that mail be sent directly to your site once you have sworn-in as a Volunteer. Packages from family and friends are the responsibility of the individual Volunteer. The local post office will inform you that a package has arrived, and you will need to appear in person to collect it. Post office officials will open it in front of you. You may have to pay hefty customs duties. Due to the risk of packages getting lost in transit, don’t have valuable items sent to you.
  
Although computers can be bought locally, they generally do not come with virus protection software or system software backup disks. If you bring your own computer, remember that the weather in Mongolia can be hard on LCD screens and electronic equipment may be damaged by power surges.  You should also consider insuring your computer. Some host organizations provide limited access to computers, but they often contain contaminated files and may not have the necessary backup disks or software to fix a problem.
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===Telephones ===
  
Internet connections are rare but increasing in smaller towns and communities. Most provincial centers now have access to the Internet, usually at the local post office or telecom center. In Ulaanbaatar, Internet cafes are plentiful, and the rates there—800 to 1,500 tugriks (67 cents to $1.25) per hour—are cheaper than elsewhere. Though connections can be unstable and frustratingly slow, and power outages occur, it is still nice to communicate so quickly with family and friends.  
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Generally, long-distance communication via telephone is available, but expensive. Most Volunteers find that they can easily make or receive calls from the United States.  Please note that “1-800” numbers are not accessible from the Caribbean. All other numbers can be dialed directly.  Calls to the United States from the islands range widely in cost depending upon locality and time of day. United States phone cards do not work here, so do not bring them. You can purchase the local “smart-phone” cards to call home or to make local calls. While a number of Volunteers have home telephones, recent competition in the cellular phone market has resulted in improved service and lower prices, making cellular phones a more favorable approach to phone service for many Volunteers. The Eastern Caribbean uses both the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) and Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA)..  
  
[[L''I'''B'''B'''B'''Bold text'''old text'''old text'''old text'''talic text''ink title]][[Media:Example.ogg]]--[[Special:Contributions/74.50.129.125|74.50.129.125]] 10:46, 14 November 2011 (EST)=<math>Insert formula here</math>=Housing and Site Location ==
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===Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access ===
  
During pre-service training you will live with a host family. Housing at your future assigned site is inspected and approved by Peace Corps staff before your '''arrival at the site, and the cost of housing is usually paid for or shared by the host organization. During your two years of service, Volunteers live in small family compounds or in separate apartments, depending on what is available at their site. Most sites are located either in a provincial town center (aimag in Mongolian) anywhere from 50 to almost 2,000 kilometers (31 to 1,240 miles) by road from the capital, or in provincial villages (soums) that are up to four hours by car from an aimag. A few Volunteers are assigned to Ulaanbaatar.  
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The Caribbean enjoys the latest technological advances, and computer technology is common. Each Peace Corps office has a computer that is dedicated for use by Volunteers and offers Internet access. If you currently use e-mail, you should bring important addresses with you. Use of the Internet and e-mail at the Peace Corps office will be difficult during your pre-service training, but Internet cafés are available in the capital as well as in some towns and villages.  
  
Peace Corps’ minimum housing standards stipulate that housing must provide Volunteers with some private space, personal security, adequate heat and water, and, in most cases, a reliable source of electricity. It is Volunteers’ responsibility to work with staff to ensure that their housing conforms to these standards. Programming, safety and security, and medical staff visit Volunteers at their sites early in their service to reconfirm that housing is safe and secure.  
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Some Volunteers have e-mail and full Internet access in their home or work via providers in the Caribbean. The access is approximately $1.75 (U.S.) per hour. The service is fair and runs at 28.8 BPS, sometimes higher. Bringing a laptop computer and paying for Internet access may enhance your Peace Corps experience. The heat and humid weather may be extreme, but should not damage equipment. Power surges may be avoided with a good surge protector. Theft may also be an issue. As with all valuable personal property, bring a computer at your own risk and get it insured.  
  
If you are assigned to a larger city, you may live in a one-room or two-room apartment by yourself. If you are assigned to a rural area, you might be the only non-Mongolian in town, and you may live in your own apartment in a building with other Mongolian families, in your own ger (the traditional tent used by nomads), or in a small wooden house in a compound with a Mongolian family.
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==Housing and Site Location ==
  
Apartments typically consist of either one room with a separate kitchen or a bedroom and living room with a separate kitchen. Each apartment has a toilet and, usually, a bathtub or shower. The quality of the plumbing and the reliability of the water supply may not be up to American standards (all Volunteers are given water distillers that work with or without electricity). Hot water may not be continuously available, and bathing may have to be accomplished by heating water on the stove or going to a community bathhouse.
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During this time, you will begin to integrate and establish links with your host community. Your associate Peace Corps director will identify proper housing for you. It is very likely that all homes will have running water and electricity. The houses will also be fully furnished and a few may include a television set with cable service. Volunteer sites can be as close as 15 minutes and as far as 90 minutes from the capital and the Peace Corps office.  
 
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Heat is supplied by a central municipal system and is impossible to control, although some apartments have a supplementary wood stove. In the winter, apartment temperatures (in Fahrenheit) range from the high 70s to around 50 degrees. Apartments are furnished to Peace Corps’ standards with basic furniture and appliances, which are often used and not necessarily aesthetically pleasing.
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A ger is a round tent of about 20 feet in diameter, made of a wooden lattice covered with thick felt. The inside consists of one room with furniture around the circumference and a wood stove in the center. Headroom varies from about 4.5 feet at the edge to 10 feet in the middle. Most gers have electricity for lighting and appliances, but water is delivered by truck or fetched from the local water source. Cooking is done using a wood, coal, or dung stove (which also provides heat) or, if you are lucky, on an electric hotplate. Communities with gers have bathhouses with hot- and cold-shower facilities'''.«» Areas where wood is more common may have more wood cabins than gers. These are typically small structures of about 300 square feet, with two rooms and the same heating, electricity, and plumbing facilities as gers.
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Increasingly, Volunteers in Mongolia live in either gers or wooden houses, sharing a compound with a Mongolian family.  Enhanced cultural interaction, improved language skills, and greater Volunteer safety have all resulted from this living arrangement.
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==Living Allowance and Money Management ==
 
==Living Allowance and Money Management ==
  
You will receive a monthly living allowance, paid in tugriks, to cover your day-to-day expenses at a standard of living similar to that of your Mongolian co-workers. While this monthly allowance (currently 123,000 tugriks, or about $105 [U.S.] for Volunteers serving in the countryside; and 172,400 tugriks, or about $147 [U.S.] for Volunteers serving in Ulaanbaatar) is sufficient, keep in mind that several items are excluded as necessary expenses in the calculation of the living allowance.  These include alcoholic beverages, tobacco, clothing (other than replacement clothing), non-official travel, church offerings, gifts, personal phone calls, and Internet and e-mail access. The current exchange rate is 1,170 Mongolian tugriks to the dollar. U.S. dollars can be exchanged at various places in Ulaanbaatar, including hotels, the Trade and Development Bank, post offices, and legal money exchange facilities. Depending upon the size of your community, you may be able to change money there as well.  
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The local currency is the Eastern Caribbean dollar, and it is the same currency used on all islands where Volunteers live and work. The exchange rate in July 2006 was approximately $2.70 (EC) to one U.S. dollar. Travelers’ checks can be cashed at any bank. Credit cards are widely accepted. Personal checks from U.S. banks can be cashed, but it may take several weeks for the check to be cleared and for the funds to become available to you. All the banks have ATMs, so you can access cash most of the time.  
  
You are likely to spend roughly 60 percent of your living allowance on food, and you probably will not be able to maintain the lifestyle, including diet, to which you are accustomed in the United States. For one thing, it is difficult to find the wide variety of foods available in the United StatesIt is also important that you live at the same economic level as the people in your community.  
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Your Peace Corps living allowance is paid in Eastern Caribbean currency and is electronically deposited on/or about the 25th of every month to the account that you open at a local bank. Both checking and savings accounts are available. You will receive more information about banking facilities on your island of assignment during training. The living allowance will cover all regular expenses such as rent, food, utilities, and other essentialsThe amount is enough to allow you to live at the level of other host country nationals; however, volunteers need to budget and there is not much room for "extras". The amount paid varies according to the cost of living on the island nation where you reside.
  
After you are sworn-in as a Volunteer, accounts in both tugriks and dollars will be set up for you at the Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia in Ulaanbaatar. Once at site, you will establish a tugrik bank account at a local bank. Your living allowance will be deposited in either account at the beginning of every month. After being sworn-in at the end of training, the $24-per-month vacation allowance will be deposited monthly in your dollar account in Ulaanbaatar.
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==Food and Diet ==
  
There are two options for getting cash transferred from the United States. First, the Trade and Development Bank has a reciprocal relationship with HSBC (Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited), so money can be transferred from HSBC to a local account in a few days, at a fee ranging from $7 to $15. You can get cash advances on a credit card (call your credit card company for rates). While credit cards are of limited use in Mongolia, they are accepted by major hotels and shops and may come in handy when traveling outside the country. Traveler’s checks can be purchased at the Trade and Development Bank in Ulaanbaatar and cashed there for a 2 percent fee. Although few retail outfits in Mongolia will accept them, they are useful for travel in other countries in the region. Personal checks are not accepted in Mongolia.  
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There is a wide range of food choices available in the islands. The Eastern Caribbean offers a wealth of fresh fruit and vegetables, most of which can be purchased daily from fruit stalls and grocery stores. Many Volunteers have been pleasantly surprised to find one or more fruit trees in their back yards, and many have used yard space to grow such vegetables as tomatoes, lettuce, sweet peppers, peas, and beans. All of the vegetables available in the United States are also grown here, and while a few are seasonal, one can find several different vegetables all year-round.  
  
==Food and Diet ==
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Locally baked breads are available in bakeries, supermarkets, and home delivery vans. The local bakeries also supply a wide choice of cakes, scones, biscuits, cookies, and pastry.
  
Once a nation of nomadic herdsman, Mongolia is known as the Land of Five Animals — sheep, goats, cattle, horses, and camels. Traditionally, herdsmen got everything they needed to survive from these animals. Today’s diet still relies heavily on meat and dairy products, including a hardened curd called aaruul. Fermented mare’s milk is the traditional ceremonial drink. Dairy products are best in the fall, after the animals have fattened up on the green grasses of summer pastures.  
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Volunteers who are vegetarians can buy produce and other items from the local markets, as well as from a number of vegetarian stores and shops that stock specialty foods.  
  
The main meats are mutton and beef, but Mongolians also eat goat, horse, marmot, and camel. Some Mongolians buy a sheep carcass to put out on their balcony for the winter (a natural cold storage method). Shops in provincial centers sell beef, hamburger, smoked ham hocks, sausages, hot dogs, and chicken. (Mongolian chickens have been described as “very athletic” and are good for stewing.) Fish is sometimes sold at markets or door-to-door. Canned meat and seafood are also available. In soums (rural villages), only mutton, yak, horse, and beef (and sometimes camel) are available, so occasional trips to the provincial center are necessary for other items.  
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Fresh fish is always plentiful as is fresh meat and locally grown chicken. All Volunteers are given books on local foods that provide information on nutrition, preparation, and safety.  
  
Milk, butter, eggs, yogurt, sour cream, and cheese are generally available in provincial centers and Ulaanbaatar, but eggs and sour cream are typically more difficult to find in soums. Milk and cream may not be pasteurized, so they must be boiled before consumption. Gouda, edam, and other imported cheeses are available in most cities, and tofu is sometimes available. You may be surprised by the variety of imported products that can be found at markets in provincial centers and Ulaanbaatar.
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==Transportation ==
  
A limited variety of fresh fruits and vegetables appears in the markets regularly, but these foods are not a major part of the local diet. Potatoes, cabbages, turnips, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, tangerines, bananas, and apples are available most of the year in provincial town centers, Ulaanbaatar and in some bigger soums that are close to provincial centers and Ulaanbaatar. Vegetables such as cauliflower, radishes, and beets may be available only during the summer and early fall. As vegetables may be hard to find in soums, Volunteers placed there need to make occasional trips to the provincial center for marketing.  
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Mini buses make travel from one place to another very easy and inexpensive (depending on the island). Volunteer homes and work sites are no more than half an hour to two hours away from the capital. The buses run up to about 8:00 p.m., although a few areas have service up to midnight. Volunteers are not allowed to drive automobiles or ride motorcycles because of the type of roads that exist and the number of fatal accidents related to these forms of transportation.  
  
There is a growing variety of locally made bread and other bakery products from which to choose in Ulaanbaatar and provincial centers. Pasta is also available. In rural areas, bread and pasta are sometimes unavailable and pastries are nonexistent.  
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Most Volunteers rely on public transportation to get around.  Some Volunteers can request assistance from the Peace Corps in arranging alternative means of local transportation.  Volunteers on some islands can apply for and recieve limited funds to purchase a bicycle in the Eastern Caribbean . Peace Corps will also provide you with a helmet, which must be worn at all times while riding a bicycle. Failure to abide by this policy may result in termination of your Peace Corps service.
  
Mongolians drink a lot of “milk tea,” made from milk, tea, salt, and sometimes butter or fat. They favor hot beverages year-round in the belief that drinking cold liquids leads to stomach illnesses. Chinese and Russian tea and Undaa, a Mongolian citrus-flavored soft drink, are widely available, and fruit teas can be found in most of the markets in Ulaanbaatar. Western beer and soft drinks are also available in some markets.
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==Geography and Climate==
  
The traditional diet can be bland, monotonous, and high in fat and cholesterol, and it may be difficult to limit your fat intake while eating with your neighbors. If you are a vegetarian, you may find it difficult to maintain your diet because of both limited food availability and cultural considerations. The Peace Corps living allowance, however, will enable you to buy some imported fresh and canned fruits and vegetables on visits to provincial centers, so a modest vegetarian diet is certainly possible, albeit difficult. Turning down food can offend Mongolians, who believe meat is necessary for survival in harsh climates, so a vegetarian will have to become good at explaining his or her “strange” diet to Mongolians.  
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The Eastern Caribbean, including Barbados and the Lesser Antilles, is the island chain that separates the Atlantic Ocean from the Caribbean Sea. The Peace Corps places Volunteers on : (1) Antigua and Barbuda, (2) Dominica, (3) Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique, (4) St Kitts and Nevis, (5) St.  Lucia, and (6) St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  
  
==Transportation ==
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The islands are geographically divided into “inner and “outer” chains. The inner islands are volcanic in origin and are characterized by rugged, mountainous terrain, heavy rainfall, lush fertile vegetation, and many rivers. Dominica alone has as many as 365 rivers. The inner islands include Grenada and its dependencies of Carriacou and the southern Grenadines, St. Vincent and its dependencies of the northern Grenadines, St. Lucia, and Dominica. The highest points of these islands are generally in the center, except for a few spectacular sheer slopes on some coastlines. Most roads go around rather than over. High points of elevation vary from 1,000 to 5,000 feet above sea level.Antigua and Barbuda and St. Kitts and Nevis have a coral limestone base. They are relatively flat with less vegetation and rain than the inner islands.
  
Domestic travel includes planes, trains and automobiles. For foreigners, flying is expensive as there are two rates applied to all tickets: local and foreign. Currently, Aero Mongolia is the only approved domestic airline offering service in-country. Trips from Ulaanbaatar to a provicinal center range between $200 and $300 (round trip).  
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The tourist brochures do not lie when they describe the islands of the Caribbean as lands of sunshine and beaches. The first thing you must realize is that you are heading to two years of summer weather. The temperatures make history if they go above 90 degrees Farenheit or below 70 degrees.  The day-night range is usually about 10 degrees, from 80 to 90 degrees Farenheit in the summer months and 74 to 84 degrees in the winter. The sun is hot year-round, but gentle sea breezes from the northeast trade winds blow throughout the year and help to cool the air. The high humidity makes it is easy to work up a sweat anytime of the day or night.  
  
The Trans-Mongolian Railway operates on a 24-hour basis and connects northern Mongolia with the south. Trains are clean and comfortable, and they offer a choice between a hard seat (second-class) and a sleeper cabin. They are not equipped with restaurant cars. The line linking Moscow and Beijing via Ulaanbaatar, which was completed in 1955, provides a shorter route between Russia and China than the older line through Manchuria. As trains operate on time and are reliable, they are the most convenient way to travel in-country.  
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The rainy season generally lasts from July to December, but the amount of rain varies widely in different locations. In addition, brief showers, sometimes downpours, are common in any month. Additionally, the Eastern Caribbean is prone to hurricanes during the months of June to November. The region can sometimes experience a dry season from March to May. Other environmental concerns, especially in the banana-producing countries, are deforestation, siltation, river pollution, and unplanned and inappropriate land use.  
  
Travel among cities by bus, van, or Russian-made jeep is almost completely on unpaved roads. The price of rides, which depends on the price of the fuel supplied by Russia, has fluctuated greatly in recent years. Volunteers are prohibited from driving motorized vehicles in Mongolia or from riding on or operating motorcycles.
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==Social Activities==
  
==Geography and Climate ==
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There are a variety of ways to enjoy social activities in the Eastern Caribbean. Since you live on islands where people are friendly and hospitable, the more friends you make and the more you join in the local activities, the more you will enjoy your two years here.
  
Probably the first thing you were told about Mongolia was that it is very cold. This is true. But rather than try to anticipate the various weather patterns of the country, it is better to prepare for the worst-case scenario, which is -40 degrees Celsius (-40°C) with a wind chill factor of -55 degrees Celsius.  While this may sound unbearable, Volunteers are given many strategies for “beating” the cold from the Peace Corps training staff and their Mongolian neighbors.  
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All islands have local festivals of which Carnival is the biggest. There are plenty of shows, house and street parties, and steel band concerts. Also, most islands have a jazz or a Creole-music festival once a year, and these are big cultural treats.  
  
Spring is sunny and extremely windy, and dust storms are common. The temperature ranges from 10 to 20 degrees Celsius (50º to 68°F), but the wind makes it seem colder.  Summer is sunny and breezy, with an average temperature in the low 20s (70s F), though it can get as hot as 30 degrees (86°F) on a regular basis. Autumn is short, with temperatures similar to those in spring. The rainy season takes place in August and/or September. The sun shines almost every day in Mongolia, even in winter, and the glare from the snow can be intense, so sunglasses are a necessity.  
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Outdoor sports are also popular among Volunteers and host country nationals. The islands have good hiking trails, mountains for mountain climbing, and thick rain forests that you can visit, preferably with a certified guide. The islands also offer wonderful snorkeling and a lot of warm sandy beaches, good for swimming or just relaxation. For sporting enthusiasts, there are several cricket, soccer, basketball, volleyball, and running clubs. Many Volunteers have initiated sporting groups or clubs in their host communities.  
  
==Social Activities ==
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==Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior ==
  
Although Mongolia’s traditionally nomadic herdsmen are now comfortable on both motorcycles and horses and many live in apartments rather than in gers, Mongolia has not lost its rich cultural heritage. The Mongolian people’s hospitality endures, and most social life at Volunteer sites centers on visiting friends’ homes rather than going out to bars and clubs.  
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One of the challenges of being a Peace Corps Volunteer is immersing yourself into the local culture while maintaining your own cultural identity. It is not an easy thing to resolve, but we will guide you through the process.  
  
Mongolians enjoy a wide variety of sports. Soccer, volleyball, basketball, table tennis, and the national sport of wrestling all take place during the summer. Hiking is also popular during the warmer months. Cross-country skiing (and downhill skiing using a rope tow), sledding, and ice-skating are popular pastimes in the winter.  
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The way you dress is important. You may feel inclined to wear shorts and tank tops because they keep you cool. However, as long as you are at any place other than the beach or the privacy of your home, it is imperative that you dress in a manner that does not resemble that of a tourist. It will become more apparent to you later in your service that “setting the tone” early on and dressing with care are very important for your image. You may be working as a representative of a government ministry, and, as such, you would be expected to dress and behave accordingly. A foreigner wearing unmended or informal clothing is more likely to be considered an affront. This topic is extensively addressed during training. Wearing appropriate attire also helps you avoid harassment.  Most women wear suits (hand-tailored on island), or a blouse and slacks or skirt to work.  Dress sandals or dress shoes are appropriate, but sporty sandals are not.  Men wear suits, or dress shirts and slacks.  Dress shoes or dressy leather sandals are work by men to work, but flip flops and other causal sandals are not appropriate.
  
==Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior ==
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Integrating into your new community will be hard enough.  A new Volunteer needs as few “distractions” as possible as they establish themselves. For that reason Volunteers are asked not to display body piercings or tattoos during the first months of their service. This includes nose rings, tongue bolts, and navel rings. Men are not allowed to wear earrings or have long hair or ponytails during that same timeframe.  Tattoos should remain covered to the greatest extent possible throughout your service. If you do not remove your body rings and cut your hair before you arrive in the Eastern Caribbean, you will be asked to do so before you move in with a host family during training. If you have reservations about this policy and the degree of sacrifice and flexibility required to be a successful Volunteer, you should reevaluate your decision to accept the invitation to Peace Corps/Eastern Caribbean.
  
It is very important that you dress professionally in work settings, where the appearance of the staff reflects on the office as a whole. You are also expected to dress professionally during training, which means no shorts or T-shirts, though clean jeans without rips are acceptable. You will need a more formal outfit for being sworn-in as a Volunteer. All clothes should be clean at all times.
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==Personal Safety ==
  
The main goal is to fit into Mongolian culture, in which professionals, especially teachers, dress well. Typical clothing for men includes slacks, a collared shirt with a sweater or jacket, a tie, and dress shoes. Women tend to wear dresses or dressy slacks or skirts with blouse-and-sweater combinations and nice boots or high-heeled shoes. Some men and women wear dels (traditional clothing), but more so in the outlying soums than in the cities.  
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Your safety is our first priority and it must be yours as well. To this end, we have an emergency action plan that we continuously test and revise. The plan provides you with information on how to respond to a crisis situation.  
  
Although more casual clothing like khakis and polo shirts may be acceptable as office wear in Mongolia, such clothing is much harder to keep clean and presentable than synthetic fabrics because you will be hand-washing it. Synthetics are more stain resistant and do not lose their shape as easily. Dark colors are also best.  
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The section on Health Care and Safety in this Welcome Book provides tips on how to keep safe. Being a stranger in a foreign environment is, in itself, a safety hazard, and Volunteers must take their own safety precautions by being very vigilant and avoiding unsafe places or events. As a foreigner and an American, you may become a target for muggings or other forms of physical and verbal assaults.  Environmental risks such as hurricanes and volcanic eruptions are also a possibility in the Eastern Caribbean. The Peace Corps is cognizant of these risks and has implemented policies and measures to enhance your safety and security.  
  
Most Mongolians have only a few outfits for work and will not judge you negatively for wearing only a few yourself. You can wear the same outfits again and again and no one will care or notice.  
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By joining the Peace Corps, you have become part of a unique organization whose membership is predicated on the belief that every Peace Corps Volunteer will serve successfully and go home safe and sound. Your experience in the Peace Corps takes up only a short period in your life and you should expect to go home enhanced—not diminished; stronger— not weaker; enlightened—not confused, and certainly not physically or emotionally harmed.  
  
Special notes:
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The rules are different in the Peace Corps and each of us— trainees, Volunteers, and staff—must take full responsibility for our own behavior, safety, and welfare. We must also look out for the behavior, safety, and welfare of each other. It is our responsibility to do all that we can to encourage the appropriate behavior and ensure the safety of everyone else.  This simple commitment may make the difference between someone who is enhanced by their Peace Corps experience and someone who is harmed.
  
*Professionals in Mongolia wear their hair in fairly conservative styles. Although you might see young men on the streets of Ulaanbaatar, Darkha, or Erdenet with shoulder-length hair, long hair on men is rare in the professional environment. Male Volunteers should come to training with their hair conservatively cut and styled and not exceeding shoulder length. After you have completed pre-service training, been at your post for three months and have established your credibility, you might find that it is acceptable to wear a less conservative style.
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You must take responsibility for yourself and not depend on others to make decisions for you. It is okay to tell others that you are worried about them. Work with them to avoid or reduce inappropriate and/or potentially dangerous behavior. Please speak to staff when you feel that additional assistance is needed to have someone stay safe, secure, and productive.  
*Body piercings are not common in professional settings.  
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Peace Corps/Mongolia requires Volunteers to remove facial piercings (with the exception of earrings in women) through pre-service training and during the first three months of service. This allows Volunteers to establish a professional rapport with colleagues and counterparts.
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==Rewards and Frustrations==
  
==Personal Safety ==
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Life as a Volunteer has its rewards, particularly as you begin your work. Your projects will start to flourish, and your partners will learn and grow. By the same token, you will feel the frustrations when things take too long to happen or do not turn out as you expect. People may not always show the level of interest and enthusiasm that you anticipate, or they may not be prepared to make the changes that you think are good for them. Therefore, you must approach everything with an open mind, be willing to accept change, and, most of all, be flexible.
  
As stated in the Volunteer Handbook, and the Safety & Security Guidebook of Peace Corps/Mongolia, becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer entails many 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 very common, and incidents of physical and sexual assault do occur frequently. 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 Mongolia. At the same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your safety and well-being.
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Volunteers are expected to observe the same work schedules, reporting procedures, leave-of-absence policies, and access to agency resources as their co-workers. You may feel alone and that no one appreciates your efforts. The way to overcome this is by setting your own personal goals and remaining focused on them, even when progress seems slow and remote. Peace Corps life has its ups and downs, good times and bad. Learn to enjoy the gains and look forward to these moments rather than dwell on the losses.  
  
==Rewards and Frustrations ==
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It is also important not to interpret “Volunteer” in the way that some volunteer service is viewed in the United States.  Your assignment will involve being on the job day in and day out, following the same schedules and protocols as your host country colleagues. You will not be able to casually take a few days off to travel to another island or go off on a trip to visit family. There are opportunities for taking annual leave and vacation, but the associated application procedures and scheduling requirements must be observed. Failure to abide by these and other policies and procedures could be cause for disciplinary action.
  
The potential for job satisfaction in Mongolia is quite low, like all Volunteers, you will encounter numerous frustrations. Because of racist, financial or other challenges, some collaborating agencies do not always provide the support they promised. In addition, the pace of work and life is slower than what most Americans are accustomed to, and some people you work with may be hesitant to change practices and traditions that are centuries old. For these reasons, the Peace Corps experience of adapting to a new culture and environment is often described as a series of emotional valleys.  
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Being a Volunteer in the Caribbean involves a high degree of commitment. Projects are designed and assignments are made with the idea that Volunteers will honor their commitment and work for two years. Host agencies, sponsoring ministries, and local community members or students are counting on you to remain in your position for a full term. Do not accept this invitation to service if you are not willing to make such a commitment.  
  
You will be given a high degree of responsibility and independence in your work—perhaps more than in any other job you have had or will have. You will often find yourself in situations that require an ability to motivate yourself and your co-workers with little guidance from supervisors. You might work for months without seeing any visible impact from, or without receiving feedback on, your work. Development is a slow process. Positive progress most often comes after the combined efforts of several Volunteers over the course of many years. You must possess the self-confidence, patience, and vision to continue working toward long-term goals without seeing immediate results.  
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Whatever frustrations and limitations may exist, Peace Corps Volunteers who serve in the Eastern Caribbean consistently find the experience to be uniquely rewarding. There is a special kind of satisfaction that comes from learning to live and work effectively in another culture. It soon becomes apparent that the experience effectively contributes to your own personal and professional development, and to the development of the host country.  
  
[[Category:Mongolia]]
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[[Category:Eastern Caribbean]]

Latest revision as of 12:33, 8 December 2015

Country Resources


Communications[edit]

Mail[edit]

Few countries in the world offer the level of mail service we consider normal in the United States. If you expect U.S. standards for mail service, you will be disappointed. Mail takes anywhere from one to three weeks to travel in either direction. At times, some mail may get lost in transit. Some letters may arrive damaged or opened. Since communication with friends and family is a very sensitive issue for most Volunteers, we want to forewarn you about the reality of international mail service. Advise your family and friends to number their letters and to write “Air Mail” on the envelope.

We strongly discourage having family or friends send you packages during the first phase of training in St. Lucia (which is your first three weeks in-country). If any packages sent to St. Lucia don’t arrive within that time, we will forward your mail to your island of assignment, but at your cost. You will be notified of the charges prior to any packages being sent by airmail to your island of assignment and will be asked to reimburse Peace Corps for the cost.

If you absolutely need to receive mail during the initial three weeks of training, your address during training will be:

“Your name,” PCT

Peace Corps

PO Box 123

Castries, St. Lucia

West Indies


This address will only be valid for your first three weeks in the Eastern Caribbean. After that, you will be on your island of assignment.

We strongly urge that mail be sent directly to your site once you have sworn-in as a Volunteer. Packages from family and friends are the responsibility of the individual Volunteer. The local post office will inform you that a package has arrived, and you will need to appear in person to collect it. Post office officials will open it in front of you. You may have to pay hefty customs duties. Due to the risk of packages getting lost in transit, don’t have valuable items sent to you.

Telephones[edit]

Generally, long-distance communication via telephone is available, but expensive. Most Volunteers find that they can easily make or receive calls from the United States. Please note that “1-800” numbers are not accessible from the Caribbean. All other numbers can be dialed directly. Calls to the United States from the islands range widely in cost depending upon locality and time of day. United States phone cards do not work here, so do not bring them. You can purchase the local “smart-phone” cards to call home or to make local calls. While a number of Volunteers have home telephones, recent competition in the cellular phone market has resulted in improved service and lower prices, making cellular phones a more favorable approach to phone service for many Volunteers. The Eastern Caribbean uses both the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) and Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA)..

Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access[edit]

The Caribbean enjoys the latest technological advances, and computer technology is common. Each Peace Corps office has a computer that is dedicated for use by Volunteers and offers Internet access. If you currently use e-mail, you should bring important addresses with you. Use of the Internet and e-mail at the Peace Corps office will be difficult during your pre-service training, but Internet cafés are available in the capital as well as in some towns and villages.

Some Volunteers have e-mail and full Internet access in their home or work via providers in the Caribbean. The access is approximately $1.75 (U.S.) per hour. The service is fair and runs at 28.8 BPS, sometimes higher. Bringing a laptop computer and paying for Internet access may enhance your Peace Corps experience. The heat and humid weather may be extreme, but should not damage equipment. Power surges may be avoided with a good surge protector. Theft may also be an issue. As with all valuable personal property, bring a computer at your own risk and get it insured.

Housing and Site Location[edit]

During this time, you will begin to integrate and establish links with your host community. Your associate Peace Corps director will identify proper housing for you. It is very likely that all homes will have running water and electricity. The houses will also be fully furnished and a few may include a television set with cable service. Volunteer sites can be as close as 15 minutes and as far as 90 minutes from the capital and the Peace Corps office.

Living Allowance and Money Management[edit]

The local currency is the Eastern Caribbean dollar, and it is the same currency used on all islands where Volunteers live and work. The exchange rate in July 2006 was approximately $2.70 (EC) to one U.S. dollar. Travelers’ checks can be cashed at any bank. Credit cards are widely accepted. Personal checks from U.S. banks can be cashed, but it may take several weeks for the check to be cleared and for the funds to become available to you. All the banks have ATMs, so you can access cash most of the time.

Your Peace Corps living allowance is paid in Eastern Caribbean currency and is electronically deposited on/or about the 25th of every month to the account that you open at a local bank. Both checking and savings accounts are available. You will receive more information about banking facilities on your island of assignment during training. The living allowance will cover all regular expenses such as rent, food, utilities, and other essentials. The amount is enough to allow you to live at the level of other host country nationals; however, volunteers need to budget and there is not much room for "extras". The amount paid varies according to the cost of living on the island nation where you reside.

Food and Diet[edit]

There is a wide range of food choices available in the islands. The Eastern Caribbean offers a wealth of fresh fruit and vegetables, most of which can be purchased daily from fruit stalls and grocery stores. Many Volunteers have been pleasantly surprised to find one or more fruit trees in their back yards, and many have used yard space to grow such vegetables as tomatoes, lettuce, sweet peppers, peas, and beans. All of the vegetables available in the United States are also grown here, and while a few are seasonal, one can find several different vegetables all year-round.

Locally baked breads are available in bakeries, supermarkets, and home delivery vans. The local bakeries also supply a wide choice of cakes, scones, biscuits, cookies, and pastry.

Volunteers who are vegetarians can buy produce and other items from the local markets, as well as from a number of vegetarian stores and shops that stock specialty foods.

Fresh fish is always plentiful as is fresh meat and locally grown chicken. All Volunteers are given books on local foods that provide information on nutrition, preparation, and safety.

Transportation[edit]

Mini buses make travel from one place to another very easy and inexpensive (depending on the island). Volunteer homes and work sites are no more than half an hour to two hours away from the capital. The buses run up to about 8:00 p.m., although a few areas have service up to midnight. Volunteers are not allowed to drive automobiles or ride motorcycles because of the type of roads that exist and the number of fatal accidents related to these forms of transportation.

Most Volunteers rely on public transportation to get around. Some Volunteers can request assistance from the Peace Corps in arranging alternative means of local transportation. Volunteers on some islands can apply for and recieve limited funds to purchase a bicycle in the Eastern Caribbean . Peace Corps will also provide you with a helmet, which must be worn at all times while riding a bicycle. Failure to abide by this policy may result in termination of your Peace Corps service.

Geography and Climate[edit]

The Eastern Caribbean, including Barbados and the Lesser Antilles, is the island chain that separates the Atlantic Ocean from the Caribbean Sea. The Peace Corps places Volunteers on : (1) Antigua and Barbuda, (2) Dominica, (3) Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique, (4) St Kitts and Nevis, (5) St. Lucia, and (6) St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The islands are geographically divided into “inner and “outer” chains. The inner islands are volcanic in origin and are characterized by rugged, mountainous terrain, heavy rainfall, lush fertile vegetation, and many rivers. Dominica alone has as many as 365 rivers. The inner islands include Grenada and its dependencies of Carriacou and the southern Grenadines, St. Vincent and its dependencies of the northern Grenadines, St. Lucia, and Dominica. The highest points of these islands are generally in the center, except for a few spectacular sheer slopes on some coastlines. Most roads go around rather than over. High points of elevation vary from 1,000 to 5,000 feet above sea level.Antigua and Barbuda and St. Kitts and Nevis have a coral limestone base. They are relatively flat with less vegetation and rain than the inner islands.

The tourist brochures do not lie when they describe the islands of the Caribbean as lands of sunshine and beaches. The first thing you must realize is that you are heading to two years of summer weather. The temperatures make history if they go above 90 degrees Farenheit or below 70 degrees. The day-night range is usually about 10 degrees, from 80 to 90 degrees Farenheit in the summer months and 74 to 84 degrees in the winter. The sun is hot year-round, but gentle sea breezes from the northeast trade winds blow throughout the year and help to cool the air. The high humidity makes it is easy to work up a sweat anytime of the day or night.

The rainy season generally lasts from July to December, but the amount of rain varies widely in different locations. In addition, brief showers, sometimes downpours, are common in any month. Additionally, the Eastern Caribbean is prone to hurricanes during the months of June to November. The region can sometimes experience a dry season from March to May. Other environmental concerns, especially in the banana-producing countries, are deforestation, siltation, river pollution, and unplanned and inappropriate land use.

Social Activities[edit]

There are a variety of ways to enjoy social activities in the Eastern Caribbean. Since you live on islands where people are friendly and hospitable, the more friends you make and the more you join in the local activities, the more you will enjoy your two years here.

All islands have local festivals of which Carnival is the biggest. There are plenty of shows, house and street parties, and steel band concerts. Also, most islands have a jazz or a Creole-music festival once a year, and these are big cultural treats.

Outdoor sports are also popular among Volunteers and host country nationals. The islands have good hiking trails, mountains for mountain climbing, and thick rain forests that you can visit, preferably with a certified guide. The islands also offer wonderful snorkeling and a lot of warm sandy beaches, good for swimming or just relaxation. For sporting enthusiasts, there are several cricket, soccer, basketball, volleyball, and running clubs. Many Volunteers have initiated sporting groups or clubs in their host communities.

Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior[edit]

One of the challenges of being a Peace Corps Volunteer is immersing yourself into the local culture while maintaining your own cultural identity. It is not an easy thing to resolve, but we will guide you through the process.

The way you dress is important. You may feel inclined to wear shorts and tank tops because they keep you cool. However, as long as you are at any place other than the beach or the privacy of your home, it is imperative that you dress in a manner that does not resemble that of a tourist. It will become more apparent to you later in your service that “setting the tone” early on and dressing with care are very important for your image. You may be working as a representative of a government ministry, and, as such, you would be expected to dress and behave accordingly. A foreigner wearing unmended or informal clothing is more likely to be considered an affront. This topic is extensively addressed during training. Wearing appropriate attire also helps you avoid harassment. Most women wear suits (hand-tailored on island), or a blouse and slacks or skirt to work. Dress sandals or dress shoes are appropriate, but sporty sandals are not. Men wear suits, or dress shirts and slacks. Dress shoes or dressy leather sandals are work by men to work, but flip flops and other causal sandals are not appropriate.

Integrating into your new community will be hard enough. A new Volunteer needs as few “distractions” as possible as they establish themselves. For that reason Volunteers are asked not to display body piercings or tattoos during the first months of their service. This includes nose rings, tongue bolts, and navel rings. Men are not allowed to wear earrings or have long hair or ponytails during that same timeframe. Tattoos should remain covered to the greatest extent possible throughout your service. If you do not remove your body rings and cut your hair before you arrive in the Eastern Caribbean, you will be asked to do so before you move in with a host family during training. If you have reservations about this policy and the degree of sacrifice and flexibility required to be a successful Volunteer, you should reevaluate your decision to accept the invitation to Peace Corps/Eastern Caribbean.

Personal Safety[edit]

Your safety is our first priority and it must be yours as well. To this end, we have an emergency action plan that we continuously test and revise. The plan provides you with information on how to respond to a crisis situation.

The section on Health Care and Safety in this Welcome Book provides tips on how to keep safe. Being a stranger in a foreign environment is, in itself, a safety hazard, and Volunteers must take their own safety precautions by being very vigilant and avoiding unsafe places or events. As a foreigner and an American, you may become a target for muggings or other forms of physical and verbal assaults. Environmental risks such as hurricanes and volcanic eruptions are also a possibility in the Eastern Caribbean. The Peace Corps is cognizant of these risks and has implemented policies and measures to enhance your safety and security.

By joining the Peace Corps, you have become part of a unique organization whose membership is predicated on the belief that every Peace Corps Volunteer will serve successfully and go home safe and sound. Your experience in the Peace Corps takes up only a short period in your life and you should expect to go home enhanced—not diminished; stronger— not weaker; enlightened—not confused, and certainly not physically or emotionally harmed.

The rules are different in the Peace Corps and each of us— trainees, Volunteers, and staff—must take full responsibility for our own behavior, safety, and welfare. We must also look out for the behavior, safety, and welfare of each other. It is our responsibility to do all that we can to encourage the appropriate behavior and ensure the safety of everyone else. This simple commitment may make the difference between someone who is enhanced by their Peace Corps experience and someone who is harmed.

You must take responsibility for yourself and not depend on others to make decisions for you. It is okay to tell others that you are worried about them. Work with them to avoid or reduce inappropriate and/or potentially dangerous behavior. Please speak to staff when you feel that additional assistance is needed to have someone stay safe, secure, and productive.

Rewards and Frustrations[edit]

Life as a Volunteer has its rewards, particularly as you begin your work. Your projects will start to flourish, and your partners will learn and grow. By the same token, you will feel the frustrations when things take too long to happen or do not turn out as you expect. People may not always show the level of interest and enthusiasm that you anticipate, or they may not be prepared to make the changes that you think are good for them. Therefore, you must approach everything with an open mind, be willing to accept change, and, most of all, be flexible.

Volunteers are expected to observe the same work schedules, reporting procedures, leave-of-absence policies, and access to agency resources as their co-workers. You may feel alone and that no one appreciates your efforts. The way to overcome this is by setting your own personal goals and remaining focused on them, even when progress seems slow and remote. Peace Corps life has its ups and downs, good times and bad. Learn to enjoy the gains and look forward to these moments rather than dwell on the losses.

It is also important not to interpret “Volunteer” in the way that some volunteer service is viewed in the United States. Your assignment will involve being on the job day in and day out, following the same schedules and protocols as your host country colleagues. You will not be able to casually take a few days off to travel to another island or go off on a trip to visit family. There are opportunities for taking annual leave and vacation, but the associated application procedures and scheduling requirements must be observed. Failure to abide by these and other policies and procedures could be cause for disciplinary action.

Being a Volunteer in the Caribbean involves a high degree of commitment. Projects are designed and assignments are made with the idea that Volunteers will honor their commitment and work for two years. Host agencies, sponsoring ministries, and local community members or students are counting on you to remain in your position for a full term. Do not accept this invitation to service if you are not willing to make such a commitment.

Whatever frustrations and limitations may exist, Peace Corps Volunteers who serve in the Eastern Caribbean consistently find the experience to be uniquely rewarding. There is a special kind of satisfaction that comes from learning to live and work effectively in another culture. It soon becomes apparent that the experience effectively contributes to your own personal and professional development, and to the development of the host country.