Difference between pages "Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Honduras" and "Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Vanuatu"

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{{Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles by country}}
 
{{Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles by country}}
===Communications===
 
  
====Mail====
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===Communications ===
  
Letters sent from the United States generally arrive in Honduras in two to three weeks. However, the mail system is not always reliable, and it is not unheard of for a letter to take several months to arrive. Packages can take even more time. You may have to pay a small fee (from Lps 10 to Lps 30, USD 0.50 to 1.50) at the post office to retrieve any packages but sometimes postal employees waive it for Volunteers, at their discretion. During pre-service training, mail will be delivered to you at the training site, and your mailing address will be:
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====Mail ====
  
“Your Name,” PCT<br>
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Pre-service training is held on the island of Efaté, north of Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu. During training, family and friends can send you mail from the Peace Corps office. The address is:
Voluntario del Cuerpo de Paz<br>
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Apartado Postal 3158<br>
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Tegucigalpa, Honduras<br>
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America Central<br>
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Once you become a Volunteer, you will be responsible for sending the address for your site to friends and family. We recommend you get a P.O. box (if available at your local post office in your site) if you want to receive correspondence at your site and avoid the cost of coming to the capital city. Volunteers in rural sites may have to travel to their provincial capital or other major regional city to receive mail. Some towns have no post office boxes, simply general delivery.
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“Your Name”
  
Volunteers may still receive mail at the above address; as of mid-2008 Peace Corps gives Volunteers the option of forwarding correspondence to their sites once per month or being kept in your file at the Peace Corps office until they visit the capital for official business. Peace Corps staff regularly pick up packages from the main post office in Tegucigalpa but if there is a fee assessed for receiving the package, that fee is passed on to the Volunteer.
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Peace Corps/Vanuatu
  
We strongly recommend that you establish a regular writing pattern with your friends and relatives, since they might become concerned if they do not hear from you for an extended period of time.
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PMB 9097
  
We discourage you from having money or other valuable items sent to you through the mail. Electrical appliances cannot be sent through the mail, as they are prohibited items and could be subject to a fine. Letters and packages are sometimes opened by postal workers, and valuable items occasionally disappear. In addition, the process of retrieving a package at the post office can be time-consuming, and customs duties may exceed the value of the items sent. If you must have packages sent, however, we recommend padded envelopes.  You will have a bank account at your site, and you can have money wired to that account (but note that the Peace Corps is not allowed to give out your account number). Airline tickets can be paid for in advance and picked up at the airline’s office in Tegucigalpa.
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Port Vila
  
In addition, Federal Express, UPS, and DHL have offices in Tegucigalpa and can deliver packages to the Peace Corps office. Please do not send any electrical device or appliances via FedEx, UPS, or DHL, as a customs clearance process is required which will cost around $90 (plus you will be charged an additional 75 percent of the cost of the device). Please let your family and friends know this before sending any mail. We also encourage you to ask for shipment tracking numbers so you can track packages through the carriers’ websites.  Remember that these delivery services cannot deliver to a post office box, so you will have to provide the following street address for the Peace Corps office: Avenida Republica de Chile #401, Colonia Palmira, Tegucigalpa (phone: +504.232.1753).
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Republic of Vanuatu
  
====Telephones====
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Although you can collect your mail from the office, the Peace Corps staff usually brings it to the training site.
  
International phone service to and from Honduras is relatively good. Hondutel, the telephone agency, has offices in many cities and towns, and some of those offices offer direct lines to U.S. long-distance carriers. You can also call or receive calls from the United States from local phones.
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Once you are a Volunteer, you should have mail sent to your site. Most places in Vanuatu have a small post office; otherwise mail can be sent to the Peace Corps office and staff will forward it to your site. Airmail sent from Port Vila takes two to four weeks to reach the United States. The length for mail sent from United States varies, but small envelopes and parcels generally arrive in Port Vila in one or two weeks. If one is lucky, surface mail takes around three months.  
  
Rates at Hondutel as of mid-2008 are 2 Lempiras (USD 0.11) per minute to the U.S. Calling cards and other phone discount programs' rates from the U.S. to Honduras are usually about $0.35 per minute.
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====Telephones ====
  
Most cell phones operate on a pre-paid system, where subscribers periodically recharge their "minutes" in increments from Lps 10 to Lps 250 (USD 0.50 to 12). Domestic rates on the two main cell phone companies are around Lps 3-4 per minute, but purchasing ''saldo'' (minutes) on days advertised as "double ''saldo''" give you extended talk time to some phone lines. Calls to the U.S. and Canada from cell phones are about Lps 2.25 per minute. Calls are usually charged by the second only, not rounded up to the next minute.
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There are two mobile phone companies in Vanuatu and soon after arriving in country, each PCT will be provided with a basic dual SIM card phone and a SIM card for Digicel. Once sites are assigned, those volunteers who Peace Corps have determined do not have Digicel service at their site can purchase a TVL SIM card and submit for reimbursement. You can also make reverse-charge calls and send faxes to the United States from the TVL office inside the post office. At your site, there is likely to be phone service within walking distance, but this is not always the case.  Some volunteers bring their unlocked smart phones from the US to use during their service.
 
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Volunteers commonly use text messages for much communication and cost around Lps 1 (USD 0.05) per message. Phone plans with a fixed monthly allotment of minutes and fee per month are available but the rates are not much better than the pre-paid plans and require a lot of paperwork.
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In urban areas, some Volunteers live in houses with Hondutel land lines installed, but in most outlying areas, cell phones are the only phones available.
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As of mid-2008, Volunteers' living allowance is calculated without including expenses for maintaining a cell phone, but very nearly all Volunteers in Honduras find money for it in their budgets.
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To reach you in an emergency, your family can contact the Office of Special Services in Washington, D.C., at 800.424.8580, extension 1470, during business hours or 202.638.2574 after hours and on weekends. The Office of Special Services will contact Peace Corps/Honduras immediately and will help you contact your family.
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====Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access====
 
====Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access====
  
The Volunteer lounge at the Peace Corps office has four computers with Internet access that Volunteers may use for their work. They cannot use Peace Corps staff computers.  Regular access to these computers is not possible during pre-service training because the training site is not near the office. However, there is Internet access for a fee at the training center.
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There are a few Internet cafes in the Port Vila area, including one very close to the Peace Corps office. It costs approximately 30 vatu (about 26 U.S. cents) per minute to check e-mail and surf the Web. You can also use Internet phone service at these locations.  
 
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Volunteers nearly always have regular access to the Internet, either in their sites or in nearby towns and cities. Volunteers receive a monthly allowance for Internet use and are encouraged to utilize businesses in or near their communities. Internet connections are, with few exceptions, not very fast and slowed further if being shared with other clients at the Internet café.
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During training and at the Peace Corps office during their services, Volunteers do not have access to the equipment used by Peace Corps staff, though as of mid-2008 there are four computers dedicated for Volunteer use at the Peace Corps in Tegucigalpa.
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Many Volunteers do choose to bring a laptop with them at the start of training and find it useful throughout their time in country; some who did not initially take computers with them either have their laptops sent to them subsequently or bring their laptops back after returning to the U.S. after a vacation. The Peace Corps office in Tegucigalpa has installed secure wireless Internet access points which can be accessed by computers of Volunteers once configured by Peace Corps information technology staff. Other Internet cafés and other businesses around the country have wireless Internet or allow clients with laptops to plug into their wired networks.
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Tigo and Claro, the two major cell phone companies, both offer Internet service through their  networks. These services, with decent but not fast connection speeds, can be expensive and usually involve a good deal of paperwork. The trouble and expense may not be worth it for Volunteers nearing completion of their service but could be a good investment, in the long run, for a Volunteer near the start of his or her time in Honduras. Plans are usually priced in U.S. dollars and run from $15 to $50 per month.
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You can also access e-mail and the Internet at the Peace Corps office’s resource center, which has four computers for use by trainees and Volunteers. A sign-up sheet is used during peak periods. There is no Internet access at the training site and trainees visit Port Vila only occasionally.  
  
Volunteers, regardless of whether they have or bring a laptop, will find USB flash drives (also known as thumb drives or memory sticks) useful for exchanging documents with Peace Corps staff, other Volunteers and community partners.
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===Housing and Site Location ===
  
Please keep in mind when considering whether or not to bring a laptop to Honduras that there is the possibility of theft or water damage. Nevertheless, many Volunteers and staff believe it is beneficial to bring a laptop to augment their personal as well as professional work. Most counterparts and agencies where you may be assigned to work may not have this type of equipment, or it may be very slow and dated. If you choose to bring a laptop or other valuable equipment, you should insure it against theft and damage. You will receive information on personal articles insurance from the Peace Corps prior to departure.
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For the first few days of pre-service training (PST), you will stay in Port Vila. You will then move to a rural village on Efaté island, staying with a Ni-Vanuatu family for the reminder of training. Although some homes in the village use solar power or generators for electricity, you are more likely to use a kerosene lamp or candles. At the training site and in most rural villages, households have a rainwater tank, well, or piped water for drinking and showers. Most houses are composed of local materials including wood, bamboo, palm and coconut leaves and tin sheets.  
  
Also advisable is a good surge protector to guard electronics against sometimes-temperamental electric current.
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At about the midpoint of training, you will go on a “walkabout.” This four- to six-day day visit to your assignedsite or a similar location provides an opportunity to discuss your assignment, meet and visit with future colleagues and community members and current Volunteers, and become familiar with living conditions in another part of the country.  Before going on the walkabout, you will be given information about the site and have an opportunity to discuss the assignment with Peace Corps staff or Volunteers.
  
===Housing and Site Location===
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===Living Allowance and Money Management ===
  
Volunteer housing varies according to the area of the country and its climate. In much of the southern region, houses are open and airy to provide ventilation. Houses tend to be more closed in mountainous areas. Some Volunteers live in houses made of adobe, while others live in houses made of wood or cinder blocks or in apartments. Roofing generally consists of clay tiles or corrugated metal. Most Volunteer houses have electricity and running water, though the source of water is often outside the house and water may flow only sporadically.  Housing in rural sites may have outdoor latrines instead of indoor plumbing.  
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All Volunteers receive a monthly living allowance that enables them to live modestly by the standards of the people they serve, yet not in a manner that would jeopardize their health and safety. The monthly allowance is intended to cover food, household supplies, clothing, transportation, recreation, entertainment, and incidental expenses such as postage, film, reading materials, stationery, and toiletries.  
  
Peace Corps/Honduras will provide Volunteers with one secure housing option upon site assignment where Volunteers must live for at least the first two months. Peace Corps/Honduras may also suggest other housing options that can be explored by Volunteers after the initial two-month period. Volunteers will not be assigned to communities where adequate housing is not available.  
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Toward the end of pre-service training, the Peace Corps will open an account for you at the National Bank of Vanuatu, where it will deposit your living allowances every two months. This bank has branches on many of the islands, so it is easy for most Volunteers to access their bank account.  
  
The Peace Corps expects Volunteers to use good judgment in deciding where and with whom to live after the initial time period. Volunteers are strongly encouraged to live with a family and to take the necessary time to choose a living situation that considers community norms, language acquisition, and personal safety.  
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Peace Corps/Vanuatu will provide you with various resources and materials for use during training and service. Normally you are provided with items such as medical kit, mattress, lantern, sheets, and mosquito net. These items are yours to use while you are a Volunteer, but must be returned at the end of your service.  
  
During the site-selection process, project teams will determine the availability of adequate housing. If no options are available, the site will not host a Volunteer. Safe and secure housing is a priority, and Peace Corps/Honduras will help you work with the landlord to make any necessary modifications to improve the safety and security of your home, such as adding deadbolt locks and bars on windows.  Additionally, the Peace Corps makes an effort to select sites that offer reasonable and safe transportation. Keep in mind that rural areas of Honduras are more rustic than rural areas of the United States.  
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After you take the oath of service at the end of pre-service training, you will receive a settling-in allowance of 30,000 vatu per individual (approximately U.S. $270) or 50,000 vatu per couple (approximately $450) to purchase household items such as pots, pans, and a stove.
  
Peace Corps Volunteer sites are located throughout Honduras with the exception of the departments of Gracias a Dios and the Bay Islands. The site in which you eventually serve will be selected based upon the local needs of the community, your skills and interests, and the overall goals and objectives of the Peace Corps/Honduras project in which you will work.
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===Food and Diet ===
  
===Living Allowance and Money Management===
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Vanuatu has an abundance of fruits, root crops, tubers, and vegetables. Most island families grow food in their gardens, and under normal conditions, there will be no shortage of food in the communities. There are a few markets and numerous stores on the main islands of Santo and Efaté that carry canned goods, meats, spices, fresh vegetables, cheese, cereal, milk, rice, pasta and chocolate. On other islands, there are fewer stores and markets and few refrigerated products, but you usually can obtain the essentials.
  
As a Volunteer, you will receive a monthly allowance to cover your basic living expenses. The living allowance is reviewed at least once a year through a market survey to ensure that it is adequate for a healthy lifestyle comparable to that of the community in which you live. Funds are deposited in local currency into your local bank account; with the current exchange rate, it is roughly equivalent to $200 a month. You will also receive a housing allowance, which varies according to average housing costs in each region.  
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While many of Vanuatu’s foods, such as taros, yams, and breadfruit, will be familiar, you are likely to rapidly develop a taste for virtually all of them. Papayas, pineapples, mangoes, plantains, and sweet potatoes are abundant through much of the year. Coconut milk and cream are used to flavor many dishes, and you will soon appreciate them as much as the Ni-Vanuatu do. Most food is cooked using hot stones or through boiling and steaming; very little food is fried.  
  
The living allowance is intended to cover the cost of food, utilities, household supplies, clothing, recreation and entertainment, transportation, reading materials, and other incidentals. You may find that you receive more compensation than your community partner or supervisor.  
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During pre-service training, you will become familiar with Vanuatu’s traditional island food (fish, taro, yams, etc.), or aelan kakae, by eating it with your host family. You will eventually develop your favorite dishes and learn how to cook some of them, albeit in your own style.  
  
You will accrue two days of leave and earn a $24 vacation allowance for each month of service. The vacation allowance is deposited in an account in U.S. dollars twice a year (April and October). This account can be useful for wiring money to or from a bank account in the United States. You will receive a one-time settling-in allowance, paid in local currency equivalent to $250, to buy basic household items when you move to your site. This amount is also reviewed annually and adjusted as needed. If the Peace Corps asks you to travel to attend conferences or workshops, it will deposit additional funds in your account to cover the cost of transportation, food and lodging.
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===Transportation ===
  
Most Volunteers find that they can live comfortably in Honduras with these allowances. While many bring additional money with them for out-of-country travel, the Peace Corps expects Volunteers to live at the same level as their neighbors and colleagues and therefore strongly discourages Volunteers from supplementing their income with money brought from home.  
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In Vanuatu, you will probably do more walking, riding in the back of pickup trucks, flying in small planes, and bouncing around in small boats than you have ever done before. The undeveloped road system, with less than 100 miles of paved roads, consists mostly of dirt tracks suitable only for four-wheel-drive vehicles. Every island has one or two short airstrips where Vanair’s Twin Otter planes land two or three times weekly. In addition, every island has a small port or wharf where small cargo ships and boats regularly dock.  After one arrives at these locations, transportation is usually via pickup truck, foot, or small boat. Bicycles are becoming popular in Vanuatu, and, depending on your site, the Peace Corps may provide one to you. Port Vila and Luganville have numerous taxis and mass-transit vans that provide good service at a reasonable cost. Peace Corps Volunteers are prohibited from driving or riding on motorcycles.  
  
Credit cards can be used in the capital, in tourist areas and, increasingly, in select businesses in provincial capitals and regional hubs. Traveler’s checks can be cashed for a nominal fee. For safekeeping, trainees can store up to $300 in cash and any traveler’s checks in the Peace Corps safe.
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===Geography and Climate ===
  
Automated teller machines are available in nearly every major city in Honduras; Volunteers can withdraw money either regularly from their Peace Corps-established Banco Atlántida account occasionally from their U.S. bank account.
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Vanuatu features isolated rural communities scattered among a chain of beautiful, but rugged and lightly populated, tropical islands, which extend about 500 miles from north and south.  
  
===Food and Diet===
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The water temperature ranges from 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius) in winter to 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius) in the summer. Cool between April and September, the days become hotter and more humid starting in October. The daily temperature ranges from 68 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees to 32 degrees Celsius).  Southeasterly trade winds occur from May to October.  Vanuatu has a long rainy session, with significant rainfall usually occurring almost every month. The wettest and hottest months, however, are December through April, which also constitute the cyclone season. The driest months are June through November.
  
Although a wide variety of food is available in Honduras, beans, rice, plantains, and tortillas are the standard fare (plato tipico) throughout the country. Medium-size and large communities have markets that sell fruits, vegetables, meat products, milk, cheese, and grains (including soy and soy products). Volunteers who live in smaller communities, however, may only be able to purchase basic foods such as noodles, canned goods, and rice and may have to travel to nearby markets every week to purchase perishables.  
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Vanuatu has a variety of natural hazards, such as cyclones, volcanic activity, and earthquakes. Cyclones are the only natural event that generally affects the entire country at once in one way or another. Although they can occur at any time of the year, they are most frequent between January and April. You will receive detailed information about how to cope with cyclones and other natural hazards during your pre-service training.  
  
Vegetarians are able to maintain a healthy diet in Honduras.  However, it may be difficult to maintain a strictly vegetarian diet when you live with a family during pre-service training.  Families cannot be expected to change their regular diet to meet your needs.
 
  
===Transportation===
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===Social Activities ===
  
Volunteers in Honduras use public transportation in most situations, even though it can be time-consuming. If you live in a major population center, there will be regular buses from your site to the capital. Smaller communities may have only one bus a day, so you may have to depend on a minivan or truck for transportation. Although in some circumstances it may be necessary to ride in the back of a pickup truck, Volunteers are highly discouraged from traveling this way. Any travel at night is also highly discouraged.  
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Village life in Vanuatu is very social, resulting more in a lack of privacy than physical isolation from others. There are many opportunities to build supportive relationships at site, and to get involved in a village’s activities. Although cultural isolation can be a problem, it is less of one nowadays, due to the new Peace Corps/Vanuatu policy of “clustering” sites where Volunteers are stationed. Rural Volunteers now have the opportunity to build friendships and socialize with other Volunteers near their sites. Though distances vary from island to island, most Volunteers have someone within a few hours’ walk or closer.  
  
Volunteers are not allowed to drive or ride as a passenger on motorcycles in Honduras. You may drive a vehicle for work-related activities if the counterpart agency requires you to do so, but you must first receive approval from your country director and then obtain a Honduran driver’s license (a valid U.S. driver’s license is required to obtain a Honduran license). In some areas, Volunteers may request a bicycle, horse, or donkey for work transportation, and the Peace Corps will provide the funds for the initial purchase. When riding a bicycle, you are required to wear a helmet, which the Peace Corps will provide. All Volunteers should be prepared to walk regularly, sometimes long distances, to communities within their assignment area. In some cases, because of the distance traveled, Volunteers have to arrange for overnight lodging.  
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Peace Corps/Vanuatu is headquartered in the capital city of Port Vila. Volunteers frequently travel to and from Port Vila for business and pleasure. While taking time off in the city, Volunteers shop, hang out, and enjoy good food at restaurants such as Jill’s American Café or the Café Deli. There are several bars and small nightclubs catering to tourists and expatriates.  Port Vila is also home to several resorts that allow casual use of their facilities by Peace Corps Volunteers. Some of these resorts require a small payment while others do not.  Snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, sailing, and horseback riding are some of the options open to Volunteers while in the city. Similar activities are available in Luganville on Espiritu Santo Island.  
  
===Geography and Climate===
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===Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior ===
  
For such a small country, Honduras has a wide variety of temperatures—ranging from 60 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the lowlands to 40 to 90 degrees in the mountains. In general, the western region is relatively cool, while the southern and eastern regions are moderate to hot in the valleys and colder in the mountains, especially at night. The tropical coasts and large valleys can be very hot and humid. In most parts of Honduras, the rainy season lasts from June through November. You should come prepared for all types of climates.  The training center is located at a high altitude and gets quite cold in the mornings and evenings, so bring some warm clothes.  
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One of the challenges of finding your place as a Peace Corps Volunteer is fitting into the local culture while maintaining your own cultural identity and acting like a professional all at the same time. It is not an easy thing to resolve, and we can only provide you with guidelines.  
  
===Social Activities===
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You are expected to show sensitivity to the culture of Vanuatu in both dress and behavior. A foreigner who wears ragged, unmended clothing is more likely to be considered an affront than someone trying to “get closer to the people.” Most Ni-Vanuatu are conservative in their dress. Since each job has different clothing requirements, you should consider your particular job. Volunteers who are assigned to classrooms, offices, or health posts have a greater need for professional clothing than do those who spend most of their time in the field. However, all Volunteers need an assortment of clothing for work and relaxation. Although t-shirts are suitable for days off and swimsuits are fine for the beach, you should have at least one or two nice outfits for special occasions, even if your work site is in a rural area.
  
Most social activities revolve around family or community events and religious holidays. Hondurans are very hospitable and often invite Volunteers to their homes for meals and family celebrations, which are a great opportunity to build ties of trust and sharing. You may encounter more traditional gender roles than exist in the United States. While men have freedom of movement, women may be unable to leave their homes unaccompanied after dark. It is not common for women to jog in Honduras, and those who do never jog alone.  
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Although attitudes about women’s dress are more liberal in Port Vila and Luganville and some Ni-Vanuatu women in villages go without tops, female Volunteers must dress modestly. Wearing large blouses with skirts is a local fashion, so it is worth bringing such blouses with you. If a dress or blouse is transparent, a camisole or slip is necessary. It is never appropriate for women to show bare thighs (except at tourist pools and tourist beaches), and short shorts for women are considered improper. When swimming in non-resort areas, women should wrap a lava-lava around their waist. Many female Volunteers find that it is most acceptable in rural areas to wear a “Mother Hubbard”—a dress that is sold locally and may be given to you by your pre-servive training Ni-Vanuatu host family.  
  
In some parts of Honduras, people abuse alcohol, and in other areas, alcohol is prohibited. You are encouraged to be moderate in your own alcohol consumption because heavy drinking puts you at unnecessary risk and can impact negatively on your and other Volunteers’ reputation in the community.  
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Lightweight but durable cotton or cotton-blend clothes are the most comfortable in Vanuatu’s generally hot and humid climate. Local methods of washing clothes can be very hard on them. Note that leather is subject to mold and mildew and elastic tends to lose its elasticity. Since you may not have electricity for an iron, you may have to get used to wearing more wrinkled clothes than you usually do.  
  
===Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior===
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In the hot, direct tropical sun, protective hats are a must. You should also bring raingear (a rain hat is especially desirable if you wear glasses) and a windbreaker for cooler weather.  You will need some warm clothes, such as sweatshirts and sweaters, for the cooler months, particularly at night.
  
To be effective, Volunteers must be respected by the communities in which they work. The Peace Corps builds its reputation not through massive publicity campaigns but through its Volunteers, one community at a time. You should be prepared to be a role model throughout your service. When Volunteers find themselves unable to gain and maintain the respect and confidence of their communities, it is almost always due to the Volunteers’ failure to meet community standards of behavior. Behavior that is detrimental to the image of the Peace Corps or that threatens the reputation or physical safety of other Volunteers can result in administrative separation from the Peace Corps.  
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For most of the year, sandals without socks are the normal footwear for men and women (Tevas not only are very comfortable and durable but are a Peace Corps tradition). But many Volunteers like to wear regular shoes and socks in the cooler months. You will be doing a lot of walking, so think comfort and durability when you buy shoes (i.e., light hiking shoes or sneakers). Local people work and play in flip-flops.  
  
Hondurans are fairly traditional and conservative, especially in smaller villages. During pre-service training, you will learn how to dress and act appropriately in such a society, which has double standards for men and women and often for Hondurans and Americans. Your community is likely to hold you to relatively higher standards because you are a Peace Corps Volunteer.  
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All types of clothing are available in Port Vila and Luganville, but they can be expensive and of poor quality. However, many Volunteers find bargains at the used-clothing stores in Port Vila and Luganville. It is helpful to learn your sizes in the European metric system.  
  
Dressing appropriately can enhance your credibility, since it reflects your respect for the customs and expectations of the people with whom you live and work. Inappropriate dress, like inappropriate behavior, is something that can set you unnecessarily apart from your community. Until you become well-known by Hondurans, your dress will be an important indicator to them. From the biggest city to the remotest village, you will be judged, especially initially, on your appearance.
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===Personal Safety ===
  
You will find that some clothing that is considered appropriate for Hondurans is not considered appropriate for you. At the training center, you are expected to dress as you would on the job. Shirts and shoes must be worn at all times, and shorts and T-shirts are not appropriate.  
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Volunteer safety is the Peace Corps’ number-one priority. More detailed information about the Peace Corps’ approach to safety is contained 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 (often while alone), having a limited understanding initially 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 most Vanuatu 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 Vanuatu. At the same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your safety and well-being.  
  
Men will be asked to remove any earrings during pre-service training and the first few months at their site. Pierced eyebrows, noses, and tongues are not permitted during pre-service training and are discouraged during service. If you have a tattoo, it is best to keep it covered. Tattoos are often associated with gang affiliation. A new anti-gang law was recently passed authorizing police to perform searches on people who are considered to be probable gang members.  (Though gang tattoos are of a specific nature, you need to be aware of this Honduran reality.)
 
  
Hondurans like to dress well and to be neat and clean.  Honduran businessmen do not normally wear suits and ties, so male Volunteers can wear a short-sleeved, button-down shirt or nice polo shirt and khakis or nice jeans in professional settings. Casual clothing can be worn at home and in nonformal situations. Low-cut necklines are not appropriate for women, but sleeveless blouses and dresses are fine, especially in coastal areas and certain valleys. Do not bring any military-style clothing (i.e., olive green or camouflage), which Honduran customs officials reserve the right to confiscate.
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===Rewards and Frustrations ===
  
===Personal Safety===
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Although the potential for job satisfaction in Vanuatu is quite high, like all Volunteers, you will encounter numerous frustrations. Because of financial or other challenges, collaborating agencies do not always provide the support 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 peaks and valleys.
  
More detailed information about the Peace Corps’ approach to safety is contained 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 (often times 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 have occurred on many occasions, although most Volunteers complete their two years of service without personal security incidents. The Peace Corps has established procedures and policies designed to help 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 Honduras.  At the same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your own safety and well-being.
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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 receiving feedback on, your work. Development is a slow process. Positive progress most often comes after the combined efforts of several Volunteers over the 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.  
  
===Rewards and Frustrations===
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To overcome these difficulties, you will need maturity, flexibility, open-mindedness, resourcefulness, and a positive attitude. The Peace Corps/Vanuatu staff, your co-workers, and fellow Volunteers will support you during times of challenge as well as in moments of success. Judging by the experience of former Volunteers, the peaks are well worth the difficult times, and most Volunteers leave Vanuatu feeling that they gained much more than they sacrificed during their service. If you are able to make the commitment to integrate into your community and work hard, you will be a successful Volunteer.
  
You are likely to derive much satisfaction from helping to improve the living conditions of Hondurans and from learning a new culture and language. You will also encounter unusual social and cultural situations that will require flexibility and understanding on your part. By communicating honestly and demonstrating an interest in Honduras and its people, you will soon come to enjoy your community, its customs, and your role as a Volunteer. A low level of interest, motivation, or participation by community members and co-workers, however, may cause you some frustration. You must remember that development takes time and that you may not immediately see any meaningful impact from your work.  
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Volunteers are usually readily accepted into their community and form lasting friendships. However, it is important to note that traditional customs and beliefs are held dear, especially in rural areas, and change comes slowly. Some Volunteers find the constant answering of personal questions, the lack of privacy, being considered a rich foreigner, and the need to be constantly aware of different social modes, trying. Please note that the Peace Corps is not for everyone.  
  
The Peace Corps is not for everyone. Being a Volunteer requires greater dedication and commitment than most other work environments. It is for confident, self-starting, concerned individuals who are interested in participating in the development of 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 relationships at all levels with your host family, the community members with whom you work, counterpart agencies and school officials, and your fellow Volunteers. This requires patience, sensitivity, empathy, and a positive, professional attitude. If you have the personal qualities needed to meet the challenges of two years of service in Honduras, you will have a rewarding, enriching, and lasting experience. At the same time, you will contribute to the development of Honduras and leave a part of yourself and your culture behind.  
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Creativity, initiative, patience, flexibility, and a high tolerance for ambiguity are necessary attributes in confronting the challenges associated with facilitating change in a new cultural setting. Your dedication can, however, lead to real lasting results that empower community members not only to achieve your project’s goals but also to identify and address other important needs. You are likely to experience the deep satisfaction of having played a role in a grass-roots development process that gives the people of Vanuatu greater control of their future.  
  
  
[[Category:Honduras]]
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[[Category:Vanuatu]]

Latest revision as of 12:34, 8 December 2015

Country Resources

Communications[edit]

Mail[edit]

Pre-service training is held on the island of Efaté, north of Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu. During training, family and friends can send you mail from the Peace Corps office. The address is:

“Your Name”

Peace Corps/Vanuatu

PMB 9097

Port Vila

Republic of Vanuatu

Although you can collect your mail from the office, the Peace Corps staff usually brings it to the training site.

Once you are a Volunteer, you should have mail sent to your site. Most places in Vanuatu have a small post office; otherwise mail can be sent to the Peace Corps office and staff will forward it to your site. Airmail sent from Port Vila takes two to four weeks to reach the United States. The length for mail sent from United States varies, but small envelopes and parcels generally arrive in Port Vila in one or two weeks. If one is lucky, surface mail takes around three months.

Telephones[edit]

There are two mobile phone companies in Vanuatu and soon after arriving in country, each PCT will be provided with a basic dual SIM card phone and a SIM card for Digicel. Once sites are assigned, those volunteers who Peace Corps have determined do not have Digicel service at their site can purchase a TVL SIM card and submit for reimbursement. You can also make reverse-charge calls and send faxes to the United States from the TVL office inside the post office. At your site, there is likely to be phone service within walking distance, but this is not always the case. Some volunteers bring their unlocked smart phones from the US to use during their service.

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

There are a few Internet cafes in the Port Vila area, including one very close to the Peace Corps office. It costs approximately 30 vatu (about 26 U.S. cents) per minute to check e-mail and surf the Web. You can also use Internet phone service at these locations.

You can also access e-mail and the Internet at the Peace Corps office’s resource center, which has four computers for use by trainees and Volunteers. A sign-up sheet is used during peak periods. There is no Internet access at the training site and trainees visit Port Vila only occasionally.

Housing and Site Location[edit]

For the first few days of pre-service training (PST), you will stay in Port Vila. You will then move to a rural village on Efaté island, staying with a Ni-Vanuatu family for the reminder of training. Although some homes in the village use solar power or generators for electricity, you are more likely to use a kerosene lamp or candles. At the training site and in most rural villages, households have a rainwater tank, well, or piped water for drinking and showers. Most houses are composed of local materials including wood, bamboo, palm and coconut leaves and tin sheets.

At about the midpoint of training, you will go on a “walkabout.” This four- to six-day day visit to your assignedsite or a similar location provides an opportunity to discuss your assignment, meet and visit with future colleagues and community members and current Volunteers, and become familiar with living conditions in another part of the country. Before going on the walkabout, you will be given information about the site and have an opportunity to discuss the assignment with Peace Corps staff or Volunteers.

Living Allowance and Money Management[edit]

All Volunteers receive a monthly living allowance that enables them to live modestly by the standards of the people they serve, yet not in a manner that would jeopardize their health and safety. The monthly allowance is intended to cover food, household supplies, clothing, transportation, recreation, entertainment, and incidental expenses such as postage, film, reading materials, stationery, and toiletries.

Toward the end of pre-service training, the Peace Corps will open an account for you at the National Bank of Vanuatu, where it will deposit your living allowances every two months. This bank has branches on many of the islands, so it is easy for most Volunteers to access their bank account.

Peace Corps/Vanuatu will provide you with various resources and materials for use during training and service. Normally you are provided with items such as medical kit, mattress, lantern, sheets, and mosquito net. These items are yours to use while you are a Volunteer, but must be returned at the end of your service.

After you take the oath of service at the end of pre-service training, you will receive a settling-in allowance of 30,000 vatu per individual (approximately U.S. $270) or 50,000 vatu per couple (approximately $450) to purchase household items such as pots, pans, and a stove.

Food and Diet[edit]

Vanuatu has an abundance of fruits, root crops, tubers, and vegetables. Most island families grow food in their gardens, and under normal conditions, there will be no shortage of food in the communities. There are a few markets and numerous stores on the main islands of Santo and Efaté that carry canned goods, meats, spices, fresh vegetables, cheese, cereal, milk, rice, pasta and chocolate. On other islands, there are fewer stores and markets and few refrigerated products, but you usually can obtain the essentials.

While many of Vanuatu’s foods, such as taros, yams, and breadfruit, will be familiar, you are likely to rapidly develop a taste for virtually all of them. Papayas, pineapples, mangoes, plantains, and sweet potatoes are abundant through much of the year. Coconut milk and cream are used to flavor many dishes, and you will soon appreciate them as much as the Ni-Vanuatu do. Most food is cooked using hot stones or through boiling and steaming; very little food is fried.

During pre-service training, you will become familiar with Vanuatu’s traditional island food (fish, taro, yams, etc.), or aelan kakae, by eating it with your host family. You will eventually develop your favorite dishes and learn how to cook some of them, albeit in your own style.

Transportation[edit]

In Vanuatu, you will probably do more walking, riding in the back of pickup trucks, flying in small planes, and bouncing around in small boats than you have ever done before. The undeveloped road system, with less than 100 miles of paved roads, consists mostly of dirt tracks suitable only for four-wheel-drive vehicles. Every island has one or two short airstrips where Vanair’s Twin Otter planes land two or three times weekly. In addition, every island has a small port or wharf where small cargo ships and boats regularly dock. After one arrives at these locations, transportation is usually via pickup truck, foot, or small boat. Bicycles are becoming popular in Vanuatu, and, depending on your site, the Peace Corps may provide one to you. Port Vila and Luganville have numerous taxis and mass-transit vans that provide good service at a reasonable cost. Peace Corps Volunteers are prohibited from driving or riding on motorcycles.

Geography and Climate[edit]

Vanuatu features isolated rural communities scattered among a chain of beautiful, but rugged and lightly populated, tropical islands, which extend about 500 miles from north and south.

The water temperature ranges from 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius) in winter to 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius) in the summer. Cool between April and September, the days become hotter and more humid starting in October. The daily temperature ranges from 68 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees to 32 degrees Celsius). Southeasterly trade winds occur from May to October. Vanuatu has a long rainy session, with significant rainfall usually occurring almost every month. The wettest and hottest months, however, are December through April, which also constitute the cyclone season. The driest months are June through November.

Vanuatu has a variety of natural hazards, such as cyclones, volcanic activity, and earthquakes. Cyclones are the only natural event that generally affects the entire country at once in one way or another. Although they can occur at any time of the year, they are most frequent between January and April. You will receive detailed information about how to cope with cyclones and other natural hazards during your pre-service training.


Social Activities[edit]

Village life in Vanuatu is very social, resulting more in a lack of privacy than physical isolation from others. There are many opportunities to build supportive relationships at site, and to get involved in a village’s activities. Although cultural isolation can be a problem, it is less of one nowadays, due to the new Peace Corps/Vanuatu policy of “clustering” sites where Volunteers are stationed. Rural Volunteers now have the opportunity to build friendships and socialize with other Volunteers near their sites. Though distances vary from island to island, most Volunteers have someone within a few hours’ walk or closer.

Peace Corps/Vanuatu is headquartered in the capital city of Port Vila. Volunteers frequently travel to and from Port Vila for business and pleasure. While taking time off in the city, Volunteers shop, hang out, and enjoy good food at restaurants such as Jill’s American Café or the Café Deli. There are several bars and small nightclubs catering to tourists and expatriates. Port Vila is also home to several resorts that allow casual use of their facilities by Peace Corps Volunteers. Some of these resorts require a small payment while others do not. Snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, sailing, and horseback riding are some of the options open to Volunteers while in the city. Similar activities are available in Luganville on Espiritu Santo Island.

Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior[edit]

One of the challenges of finding your place as a Peace Corps Volunteer is fitting into the local culture while maintaining your own cultural identity and acting like a professional all at the same time. It is not an easy thing to resolve, and we can only provide you with guidelines.

You are expected to show sensitivity to the culture of Vanuatu in both dress and behavior. A foreigner who wears ragged, unmended clothing is more likely to be considered an affront than someone trying to “get closer to the people.” Most Ni-Vanuatu are conservative in their dress. Since each job has different clothing requirements, you should consider your particular job. Volunteers who are assigned to classrooms, offices, or health posts have a greater need for professional clothing than do those who spend most of their time in the field. However, all Volunteers need an assortment of clothing for work and relaxation. Although t-shirts are suitable for days off and swimsuits are fine for the beach, you should have at least one or two nice outfits for special occasions, even if your work site is in a rural area.

Although attitudes about women’s dress are more liberal in Port Vila and Luganville and some Ni-Vanuatu women in villages go without tops, female Volunteers must dress modestly. Wearing large blouses with skirts is a local fashion, so it is worth bringing such blouses with you. If a dress or blouse is transparent, a camisole or slip is necessary. It is never appropriate for women to show bare thighs (except at tourist pools and tourist beaches), and short shorts for women are considered improper. When swimming in non-resort areas, women should wrap a lava-lava around their waist. Many female Volunteers find that it is most acceptable in rural areas to wear a “Mother Hubbard”—a dress that is sold locally and may be given to you by your pre-servive training Ni-Vanuatu host family.

Lightweight but durable cotton or cotton-blend clothes are the most comfortable in Vanuatu’s generally hot and humid climate. Local methods of washing clothes can be very hard on them. Note that leather is subject to mold and mildew and elastic tends to lose its elasticity. Since you may not have electricity for an iron, you may have to get used to wearing more wrinkled clothes than you usually do.

In the hot, direct tropical sun, protective hats are a must. You should also bring raingear (a rain hat is especially desirable if you wear glasses) and a windbreaker for cooler weather. You will need some warm clothes, such as sweatshirts and sweaters, for the cooler months, particularly at night.

For most of the year, sandals without socks are the normal footwear for men and women (Tevas not only are very comfortable and durable but are a Peace Corps tradition). But many Volunteers like to wear regular shoes and socks in the cooler months. You will be doing a lot of walking, so think comfort and durability when you buy shoes (i.e., light hiking shoes or sneakers). Local people work and play in flip-flops.

All types of clothing are available in Port Vila and Luganville, but they can be expensive and of poor quality. However, many Volunteers find bargains at the used-clothing stores in Port Vila and Luganville. It is helpful to learn your sizes in the European metric system.

Personal Safety[edit]

Volunteer safety is the Peace Corps’ number-one priority. More detailed information about the Peace Corps’ approach to safety is contained 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 (often while alone), having a limited understanding initially 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 most Vanuatu 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 Vanuatu. At the same time, you are expected to take responsibility for your safety and well-being.


Rewards and Frustrations[edit]

Although the potential for job satisfaction in Vanuatu is quite high, like all Volunteers, you will encounter numerous frustrations. Because of financial or other challenges, collaborating agencies do not always provide the support 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 peaks and valleys.

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 receiving feedback on, your work. Development is a slow process. Positive progress most often comes after the combined efforts of several Volunteers over the 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.

To overcome these difficulties, you will need maturity, flexibility, open-mindedness, resourcefulness, and a positive attitude. The Peace Corps/Vanuatu staff, your co-workers, and fellow Volunteers will support you during times of challenge as well as in moments of success. Judging by the experience of former Volunteers, the peaks are well worth the difficult times, and most Volunteers leave Vanuatu feeling that they gained much more than they sacrificed during their service. If you are able to make the commitment to integrate into your community and work hard, you will be a successful Volunteer.

Volunteers are usually readily accepted into their community and form lasting friendships. However, it is important to note that traditional customs and beliefs are held dear, especially in rural areas, and change comes slowly. Some Volunteers find the constant answering of personal questions, the lack of privacy, being considered a rich foreigner, and the need to be constantly aware of different social modes, trying. Please note that the Peace Corps is not for everyone.

Creativity, initiative, patience, flexibility, and a high tolerance for ambiguity are necessary attributes in confronting the challenges associated with facilitating change in a new cultural setting. Your dedication can, however, lead to real lasting results that empower community members not only to achieve your project’s goals but also to identify and address other important needs. You are likely to experience the deep satisfaction of having played a role in a grass-roots development process that gives the people of Vanuatu greater control of their future.