The first Peace Corps Volunteers arrived in March 2001. They serve in rural communities and towns throughout the country, where they focus on offering and enhancing English education for Georgian students and teaching methodologies for Georgian teachers. Technical sectors in Georgia include education and non-governmental organization development.
Peace Corps History
Main article: History of the Peace Corps in Georgia
As early as 1994, the government of Georgia indicated its desire to host Peace Corps Volunteers. Although the Peace Corps sent an assessment team to Georgia in response to that request, a decision to enter Georgia was indefinitely postponed due to security concerns over civil unrest in the Abkhazia and Ossetia provinces. In 1997, the Georgian government formally reiterated its desire to host Peace Corps Volunteers, and again an assessment team was sent. Although the security situation had significantly improved by this time, budgetary constraints prevented the Peace Corps from acting upon this request, and the decision was delayed yet again. In late 1999, after repeated inquiries from the Georgian government and consistent accounts from the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi that the security situation remained conducive to the presence of Peace Corps Volunteers, the decision was made to reassess the possibility of setting up a program. The review was positive, and funds were set aside by the Peace Corps to establish a program in Georgia in 2000.
Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyles
Main article: Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyles in Georgia
Volunteers need to be very flexible about their housing expectations. Volunteers live in a variety of situations, including private rooms, shared houses, and small apartments.
For the first three months of your service, you are required to live with a Georgian host family. After the first three months, alternative housing arrangements may be considered in consultation with your program manager and the medical officer. For reasons of safety and security and for reasons of quality of life (especially during the winter months), most Volunteers opt to remain living with homestay families throughout their two years of service. In most areas of Georgia there are no guarantees of continuous electricity, running water, or phone service. Some villages and towns have only a few hours of electricity a day (or even none at all) in the winter months, and the natural gas supply is often cut off for periods of time. Without a central heating system, the inside of buildings is often colder in the winter than the outdoors. You should be prepared to tolerate cold and discomfort, especially during the work day at school. The Peace Corps staff will do its best to help Volunteers adjust and succeed in this environment. Peace Corps/Georgia provides all Volunteers with sleeping bags for the winter. These sleeping bags have a synthetic filling and are rated at 0°F for warmth.
Main article: Training in Georgia
Following a pre-departure orientation (staging) in the United States, you will participate in a 10-week, intensive pre-service training in Georgia. Peace Corps/Georgia uses a community-based training model that is designed around real life experiences and emphasizes community involvement. Trainees live with host families in one of several training villages around a central training facility outside the capital.
The goals of community-based training are:
- To provide in-depth, experiential learning in settings similar to those at Volunteer sites;
- To give trainees the best possible opportunity to gain competence in technical, cross-cultural, language, and health and safety areas in a culturally and linguistically appropriate context;
- To allow trainees to acquire experience and skills in self-directing their own learning so they can continue independent learning at site.
Pre-service training contains five main components: technical, language, cross-cultural, health, and safety.
Your Health Care and Safety
Main article: Health Care and Safety in Georgia
The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the health and safety of every Volunteer. Peace Corps medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative approach to disease. Peace Corps/Georgia maintains a clinic with a full-time medical officer who takes care of Volunteers’ primary health-care needs. Additional medical services, such as testing and basic treatment, are also available in Georgia at local, American-standard clinics. If you become seriously ill, you will be transported to either an American medical facility in the region or to the United States.
Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues
Main article: Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues in Georgia
In Georgia, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteers’ behavior, lifestyles, background, and beliefs will be judged in a cultural context very different from our own. Certain personal perspectives or characteristics commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in some host countries.
Outside of Georgia’s capital, residents of rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What is advertised as “typical” cultural behavior or norms may also be a narrow and selective interpretation, such as the perception in some countries that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. The people of Georgia are justly known for their generous hospitality to foreigners; however, members of the community in which you will live may display a range of reactions to differences that you present.
- Possible Issues for Female Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color
- Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers
- Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities
Frequently Asked questions
Main article: FAQs about Peace Corps in Georgia
- How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Georgia?
- What is the electric current in Georgia?
- How much money should I bring?
- When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
- Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
- Do I need an international driver’s license?
- What should I bring as gifts for Georgia friends and my host family?
- Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
- How can my family contact me in an emergency?
- Can I call home from Georgia?
- Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
- Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
Main article: Packing List for Georgia
This list has been compiled with the assistance of Volunteers serving in Georgia. Use it as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that experience is individual. There is no perfect list! You obviously cannot bring everything we mention, so consider those items that make the most sense to you personally and professionally. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have a 100 pound weight restriction on baggage. And remember, you can get almost everything you need in Georgia.
- General Clothing
Peace Corps News
The following is automatic RSS feed of Peace Corps news for this country.
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PEACE CORPS JOURNALS
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- [[Peace Corps Georgia Pre-Departure Guide []]]
- Volunteers who served in Georgia
- Inspector General Reports
- Pre-Departure Checklist
- List of resources for Georgia