Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Kyrgyzstan

From Peace Corps Wiki

(Difference between revisions)
Jump to: navigation, search
(New page: ===Communications=== ====Mail ==== During pre-service training, you will receive mail at a post office near the training site (you will be given this address before you depart for over...)
(Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?)
 
Line 1: Line 1:
 +
{{FAQs by country}}
-
===Communications===
 
-
====Mail ====
 
-
During pre-service training, you will receive mail at a post office near the training site (you will be given this address before you depart for overseas). Once you have moved to your assigned site, you will use your residence or workplace as a permanent mailing address. The Peace Corps office cannot accept mail for Volunteers except in extraordinary circumstances.
 
-
Mail from the United States usually takes two to four weeks to arrive at Volunteer sites. Advise your family and friends to number their letters so you will be able to tell when a letter has gone astray. Also tell them to include “Airmail” and “Par Avion” on their envelopes.
+
==How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Azerbaijan?==
-
====Telephones ====
+
Most airlines have baggage size and weight limits and assess charges for transport of baggage that exceeds this allowance.  The Peace Corps has its own size and weight limits and will not pay the cost of transport for baggage that exceeds these limits. The authorized baggage allowance is two checked pieces of luggage with combined dimensions of both pieces not to exceed 107 inches (length + width + height) and a carry-on bag with dimensions of no more than 45 inches.  Checked baggage should not exceed 100 pounds total with a maximum weight allowance of 50 pounds for any one bag.
-
International telephone service is generally available throughout the Kyrgyz Republic, but it is expensive. Calling cards make calling the United States much easier because you can call the AT&T operator in Moscow (095.155.5042) and place the call directly. The time in the Kyrgyz Republic is 11 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (10 hours during Daylight Savings Time). Phone service within the Kyrgyz Republic is improving, but it can be a difficult experience, depending on factors such as the time of day and weather conditions. The national telephone agency has offices in all major cities and in some smaller towns, but if you are calling from outside Bishkek, it is sometimes difficult to secure a line.  
+
Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take pets, weapons, explosives, radio transmitters (shortwave radios are permitted), automobiles, or motorcycles to their overseas assignments. Do not pack flammable materials or liquids such as lighter fluid, cleaning solvents, hair spray, or aerosol containers. This is an important safety precaution.  
-
Most Volunteers take advantage of local Internet cafes to make international phone calls. This low-cost way of calling the United States is available in most urban areas throughout the country. Though the connection is not always the best, the service is by far the least expensive way of staying in touch with your family and friends.
+
==What is the electric current?==
-
There are two cellular companies in the Kyrgyz Republic, and more and more Kyrgyz are using cell phones, especially in the capital. However, coverage is spotty and unpredictable outside Bishkek.  
+
Azerbaijani electrical outlets accept plugs with two round prongs and operate on 220 to 240 volts and 50 cycles.  Inexpensive adapters for U.S. equipment are readily available at places such as Radio Shack and travel supply stores. Be aware that the supply of electricity may be weak or sporadic, particularly in the winter months. Still, most PCVs in Azerbaijan have electricity most, if not all of the day.  A lot depends on your site, but at worst, your electricity will cut out for a couple of hours a day, barring some kind of emergency that seriously knocks the power out.  This is uncommon though.
-
====Computer, Internet, and E-mail Access ====
+
Most PCVs buy a regulator during PST.  This will regulate the fluctuating voltage so that your electronics don't fry.  Some regulators have a 110 and a 220 volt plug in.
-
The Peace Corps office has several computers with Internet access in its resource center that may be used by Volunteers when they are in the office on official business. In addition, Volunteers can access E-mail at Internet cafés in many of the larger towns in the Kyrgyz Republic.  
+
Most consumer electronics, like computers, cameras, and MP3 players don't require a transformer. Basically, if your plug is more than just a straight line between the appliance and the wall, and there's some sort of 'box' or 'square' that adds seemingly needless weight to the cord, then it will be able to use both 220 and 110.  Check your appliances individually to make sure.
-
===Housing and Site Location ===
+
==How much money should I bring?==
-
Peace Corps/Kyrgyz Republic assigns Volunteers to the sites with the greatest need and to schools and organizations that demonstrate potential for making the best use of Volunteers’ skills. Peace Corps/Kyrgyz Republic has a mandatory three-month homestay policy and asks the sponsoring agency to provide the Volunteer with adequate, safe housing, which is paid for by the Peace Corps. The housing varies from site to site and is typically with a family or within a family’s compound.  
+
Volunteers are expected to live at the same level as the people in their community. They are given a settling-in allowance and a monthly living allowance, which should cover their expenses. Often Volunteers wish to bring additional money for vacation travel to other countries. If you do choose to have additional funds available to you for vacation travel, bringing credit cards or traveler’s checks would be less risky than bringing a large amount of cash. If you choose to bring extra money, bring the amount that will suit your own travel plans and needs.
-
The housing will have simple basic furniture such as a bed, a table and chairs, a wardrobe or bureau for clothing, and access to a stove and a refrigerator. The Peace Corps will provide you with a water filter or distiller. In addition, because winters in the Kyrgyz Republic are cold and many heating systems are inadequate, the Peace Corps will also provide you with an electric heater. Still, you will probably need long underwear and will definitely need a warm sleeping bag, as electricity is not always reliable.  
+
The most convenient way to access funds from back home is to bring a debit card so you can access your checking account.  Adding a relative to you checking account is something to consider so that they can take care of any banking business that might come up during service. Set up an internet banking account as well so you can check your balance when you get online.
-
You need to be very flexible in your housing expectations, as there is no guarantee that there will be an indoor toilet or that running water or electricity will be available continuously at your assigned site.
+
==When can I take vacation and have people visit me?==
-
===Living Allowance and Money Management ===
+
Each Volunteer accrues two vacation days per month of service (excluding training). Leave may not be taken during training, the first three months of service, or the last three months of service, except in conjunction with an authorized emergency leave. Nor can it be taken by TEFL Volunteers during the school year, barring exceptional circumstances.  Family and friends are welcome to visit you after pre-service training and the first three months of service as long as their stay does not interfere with your work.  Extended stays at your site are not encouraged and may require permission from your country director. The Peace Corps is not able to provide your visitors with visa, medical, or travel assistance.
-
The Kyrgyz Republic has a cash-based economy. There are now ATM machines in Bishkek, but few opportunities to use credit cards other than buying international plane tickets from a local travel agency or online. The rate of exchange between the dollar and the local currency, the som, has been stable in recent years, with the dollar losing value slightly to the som.
+
==Will my belongings be covered by insurance?==
-
As a Volunteer in the Kyrgyz Republic, you will live at the same economic level as your neighbors and colleagues. You will receive a modest monthly living allowance (deposited in local currency into a bank account you will open at your site) to cover food, utilities, household supplies, hygiene products, clothing, recreation and entertainment, local transportation, telephone calls, reading materials, and other personal expenses. The amount of this allowance may not seem like a lot of money, but you will find yourself earning more than many of your colleagues and supervisors.  
+
The Peace Corps does not provide insurance coverage for personal effects; Volunteers are ultimately responsible for the safekeeping of their personal belongings. However, you can purchase personal property insurance before you leave. If you wish, you may contact your own insurance company; additionally, insurance application forms will be provided, and we encourage you to consider them carefully. Volunteers should not ship or take valuable items overseas. Jewelry, watches, radios, cameras, and expensive appliances are subject to loss, theft, and breakage, and in many places, satisfactory maintenance and repair services are not available.  
-
You will also receive a $24 monthly vacation allowance and a one-time settling-in allowance in local currency to purchase household items when you move to your permanent site. The settling-in allowance is intended to defray part of the costs of items such as cooking utensils, dishes, towels, and blankets.
+
==Do I need an international driver’s license?==
-
Finally, you will be given a quarterly program travel allowance to support regional exchanges with other Volunteers and to travel to Bishkek to visit international organizations or meet with your program manager. This allowance is designed to encourage Volunteers to exchange knowledge, skills, and best practices about their primary and secondary projects with one another.  
+
Volunteers in Azerbaijan do not need an international driver’s license because they are prohibited from operating privately owned motorized vehicles. Most urban travel is by bus or taxi. Rural travel ranges from buses and minibuses to trucks, bicycles, and lots of walking. On very rare occasions, a Volunteer may be asked to drive a sponsor’s vehicle, but this can occur only with prior written permission of the country director. Should this occur, the Volunteer may obtain a local driver’s license. A U.S. driver’s license will facilitate the process, so bring it with you just in case.
-
===Food and Diet ===
+
Be sure to have your U.S. drivers license valid through the end of service so that it doesn't expire during service.
-
People in the Kyrgyz Republic eat a lot of meat and vegetables (e.g., potatoes, tomatoes, cabbages, carrots, and onions), with much of the food fried or boiled. There is a wide range of fresh food for sale in markets throughout the republic during the spring, summer, and fall, including meat, vegetables, dried fruits, and nuts. Oranges, bananas, and apples can be found in some parts of the country but are often expensive.
+
==What should I bring as gifts for Azerbaijani friends and my host family?==
-
Fruits and vegetables are, of course, seasonal, but it is possible to be a vegetarian in the Kyrgyz Republic. A sufficient variety of food is available to maintain a healthy vegetarian diet, and previous Volunteers have been successful at doing so with a little advance planning. The markets have white, pinto, mung, and red beans; chickpeas and split peas; pasta; rice; and peanuts and other nuts. Cheese, eggs, and milk are available in many, but not all, markets, and potatoes, cabbages, carrots, and onions can be found almost everywhere. Tofu is available in larger towns. The most difficult aspect probably will be the social pressure to eat meat, but with a little patience, most vegetarians have served their two years with few problems.  
+
This is not a requirement. A token of friendship is sufficient. Some gift suggestions include knickknacks for the house; pictures, books, or calendars of American scenes; souvenirs from your area; hard candies that will not melt or spoil; or photos to give away.  
-
===Transportation ===
+
==Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?==
-
Because of safety issues, Peace Corps/Kyrgyz Republic prohibits Volunteers from driving or riding on two- or three-wheeled motorized vehicles for any reason. Volunteers are not allowed to own or drive private automobiles or tractors. Road travel between oblasts after dark is prohibited. Road travel after dark within oblasts is strongly discouraged; Violation of these policies may result in the termination of your Volunteer service.  
+
Peace Corps trainees are not assigned to individual sites until after they have completed the majority of their pre-service training. This gives Peace Corps staff the opportunity to assess each trainee’s technical and language skills prior to assigning sites, in addition to finalizing site selections with their ministry counterparts. Peace Corps/Azerbaijan tries to build a tentative site visit into its training program for the sake of early orientation and another opportunity for trainees to assess their commitment to Peace Corps service. If feasible, you may have the opportunity to provide input on your site preferences, including geographical location, distance from other Volunteers, and living conditions. However, keep in mind that many factors influence the site selection process and that the Peace Corps cannot guarantee placement where you would ideally like to be. The most important considerations will be the Peace Corps staff’s judgment about the safety and security of the site and a good match between a community’s needs and the trainee’s skills and abilities. Most Volunteers have other PCVs at their sites.  If not, they live in towns or in rural villages and are usually within one hour from another Volunteer. Some sites require a 10- to 12-hour drive from the capital. For the first four months as a Volunteer, you will live with a host family, although you may elect to live with a different host family for the last two months of this period with the approval of the Peace Corps.
-
Most Volunteers travel in the country in commercial vans (called marshrutkas), but some choose to pay more and hire long-distance taxis. Although the vans often do not operate on a set schedule, there is regular public transportation between cities. Travel by bus among cities is also available.  
+
Volunteers are everywhere but Baku.  Some PCVs end up in small villages and others end up in larger cities, like Ganja, Sheki, or Mingechiver. PC Staff doesn't have a great track record of putting trainees in the cities of their choice, so it's better not to become attached to one specific place when they are assigning permanent sites.
-
===Geography and Climate===  
+
==How can my family contact me in an emergency?==
-
The Kyrgyz Republic borders Kazakhstan in the north and northwest, Uzbekistan in the southwest, Tajikistan in the south, and China in the southeast. The Tien Shan mountain range covers approximately 95 percent of the country, which is about the size of Nebraska. The mountaintops are perennially covered with snow glaciers.  
+
The Peace Corps’ Office of Special Services provides assistance in handling emergencies affecting trainees and Volunteers or their families. Before leaving the United States, you should instruct your family to notify the Office of Special Services immediately if an emergency arises, such as a serious illness or death of a family member. During normal business hours, the number for the Office of Special Services is 800.424.8580, extension 1470. After normal business hours and on weekends and holidays, the Special Services duty officer can be reached at 202.638.2574. For nonemergency questions, your family can get information from your country desk staff at the Peace Corps by calling 800.424.8580, extension 2423.  
-
The Kyrgyz Republic has four seasons, including very cold winters and hot, dry summers. The duration of each season depends on the region of the country. In the mountains, the temperature can drop as low as minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit.  In the rest of the country, winter is much like winters in the Midwestern United States, but without so much snow. The north is much colder than the south, with normal winter temperatures in the mid-teens to low 20s.
+
==Can I call home?==
-
===Social Activities ===
+
International telephone service is available in most cities, but it can be expensive—as much as $2 per minute by cellphone and $6 per minute by land line for a call to the United States.  The land line system is often overwhelmed, however, and disruptions in service are frequent. Having friends and family call you is considerably more cost-effective. Volunteers also can send relatively inexpensive text messages internationally.
-
Volunteers are expected to develop relationships with people in their communities and participate in the social activities available at their sites. Outside of Bishkek, there is little formal entertainment (e.g., the opera, theater, cinemas, etc). Therefore, both the Kyrgyz people and Volunteers, especially in small towns and villages, spend much of their leisure time “guesting.” Guesting means being invited to a home for a meal; this could last up to five or six hours, depending on the time of day. As the only American, and often the only foreigner, present in a community, you will often be the guest of honor.  
+
Should I bring a cellular phone with me? Most American cellular phones are wired to operate exclusively in the United States. Cellular systems in Azerbaijan, which cover virtually the entire country, are GSM compatible and work on different frequencies than American phones. If you do own a phone that will work internationally, be sure to get in unlocked before you leave. Your service provider should be able to do this for you.  Peace Corps/Azerbaijan will provide you with some money to buy cellphone once you get here. You will be responsible for paying for the costs of your calls from your living allowance.
-
Being a guest in a Kyrgyz home can be simultaneously rewarding and stressful. The local people, whether ethnic Kyrgyz, Uzbek, or Russian, are hospitable, charismatic hosts. This means that you, as the guest, will be constantly encouraged to eat and drink more and more. Although it can be difficult to convey to people you do not know well that you have had enough to eat or drink and that you do not want any more or need to go home, Volunteers find that they are better able to manage such situations as their language skills develop.
+
==Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?==
-
Alcohol is prevalent in most social situations in the Kyrgyz Republic and can cause stress for Volunteers. Volunteers may regularly feel pressure to drink heavily when in new social surroundings either with their new Kyrgyz friends or with other Volunteers. The pressure to drink often eases as a Volunteer becomes better known, and many Volunteers abstain from drinking in their sites. Program managers and the safety and security and medical officers help Volunteers develop strategies to manage the pressure of alcohol consumption.  
+
A growing number of Internet cafés or other businesses in the capital and in some of the larger cities offer Internet access, but internet cafes are generally only for male volunteers. Because of the weak telephone and electrical infrastructure in outlying areas, Volunteers in rural sites may be limited to sending and receiving e-mail on occasional visits to the capital or regional hubs. Before departing for overseas service, many prospective Volunteers sign up for free e-mail accounts that they can access worldwide, such as gmail.  
-
The Peace Corps has policies and strategies that will help Volunteers assess and manage their use of alcohol. Excessive use of alcohol may result in behavior that affects your performance, effectiveness, safety and credibility.  Inappropriate behavior resulting from alcohol abuse or the inability to carry out your assignment due to alcohol use is grounds for administrative separation from the Peace Corps. Alcohol use has been a factor in injuries and assaults involving Volunteers in posts throughout the world, including the Kyrgyz Republic. The Kyrgyzstani judicial system considers use of alcohol as an aggravating factor in criminal cases.  Individuals with a history or predisposition for alcohol abuse should seriously consider whether the Kyrgyz Republic is an appropriate assignment for you.  
+
Many Volunteers bring laptop computers and find them useful for work and relaxation. If you bring a laptop computer, you will be responsible for insuring and maintaining it. The Peace Corps will not replace stolen computers and strongly encourages those who bring them to get personal property insurance. Because of the high value of laptops, owners significantly increase their risk of becoming a victim of crime. You probably will not find the same level of technical assistance and service in Azerbaijan as you would at home, and replacement parts may take months to arrive. If you bring a laptop, be sure to bring a high-quality surge protector—electrical lapses and surges are common.
-
===Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior ===
+
If you have a laptop, almost every volunteer would recommend you bring it.  It's good for work, movies, games, music, and internet.  Several PCVs have a phone connection at their homes or work so they can use dial up pretty frequently.
-
People in the Kyrgyz Republic take pride in their personal appearance and tend to dress up both for social occasions and for daily activities and generally dress more formally than Americans. While most people cannot afford a large wardrobe—it is not unusual to see co-workers wear the same outfit two or three days in a row—wearing clean and ironed cloths is important. To gain the acceptance, respect, and confidence of Kyrgyz colleagues, therefore, it is essential that you dress and conduct yourself professionally. Professional dress is required in the workplace, which means mid-length or long skirts with blouses or dresses for women living in more rural or conservative areas of the country, and pressed chinos or dress slacks with jackets or sweaters for men. Dress shoes or boots are also essential. As it is the custom to take off your shoes before entering someone’s home, Volunteers might wish to bring with them shoes that easily slip on or off rather than ones with laces.  
+
Some PCVs have used money from America to purchase a phone line to their house to be able to use the internet. A sum of money is given for discretionary spending when PCVs move to site, and modems and data cards are relatively inexpensive. Monthly discretionary funds are given and are suggested, in part, to be put toward internet so PCVs can file their program reports.
-
 
+
[[Category:Azerbaijan]]
-
 
+
-
The Peace Corps expects Volunteers to behave in a way that will foster respect in their communities and reflect well on the Peace Corps and the citizens of the United States. As a Volunteer, you have the status of an invited guest and must be sensitive to the habits, tastes, and taboos of your hosts.  You will receive an orientation on appropriate behavior and cultural sensitivity during pre-service training.
+
-
 
+
-
===Personal Safety ===
+
-
 
+
-
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 (oftentimes alone), having a limited understanding of local language and culture, being perceived as well-off, and alcohol abuse are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk. Some 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 Kyrgyz Republic 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 the Kyrgyz Republic. At the same time, you are expected to take ultimate responsibility for your own safety and well-being.
+
-
 
+
-
===Rewards and Frustrations ===
+
-
 
+
-
Although the potential for job satisfaction in the Kyrgyz Republic 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 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 peaks and valleys.
+
-
 
+
-
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.
+
-
 
+
-
To overcome these difficulties, you will need maturity, flexibility, open-mindedness, and resourcefulness. The Kyrgyz are warm, friendly, and hospitable, and the Peace Corps 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 the Kyrgyz Republic feeling that they have gained much more than they sacrificed during their service. If you are willing to integrate into your community and work hard, you will be a successful Volunteer.
+
-
 
+
-
[[Category:Kyrgyzstan]]
+

Latest revision as of 23:17, 8 July 2013

FAQs about Peace Corps
Questions.jpg
  • How much luggage am I allowed to bring?
  • What is the electric current?
  • 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 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?
  • Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
  • Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
...and more...

For information see Welcomebooks



Contents

[edit] How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Azerbaijan?

Most airlines have baggage size and weight limits and assess charges for transport of baggage that exceeds this allowance. The Peace Corps has its own size and weight limits and will not pay the cost of transport for baggage that exceeds these limits. The authorized baggage allowance is two checked pieces of luggage with combined dimensions of both pieces not to exceed 107 inches (length + width + height) and a carry-on bag with dimensions of no more than 45 inches. Checked baggage should not exceed 100 pounds total with a maximum weight allowance of 50 pounds for any one bag.

Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take pets, weapons, explosives, radio transmitters (shortwave radios are permitted), automobiles, or motorcycles to their overseas assignments. Do not pack flammable materials or liquids such as lighter fluid, cleaning solvents, hair spray, or aerosol containers. This is an important safety precaution.

[edit] What is the electric current?

Azerbaijani electrical outlets accept plugs with two round prongs and operate on 220 to 240 volts and 50 cycles. Inexpensive adapters for U.S. equipment are readily available at places such as Radio Shack and travel supply stores. Be aware that the supply of electricity may be weak or sporadic, particularly in the winter months. Still, most PCVs in Azerbaijan have electricity most, if not all of the day. A lot depends on your site, but at worst, your electricity will cut out for a couple of hours a day, barring some kind of emergency that seriously knocks the power out. This is uncommon though.

Most PCVs buy a regulator during PST. This will regulate the fluctuating voltage so that your electronics don't fry. Some regulators have a 110 and a 220 volt plug in.

Most consumer electronics, like computers, cameras, and MP3 players don't require a transformer. Basically, if your plug is more than just a straight line between the appliance and the wall, and there's some sort of 'box' or 'square' that adds seemingly needless weight to the cord, then it will be able to use both 220 and 110. Check your appliances individually to make sure.

[edit] How much money should I bring?

Volunteers are expected to live at the same level as the people in their community. They are given a settling-in allowance and a monthly living allowance, which should cover their expenses. Often Volunteers wish to bring additional money for vacation travel to other countries. If you do choose to have additional funds available to you for vacation travel, bringing credit cards or traveler’s checks would be less risky than bringing a large amount of cash. If you choose to bring extra money, bring the amount that will suit your own travel plans and needs.

The most convenient way to access funds from back home is to bring a debit card so you can access your checking account. Adding a relative to you checking account is something to consider so that they can take care of any banking business that might come up during service. Set up an internet banking account as well so you can check your balance when you get online.

[edit] When can I take vacation and have people visit me?

Each Volunteer accrues two vacation days per month of service (excluding training). Leave may not be taken during training, the first three months of service, or the last three months of service, except in conjunction with an authorized emergency leave. Nor can it be taken by TEFL Volunteers during the school year, barring exceptional circumstances. Family and friends are welcome to visit you after pre-service training and the first three months of service as long as their stay does not interfere with your work. Extended stays at your site are not encouraged and may require permission from your country director. The Peace Corps is not able to provide your visitors with visa, medical, or travel assistance.

[edit] Will my belongings be covered by insurance?

The Peace Corps does not provide insurance coverage for personal effects; Volunteers are ultimately responsible for the safekeeping of their personal belongings. However, you can purchase personal property insurance before you leave. If you wish, you may contact your own insurance company; additionally, insurance application forms will be provided, and we encourage you to consider them carefully. Volunteers should not ship or take valuable items overseas. Jewelry, watches, radios, cameras, and expensive appliances are subject to loss, theft, and breakage, and in many places, satisfactory maintenance and repair services are not available.

[edit] Do I need an international driver’s license?

Volunteers in Azerbaijan do not need an international driver’s license because they are prohibited from operating privately owned motorized vehicles. Most urban travel is by bus or taxi. Rural travel ranges from buses and minibuses to trucks, bicycles, and lots of walking. On very rare occasions, a Volunteer may be asked to drive a sponsor’s vehicle, but this can occur only with prior written permission of the country director. Should this occur, the Volunteer may obtain a local driver’s license. A U.S. driver’s license will facilitate the process, so bring it with you just in case.

Be sure to have your U.S. drivers license valid through the end of service so that it doesn't expire during service.

[edit] What should I bring as gifts for Azerbaijani friends and my host family?

This is not a requirement. A token of friendship is sufficient. Some gift suggestions include knickknacks for the house; pictures, books, or calendars of American scenes; souvenirs from your area; hard candies that will not melt or spoil; or photos to give away.

[edit] Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?

Peace Corps trainees are not assigned to individual sites until after they have completed the majority of their pre-service training. This gives Peace Corps staff the opportunity to assess each trainee’s technical and language skills prior to assigning sites, in addition to finalizing site selections with their ministry counterparts. Peace Corps/Azerbaijan tries to build a tentative site visit into its training program for the sake of early orientation and another opportunity for trainees to assess their commitment to Peace Corps service. If feasible, you may have the opportunity to provide input on your site preferences, including geographical location, distance from other Volunteers, and living conditions. However, keep in mind that many factors influence the site selection process and that the Peace Corps cannot guarantee placement where you would ideally like to be. The most important considerations will be the Peace Corps staff’s judgment about the safety and security of the site and a good match between a community’s needs and the trainee’s skills and abilities. Most Volunteers have other PCVs at their sites. If not, they live in towns or in rural villages and are usually within one hour from another Volunteer. Some sites require a 10- to 12-hour drive from the capital. For the first four months as a Volunteer, you will live with a host family, although you may elect to live with a different host family for the last two months of this period with the approval of the Peace Corps.

Volunteers are everywhere but Baku. Some PCVs end up in small villages and others end up in larger cities, like Ganja, Sheki, or Mingechiver. PC Staff doesn't have a great track record of putting trainees in the cities of their choice, so it's better not to become attached to one specific place when they are assigning permanent sites.

[edit] How can my family contact me in an emergency?

The Peace Corps’ Office of Special Services provides assistance in handling emergencies affecting trainees and Volunteers or their families. Before leaving the United States, you should instruct your family to notify the Office of Special Services immediately if an emergency arises, such as a serious illness or death of a family member. During normal business hours, the number for the Office of Special Services is 800.424.8580, extension 1470. After normal business hours and on weekends and holidays, the Special Services duty officer can be reached at 202.638.2574. For nonemergency questions, your family can get information from your country desk staff at the Peace Corps by calling 800.424.8580, extension 2423.

[edit] Can I call home?

International telephone service is available in most cities, but it can be expensive—as much as $2 per minute by cellphone and $6 per minute by land line for a call to the United States. The land line system is often overwhelmed, however, and disruptions in service are frequent. Having friends and family call you is considerably more cost-effective. Volunteers also can send relatively inexpensive text messages internationally.

Should I bring a cellular phone with me? Most American cellular phones are wired to operate exclusively in the United States. Cellular systems in Azerbaijan, which cover virtually the entire country, are GSM compatible and work on different frequencies than American phones. If you do own a phone that will work internationally, be sure to get in unlocked before you leave. Your service provider should be able to do this for you. Peace Corps/Azerbaijan will provide you with some money to buy cellphone once you get here. You will be responsible for paying for the costs of your calls from your living allowance.

[edit] Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?

A growing number of Internet cafés or other businesses in the capital and in some of the larger cities offer Internet access, but internet cafes are generally only for male volunteers. Because of the weak telephone and electrical infrastructure in outlying areas, Volunteers in rural sites may be limited to sending and receiving e-mail on occasional visits to the capital or regional hubs. Before departing for overseas service, many prospective Volunteers sign up for free e-mail accounts that they can access worldwide, such as gmail.

Many Volunteers bring laptop computers and find them useful for work and relaxation. If you bring a laptop computer, you will be responsible for insuring and maintaining it. The Peace Corps will not replace stolen computers and strongly encourages those who bring them to get personal property insurance. Because of the high value of laptops, owners significantly increase their risk of becoming a victim of crime. You probably will not find the same level of technical assistance and service in Azerbaijan as you would at home, and replacement parts may take months to arrive. If you bring a laptop, be sure to bring a high-quality surge protector—electrical lapses and surges are common.

If you have a laptop, almost every volunteer would recommend you bring it. It's good for work, movies, games, music, and internet. Several PCVs have a phone connection at their homes or work so they can use dial up pretty frequently.

Some PCVs have used money from America to purchase a phone line to their house to be able to use the internet. A sum of money is given for discretionary spending when PCVs move to site, and modems and data cards are relatively inexpensive. Monthly discretionary funds are given and are suggested, in part, to be put toward internet so PCVs can file their program reports.

Personal tools
Namespaces
Variants
Actions
Tell Your Friends
Navigation
Peace Corps News
Timelines
Country Information
Groups
Help
About
Toolbox