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Peace Corps History
Main article: History of the Peace Corps in Vanuatu
Despite intermittent talks between the government of the newly independent Republic of Vanuatu and the Peace Corps through the 1980s, a country agreement was not signed until 1989. The first Peace Corps Volunteers arrived in Port Vila in late 1989. During the first four years of its existence (October 1989 to August 1993), the Peace Corps/Vanuatu program was administered by Peace Corps/Solomon Islands. Following the initial programming assessment trip, the Peace Corps decided to focus resources and Volunteers in the education sector. The first three Volunteers arrived in 1989, and they were assigned to teach either math or science at two different junior secondary schools. They were followed a year later by three additional math and science teachers.
The third group of Peace Corps Volunteers, three small business advisors assigned to work at the Development Bank of Vanuatu, arrived in mid-1991. They trained bank personnel assigned to the various branch offices located around the country. These Volunteers were soon followed by what would be the last contingent of math and science teachers assigned to the junior secondary school system. By the time these Volunteers completed their service in December 1993, the Ministry of Education was confident that Vanuatu no longer needed such teachers. Unfortunately, this assessment turned out to be inaccurate so the Peace Corps continued to provide assistance in this area. This group also included the first Volunteer assigned to a rural training center.
Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyle
Main article: Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Vanuatu
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.
Main article: Training in Vanuatu
Pre-service training provides trainees with 10 weeks of intense, entry-level language, cultural, technical, development, and personal security and health skills to function effectively as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Vanuatu. Training emphasizes building interpersonal skills and self-confidence, identifying and using local resources, and teaching relevant skills to host country counterparts. It will be the first “reality test” of life as a Volunteer, which will help you make an informed commitment when you are sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
Health Care and Safety
Main article: Health care and safety in Vanuatu
The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the good health and safety of every Volunteer. Peace Corps medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative, approach to disease. Peace Corps/Vanuatu maintains a clinic and a full-time medical officer takes care of Volunteers’ primary healthcare needs. Additional medical services, such as testing and basic treatment, are also available in Vanuatu at local hospitals. If you become seriously ill during your service, you will be transported either to an American-standard medical facility in the region or to the United States.
Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues
Main article: Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Vanuatu
In Vanuatu, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteers’ behavior, lifestyle, background, and beliefs are judged in a cultural context very different from their own. Certain personal perspectives or characteristics commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in Vanuatu.
Outside of Vanuatu’s capital, residents of rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What people view as typical American behavior or norms may be a misconception, such as the belief that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. The people of Vanuatu 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 cultural 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
- Possible Issues for Married Volunteers
Frequently Asked Questions
Main article: FAQs about Peace Corps in Vanuatu
- How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Vanuatu?
- What is the electric current in Vanuatu?
- 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 Ni-Vanuatu 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 Vanuatu?
- 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 Vanuatu
This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Vanuatu and is based on their experience. Another packing list, with more detail and explanation, is located on the website at http:// www.peacecorps.gov.vu/list.html. (this link may no longer be active) Use these as informal guides in making your own list, bearing in mind that experience is individual. There is no perfect list! You obviously cannot bring everything on the list, so consider those items that make the most sense to you personally and professionally. You can always have things sent to you later. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have an 80-pound weight limit on baggage. And remember, you can get almost everything you need in Vanuatu or through Internet purchases.
- General Clothing
- For Men
- For Women
- Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items
- Volunteers who served in Vanuatu
- List of resources for Vanuatu
- Pre-Departure Checklist
- Inspector General Reports