Difference between pages "China sites" and "FAQs about Peace Corps in Mali"

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===='''[[Chongqing Province]]'''====
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{{FAQs by country}}
  
'''[[Fuling]]:''' My site placement is in Fuling, Chongqing or more famously referred to as "River Town" via Peter Hessler's award winning novel. Fuling is a great site, the community is very friendly and the staff and students really need you and will do all they can to make you happy and comfortable. That said, it is a small town, and one that was closed off for many years and there is still a lot of dubiety regarding foreigners, which means a lot of stares and curiosity: this is all part of daily life.
 
  
'''[[Yongchuan]]:'''  My husband and I teach mostly oral English in Yongchuan, a "small" city of about 300,000.  Yongchuan has convenient transportation, lots of developments, and fairly clean air, though sitings of the moon are rare since the sky is most often cloudy.  We think being a couple and being our age (67) has helped us make lots of connections in our community, including church and tai ji class.  We are non-threatening and approachable; every bus ride is a relational adventure.  As all of Chongqing, in the summer it is HOT; the winters are damp and chilly, settling around 40 degrees F.  Fresh fruits and vegetables abound; you will love the outdoor markets.  Dont' worry about the hot, spicy food; restaurants can cook very tasty non-spicy food on request.  Just learn how to say "bu yao la jiao."
 
  
===='''[[Gansu Province]]'''====
 
  
'''[[Zhangya]]:''' I live in Zhangye, Gansu, the northernmost assignment. It's a small city of about 250,000 and seems both larger and smaller than that number at different times. I have three awesome sitemates and a lot of amazing scenery. The Gobi Desert, Mati Si (Buddhist mountain temples) and Danxia Di Mao (painted rocks world heritage site) are all within a day's bike ride, albeit some long ones. I teach at the local medical college with one of my sitemates, while the other two volunteers teach at the larger Hexi University. I have had nothing but good experiences here and highly recommend this region. It is remote though and a 27-hour train trip to Chengdu. Money goes further here, but there are far fewer things to spend it on.
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===How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Mali? ===
  
I am in a small town in Gansu province, teaching at a small college.  I have one sitemateWe are the only foreigners here. The air is extremely dry, desert-like.  The terrain is very barren.  It gets quite cold in the winter,but we do have great heat which gets turned on around November 1. In my town there is no western foods or groceries available at all. There are some western food restaurants and some western food supplies sold in Lanzhou, about two hours away by bus.
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Most airlines have baggage size and weight limits and assess charges for transport of baggage that exceeds those limitsThe Peace Corps has its own size and weight limits and will not pay the cost of transport for baggage that exceeds these limits. The Peace Corps’ 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 80 pounds total with a maximum weight allowance of 50 pounds for any one bag.  
  
===='''[[Guizhou Province]]'''====
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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.
  
'''[[Guiyang]] (贵阳):'''  Guiyang is the capital of Guizhou province in southwest China. About ten volunteers are placed in and around the city. Some live right downtown and can frequent Walmart on a regular basis. Others live a 45 minute bus ride or so away. In Guiyang you can find the basic foreign essentials (butter, coffee shops, Pizza Hut) if you so desire. Some of the volunteers who live in the city have to take buses to their campus outside of the city. Others live and work in the city. Those who live in the suburbs live on college campuses. Everyone lives in apartment buildings with other university/college workers.
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===What is the electric current in Mali? ===
  
'''[[Kaili]] (凯里):''' Kaili is a small city in rural Guizhou--- close enough to the Guizhou capital of Guiyang that I can travel there and visit with PCVs, but I'm also happy enough here to spend weekends in Kaili with my sitemate or my students. The mountains in the area are gorgeous, and if you travel even just a half hour outside the city you feel like you've traveled back in time: people in rural Guizhou villages still make their own rice-wine, plough their fields with oxen, and celebrate their traditions through singing and dancing.
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It is 220 volts, 50 cycles. However, not many Volunteers have electricity in their homes and where electricity does exist, power cuts and surges are common, putting a real strain on power supplies and voltage transformers or regulators. (The Peace Corps does not provide transformers or regulators.) For battery-powered appliances such as tape players and radios, we suggest D batteries, since these are readily available in markets. Many Volunteers use rechargeable batteries with a solar charger, which is a good alternative to disposable batteries.  
  
'''[[XingYi]]:''' My site mate and I are in a small city in South West Guizhou province, right by the Yunnan border. The weather is comfortable, it is never too hot or too cold. The surrounding country side is gorgeous, we have a place called 10,000 peaks (with mountains that go on for ages) and another place called Maling Gorge (with 100's of waterfalls.) One of my favorite parts of Guizhou is the rich culture. There are about 56 minority groups in China, and 18 have made their home in this province. There are only 3 foreigners in the whole city.  That being said, we get a lot of attention.  The local people are very curious about us, some of them have never met a foreigner before.
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===How much money should I bring? ===
The city is located roughly 6 hours from Guiyang, the provincial capital, and isn't as westernized as some other PC China sites. Some staples of westernization, such as American fast-food establishments and supermarkets (read: KFC and Walmart) haven't yet reached the city. A train station allows quick travel to neighboring Yunnan and Guangxi provinces, but as of early 2010 no railway exists to Guiyang. Chengdu is roughly 19-24 hours away by train and bus, dependent on layovers and ticket availability.
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===='''[[Sichuan Province]]'''====
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Volunteers are expected to live at the same level as the people in their community. You will be given a settling-in allowance and a monthly living allowance, which should cover your in-country expenses and normal vacation costs. Some Volunteers wish to bring additional money for vacation travel outside the region. Credit cards and traveler’s checks are preferable to cash. All banks require proof of purchase (i.e., receipts) to cash traveler’s checks. If you choose to bring extra money, bring the amount that will suit your own travel plans and needs.
  
'''[[NeiJiang]]:''' NeiJiang a small city in Sichuan, about 2 hours from Chengdu and Chongqing City. The population is about 500,000 in the downtown area and 6 million in the county. Most of the students come from laborer and farmer families from around SiChuan, and their level ranges, but hovers around average. For me, the size and location worked out well for what I like. My campus is across the river from the downtown area, so its nice to be a little away from the hectic traffic but still close enough to get there whenever I want. My sitemate and I are 2 of the 6 foreigners in the city, so people are generally really curious about us. My school has been with Peace Corps now for several years so we have a good reputation with the staff and the students. There are two volunteers here with one rotating in and out every year, so whoever the new volunteer is has someone who can show them the ropes.
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===When can I take vacation and have people visit me? ===
  
'''[[Mianyang]]:''' Approximately three hours north of Chengdu (Sichuan province), Mianyang is a medium size (+/-600,000) town that is primarily known for being a center of technical and electronic research/production. The current PCV is placed at the local teacher-training university on the west-side of the town.
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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. 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. We discourage extended visits (i.e., of more than a few weeks), and you will need to take vacation time if hosting visitors requires time away from work. The Peace Corps cannot provide your visitors with visa, medical, or travel assistance.  Because an evacuation in the event of a medical emergency can cost more than $25,000, all visitors should plan to purchase medical evacuation insurance.  
  
[[Xindu]]: Suburb of Chengdu: Although my site is technically in Chengdu, it takes a couple hours to get downtown, and in most ways, I'm thankful for this.   I was originally thinking I wanted to go to a smaller town, but now I have small town comfort with big city convenience and excitement available on weekends. The best thing about my town in The Village. This is the area right outside the school gate that sells fruit, vegetables, and dozens of kinds of street food from dawn til midnight. There are small convenience stores, clothing shops, restaurants, tea houses, sports stories--and all within the student (and PCV!) budget. I'm the first volunteer at my site, although there are three other foreign teachers here (two Americans, one Russian). The campus is characterized by colossal, grey Soviet-style architecture and traditional Chinese landscaping (think flowering trees and man-made lakes lined with willows and walking paths). The facilities are pretty modern and comfortable (lots of multimedia classrooms available; no white boards though), and the students seem to have more fashionable clothes than I do. Also, my apartment is great: two spacious rooms with fake hard wood floors, an AC/heating unit, small balcony, cute kitchen, washing machine, and Western toilet. In these superficial ways, my site doesn't feel very Peace Corps. However, when I started teaching, I see why this school needs volunteers. It hasn't figured out how to attract quality teachers, and the kids' learning has suffered as a result. In my first year, I already feel like I've made an impact at the school. In fact, there's a rumor another volunteer could be coming this fall... maybe I'll see you then!
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===Will my belongings be covered by insurance? ===
[[Category:China]]
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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 such 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 are cautioned not to 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.  
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===Do I need an international driver’s license? ===
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If you plan to rent a car while on vacation outside of Mali, you may need an international driver’s license. However, you do not need such a license for Mali, as Volunteers are prohibited from operating motorized vehicles. Most urban travel is by bus or taxi. Travel to and from rural areas is by bus, by minibus, by bicycle, or on foot.  
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===What should I bring as gifts for Malian friends and my host family? ===
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Bringing gifts 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 or postcards from your hometown to give away.  
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===Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be? ===
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Most Volunteers live in small 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. Peace Corps trainees are assigned to individual sites early in pre-service training, after Peace Corps staff has been able to assess each trainee’s technical and language skills. This early assignment allows trainees to focus on language needs particular to their site. If feasible, you may have the opportunity to provide input about your site preferences, including geographical location, distance from other Volunteers, and living conditions.  
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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.  
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===How can my family contact me in an emergency? ===
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The Peace Corps’ Office of Special Services provides assistance in handling emergencies affecting trainees and Volunteers or their families. Before leaving the United States, 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.
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===Can I call home from Mali? ===
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International phone service to and from Mali is relatively good. SOTELMA, the national telephone company, has offices in all administrative towns. Calls to the United States cost approximately 5,000 CFA francs per minute, so most Volunteers prearrange calls from the United States or limit their calls to giving the party in the United States a number at which to return the call. U.S. calling cards cannot be used in Mali at this time, and calling collect is not possible.
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Another alternative is the International Callback Service for inexpensive calls from Mali to the United States.  All it requires the purchase of a Malian cell phone that generates a DTMF tone not a "pulse" mode. (Cell phones can be purchased relatively cheaply through many street vendors in Bamako or through one of the telecommunication networks in Mali: MALITEL, SOTELMA, ORANGEMALI.) Sign up online with United World Telecom, receive your unique access number, and when calls are placed to the US, the local telecommunications network is bypassed and you pay the low rate of $0.42/minute for the long distance call. No fees, no contracts... ONLY the cost of the long distance phone call.
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===Should I bring a cellular phone with me? ===
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There are several cellular service providers in Mali. Service has been limited to Mali but network coverage is rapidly expanding. Peace Corps staff members with emergency responsibilities are equipped with cellphones. Differences in technology make most U.S. cellphones incompatible with the Malian cellular systems. For these reasons, we recommend that you not bring a cellphone with you. Some Volunteer purchase thier own cell phones after they arrive in Mali, although not all Volunteer sites are within cell phone network range.
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Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
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As mentioned in the Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyle chapter, Volunteers do have occasional access to e-mail and the Internet. The decision of whether to bring a laptop computer depends on your own needs. Computers are not required for Volunteers’ work. Few Volunteers have electricity at their sites, and the Peace Corps cannot provide technical support or insurance for personal computers. You can use the computers available through Internet cafes and, for work-related purposes, the Peace Corps office. We do, however, recommend that you bring a jump or thumb drive to faciltate carrying documetns from one computer to another.  
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[[Category:Mali]]

Revision as of 12:05, 11 June 2011

FAQs about Peace Corps
  • 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



How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Mali?

Most airlines have baggage size and weight limits and assess charges for transport of baggage that exceeds those limits. 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 Peace Corps’ 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 80 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.

What is the electric current in Mali?

It is 220 volts, 50 cycles. However, not many Volunteers have electricity in their homes and where electricity does exist, power cuts and surges are common, putting a real strain on power supplies and voltage transformers or regulators. (The Peace Corps does not provide transformers or regulators.) For battery-powered appliances such as tape players and radios, we suggest D batteries, since these are readily available in markets. Many Volunteers use rechargeable batteries with a solar charger, which is a good alternative to disposable batteries.

How much money should I bring?

Volunteers are expected to live at the same level as the people in their community. You will be given a settling-in allowance and a monthly living allowance, which should cover your in-country expenses and normal vacation costs. Some Volunteers wish to bring additional money for vacation travel outside the region. Credit cards and traveler’s checks are preferable to cash. All banks require proof of purchase (i.e., receipts) to cash traveler’s checks. If you choose to bring extra money, bring the amount that will suit your own travel plans and needs.

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. 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. We discourage extended visits (i.e., of more than a few weeks), and you will need to take vacation time if hosting visitors requires time away from work. The Peace Corps cannot provide your visitors with visa, medical, or travel assistance. Because an evacuation in the event of a medical emergency can cost more than $25,000, all visitors should plan to purchase medical evacuation insurance.

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 such 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 are cautioned not to 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.

Do I need an international driver’s license?

If you plan to rent a car while on vacation outside of Mali, you may need an international driver’s license. However, you do not need such a license for Mali, as Volunteers are prohibited from operating motorized vehicles. Most urban travel is by bus or taxi. Travel to and from rural areas is by bus, by minibus, by bicycle, or on foot.

What should I bring as gifts for Malian friends and my host family?

Bringing gifts 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 or postcards from your hometown to give away.

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

Most Volunteers live in small 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. Peace Corps trainees are assigned to individual sites early in pre-service training, after Peace Corps staff has been able to assess each trainee’s technical and language skills. This early assignment allows trainees to focus on language needs particular to their site. If feasible, you may have the opportunity to provide input about 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.

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, 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.

Can I call home from Mali?

International phone service to and from Mali is relatively good. SOTELMA, the national telephone company, has offices in all administrative towns. Calls to the United States cost approximately 5,000 CFA francs per minute, so most Volunteers prearrange calls from the United States or limit their calls to giving the party in the United States a number at which to return the call. U.S. calling cards cannot be used in Mali at this time, and calling collect is not possible.

Another alternative is the International Callback Service for inexpensive calls from Mali to the United States. All it requires the purchase of a Malian cell phone that generates a DTMF tone not a "pulse" mode. (Cell phones can be purchased relatively cheaply through many street vendors in Bamako or through one of the telecommunication networks in Mali: MALITEL, SOTELMA, ORANGEMALI.) Sign up online with United World Telecom, receive your unique access number, and when calls are placed to the US, the local telecommunications network is bypassed and you pay the low rate of $0.42/minute for the long distance call. No fees, no contracts... ONLY the cost of the long distance phone call.

Should I bring a cellular phone with me?

There are several cellular service providers in Mali. Service has been limited to Mali but network coverage is rapidly expanding. Peace Corps staff members with emergency responsibilities are equipped with cellphones. Differences in technology make most U.S. cellphones incompatible with the Malian cellular systems. For these reasons, we recommend that you not bring a cellphone with you. Some Volunteer purchase thier own cell phones after they arrive in Mali, although not all Volunteer sites are within cell phone network range.

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

As mentioned in the Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyle chapter, Volunteers do have occasional access to e-mail and the Internet. The decision of whether to bring a laptop computer depends on your own needs. Computers are not required for Volunteers’ work. Few Volunteers have electricity at their sites, and the Peace Corps cannot provide technical support or insurance for personal computers. You can use the computers available through Internet cafes and, for work-related purposes, the Peace Corps office. We do, however, recommend that you bring a jump or thumb drive to faciltate carrying documetns from one computer to another.