Difference between pages "FAQs about Peace Corps in China" and "FAQs about Peace Corps in Kenya"

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===How much luggage will I be allowed to bring to China?===
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===How much luggage will I be allowed to bring to Kenya? ===
  
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 80 pounds total with a maximum weight allowance of 50 pounds for any one bag.  Accompanied baggage in excess of 80 pounds in two bags shall be carried at personal expense.  
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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 80 pounds total with a maximum weight allowance of 70 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. Regulations with regards to prohibited items are constantly changing and you will need to check with the airlin(s) for changes right up to the day you depart for staging. Please check the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website for a detailed list of permitted and prohibited items at http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/ prohibited/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm.  
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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.  
  
===What is the electric current in China?===
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===What is the electric current in Kenya?===
  
China’s residential electric system is 220 volts, 50 hertz. Appliances and electronic equipment manufactured for the U.S. market are usually rated for 100 to 120 volts and 60 Hz. To use this equipment in China, you must have a step-down transformer (a device that lowers the incoming voltage of 220 to 240 volts to 110 to 120 volts). Most computers will run on both 110 and 220. Plug adapters are available in China.  
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The local current is 220-240 volts/50 cycles. Small electrical appliances can generally be used with transformers. Some Volunteers’ houses have electricity. We suggest that you bring a converter. Electric clocks will not keep time because of different cycles. There are power surges and fluctuations as well as outages, which take a toll on equipment. In general, do not bring electrical appliances. If you are one of the few Peace Corps Volunteers to have electricity, appliances for 220 voltage are available in-country, but are very expensive. If not, a solar battery recharger may be useful.
  
===How much money should I bring? ===
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===How much money should I bring?===
  
Volunteers are expected to live modestly by the standards of the people they serve. Often Volunteers wish to bring additional money for vacation travel to other countries or to purchase items they were unable to bring with them. The easiest way to access funds from the U.S. while in China is through an ATM card tied to a checking or savings account.  Although credit cards and traveler’s checks can be used easily in some countries where you may travel for vacation, they are not widely accepted in China other than major hotels in larger cities. It is also good idea to maintain your checking account in the United States and to bring your checkbook.  
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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. Credit cards and traveler’s checks are preferable to cash. Bank cards from many U.S. banks are accepted at ATMs in the major cities. They will dispense cash from a U.S. account in Kenya shillings, but addtional fees will be assessed. If you choose to bring extra money, bring the amount that suits your own travel plans and needs.  
  
 
===When can I take vacation and have people visit me?===
 
===When can I take vacation and have people visit me?===
  
Once you are sworn in as a Volunteer, after pre-service training, you will earn two days per month of annual leave. Annual leave may not be taken during the first three months or the last three months of service. Additionally, China Volunteers may not take annual leave while school is in session. Volunteers do not get American holidays off, only Chinese holidays. Volunteers will also be conducting summer training for teachers or offering summer courses for three to four weeks. You may also take weekend and day trips that will not count against vacation days, as long as you follow Peace Corps travel guidelines.  
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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.  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.  
  
It is best to make plans for travel and visits from family and friends after you finish pre-service training and have been at your site for several weeks. The university breaks (there are several) vary from year to year, and knowing these dates, as well as those for in-service training, summer projects, and other events, will ease a lot of frustration for you and those who plan to visit you. Changing airline tickets can be costly. Extended stays by visitors at your site are not encouraged and may require permission from the country director. The Peace Corps cannot provide your visitors with travel or medical assistance.  
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===Will my belongings be covered by insurance? ===
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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 personal property insurance before you leave by contacting your own insurance company. 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.
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===Do I need an international driver’s license? ===
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Volunteers in Kenya do not need to get an international driver’s license, and are prohibited from driving for safety and security reasons at their sites, and discouraged from driving while on authorized leave. Most urban travel is by bus or taxi. Rural travel ranges from buses and minibuses to trucks and lots of walking. For transportation needs with your overseas visitors, rental companies provide drivers at reasonable rates.  
  
===Will my belongings be covered by insurance? ===
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===What should I bring as gifts for Kenya friends and my host family? ===
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While 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.
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===Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?===
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Peace Corps trainees are not assigned to individual sites until after they have completed their pre-service training. This gives the 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. If feasible, you may have the opportunity to provide input on your site preferences, including geographical location, distance from other Volunteers, or living conditions.  However, keep in mind that many factors influence the site selection process and that the Peace Corps cannot guarantee placement where you might ideally like to be. Most Volunteers will live in small towns or in rural villages, but will usually be within one hour from the nearest Volunteer. A very small proportion of Volunteers live in urban areas, but not in the capital, Nairobi.
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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, 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.
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===Can I call home from Kenya?===
  
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.  
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Yes. Most large cities and provincial capitals have a domestic long-distance telephone system; regional centers and some large cities provide overseas telephone services or international calling via the Internet. In some locations, the service is fast and efficient; in other areas, it may take several hours to get calls through. Personal overseas calls cannot be made from any Peace Corps office. Volunteers must use locally available public phones for all personal calls.
  
===What should I bring as gifts for China friends and my host family? ===
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Peace Corps coming by Sept 2009, can carry their laptops as they will be able to access broadband internet from purchase of mobile wireless gadgets (Flash disks). They can be found at any local Safaricom outlet shop, cost around 20$, and monthly postpaid charges of about 15$.
  
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. Gift giving however is considered an integral part of Chinese culture.
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===Should I bring a cellular phone with me? ===
  
===Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be? ===
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No. The cellphone technology in Kenya is different. Kenya has low frequency while the United States has high frequency. It is easy and relatively cheap to buy a cellular phone in Kenya.  The cost ranges from $50 to $150. Kenya has four service providers, Safaricom, Telcom, Orange and Zain. While 95% of Kenyans own cellphone.
  
Peace Corps trainees are not assigned to individual sites prior to their arrival in-country. This gives the Peace Corps staff the opportunity to assess each trainee's technical, language, and cross-cultural skills prior to assigning sites. Many factors influence the process and Peace Corps staff make the final decision on all site placements. Some Volunteers will have a site mate serving at the same school or along but with other Volunteers at nearby institutions. Some Volunteers serve alone in smaller cities far away from other Volunteers.
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===Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer? ===
  
===Should I bring a cellular phone with me?===
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There are now cybercafes in major towns that provide Internet access. In most towns, Internet is also available at the post office. However, Volunteers can access e-mail in the Nairobi office resource center on a time-available basis.
  
Although many Chinese have cellphones, it is not practical to bring a cellphone from the United States. Many Volunteers choose to purchase one locally. Peace Corps/China does not provide funds for the purchase or maintenance of personal cellphones so those interested in a cellphone should plan on covering those costs. That said, it is not a great expense to purchase a cell phone with a SIM card (it's pay as you go) your living allowance will more than cover this fee so no worries. As for calling home to the States, use Skype.
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Some Volunteers choose to bring a laptop computer, and many have found it useful in their work. However, access to reliable electricity cannot be guaranteed and, as with any valuable, there is the threat of theft, loss or damage.  
  
[[Category:China]]
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[[Category:Kenya]]

Revision as of 12:48, 28 July 2009

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 will I be allowed to bring to Kenya?

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 80 pounds total with a maximum weight allowance of 70 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 Kenya?

The local current is 220-240 volts/50 cycles. Small electrical appliances can generally be used with transformers. Some Volunteers’ houses have electricity. We suggest that you bring a converter. Electric clocks will not keep time because of different cycles. There are power surges and fluctuations as well as outages, which take a toll on equipment. In general, do not bring electrical appliances. If you are one of the few Peace Corps Volunteers to have electricity, appliances for 220 voltage are available in-country, but are very expensive. If not, a solar battery recharger may be useful.

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. Credit cards and traveler’s checks are preferable to cash. Bank cards from many U.S. banks are accepted at ATMs in the major cities. They will dispense cash from a U.S. account in Kenya shillings, but addtional fees will be assessed. If you choose to bring extra money, bring the amount that suits 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. 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.

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 by contacting your own insurance company. 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.

Do I need an international driver’s license?

Volunteers in Kenya do not need to get an international driver’s license, and are prohibited from driving for safety and security reasons at their sites, and discouraged from driving while on authorized leave. Most urban travel is by bus or taxi. Rural travel ranges from buses and minibuses to trucks and lots of walking. For transportation needs with your overseas visitors, rental companies provide drivers at reasonable rates.

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

While 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.

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 their pre-service training. This gives the 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. If feasible, you may have the opportunity to provide input on your site preferences, including geographical location, distance from other Volunteers, or living conditions. However, keep in mind that many factors influence the site selection process and that the Peace Corps cannot guarantee placement where you might ideally like to be. Most Volunteers will live in small towns or in rural villages, but will usually be within one hour from the nearest Volunteer. A very small proportion of Volunteers live in urban areas, but not in the capital, Nairobi.

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.

Can I call home from Kenya?

Yes. Most large cities and provincial capitals have a domestic long-distance telephone system; regional centers and some large cities provide overseas telephone services or international calling via the Internet. In some locations, the service is fast and efficient; in other areas, it may take several hours to get calls through. Personal overseas calls cannot be made from any Peace Corps office. Volunteers must use locally available public phones for all personal calls.

Peace Corps coming by Sept 2009, can carry their laptops as they will be able to access broadband internet from purchase of mobile wireless gadgets (Flash disks). They can be found at any local Safaricom outlet shop, cost around 20$, and monthly postpaid charges of about 15$.

Should I bring a cellular phone with me?

No. The cellphone technology in Kenya is different. Kenya has low frequency while the United States has high frequency. It is easy and relatively cheap to buy a cellular phone in Kenya. The cost ranges from $50 to $150. Kenya has four service providers, Safaricom, Telcom, Orange and Zain. While 95% of Kenyans own cellphone.

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

There are now cybercafes in major towns that provide Internet access. In most towns, Internet is also available at the post office. However, Volunteers can access e-mail in the Nairobi office resource center on a time-available basis.

Some Volunteers choose to bring a laptop computer, and many have found it useful in their work. However, access to reliable electricity cannot be guaranteed and, as with any valuable, there is the threat of theft, loss or damage.