When it comes to volunteering for the Peace Corps, there are a lot of falsehoods and misconceptions out there, and this largely comes from being uneducated about what the Peace Corps really is. You might have heard about the Peace Corps in high school or college, maybe thought about signing up, but then decided that it wasn’t for you without really getting the correct information. Here are five of the most common myths and misconceptions about the Peace Corps, which might help you make a more informed decision about whether it is a good fit for you.
You Don’t Get Paid
One of the most common myths about the Peace Corps is that people think you don’t get paid for your work, largely because the Peace Corps is a volunteer service. Even though you normally don’t get paid for volunteer work, the Peace Corps does pay you. You get a living allowance while in the Peace Corps, which can help you find housing or just about anything you want to use the money for. You also get free healthcare coverage which includes medical, dental, and vision. The Peace Corps will also pay your travel to and from the country you are serving in, so your transportation costs are something you never have to worry about. After 27 months, you will also get about $7,000 after taxes, which can help you transition back into life after your service. I think that if more people knew you did get paid, even though it is technically a volunteer service, more people would sign up.
You Don’t Join If You Have a College Degree
When you think of the Peace Corps, you might be thinking that this is a volunteer service people with lower educations join because they are not smart enough for college. In reality, most of the Peace Corps is made up of men and women that are recent college graduates, because young college graduates are more likely to have the creative qualities needed for the work. I always thought that the Peace Corps was something that people went into that didn’t have career goals or a good education to fall back on. Since the Peace Corps does a lot of community work in a variety of areas, college graduates in almost any major would excel on their assignments. Plus, with so many recent college graduates having trouble finding a job these days, applying for the Peace Corps would be a great opportunity to do some community service, and also earn a little bit of money.
You Stay In Service For Years
This is a fairly common myth about the Peace Corps, because a lot of people think of it like you are joining the military, which is a common lifelong commitment. When you join the Peace Corps, you are not going to be in a country for very long, and your service will end after only 27 months. You have three months of training, then transition into your volunteer work in a specified country for the remaining 24 months. You are also free to leave before your 27 months of service are up, which some people do if they feel they cannot complete the assignment in the country that they were assigned. You might learn a lot in those 27 months, and come away with more knowledge to help you in your career. Plus, it never hurts to have the Peace Corps on your resume for your next job application, because a lot of those skills can transfer into a number of different jobs.
You’re Put In Danger
You might think that if you join the Peace Corps, you will be put in danger, similar to the men and women that serve in the military. The truth is, you are not in any combat zones, and you are never put in any unnecessary danger while on assignment. Every country that has Peace Corps volunteers around has asked for them to be there, and the country has to be secure and safe enough for Peace Corps volunteers to travel there. Essentially, these countries will ask for men and women from the Peace Corps to come in and help them out with a variety of assignments, and then it has to be vetted to ensure the safety of all volunteers before anyone leaves on that assignment. This is something I personally didn’t know about, and I think the recruiters need to do more to ensure the public knows there is virtually no risk associated with joining the Peace Corps.
You’re In Countries Living In A Shack
While it might be true that the less fortunate countries might not have the amenities that America has, you’re not always going to be living in some run-down shack or mud hut in the middle of nowhere. A lot of countries will put volunteers in concrete houses or small huts made out of sturdier material than mud. It is possible you will end up living in a mud hut while out on assignment, but that is not always the case, and especially these days with the new materials available to build a small place. You also spend time living with a host family for the first few months while on assignment, so you will be staying with them until you are acclimated with the country. Even if you were living in a small mud hut, you are in that country to perform a volunteer service, so the most important thing is doing that job and doing it correctly.