What advice would you have for a PCMI student who is getting ready to leave for his PC post?

Pack everything you think you need, then take out half the clothes and replace them with more teaching materials and resources, photos, and souvenirs from your hometown to give to your host family (but keep your comfortable walking shoes in there!). Try to get in contact with a current PCV in the country where you will serve, and ask for his/her advice on what to bring and what to expect. Go out to your favorite restaurant and savor your favorite food one last time.

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What advice would you have for a PCMI student in the first two semesters of course work at MIIS?

Start and maintain a Google site or other preferred internet method of organizing your course syllabi, major assignments with professors’ feedback, and class/reading notes. This organization will give you access to these items while in Peace Corps and help prepare you for the academic portfolio which you will complete upon returning from the PC. Make particular note of how what you are learning in your course work can be applied to teaching and teacher training in an EFL context.

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What kinds of funding are available for Peace Corps projects?

Project funding is available through the Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCPP) and the Small Project Assistance (SPA) USAID Program. The PCPP application must be completed when you have at least one year of service left, so you will want to inquire about it early in your term of service. If your application is approved, your project description is posted on the PCPP website and opened to online donations; therefore, full funding is not guaranteed and it may take several months to raise funds depending on your donor base.

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What kinds of things may be hard to get in site?

Books and other teaching materials may be hard to come by, so be sure to take along any books that you may want for teaching and teacher training, some children’s books in English if you anticipate working with children, and some school supplies.

The Peace Corps Medical Office provides basic medical supplies such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, sunscreen, insect repellant, bandages, etc., so you don’t have to worry about bringing those kinds of items or trying to find them in country. However, certain feminine hygiene products may be hard to find or very expensive.  

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What kind of work do you do when you get to your actual site?

Some countries use a split training model, in which trainees complete 10 weeks of training, go to their sites for 2 months, and then return to the training center for 2 additional weeks of training. In this model, the first 2 months of site are to be focused on community integration and needs assessment. PCVs may visit important places in the community or region (the mayor’s office, the police station, schools, etc.), and spend time with community members to make their presence known and get a sense of the interests and needs of their communities.

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What is the in-country language training like?

Peace Corps language training has a very good reputation. Trainees are evaluated by an oral interview placement examination upon arrival in country, and subsequently placed in small language class groups segregated by proficiency level. Intensive language instruction is delivered daily by Peace Corps staff members, who are members of the host country and native speakers of the target language. In some cases, language training takes place in the training communities.

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How can I get my medical and dental exams done without spending a lot of money?

When scheduling your medical exams, be sure to check your health insurance policy as it may cover routine exams for job/internship purposes (including for Peace Corps).

For the dental portion of the medical clearance process, there are dentists who provide the dental examination and accompanying x-rays free of charge for Peace Corps applicants. A list of participating providers is found on this website.

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How long does it take between the time you finish your application and being notified about your country posting?

According to the Peace Corps website, the application process takes an average of 6 to 12 months from start to finish. The longest and most frustrating piece tends to be obtaining medical clearance, depending on your particular medical history and needs. The more medical conditions you report having experienced on your initial application, the more medical forms you will be required to complete (and depending on the conditions, the more exams and appointments you may have to undergo).

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Can I enroll in courses at the Monterey Institute while I am a Peace Corps volunteer abroad?

If you are not a current Monterey Institute graduate student, it is not possible to take courses while you are a Peace Corps volunteer. However, some of the PCMI students who have already been accepted to MIIS and have completed at least one semester of coursework on campus can choose to do their Practicum teaching in the Peace Corps. This decision lightens the load in their final semester, even though they still enroll in the MIIS Practicum course.

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Do I have any choice about what country I go to?

What country you go to depends largely on what countries are currently requesting aid from the Peace Corps, what skills are needed in those countries, and what technical (work) skills you possess. Sometimes the language skills you have already developed are an additional factor.

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