Staying in Touch
Phone Calls and Email
In our current culture, we have become accustomed to broad communication access through text messaging, instant messaging, internet chats, cell phone calls, and e-mail. While technology continues to increase even in the most remote places of the world, each country will have varying degrees of availability and reliability. In some countries, cell phones are common. In others, Internet cafes may be nearby. In all countries, Volunteers can use computers when at the Peace Corps office. After adjusting to the particulars of a Volunteer's location, staying in touch with the Volunteer is possible.
Letters and Packages
Keep in mind that another country's postal system may not always be consistent or may take longer to distribute mail than in the U.S. It is not uncommon for correspondence to take several weeks for delivery and perhaps be delivered out of sequential order. For this reason, it is suggested to number letters to keep track of correspondence. Please check the guidelines before sending care packages from home. Weight, content, and customs restrictions will apply. There may also be prohibitions against sending food items. You should consider carefully before sending items of great value, too. Please abide by the suggested regulations in order to prevent the loss or delay of items.
Your Volunteer's Welcome Book packet will contain more specific guidance for his or her country of service.
The Peace Corps Counseling and Outreach Unit (COU) has a 24-hour duty officer available for family members needing to advise their Volunteer of a critical illness or death of a family member. The 24-hour telephone number is 855.855.1961; follow instructions for headquarters office at extension 1470, or dial 202.692.1470.
COU can notify a Volunteer of an emergency; respond to family questions about a Volunteer's status, and supply an update about civil unrest or a natural disaster in the host country.
If a death occurs in a Volunteer's immediate family, the Peace Corps allows a leave period and pays for the Volunteer's travel home. Immediate family is defined as a parent, spouse, sibling, child, or grandchild related to the Volunteer by blood, marriage, or adoption. (This includes step-relatives, e.g., stepmother, but does not include in-laws, e.g., mother-in-law, or grandparents.)
Visiting a Volunteer
Some families and friends visit their Volunteer during his or her service. This is always an exciting time for everyone, including the Volunteer's community. Families who, at their own expense, want to visit a Volunteer are welcome to do so after the Volunteer's two- to three month pre-service training and the first three months of service are both complete, and before the last three months of service. When making plans, families should work closely with the Volunteer to time a visit. Work schedules can be complex, and Volunteers need to obtain approval from their Peace Corps and host-country supervisors for vacation days to spend time with visitors.
When planning a trip, visit these valuable resources:
- The State Department's website for visa and other relevant information
- The Centers for Disease Control's website for immunization and travel health information
Last updated Jan 22 2013
855.855.1961, ext. 1470
This line is staffed by the Peace Corps Counseling and Outreach Unit (COU) and they can:
- notify a Volunteer of an emergency (e.g. critical illness or death of a family member)
- respond to family questions about a Volunteer's status
- supply an update about civil unrest or a natural disaster in the host country
Learn more about the Peace Corps' commitment to safety and security: