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2 years, 3 months
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Up to 12 months
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3-6 months
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Living Conditions in Belize

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Trainees Billy and Catherine spending time with host family members.

Communications

Mail

The mail in Belize is generally reliable, though it can be slow. Individuals must go to a local post office to check whether they have received mail. Often in rural villages, one person is responsible for collecting and distributing all mail addressed to people in their village. It is best to wait until you are at your permanent assignment to begin receiving care packages. To receive letters or small packages during training, please have them mailed to:

(Your Name)
Peace Corps Office
P. O. Box 492
7069 George Price Blvd.
Belmopan City, Belize

Telephones

Volunteers will be asked to bring their own device for which Peace Corps/Belize will issue a SIM card from one of the local providers. The device must be unlocked in the United States before it can be used in Belize. Volunteers who are unable to bring their own device will be issued a cellphone shortly after they arrive in country. The phone plan issued will not allow international calls, but is able to text international phone numbers at an additional charge.

Internet

Many Volunteers bring laptop computers to Belize and are highly encouraged to do so since they are extremely useful in preparing for lessons and for completing reports. Before deciding to bring your devices, you should consider insuring your valuables before departing the U.S. The Peace Corps office in Belmopan has two desktop computers with Internet access, a printer, and scanner available for Volunteer use.

Housing and site location

Trainees and Volunteers will be required to live with a Belizean host family in pre-service training and in their assigned community for their entire 27-month tour . Living with a host family will enhance the Trainee/Volunteer's safety and security, language learning, and community integration. Housing will be modest and Trainees/Volunteers will need to ensure that they are prepared to cope without many of the amenities they have in the United States. All trainees and Volunteers will have, at a minimum, a room in their homestay equipped with a bed, mattress, and other basic furnishings. However, trainees must be willing to live in homes where the family structure, dynamics, and daily practices are vastly different from the United States. This may include having to live with young children and/or extended family members. Living with a host family will require an open mind, cultural sensitivity, patience, and great flexibility and may mean the loss of some personal independence, adhering to curfews, and living in a home with either young, teenage children and/or extended family members. Volunteers are assigned to diverse communities throughout Belize.

Living allowance and money management

Volunteers receive a monthly allowance in local currency that is sufficient to live at the level of the local people. The allowance covers food, housing, household supplies, clothing, transportation to and from work, utilities, recreation and entertainment, and incidental expenses. Peace Corps Volunteers are expected to live at a level that is comparable with that of their host country counterparts. The Peace Corps discourages Volunteers from supplementing their living allowance with personal funds.

Food and diet

The staple diet in Belize is composed mainly of rice, flour, corn, beans and chicken. Garden vegetables, bananas, oranges, watermelon and other local fruits are available year-round. The main meats in Belize are chicken, beef, pork and fish, which can be purchased at local markets and supermarkets. There are some Belizeans who also consume other local game meats, such as deer, armadillo, iguana, turtles, and gibnut. Most communities have supermarkets where food items such as butter, bread, sugar, eggs, cheese, vegetable oil, and milk can be purchased. A vegetarian diet might be challenging in the Belize as smaller communities may not have a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables readily available. Soy and other plant-based products are available in larger towns/cities. Your dietary needs including any food allergies will be important information for you to share with your host family. Peace Corps staff is also available to discuss options in meeting your dietary needs.

Transportation

Peace Corps Volunteer must abide by the PC Belize Transportation Policy. This policy guides Volunteers on the safest transportation methods and provide information on prohibited travel methods and areas. For example, the Peace Corps prohibits Volunteers from driving or riding on two- or three-wheeled motorized vehicles and from owning or driving private cars. Violation of these policies will result in the termination of your Volunteer service. Many Volunteers walk or use bicycles to get around in their communities. Volunteers must wear helmets whenever they ride on bicycles. Another form of public transportation within cities and towns are taxis. To travel outside of their communities, Volunteers will use public buses. Buses to main cities and towns operate regularly.

Professionalism, dress, and behavior

Professionalism in the Peace Corps requires an awareness of the host community workplace culture, community values, and your self-presentation. To maintain a positive, culturally appropriate professional standing within a host community or workplace, Volunteers may need to adjust their style of dress, hairstyle, facial hair, make-up, piercings, manner of greeting others, etc., to demonstrate respect for local culture and customs. How you present yourself, in both informal and professional settings, is a reflection of you as an individual and of you as a representative of Peace Corps and the United States. In the U.S., dress (and other elements of personal appearance) may be seen as an expression of personal freedom and identity. In many host countries where Peace Corps Volunteers serve, the way you dress and present yourself may be interpreted as an expression of regard—or disregard—for those host community members around you.

Volunteers are encouraged to spend time in their communities, to develop their language skills, and to get to know the individual members of their community to better understand their traditions, culture, and local norms. As mutual trust is established over time, there may opportunities for Volunteers to adjust their personal appearance and dress outside of the more rigid local standards. Volunteers are encouraged to discuss these potential adjustments with staff and other cultural mentors.

Great effort is attached to neatness, grooming, proper hygiene, and appropriate dress in Belize. To earn the respect and trust of Belizean communities and counterparts, host family parents, and students, Volunteers must adhere to Peace Corps Belize's personal appearance guidance, which typically entails uniforms or business casual dress in professional environments and conservative athletic attire, with short sleeve shirts and loose-fitting, knee-length basketball shorts or long athletic fit dry pants, for sports activities and events. Extensive tattoos, including facial tattoos, are not customary in Belize. Therefore, please be prepared to cover tattoos before arriving.

Our guidelines are not meant to discriminate or unduly repress individuality but rather to underscore three major tenets we uphold at Peace Corps Belize: 1) Cultural sensitivity to social norms and respect for local customs; 2) A focus on professionalism in all aspects of Peace Corps service; and 3) Alignment with Peace Corps Volunteer core expectations.

In advance of your departure for service, Peace Corps staff will offer guidance on proper attire and personal presentation to aid in your packing. You will also participate in sessions that address culturally appropriate behavior and cultural sensitivity during training.

Social activities

Belize presents a unique opportunity for those seeking to immerse themselves in a culturally diverse environment. Volunteers will engage with people who represent a wide range of backgrounds and ethnicities, gaining valuable insights into Belizean society. In addition to its cultural richness, Belize boasts stunning natural landscapes, from lush forests to pristine coastlines. While Volunteers will have the chance to explore these wonders, their primary focus will be on community integration and advancing project objectives. Outside of work, Volunteers will connect with their host families and engage with other Belizean youth, non-governmental organizations, and community leaders. These integration activities will not only enhance their project work but also facilitate a deeper understanding of Belizean culture and customs through mutual exchange.

Volunteers will find that Belizeans are generally friendly and enjoy chatting, being outdoors, cooking, socializing, and watching and playing sports such as basketball, volleyball, softball, and football (soccer). The pace of life and work is slower than what most U.S. citizens are accustomed to. An invitation for a Volunteer to attend a social function is often considered an honor. Participation in local events and celebrations will further integrate Volunteers into community life.