Do I have to say "I’ll go anywhere"?

By Lora King
Jan. 27, 2017

Many returned Peace Corps Volunteers may tell you that finding out which country they were being invited to was half the fun of applying. 

The long-held belief that an applicant must say they are willing to serve anywhere has been passed along to new generations of Peace Corps applicants like some big secret.

But the Peace Corps application process is different than it used to be.

The idea that you must say you’re willing to serve anywhere comes from our Core Expectations for Peace Corps Volunteers. Expectation #3 reads:

"Serve where the Peace Corps asks you to go, under conditions of hardship if necessary, and with the flexibility needed for effective service."

Where the Peace Corps asks you to go

Whatever your reasons for applying to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer, it’s okay to have to preferences. While some applicants are truly comfortable with the ambiguity of choosing “Anywhere,” for others, stating preferences can help the placement office identify a country that maybe more relevant for you.

Whether you want to use your years of French study in Guinea or gain experience teaching a classroom full of eager students in Myanmar, there is a Volunteer position out there for everyone.

By being up front about any preferences, the placement office can more effectively place you in a program that would be a good fit. Wherever that is, trust that the placement office has you under consideration for a country that needs you.

Under conditions of hardship, if necessary

People have varying levels of comfort in their livings conditions and Peace Corps programs vary widely. All of our Volunteer openings include descriptions of the living conditions. Read them.

If you are unable to live without regular communication with friends and family, an isolated island with no internet might not be the best fit. Or if you can’t imagine living in a room in someone else’s home for an extended period, maybe a country that requires a 27-month homestay shouldn’t be your top choice.

We share these living conditions because it’s a two-way street. As much as we want you to be the right match for our program, we also want the program to be the right match for you.

With the flexibility needed to effective service

Life throws us curveballs and Peace Corps service is no different. State preferences if you have them, but also recognize that sometimes things don’t work out as planned. Sometimes certain expectations can’t be met in a specific country (such as living in a city when all the potential placements are extremely rural) or maybe your background and experience could be put to better use in a different country.

While a specific Volunteer position may sound like it is your dream job, with the Peace Corps receiving a high number of applications it’s likely there are other applications who think the same thing. Your placement officer may ask if you are willing to be considered for other programs more in line with your skills and experience. Preferences can help guide the placement office to what you want, but in turn we may try to guide you to where we think you have the best chance of success.

It’s okay to have preferences and to share those with us. However, it’s my hope that there is also some flexibility and you can trust us to place you in a program where you can be an effective and happy Peace Corps Volunteer.

Ready to start your Peace Corps journey? Connect with a recruiter today.

Lora King

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