Where will I be serving in country?

By Lora King
April 28, 2017

Peace Corps’ application makes it easier than ever to know what country you might be serving in and what your Volunteer role might be. 

However, since the countries in which Peace Corps Volunteers serve are so culturally and environmentally diverse, each Volunteer’s living situation will be different depending on where they are located in their country of service.

During the interview I am often asked, “Where will I be located in the country?”

Great question, but your placement officer doesn’t have the answer and here’s why:

First, placement officers are responsible for inviting the best candidates, on the whole, to the country of service. Then, host country staff work together to match invitees’ skills with the specific requests of the hosting communities.

While every country does their site placement a bit differently, the overwhelming majority don’t assign specific Volunteers to a community until after they’ve arrived in country. The exact reasons vary country to country, but the bottom line is that the Peace Corps wants to place Volunteers where their skills and experience can best serve the members of that community. That’s challenging to tell from a résumé alone.

After trainees arrive in their host country, Peace Corps staff will conduct in-person interviews, observe technical skills and monitor language learning. This period of site placement may last a few weeks or more than a month, depending on the country. While an individual can certainly share any preferences they have with staff during this time, preferences are not guaranteed and a Volunteer will be placed where they can best serve the community.

Less than a handful of countries will assign site placements in advance of trainee arrival in country. Those countries often have extenuating circumstances that make it relevant and important for trainees to know their site before departing the United States. Some reasons may include the possibility of significant isolation on an outlying island, for example, or needing to have a specific technical background to take over a project.

These countries will often conduct interviews and test language skills prior to departure, so staff is still taking those additional steps in looking at the whole picture of what the individual can bring to the community but through digital communications instead of face-to-face.

When asked about where in a country a Volunteer may be living, I always encourage applicants to keep an open mind about the possibilities. Peace Corps staff wants the Volunteer to be successful in a host community that’s a good fit for their skills and experience.

So no matter where you may be placed in your host country, be assured that the Peace Corps will do its best to place you where you are needed most!

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

Lora King

You could be serving a community overseas by this time next year.