Peace Corps FAQ


Some questions that I am often asked about my Peace Corps service.

When do you leave?
I leave for pre-service staging on June 10, 2010 in Washington DC.  The real adventure begins on June 11, 2010 when I leave for pre-service training in Peru.  Training takes place in Chaclacayo, a city an hour east of Lima.  Training lasts for 11 weeks and focuses on Technical, Language, Cross-Cultural, Health and Safety.  My dates of service are August 21, 2010 to August 20, 2012.

Why did you decide to do the Peace Corps?
My mom has been telling people I was going to live in a hut in Africa for as long as I can remember.  I'm not going to Africa, and I probably won't be living in a hut, but the Peace Corps is going to be the experience of a lifetime.

Do you know where you will be living?
I will be living with a host family somewhere near Chaclacayo for training.  In true Peace Corps style, I have no idea where I will be living after training and probably won't find out until week eight or nine.  This makes packing a little more difficult because the weather in Peru can vary drastically depending on the location.  It can be hot and summer-like year round in some areas and cold and Wisconsin-like in others.  This means that I have to pack for every possibility.

What will you be doing?
My official job title is "Youth Development Facilitator".  The goals for Youth Development are: 1) strengthening personal skills through healthy lifestyle activities, 2) preparation for future vocational, career, and educational opportunities through goal-setting, and 3) leadership skills and community service activities.  I could be working in already created organizations, like an after-school program, or be expected to create my own programs and activities.
Peace Corps volunteers are also encouraged to start secondary projects that are of interest to me.  These could include English classes or clubs, HIV/AIDs awareness, or organizing sports clubs.

Will you be living with a family?
Yes and I'm a bit terrified.

Do you get paid?
I will be getting paid a stipend that should allow me to live at the same level of the people in my community.  I won't be earning a lot of money but I also shouldn't have a lot of expenses.  Food, housing, and insurance are all paid for by the Peace Corps.  Volunteers also earn a readjustment allowance when they return to the United States.

Do you get vacation?
I earn two days of vacation for each month of service, not including pre-service training.  
Wait, haven't you been to Peru before? 
Yep, I lived in Cuzco for two months in 2008.  To my knowledge, the PC doesn't have any volunteers stationed in Cuzco but I'm hoping to make it back there at some point to visit Yoni and Wendy, my Cuzco family. And all of my favorite Cuzco restaurants!
Can we contact you?
Hopefully, I'll have decently regular internet access.  So e-mail, Skype, and Facebook will be great ways to contact me.  And please do contact me.  Constantly.  About anything and everything going on in your life.

How do I mail stuff to you?
I can receive mail during training at the following address:
Elizabeth Mentink, PCT Cuerpo de Paz
Calle Via Lactea 132 Urb. Los GranadosSurco
Lima 33, Peru

Once I get sworn in as a volunteer and get to my post, I will let you all know my new address.

As far as mailing instructions go, they recommend people not to mail packages over 1.1 pounds or with a declared value of $100 or more since it is costly, time consuming, and I will have to pay a fee. It's best to send only small items and to use a padded envelope. If you are a loss for what to send books, magazines, DVDs, and, of course, photos are always welcome.

Please don't take this as you HAVE to send me something. Of course I will be happy to receive anything you wish to send, but a friendly email will do just the same.

Can we visit?
Yes!  Please come visit.  Anyone and everyone who would like to visit is definitely welcome.  Peru is a beautiful country and I would love to serve as your tour guide.  If you need any convincing, please look at the pictures from my previous trip there.  I can have visitors any time after my first six months in-country (so anytime after December 11, 2010).  I'll see you in Peru!

That's all for now.  If you have any more questions, I would love to answer them.  Just ask!