December 08, 2012

The Insider's Guide to the Peace Corps by Dillon Banerjee

I'm going to join the Peace Corps.  Not right away of course, I still have responsibilities that I have to take care of before I can go (my parents would not appreciate me dumping two cats and two chinchillas on them).  But when I don't have those responsibilities anymore, I'm going.  After reading this book, I'm even more determined to do it. 

And it's not because this book is all sunshine and rainbows.  This book tells it as it is and I think its very truthful.  Banerjee has taken the time to answer all sorts of questions you could think of (or not think of!) about the Peace Corps.  He starts with the application process, and I've got to tell you, I didn't realize that there were some many needed qualifications to become a volunteer.  It's competitive!  Then he goes in to what to pack and what you can usually find in country.  Next is the actual training, since it varies from program to program, he offers the basics, but it does help to know how the training process takes place.  There's a short section on managing your money and then its on to "Living like the Locals" which gives an idea of what your accommodations will be.  There's a rather large section on Medical Concerns, which was nice because that's a big worry for some.  Next is a section on the postal service and phone calls and what's available.  There is a section on technology, and sadly for the technophobes out there, most gadgets are really not that useful where the volunteers are located.  There are also sections on other volunteers, what kind of work you'll be doing, and the rules of the Peace Corps.  It finishes out with how to travel around while in country and what to do after the stint in the Peace Corps, and of course useful appendices.

I learned so much from this book and voraciously read it.  Couldn't put it down in fact which made for a sleepy day the next day.  But that's ok.  As I said before it further convinced me that this is what I want to do.  I like the way he approached all the topics too.  He told what was good, what was not, and gave points of view from all different sides.  In fact, its very rare that I could find him be biased anywhere about anything.    There is a section on negative aspects of the Peace Corps, but he gave the reasonings behind these and balanced it out with the positives of everything.  Additionally, there are also a couple of scary sections, like sexual harassment and some of the illnesses.  But Banerjee takes the time to explain statistics and how these situations are handled and everything seemed to be well taken care of.  In fact, in most cases it wasn't really any different than the statistics here in the United States.

A fantastic book if you're thinking about joining the Peace Corps or volunteering overseas.  It really goes in depth on the program and could probably change a few peoples minds who are considering the program.  It at least gives all the facts honestly and is definitely a book I will be keeping around to peruse over and over.

The Insider's Guide to the Peace Corps
Copyright 2009
181 pages

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