Peace Corps Volunteer

Peace Corps Volunteer



Female, 27

I live and work in Armenia as a computer teacher at a college in one of the regions (not the modern capital city). Peace Corps service is a 27 month commitment in a 3rd world or developing country. I teach computer teachers and students about basic computer maintenance; I also teach software programs like Word, Excel, Access, Powerpoint, Photoshop, and CorelDraw. Everything I do--from teaching, buying food, visiting friends--is done in Armenian, which I learned since I arrived in country.

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65 Questions


Last Answer on December 06, 2015

Best Rated

How much anti-Americanism is there in Armenia?

Asked by Bestie1 almost 11 years ago

I have not experienced any. The people I've met are very interested in America, and most want to learn or practice their English. Many have friends or relatives in the Armenian parts of the U.S.--Glendale, CA and Boston, MA mainly.

Are Peace Corps volunteers just a bunch of hippie freaks?

Asked by slowgrind almost 11 years ago

It totally depends. There seems to be a dual opinion of people when it comes to Peace Corps. In the abstract, PCVs are often thought of as "hippie freaks." But when people know someone who joins Peace Corps, there is often a feeling of admiration and respect. I have been quite surprised to see the variety of people in Peace Corps. This is the most diverse group of people I have ever worked with, from a whole range of backgrounds, which makes for interesting friends that I never would have had otherwise. Probably close to 20% are over 50, with long career histories behind them, in finance, marketing, real estate, and more. A lot are straight out of college, with ambitious goals for the future. And there are those like me, who have worked different jobs for a few years and decided to quit for awhile, get overseas experience, and possibly change career tracks after Peace Corps. I have met maybe 2 "hippie," PCVs. But most are "normal" people like you.

What's the state of computer and internet education over there? Do most kids grow up with a computer in their household?

Asked by rolltide almost 11 years ago

It totally varies by region, but in my experience, they have a lot to learn. However, computers are becoming more popular every year, so they are learning fast. All electronics are disproportionately expensive in Armenia, so many households do not have computers. Those that have computers don't always have the Internet. (My college doesn't even have the Internet.) The hardest part is probably the language barrier, because there are little to no computer programs in Armenian. Operating systems are either in English or Russian, as are all the software programs. Viruses are rampant because when there is an Internet connection, the kids download files and click on links, not knowing what they're doing. The teachers are good at reformatting computers, because they do it all the time to get rid of all the viruses. But basic computer maintenance and cleaning was basically unheard of when I got here. I've noticed that the teachers I work with in my region were not extremely computer-savvy when I arrived, and they still have a harder time grasping certain computer-related concepts, but the students usually catch on very quickly. There are very basic software functions that I have had to teach, such as using the "center paragraph" button in Microsoft Word, instead of using the space bar to move text to the center of the page. Also, it has been hard to explain why you would use one program versus another for a specific task, such as Word vs. Excel, or Photoshop vs. PowerPoint.

Do other countries have programs similar to the US Peace Corps? Do you have to be an American to join?

Asked by HabsWIN almost 11 years ago

You have to be an American to join the Peace Corps. The most similar volunteer program I have heard of outside of the U.S. is "European Volunteer Service" (EVS), which is for Europeans. EVS volunteers typically serve for 3-9 months in another European country. We actually have EVS volunteers at some of the same organizations in Armenia that have Peace Corps volunteers. Other than EVS, I don't know of other similar volunteer programs, but I'm sure they are out there.

Do you think most people who join the Peace Corps do so for altruistic reasons, or because they're just not sure what they'd like to do with their careers yet?

Asked by Psiclone almost 11 years ago

I think there are way more reasons than just the two options posited in this question. There are definitely a lot who join because they want to help others, and there are people who use Peace Corps as a sort of stalling measure before they choose a career. There are others who use Peace Corps as a jumping-off point into foreign service and aid work. Some use it to transition from one type of job to another. Some want more experience living abroad, learning another language, and integrating into a different culture. Some want to better understand what other people in the world are going through and what daily life is like for them. Some are trying to get away from situations back home. Some are just looking for a challenge in their lives. So there are many reasons people join Peace Corps, and usually the reasons are a combination of many I've listed above, as well as others that I haven't listed. But I would say that almost all Peace Corps volunteers join because, in part, they want to "help others," or "give back" in some meaningful way. This is because there are few motivations besides altruism strong enough to make a person stay in such a challenging situation with little financial reward for two years.

How did you communicate with the college students at first if you didn't speak Armenian til you arrived?

Asked by Baskin.Josh almost 11 years ago

In all Peace Corps posts, there is a period of training before you actually start your work as a Peace Corps volunteer. In Armenia, the training lasts 11-12 weeks, and there are intense language classes (3-4 hours, 6 days a week), along with cultural and technical training. So by the time I started working at the college, I could speak some Armenian. It wasn't nearly enough, of course, but I was able to get by, with a lot of "show-and-tell," gestures, and repetition until we could understand each other. I still have difficulties with the language, but teaching is much easier now that I have been studying Armenian for more than a year.

Is it lonely being in the Peace Corps, being so far away from home?

Asked by roblowe almost 11 years ago

Yes, there are definitely bouts of homesickness. Last Christmas was the hardest for me, as it was only the 2nd Christmas in my life that I wasn't home for. But it's surprisingly easy to keep in touch with friends and family at home--with email, Skype, Facebook, and cheap phone calls. The Internet connection is fairly stable, and pretty much everyone has a cell phone. When I'm lonely, the best thing to do is remember that it will pass. And it always does.