Once volunteers are accepted into the Peace Corps and notified where they’ll be serving, they must carefully decide which items get to make the journey overseas with them, from the practical to the sentimental.
The Peace Corps provides volunteers a list of suggested items, with variations based on which of the agency’s 65 host countries they will soon call home.
How are you #DoingMore?
There are the common standbys — like reliable shoes and clothing, a water bottle, batteries, an all-purpose knife, a flashlight, a camera and a journal — and then there are the items that are specific to a particular country or region. In Namibia, for instance, volunteers might want to bring a headlamp to cope with the lack of electricity, while volunteers in the Republic of Georgia might consider investing in warm socks to combat freezing winter temperatures.
And the kinds of items volunteers bring have changed since the Peace Corps’ founding in 1961.
Those heading out for their post are now more likely to opt for technology that will help them stay in touch and online, like laptops, music players and smartphones. In areas where electricity is scarce or nonexistent, volunteers often turn to solar-powered chargers and wireless data plans to keep their devices powered and connected.
As part of Devex’s Doing More, an online series on volunteering and its impact on global development, Devex asked current and returned volunteers to share what they packed to serve abroad, as well as their advice for what future volunteers should bring. Volunteers suggested taking items with sentimental value, like photos of family and friends, and noted that the items volunteers should bring differ depending on the climate and customs of their countries of service.
Here’s what current and former Peace Corps volunteers had to say about what they brought and what they think other volunteers should pack.