Connect and Disconnect–The Curse of the Interwebs

Coming from the always connected Uhmerica life and diving into the Peace Corps can be a rough bit.  I haven’t worn a watch since I can remember, because I always had a cellphone in my pocket to check the time.  But getting sent into the campo or bush abruptly changes all that.  But even today, many countries and volunteer sites (especially in Peru) count on wireless cell phone service and even internet service from cell signals.  But how does it affect the volunteer in site?

How does Peace Corps find sites for Volunteers?

I’m often asked by Peruvians how I got here.  Not just how I got to Peru, but also to my town.  After all, we’re slightly off the beaten path (and other volunteer sites even more so).  And the truth is, it’s kind of a shot in the dark.

They fed my dog pieces of broken glass


Some pig-fucker fed glass to Chancho (my dog).


I’m pissed. At the pig fucker.  Who fed glass. To my dog.

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Blogs about development

Most likely you’re reading this blog because you a) know me personally  b) found this on Peace Corps journals and are thinking of joining the Peace Corps c) found this on Peace Corps journals and are coming to Peru

While reading stuff about Peace Corps and Peru is all well and good, it’s important to look a little bit more into development and the complexity of the issues. Before service, I recommend that future volunteers check out the following blogs on development to get a fuller (haha) sense of development beyond buzzwords, Bono, and Kristoff:

Tales From the Hood – Highly recommended, filled with insights and accounts by the author
Good Intentions Are Not Enough – What is Bad Aid?

The Opportunity Cost of Peace Corps–Salary


Peace Corps applicants, current Peace Corps volunteers and even the people who thought about applying or serving but never did all share one same thought: what have I given/will I give up by choosing Peace Corps? It’s a big commitment, two years in shitty conditions while ‘living like the locals’.

It sound like a pay cut, and in real dollars it is: I make roughly $320/month or $3,840 a year. Not that much for a job in America, right? But let’s look at it another way. In addition to that, I receive $24 ‘Leave Allowance’ and an additional $2.57 for mailing a letter for World Wide Schools. Beyond these, I’m comp-ed a readjustment allowance of $275 per month that is available at the end of my service. On top of that, I receive 10% off of my federal student loans for each year of service.


1 month

1 year

2 years

Living allowance




Readjustment Allowance




Student Loan Reduction




Leave Allowance




World Wide Schools




Net Benefit





Coming back home (to both of them)


It’s weird being a visitor in your own country.  After a while, it felt weird telling people I was going home for a visit.  Home? I thought I was pretty well established here in Sausal, but all the same I still had my other home.  Before I left for Peru, I wasn’t planning on coming back during my two-year stint.  I knew I’d rather travel around a bit during Christmas and there was something hardcore about not going home.  But in Peru, the vast majority of volunteers go State-side at least once during their service (usually during the end of December or May/June for graduations). 

And to be fair, I didn’t really experience the reverse culture shock while home.  Sure, oftentimes I felt lost in conversation if people were talking about family news (if it isn’t posted on Facebook, I usually don’t hear about it) and anything minor that’s been happening the past few months.  But I spent the week at home in family surroundings, I slept in the same room, went to the same bars, even went to my old high school to talk for a bit. Nothing was really ‘weird’ while I was home or different from how I remembered it from when I left.  Maybe I was just home for a quick whirlwind and it was too short to really notice any changes or have to deal with re-adaption: I could still be the annoying Peace Corps volunteer who starts their stories with “In Peru, we….” to mark any dull difference between what I was doing in Peru and what I was doing at that moment.

But this time it was a little harder to leave home…..