Life As A Peace Corps Volunteer.

All over the world you can find members of the Peace Corps. These are people who left there everyday lives in the U.S.A. to do volunteer work abroad. Having attended the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan I came across several Peace Corps volunteers who were living there, and interestingly also playing in the games.

I was curious about what motivated them to join, and what it was like so I interviewed four of them.

If you’re interested in the peace corp’s at the bottom of the post I have included links to some books that can give you more information, such as The Insiders Guide To The Peace Corps –

Peace Corp volunteer Anna Patton


Anna Patton.  From Colorado U.S.

 What made you want to become a Peace Corps volunteer?

“So many different things. A lot of graduating and not quite knowing what to do next. I was an anthropology major and wanted to experience a different culture for a long period of time, as opposed to just a tourist, and really integrate. The Peace Corps gives you a really good opportunity to do that, because you are not only living and working in a community, but you have two years where you have no other choice but to integrate and make friends.”

“You learn about the culture, while also sharing American culture. It’s really interesting”

What do you do in Kyrgyzstan?

“I am a health volunteer. Every health volunteer has a variety of different things they do, it just depends on what the community needs. I am working with an organisation here that is pretty new trying to help families with disabled children, because they have very different rates here and access to information, so that’s been really interesting for me because that’s a lot of what I did in the US.”

“It’s especially interesting to see how differently disability is dealt with and acknowledged here. Coming from a public school in Colorado where every kid with learning disabilities gets an individualised education plan, compared to Kyrgyzstan where they don’t entirely recognise learning disabilities. It’s been quite the transition as far as working goes.”

What would you say to young people thinking of joining the Peace Corps or going travelling?

“Even though I think a lot of these ex Soviet ruled countries in Central Asia are places that I’m not quite sure people think about travelling, but they truly have one of the most interesting cultures and people. I think I am very lucky to be placed in the peace Corps in Kyrgyzstan, because I don’t think many of us volunteers would have known to come here before.”

Any plans for the future?

“Gosh no. There are two groups here. They come once every year, and I am in the newest group so have only been here for four months. I figure I still have two years to figure the future out!”

Anna writes about her life in Kyrgyzstan at her blog AnnaInKyrgyzstan.



Peace Corps volunteer Gus Hulin


Gus Hulin. From Minneapolis, but lived all over the U.S.

 What made you decide to become a Peace Corps volunteer?

“The fear of the monotony of the average American lifestyle.”

“I got a degree in applied economics, just found college easy and kind of enjoyed it, then did the rout right after graduation where you do the job and the internship. Pretty much immediately after two months sitting in the cubicle I knew I couldn’t do it much longer, so I applied for the Peace Corps, around looking for other things. It’s been about two years since I first applied and I’ve been in Kyrgyzstan for five months now. In that time I just kept working until I left.”

How do you find it in Kyrgyzstan? What do you do?

“It’s always something new. My host families really wonderful. You hear other stories where people have bad host families, or bad worksites. I volunteer in sustainable community development, or small business development. I’m doing more on the side of computer and software training at the moment, and there are ten different villages I will be going out to.”

“It’s really cool to share the American side of culture and pick up on their side. To see them react to what they think is absolutely insane to what we think is just everyday normal life, and to see the way they live here, to some of us it just seems so different, but it’s just common.”

Did you choose Kyrgyzstan as a destination?

“They just changed the application process where you have a lot more choice on where you want to go. When I applied basically I got to rank four parts of the world, one through to four as a choice. My first choice was Central or South America. My second choice was South-East-Asia. My third choice is where I am now. My fourth choice was Africa. Everyone has their own parallel story of the application process.”

“Kyrgyzstan I love it, I can’t complain. I’m overseas and it’s amazing, it blows my mind everyday. I still have almost two years to go.”

Any ideas what you might do after the Peace Corps?

“What are you doing in two years?” (I laugh). I’ve though about it and would really like to travel, because they give you a small lump sum of money after your time volunteering, and I could live off that for about half a year of travelling. That would be cool. Grad schools always a thought in there. I don’t know really.”

“I’ve thought about it a little bit, I’ve thought about a lot of things. The Peace Corps gives you a lot of time to think.’

Peace Corps volunteer David Ramras


David Ramras. From Woodbridge Virginia, just outside D.C. U.S.

 What made you want to become a Peace Corps volunteer?

“A few different reasons. One is that I’ve really always wanted to go to another country and do more than the typical taking in of the culture that people do for two or three weeks. I wanted to learn a language, sit with them and make friends, and really become part of that community which I’m glad to say I’ve accomplished.”

What do you do in Kyrgyzstan?

“I’ve been here for about sixteen months now and really enjoy it here, it’s a great place. I’m a business volunteer and do youth entrepreneur trainings. The big thing that people don’t seem to process is that if you have a good plan that you know people will buy things from, then you can start a business with money that you borrow and pay it back. Whereas here they are just like; ‘No I just want a grant that is free’, which I’m like I will not write that for you, good luck.”

What’s it like playing in the World Nomad Games In Kyrgyzstan?

“Ok, it is fucking hard! I learned how to play my game monday night and we had our first game on tuesday morning! (laughs). I had won zero out of three and then told them that I no longer wanted to play because someone had to sit out the entire time and I said it’s fine everyone else can play, I’m good.”

“It’ was really interesting playing with people from a bunch of different countries, and being able to more or less communicate with them. I speak pretty decent Kyrgyz, but because I understand a lot they just want to speak it even faster to me, and I start to loose my understanding.”

Any plans for the future?

“I’m in Kyrgyzstan for another eleven months where I will hopefully make some better relationships within my community. I want to do a few projects focused around entrepreneurship and people actually getting over the idea that loans to start businesses are bad. I plan to travel around a bit more and keep enjoying my life here.”

Final thoughts?

“If anyone is thinking about doing something like this, I highly encourage you to think about it strongly.”

“Think about the amount of time you are willing to live and integrate into a community for. Because our contract is for a little over two years, that is a long time and some people just can’t do it. I’ve heard of plenty of other programs that are six months long, and I think people will find them invaluable.”

Peace Corps volunteer Sean Heyneman


Sean Heyneman. From Rochester Upstate New York. U.S.

 What do you do in Kyrgyzstan?

“Most of the time I’m a teacher, but I do all sorts of things. Today I am playing toguz korgool where I have won zero out of four games (laughs), my lifetime record. I played for about a week and a half before the World Nomad Games. You really need to know maths to play this game!”

What do you think about living in Kyrgyzstan as a Peace Corps volunteer?

“I think it’s humbling to be kind of a fish out of water, or as the Peace Corps describes it; to be a fish out of a bowl.”

“To be visibly different and foreign to local people, to try to learn some of their ways, and to find some of the beauty and wisdom in it. Also maybe teach them and show them some things about the USA, about our culture.”

Future plans?

“I’m not quite sure what I will do if I stay here. I will finish my Peace Corps service which I have another year off. After that’s done I don’t know, I might stay in Kyrgyzstan with the Peace Corps or I might find some other work in the region. I don’t want to go home just yet.”

Would you recommend the Peace Corps?

“Absolutely!”

If you would like to know more about the Peace Corps you can visit their official website here: Peace Corps.



what its like in the peace corps

I am obligated to leave this disclaimer: “The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps.”

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Jonny Duncan is a travel blogger and freelance photographer. He specialises in adventure and budget travel with over 20 years of experience. He started blogging in 2013 to give advice for other travellers. He has lived in Japan, Amsterdam, Kiev, and more.

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