Why did you write this book?

This is the handbook we wish someone would have given us, something no one has provided before: a companion handbook that allows you to learn from the experiences of outstanding Volunteers and catalog your own experience from the very beginning of your service through to the end. This is a guide and journal in an easy-to-use and easy-to-write-in handbook designed to be with you before you join, while you serve and after you come back from your Peace Corps experience. In addition to all the wonderful digital information out there for Peace Corps Volunteers we think there is still something special about reading a good book with a pen in your hand, ready to add your thoughts and make it your own. That's why we wrote this handbook for you.

Where do proceeds go?

Proceeds from this handbook go to fund projects led by Peace Corps Volunteers throughout the world. This is another way this handbook is unique, it is a service project that gives back to everyone involved. One year you might buy the handbook, the next year you start your Peace Corps adventure and start writing in your handbook, and the next year you start a service project with the handbook as one of your funding partners. We are all part of the worldwide Peace Corps community, helping Volunteers have happy, healthy and meaningful years of service.

How is a handbook different than a book?
Books are wonderful to read but when there is space in a book it can truly become your own. We decided to provide lots of space in this handbook for you to write what you think as well as read what we think. A Latin word for handbook is vade mecum, a useful companion to be constantly carried with you, and that's what we hoped this would be. It is designed to be written in and added to by the person who owns it. You.

How will the handbook be published?
Our first edition will be self-published to get this helpful information out there and start conversations worldwide about Peace Corps with the beginning of the 50th Anniversary celebration of Peace Corps in late 2010. We are considering releasing the second edition of the handbook, in late 2011, with a traditional publisher. At all times our publication decisions will always be guided by what will be in the best interest of Peace Corps Volunteers worldwide, both in what it offers the highest quality handbook to you and what provides maximum proceeds to power projects in the Peace Corps community.

Will you have illustrations in the handbook?
Yes, absolutely! Starting with our second edition in late 2011. Throughout the next year we will be collecting sketches, doodles and images sent in from Volunteers around the world to truly make this handbook a worldwide Peace Corps community collaboration. We would love to see what you have created! Please click here to send us your illustrations anytime!

How can you write this and still be an active Volunteer?
This handbook is the result of years of writing little by little, much the same way a blog grows over time. It is also the combined effort of dozens of Volunteers from around the world and will continue to be written as a collective effort by outstanding Volunteers worldwide. We are committed to helping other Volunteers have happy, healthy, and meaningful years of Peace Corps service and also enjoy the same experience ourselves.

What are some other helpful resources?

Here are some of our favorite resources out there for Peace Corps Volunteers which bring together information, resources and experiences from around the world.

Is your handbook different than Insider's Guide?
Yes. Very. We have read and enjoyed the Insider's Guide to Peace Corps but our handbook goes beyond an interest in Peace Corps, discussing the challenges that we all face as Volunteers and the lessons we've learned so that not everyone has to learn them the hard way. The Insider's Guide provides helpful answers to questions like "How many Volunteers leave early?" and "Can I come home on vacation during service?" But we are answering questions like "How do you know if you should leave early?" and "How do you deal with the suitcase full of emotions that flood you when you come home on vacation?" These are complicated questions which dig deep into your Peace Corps experience, but they are exactly the kind of questions that we asked ourselves and our Volunteer friends during our service. That's what we've included in this book. Also this book is a service project, so money that goes into the purchase of each book then goes to Peace Corps projects through the world. To our knowledge this is the only book in the world that does that for Peace Corps.

Why Unofficial?
Originally we thought the ideal situation for a helpful Peace Corps guide like this might be for it to be given to every Volunteer once they signed up for Peace Corps - maybe in their invitation packet or during their interview. It would provide advice on how to make it through Peace Corps and improve your quality of service, much like the A Few Minor Adjustments pamphlets Peace Corps has created and distributes each year. However, as we continued to collect questions and answers throughout our Peace Corps experiences, we realized we needed more than a pamphlet and that people needed it before they even started interacting officially with Peace Corps. Being an Unofficial Peace Corps Volunteer Handbook allows us the freedom to do that and more:
  • Help people interested in Peace Corps before and after they prepare, apply and serve
  • Raise proceeds that can be given back to Peace Corps to fund projects worldwide
  • Comment collectively on many areas of the Peace Corps experience as applicants, trainees, volunteers, returned volunteers and staff
It has been said that Peace Corps service starts when you become a Volunteer and ends with the rest of your life. This handbook can be an important part of that lifelong journey and community conversation. It will be an ever-changing handbook that grows with the organization, one that is updated every year by honest, reliable and knowledgeable PCVs and staff who want to help others enjoy years of happy, healthy and meaningful service. Peace Corps belongs to the world, to the millions of people whose lives it has changed, and this handbook is be part of that worldwide community. It starts the conversation with people who want to serve the world through Peace Corps and ends with people who have continued serving long after their 27 months are over.