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The Peace Corps began its program in Kyrgyz Republic in 1993.
Peace Corps History
Main article: History of the Peace Corps in Kyrgyzstan
Since the first Peace Corps Volunteers arrived in the Kyrgyz Republic in 1993, more than 800 Americans have served in the country. Current Volunteers teach English, help Non-Governmental Organizations with their strategies and programs, and work with schools and community health committees to teach and promote healthy behaviors. The Peace Corps’ programs respond to requests from the government of the Kyrgyz Republic to assist with increasing the level of English competency among its students and teachers and to help communities and civil society organizations develop sustainable community development projects. Like many Peace Corps countries, the Volunteers were evacuated after 9/11/01. They returned the following year. There are currently 80 Volunteers in country.
Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyles
Main article: Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyles in Kyrgyzstan
Peace Corps/Kyrgyz Republic assigns Volunteers to the sites with the greatest need and to schools and organizations that demonstrate potential for making the best use of Volunteers’ skills. Peace Corps/Kyrgyz Republic has a mandatory three-month homestay policy and asks the sponsoring agency to provide the Volunteer with adequate, safe housing, which is paid for by the Peace Corps. The housing varies from site to site and is typically with a family or within a family’s compound.
The housing will have simple basic furniture such as a bed, a table and chairs, a wardrobe or bureau for clothing, and access to a stove. Basic appliances such as refrigerators and temp controlled ovens are almost non existent among rural families. If PCVs require such items they may have to purchase them out of their own pockets. The Peace Corps will provide you with a water filter or distiller. In addition, because winters in the Kyrgyz Republic are cold and many heating systems are inadequate, the Peace Corps will also provide you with an electric heater. Still, you will probably need long underwear and will definitely need a warm sleeping bag, as electricity is not always reliable.
You need to be very flexible in your housing expectations, as there is no guarantee that there will be an indoor toilet or that running water or electricity will be available continuously at your assigned site.
Main article: Training in Kyrgyzstan
Training is an essential part of Peace Corps service. Our goal is to provide you with the information you need to live and work effectively in the Kyrgyz Republic. You will receive training and orientation in language, cross-cultural communication, area studies, health and personal safety and security, and technical skills relevant to your specific assignment. The skills you learn will serve as a foundation upon which you will build your experience as a Volunteer in the Kyrgyz Republic. You will study either Kyrgyz or Russian, based on the language used most at your future site.
For your first two days in-country, you will stay at a training facility in Bishkek, after which you will move to the permanent training site located approximately half an hour outside of the capitol. Once there, you will live with a host family in a rural village or small town with a few other trainees. While you and your fellow trainees will meet as a group, you will also have a chance to experience Kyrgyz customs on your own with your host family and on technical field trips. These experiences will help bring to life the topics covered in training and will give you the chance to practice your new language skills and directly observe and participate in Kyrgyz culture.
Your Health Care and Safety
Main article: Health Care and Safety in Kyrgyzstan
The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the health and safety of every Volunteer. Peace Corps medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative, approach to disease. The Peace Corps in the Kyrgyz Republic maintains a clinic with two full-time medical officers who take care of Volunteers’ primary healthcare needs. Additional medical services, such as testing and basic treatment, are also available locally. If you become seriously ill, you will be transported either to an American-standard medical facility in the region or to the United States.
Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues
Main article: Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues in Kyrgyzstan
In the Kyrgyz Republic, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteers’ behavior, lifestyles, background, and beliefs are judged in a cultural context very different from their own. Certain personal perspectives or characteristics commonly accepted in the United States may be quite uncommon, unacceptable, or even repressed in the Kyrgyz Republic.
Outside of Bishkek, residents of rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What is viewed as typical American behavior or norms may be a misconception, such as the belief in some countries that all Americans are rich and have blond hair and blue eyes. Members of the community in which you will live may display a range of reactions to cultural differences that you present.
- Possible Issues for Female Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color
- Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Married Volunteers
- Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers with Disabilities
Also, outside of Bishkek and Osh, dating in with the locals of Kyrgyzstan is an extremely slippery slope. For men there is pretty much no sex, or often even kissing, without some kind of promise to marry. American women are seen by locals as loose women and will be expected to act as so. Extreme care should be taken when attempting intimate relations with locals.
Frequently Asked questions
Main article: FAQs about Peace Corps in Kyrgyzstan
- How much luggage am I allowed to bring to the Kyrgyz Republic?
- What is the electric current in the Kyrgyz Republic?
- How much money should I bring?
- When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
- Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
- Do I need an international driver’s license?
- What should I bring as gifts for Kyrgyz friends and my host family?
- Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
- How can my family contact me in an emergency?
- Can I call home from the Kyrgyz Republic?
- Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
- Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
Main article: Packing List for Kyrgyzstan
This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in the Kyrgyz Republic and is based on their experience. Use it as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that each Volunteer’s experience is individual. There is no perfect list! You obviously cannot bring everything we mention, so consider those items that make the most sense to you personally and professionally. You can always have things sent to you later. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have a 100-pound weight limit on baggage. The most important things to bring are yourself, a sense of humor, and a sense of adventure!
Dress is very important in the Kyrgyz Republic. The popular image of a Peace Corps Volunteer in sandals and a T-shirt with a university logo is not appropriate in this country (nor is military-style clothing or accessories). Fair or not, people are judged by the way they dress in the Kyrgyz Republic, more so than in the United States. Your colleagues will dress as professionals and for you to do otherwise will be considered disrespectful. If you come to work inappropriately dressed, your colleagues, students, and others in the community will probably not say anything to you directly but may talk unfavorably about you to others. Following the lead of your co-workers will help you gain acceptance and respect in your community. This does not mean that you need to spend a lot of money on new clothing. Rather, be selective in what you bring, and consider buying some of your professional clothing in Bishkek. The quality and style may not be equal to that found in American brands, but they are the same clothes your local colleagues will be wearing.
- General Clothing
- For Men
- For Women
- Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items
Peace Corps News
PEACE CORPS JOURNALS
( As of Thursday March 13, 2014 )
Contributions to the Kyrgyz Republic Country Fund will support Volunteer and community projects that will take place in Kyrgyz Republic. These projects include water and sanitation, agricultural development, and youth programs.
- Volunteers who served in Kyrgyzstan
- Friends of Kyrgyzstan
- List of resources for Kyrgyzstan
- Pre-Departure Checklist
- Inspector General Reports