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Peace Corps Volunteers assist the government of Armenia in an effort to address multiple development challenges. Currently, the Peace Corps places its emphasis on sustainable capacity-building projects in the areas of teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL), community and business development (CBD) and Youth Development (YD). The environmental education (EE) and community health education (CHE) programs have been closed as of September 2010. The objective is not to teach Armenians “American” values, but to help them help themselves within their own cultural framework.
Peace Corps History
Main article: History of Peace Corps in Armenia
The Peace Corps program in Armenia began in 1992. During the first years, conditions were very difficult, with no electricity or heat. The country was reeling from the aftermath of the devastating 1988 earthquake, the breakup of the Soviet Union, and a war with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian enclave. Since then, more than 500 Volunteers have served in Armenia.
Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyle
Main article: Living conditions and volunteer lifestyles in Armenia
During pre-service training, all trainees are required to live with host families. After completing pre-service training and swearing-in, all Volunteers live with host families for a minimum of four months at their permanent site. Living with a host family provides several benefits including accelerated language acquisition; a deeper and more profound cross-cultural understanding; and an improved, in-depth community integration. Being a respected and equal member of a family not only provides strong personal and professional rewards, it can ensure your safety and security as well. Host family accommodations will vary depending on the community. Some may be apartments or separate detached houses; some may have European-style bathrooms while others might use "outhouses" or "squat" toilets. Regardless of the situation, trainees and Volunteers live as the members of their community do. After the four-month period, Volunteers may remain with host families or change to another living situation in their communities depending on availability and personal preferences.
Main article: Training in Armenia
Training is an essential part of Peace Corps service. The goal of the nine-week program is to give you the skills and information you need to live and work effectively in Armenia. In doing that, we build upon the experiences and expertise you bring to the Peace Corps. The program also gives you the opportunity to practice new skills as they apply to your work in Armenia. We anticipate that you will approach training with an open mind, a desire to learn, and a willingness to become involved. Trainees officially become Volunteers only after successful completion of training.
You will receive training and orientation in components of language, cross-cultural communication, development issues, health and personal safety, and technical skills pertinent to your specific assignment. The skills you learn will serve as the foundation upon which you build your experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
Upon arrival in Armenia, you will go to the Peace Corps training center a few hours outside of Yerevan. After a brief orientation period, you will move into a host village within an hour of the training center. In the host village, you and other trainees (about 8 to a village) will live with a Armenian host family for the majority of your training period, allowing you to gain hands-on experience in some of the new skills you are expected to acquire.
Health Care and Safety
Main article: Health care and safety in Armenia
The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the good health and safety of every Volunteer. Peace Corps medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative, approach to disease. The Peace Corps in Armenia 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 in Armenia at local hospitals and clinics. If you become seriously ill, you will be transported to a medical facility in the region or to the United States.
Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues
Main article: Diversity and cross-cultural issues in Armenia
In Armenia, as in other Peace Corps host countries, Volunteers’ behavior, lifestyle, 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 Armenia.
Outside of Armenia’s capital, residents of rural communities have had relatively little direct exposure to other cultures, races, religions, and lifestyles. What people view as typical American behavior or norms may be a misconception, such as the belief that all Americans are rich and Caucasian. The people of Armenia are justly known for their generous hospitality to foreigners; however, 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 Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers
- Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers
- Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities
Frequently Asked Questions
Main article: FAQs about Peace Corps in Armenia
- How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Armenia?
- What is the electric current in Armenia?
- 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 Armenian 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 Armenia?
- Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
Main article: Packing list for Armenia
This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Armenia and is based on their experience. Use it as an informal guide in making your own list, bearing in mind that 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 an 80-pound weight restriction on baggage. Do not bring valuables or cherished items that could be lost, stolen, or ruined by the harsh climate. And remember, you can get almost everything you need in Armenia.
- Packing for training
- Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items
- Additional Items to Consider Bringing
- Items You Do Not Need to Bring
Main article: Volunteer projects of Peace Corps in Armenia
Peace Corps Volunteers in Armenia have initiated many projects in Peace Corps and some have started websites to promote these projects in Armenia and abroad. Some RPCVs have started American nonprofits to provide continued support to the projects they initiated during their Peace Corps service.
Peace Corps News
PEACE CORPS JOURNALS
( As of Thursday April 17, 2014 )
Contributions to the Armenia Country Fund will support Volunteer and community projects that will take place in Armenia. These projects include water and sanitation, agricultural development, and youth programs.
- Volunteers who served in Armenia
- Staff members who served in Armenia
- Armenia books
- Armenia web resources
- Pre-Departure Checklist
- Inspector General Reports
- Treaties for Peace Corps by US State Department
Eastern Europe and Central Asia