The Insider's Guide to the Peace Corps
What to Know Before You Go
By Dillon Banerjee
(Ten Speed Press, Paperback, 9781580089708, 192pp.)
Publication Date: April 1, 2009
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So, you want to join the Peace Corps . . . If you are interested in joining the Peace Corps, you probably have questions that run the gamut from "What is the application process like?" to "Is the Peace Corps effective as a development agency?" In this updated second edition, former Peace Corps volunteer Dillon Banerjee shares candid facts and insights about the experience in a practical question-and-answer format. With input from recently returned volunteers who served across the globe, this thorough guide presents valuable information including: • What Peace Corps recruiters look for in your application• Items you should--and shouldn't---pack for your two-year trip• Useful gadgets and technology that help volunteers stay connected from far away• Real answers to personal questions about culture shock, safety, dating, homesickness, and more Whether you're thinking of joining or have already been accepted and are preparing to leave, The Insider's Guide to the Peace Corps will help equip you for the unique challenges and rewards of the volunteer experience, regardless of your program area or country assignment. It's essential reading for anyone interested in "the toughest job you'll ever love."
DILLON BANERJEE served as an agroforestry volunteer in the Peace Corps from 1994 to 1996 in Belo, Cameroon. He currently works as a U.S. diplomat in Lisbon, Portugal, where he is the director of the American Embassy's International Trade program.
THE AUTHOR SCOOP
Read any good books lately?
I was on a roll a while back with books like Blindness, Bel Canto, Life of Pi, Perfume, and The Road. I just started The Friends of the Earth by T.C. Boyle and am hopeful.
What was the hardest thing about writing a book?
Having it edited. After laboring for endless hours over the manuscript, my initial reaction to recommended changes was usually denial. Nothing could be changed because it was so obviously perfect. Between my wife and the top-notch editors at Ten Speed, however, I came to accept that too many cooks can't spoil the broth when it comes to polishing a book manuscript. Revisions usually translate to improvements.
What's the first concert you ever attended?
Tenth grade, Siouxsie and the Banshees at Warner Theater in Washington, DC. I had my black jeans, black sneakers, and black concert-T on, but felt like a preppie as I watched grown men in ballroom gowns scaling the stage speakers and jumping into the crowd below.
Know any good jokes?
My five-year-old son loves to tell this knock-knock joke:
Don't know why, but it still kind of cracks me up.
What's the farthest you've ever traveled?
My second assignment in the Foreign Service was to Moscow, Russia, where I served as a Commercial Officer at the Embassy for two years. About halfway through my tour, I was asked to lead a business delegation to the capital city in Siberia – Novosibirsk. Russia is an enormous country with 11 time zones; it's shorter to fly from Moscow to Boston than Moscow to Vladivostok (in the far east). My flight to Novosibirsk carried me over vast expanses of nothingness, and when I landed, I spammed friends and family in the States with SMS's just to tell them that I was in Siberia. In truth, Novosibirsk is a nice town with over a million people, replete with a metro system, opera house, cafes, university, and a huge manmade lake (the Ob Sea). Still, it felt way off the beaten path.
"Dillon Banerjee has done a great service to anyone interested in becoming a Peace Corps volunteer. He offers a wealth of practical information and realistic, straightforward advice on key topics like foreign language competence, work requirements and challenges, and housing. I highly recommended this book."
—A. Peter Burleigh, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (1997–1999), U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldive Republic (1995–1997), and Peace Corps Volunteer, Nepal (1963–1965)
“A must read for anyone considering ‘the toughest job you’ll ever love,’ Dillon Banerjee’s honest and thorough guide provides advice for every stage of the journey. ...Banerjee offers straightforward answers without any insincere fluff.”
—Sierra Club “The Green Life” Blog
“the perfect way to present information to readers who are undoubtedly brimming with very specific questions—about issues (seemingly) large and small—that no one else can seem to answer.”
—Campus Career Counselor