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Unofficial Peace Corps Volunteer Handbook Paperback – August 7, 2010

11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Travis' book is an invaluable resource for those thinking about applying to Peace Corps and how to make the most of your service!"
--Mike Sheppard, RPCV,
Founder of PeaceCorpsJournals.com & PeaceCorpsWiki.org

""The Unofficial Peace Corps Volunteer Handbook is a fantastic companion for any applicant on their journey to becoming a PCV."
--Amy Panikowski, RPCV, University of Florida Peace Corps Recruiter (05-11)

"The must have book for anyone thinking of joining the Peace Corps..."
--Christopher Beale, RPCV, Founder of Other Places Publishing (Travel Guides by RPCVs)

"The Unofficial Handbook provides invaluable, down-to-earth advice that can help you make the most of this transformative experience, as well as guide you when you come home."
--Erica Burman, RPCV, National Peace Corps Association

From the Author

I was very fortunate to be surrounded by incredibly talented and wise people, including some of the best friends and best Volunteers that I know, during my service. They shared their advice and experiences with me and it has made all the difference in my service. I wrote a paragraph or two every month for over four years, from the application to my third year, because I wanted to share that advice with others. The Unofficial Handbook will never be completed, but will always be collecting and sharing thoughts and experiences of Volunteers from around the world. Good luck with your Peace Corps adventure, it's an incredible journey and we're right here with you.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Lulu; 1st edition (August 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 055757093X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0557570935
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #482,805 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Travis Hellstrom served as a Peace Corps Volunteer and Peace Corps Volunteer Leader in Mongolia from 2008 to 2011. He writes regularly for a small army of everyday humanitarians at advancehumanity.com. Occasionally those writings turn into books.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Alex on December 13, 2010
Format: Paperback
I am currently serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer and I recently had my parents send me this book. I would feel incredibly remiss if anyone else made the same mistake. As much as I would love to support a fellow Peace Corps volunteer, I really believe that anyone who buys this is being taken advantage of. For one, more than half of the book consists of blank "notes" pages. The rest of the very sparse information scattered across its pages can all be found in official Peace Corps materials, distributed for free at their events or available on their website. Having worked at two publishing houses prior to my service, no legitimate publisher would put out this project, which amounts to little more than a large pamphlet adorned with inspirational quotes you could find at the checkout desk in Barnes and Noble. Moreover, any "profits" going to charity would be minimal after publishing costs are covered; you're better off going to the peace corps website and finding projects you would like to support directly. While I would prefer not to castigate this volunteer for what I'm sure was a well-intentioned project, I think that there are better ways to spend your service (such as integrating in your community and doing the work that you travelled halfway across the world to do) than publish this notebook.

If you are interested in joining the peace corps, there are a number of better (and free) resources at your disposal
-Peace Corps Wiki is an excellent site maintained and edited by volunteers
-Peace Corps recruiting events feature speakers and RPCVs who would be more than willing to answer any questions (no matter how "unofficial" they may be)
-Returned Peace Corps Volunteer events will always be happy to provide interested parties with more information.

If you are a current volunteer, like me, I suggest you have your parents use their yearly package for something more useful
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lawrence F. Lihosit on April 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
Hellstrom's guide is of the mystical genre, much like Zen In the Art of Archery, for this is a book about acceptance. Unlike recent guides which outline application, training, service and homecoming, this book offers very few lists. It offers comfort. "The happiest Peace Corps Volunteers are the ones who make peace," explains the author.

Be forewarned that if you are concerned about our voracious appetite for paper and the disappearance of forests, the format might disturb you: it contains 97 blank pages (more than one third of the book). The blank pages are for volunteers to write on. Of the pages with print, many contain less than 20 lines like a poetry book. I imagine that the author's intent is akin to poetry-to recreate an essence rather than an x-ray.

Organized in a similar manner to other recent guides, it explores the mysterious selection, arduous training, work as a stranger in a strange land and readapting to the homeland. However, treatment of these topics has little to do with nuts and bolts but a state of mind "created to act as a companion on your adventure." No outline. Just a series of epiphanies for the author wrote this book while serving as a volunteer in Mongolia and the cultural osmosis is apparent. The ger (home) of this book is a wandering spirit liberated from neurotic cravings. "Be patient, be flexible and have as few expectations as possible," counsels Hellstrom.

For the prospective volunteer eyeing travel posters, the first 72 pages of this book will be enlightening. Aside from sound advice about research, it includes detailed suggestions about application and interview. This may be the most authoritative source on the subject.

The tone and mood of the book are heavily influenced by Tibetan Buddhism.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Wally on May 1, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Gave this as a gift to a friend joining Peace Corps, and immediately received positive feedback. Includes many answers to those persistent questions we have as we try to imagine life in Peace Corps.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on October 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
This handbook is full of helpful suggestions and wisdom for a wide variety of PC experiences, even the apocalyptic ones. Now, at the end of my service, I still find myself going back to this book for advice on reviving my enthusiasm for the "toughest job I'll ever love," keeping my "American standards" in check, and just being a good Volunteer in general. Luggage space is precious when one travels, but this handbook will definitely be in my backpack home. It's not simply a reminder of all the lessons I've learned from my PC experience but a personal scrapbook that is uniquely mine. Plus, what else is going to stop me from hyperventilating whenever I go into culture shock?
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mark D. Rosenwald on October 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
Travis has given a good refit and a breath of fresh air to this style of book written for tomorrow's Peace Corps Volunteers.

Encapsulated within this fun read, is so much helpful and valuable information from PCVs and RPCVs that it's entertaining and potent for any reader. It will especially help those loved ones that are seeing their own son or daughter--or any relation--off to another country. Empathy becomes the currency of your relationship with a loved one as they serve in the Peace Corps.

Take time to prepare yourself for the journey of a lifetime. Grab a copy of this book and arm yourself with knowledge. The world is calling. How will you answer?
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