Hi! I’m Anna Patton and I will be serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Kyrgyz Republic (Kyrgyzstan) from April 2014 to June 2016. Thats roughly 750 days of living, working, and loving Central Asia (not including pre service training). Since I found out my country assignment, and as the date to departure nears, I have been getting a lot of questions about the next two years of my life and will try and answer some of them for you now.
1.) Kyrgy-what? You’re going where?
Kyrgyzstan (pronounced kur-gih-stan) is a small mountainous country in Central Asia bordered to the east by China, to the north by Kazakstan and to the west by Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Here is a map for orientation:
And one of the borders, because they are a difficult to explain kind of complicated to the west, but I think this map does a pretty good job of showing the way Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan wrap around each other. (due to this fact and the fact that the south was evacuated in 2010, volunteers are not placed in the souther region)
2.) What is the Peace Corps exactly? And WHY are you moving halfway across the country for two years?
I think the Peace Corps motto really says it best.
“To promote world peace and friendship by fulfilling three goals:
- To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women
- To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served
- To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans”
What it boils down to (sheep pun haha) is:
- to Serve the people of your assigned country
- to Learn from the Kyrgyz people and teach them about the U.S.
- and to Teach, upon return to America, about the culture and customs of Kyrgyzstan
One of my favorite things about the Peace Corps, and one of the reasons I joined, is that the host countries invite and request trained American volunteers to serve in their country. This means that Peace Corps doesn’t act purely on some grandiose idea that volunteers should come over and proselytize the ways of the United States, but rather that the mission of a volunteer is to integrate, learn about, and work in a country in order to find out what they may need and how you may serve your community.
3.) So what will you be doing?
After my Pre Service Training, I will be sworn in as an official Peace Corps Volunteer. At that point I will serve as a Health Education volunteer. What does a “health education volunteer” do exactly? Great question! My responsibilities could range from teaching oral hygiene and healthy lifestyles in schools, to collecting data about health in Kyrgyzstan. I will discover my specific “job” while I am here after I am assigned to my final site after PST. Every day I will go to work (either for an NGO, a clinic, or some organization that requests a trained health volunteer) and then eventually will coordinate with my counterpart (who works with me and helps me learn more about the community in which I will serve) to plan programs that may be useful and provide teaching moments for my village/city/community, wherever I am placed. All very exciting (and in typical Peace Corps fashion) shrouded in the mystery of “you’ll figure it out when you get there.”
All in all I am incredibly excited to serve in the Kyrgyz Republic and see what the next 750 days holds for me!
The content of this website is mine personally and does not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps.