This map is used with permission from the State Department.

Dear Peace Corps/Thailand Invitee: Congratulations on your invitation to pre-service training. You are about to embark on a life-changing journey. Your time as a trainee and Volunteer will be one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences you will have in your lifetime. As you make your commitment to fulfill the mission of the Peace Corps in Thailand, I make my commitment to provide you with a productive, safe, secure, healthy, and rewarding experience in this amazing country. Peace Corps has a long history in Thailand, beginning in 1962. I was privileged to serve as a Volunteer in Philippines (1977-1979). I took up the position of country director/Thailand in July 2011. Thailand continues to be a wonderful country where Volunteers are needed and wanted. Peace Corps Volunteers serve at the request the Royal Thai Government (RTG) and the first goal of the Peace Corps is ―to help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.‖ This book provides an overview of the projects in which Volunteers are engaged. Serving with Peace Corps/Thailand is a great experience for most Volunteers, as the Volunteer welcome letters will show. However, there are complexities in any Peace Corps project, and you need to have a good understanding of the challenges you will face. It is important to understand that training is part of the qualification process prior to being sworn in as a Volunteer. Training will provide you with the skills and knowledge needed to be an effective Volunteer. You will be expected to develop and demonstrate competence in the Thai language and in crosscultural, technical, health, and safety and security areas. Demonstrating a positive intent in all areas, especially in learning Thai, is more important than the level of mastery you achieve. You will continue learning throughout service. The support and



encouragement you receive during this learning process is extraordinary. As country director, my highest priority is the safety and security of each trainee and Volunteer. During training and service, you are expected to learn and demonstrate safety and security competencies that are carefully articulated. While all staff members will do all we can to ensure your safety and security, you must take full responsibility for your well-being. This requires you to follow safety and security guidelines and exercise good judgment in all your actions. That said, Thailand is a relatively safe country in which to serve, and the majority of Thais will do all they can to ensure you have a safe stay. Because all Peace Corps staff members want you to succeed as a Volunteer, the training will be intense. Your commitment to serve 27 months performing a tough job in a different culture needs to be strong. We hope the information provided will help you fully understand the commitment you are making to this Peace Corps assignment. Getting to know, understand, and appreciate the people of Thailand and allowing them to get to know, understand, and appreciate you are undoubtedly the best things you can do to create a safe and productive environment, not only for yourself, but for everyone. That is what Peace Corps is all about. Please be assured that we are ready to help you prepare for your assignment, settle into your community, and pursue project activities. We look forward to welcoming you to the Kingdom of Thailand Country Director Peace Corps Thailand



Map of Thailand A Welcome Letter Core Expectations for Peace Corps Volunteers Peace Corps Thailand History and Programs History of the Peace Corps in Thailand Current and Future Peace Corps Programming in Thailand Country Overview: Thailand at a Glance History Government, Politics, and Foreign Relations Economy People and Culture Environment Resources for Further Information Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyle Communications Housing and Site Location Living Allowance and Money Management Food and Diet Transportation Geography and Climate Social Activities Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior

1 6 7 7 7 9 9 9 10 10 11 13 17 17 19 20 20 21 22 23 23


Personal Safety Rewards and Frustrations Peace Corps Training Overview of Pre-Service Training
Technical Training Language Training Cross-Cultural Training Health Training Safety Training

26 27 28 28 28 29 29 30 30 32 34 34 34 35 36 36 39 41 42 44 45 45 45 47

Additional Trainings during Volunteer Service Your Health Care and Safety in Thailand Health Issues in Thailand Helping You Stay Healthy Maintaining Your Health Women’s Health Information Your Peace Corps Medical Kit Before You Leave: A Medical Checklist Safety and Security—Our Partnership
Factors that Contribute to Volunteer Risk

Staying Safe: Don’t Be a Target for Crime
Summary Strategies to Reduce Risk Support from Staff What if You Become a Victim of a Violent Crime?

Security Issues in Thailand



Preparing for the Unexpected: Safety Training and Volunteer Support in Thailand Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues Overview of Diversity in Thailand What Might a Volunteer Face?
Possible Issues for Female Volunteers Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color Possible Issues for Asian-American Volunteers Possible Issues for Senior Volunteers Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers Possible Issues for Volunteers with Disabilities

48 48 51 51 51 51

55 56 56 57 58 63 68 75 78

Frequently Asked Questions Welcome Letters from Thailand Volunteers Packing List Pre-departure Checklist Contacting Peace Corps Headquarters



In working toward fulfilling the Peace Corps Mission of promoting world peace and friendship, as a trainee and Volunteer, you are expected to:

1. Prepare your personal and professional life to make a commitment to serve abroad for a full term of 27 months 2. Commit to improving the quality of life of the people with whom you live and work; and, in doing so, share your skills, adapt them, and learn new skills as needed 3. Serve where the Peace Corps asks you to go, under conditions of hardship, if necessary, and with the flexibility needed for effective service 4. Recognize that your successful and sustainable development work is based on the local trust and confidence you build by living in, and respectfully integrating yourself into, your host community and culture 5. Recognize that you are responsible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for your personal conduct and professional performance 6. Engage with host country partners in a spirit of cooperation, mutual learning, and respect 7. Work within the rules and regulations of the Peace Corps and the local and national laws of the country where you serve 8. Exercise judgment and personal responsibility to protect your health, safety, and well-being and that of others 9. Recognize that you will be perceived, in your host country and community, as a representative of the people, cultures, values, and traditions of the United States of America 10. Represent responsively the people, cultures, values, and traditions of your host country and community to people in the United States both during and following your service



History of the Peace Corps in Thailand

Thailand was one of the first countries to host the Peace Corps, with Volunteers arriving in January 1962. With the group in January 2012, we will have reached more than 5,000 Americans having served as Peace Corps Volunteers in Thailand. Projects in early decades covered such areas as secondary teaching in English, teacher training, community development, agriculture and fisheries, primary health care, malaria control, development of national parks, and soil and water conservation.
History and Future of Peace Corps Programming in Thailand

In 2003, Peace Corps/Thailand entered into a project agreement with the Thai Ministry of Education to implement the Teacher Collaboration and Community Outreach (TCCO) project. The agreement aligns with the government‘s educational reform initiative by focusing on primary school teachers‘ skills in using student-centered methodologies. TCCO Volunteers participate in community outreach in health, environment, and other areas of community development based on local needs, interests, and Volunteer expertise. Also in 2003, Peace Corps/Thailand and Royal Thai Government partners established a new organizational development and capacity-building project titled Community-Based Organizational Development (CBOD). Volunteers are assigned to sub-district administrative offices (SAOs) to work on a range of development activities responding to the needs/priorities of local communities. Volunteers assist SAO staff and community groups strengthen data collection, project management, and other skills to help them initiate and implement sustainable projects. Volunteers and Thai partners also share promising practices and resources. The CBOD project was evaluated in 2006 and a new agreement was signed in 2007.



Peace Corps has recently undergone an impact study and a series of meetings with partners to determine the direction of future programs. A recent impact evaluation has revealed that Volunteers continue to make an impact in education and community development. Additionally, Volunteers are increasingly working with youth, so Peace Corps is now looking at future programs (2013 and beyond) directly related to youth.




Thailand is a history buff‘s paradise. The best-known parts of Thai history are the stories of its great kings and the kingdoms they established as they moved southward toward the Gulf of Thailand. Also well known are these kings‘ struggles with kingdoms in what are now the neighboring countries of Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia. The current Chakkri Dynasty was established in 1782. The fourth and fifth kings of this dynasty, King Mongkut and King Chulalongkorn, are specifically cited for their many achievements in the cultural realm and in affairs of state. In fact, some argue that their statesmanship prevented European powers from colonizing Thailand.

A constitutional monarchy was established in 1932, and the process of achieving a fully democratic society continues unfolding. The revered current monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, is the ninth king of the Chakkri Dynasty. The parliamentary system of government includes an elected House of Representatives and Senate. The prime minister is selected from among the members of the House. The political scene was turbulent through 2010, with intermittent anti- and progovernment demonstrations in Bangkok. On several occasions these demonstrations became violent and in late 2008 the antigovernment demonstrators managed to close the international airports in Bangkok for a period of several weeks. Two of Thailand's prime ministers were forced to step down in 2008. National elections were held in December 2008, resulting in the formation of a new government led by the Democratic Party coalition, which has also faced some serious challenges, with several days of intense violence in the streets of Bangkok in March 2009 and then again March-May 2010. Investigations into



the events of 2010 continue. National elections were held in July 2011 and a new prime minister and government were established. Bangkok, the capital, has expanded rapidly over the past few decades. The greater metropolitan area (including Bangkok and Thonburi, on the opposite bank of the Chao Phraya River) has a population of more than 8 million. The country has 77 provinces, which are divided into districts, sub-districts, and villages. Decentralization efforts are underway to delegate authority to lower levels of administration.

―In the waters there are fish; in the fields there is rice.‖ This favorite Thai saying captures the essence of Thailand as an abundant agricultural society throughout its history. Over the past several decades, a series of five-year national development plans have emphasized the manufacturing sector. Thailand‘s economic growth was among the world‘s highest until 1997, when the boom abruptly halted and poverty increased. Thailand‘ economic recovery has been remarkable in recent years, in spite of world events, political conflicts, health and environmental challenges (e.g., basic sanitation, respiratory problems due to agricultural burning, avian influenza, H1N1, HIV-AIDS, etc.), the 2006 coup, and protests in 2008 and 2010. Tourism and the growth in electronics continue to fuel much of the economy. The Thai government is currently debating the country‘s economic future, including the role of subsistence production, the growth of small- and medium-sized enterprises, and strategies to develop human resources to meet future challenges.
People and Culture

Thailand‘s unique cultural heritage has developed over more than 700 years of independence. Thais possess a strong sense of freedom (―Thai‖ means ―free‖) and are a fun-loving, friendly people.


The majority of the nation‘s population is ethnically Thai and speaks one of the dialects of the Tai language family, including central Thai, northern Thai, northeastern Thai, southern Thai, and several others. Other ethnic groups include Chinese (the largest); Malays, located primarily in the four southern provinces; five major groups of hill tribes in the north; and people from Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar—many of whom originally came as refugees or economic migrants. Though Thais are 97 percent Buddhist, they have a high degree of tolerance for other religions. Other religions and doctrines present in Thailand are Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shintoism, and animism. The three pillars of Thai society are the nation, religion, and the monarchy, which are instilled into Thais throughout their lifetime. The key Thai values of generosity, loving kindness, and smooth interpersonal relationships have served to promote the stability of the country and harmony among its citizens.

Thailand is a lush, fertile country, rich in flora, fauna, and natural resources. Bordered by Myanmar and the Indian Ocean (west), Laos (north), Cambodia (east), and Malaysia and the Gulf of Thailand (south), Thailand covers an area of 205,246 square miles (513,115 square kilometers), approximately the size of France. The country can be divided into three main geographical regions: the central plain, which is traversed north to south by the Chao Phraya River and produces most of the country‘s rice; the plateau and mountains of the north, noted for teak forests; and the southern peninsula, which is responsible for the principal export commodities of rubber and tin. Thailand is tropical, with three distinct seasons: relatively cool from November-February, hot March-June, and rainy JulyOctober. Humidity is high, with an average annual temperature of



84 degrees Fahrenheit in Bangkok (ranging from 80 degrees during the cool season to 100 degrees during the hot season).



Following is a list of websites for additional information about the Peace Corps and Thailand and to connect you to returned Volunteers and other invitees. Please keep in mind that although we try to make sure all these links are active and current, we cannot guarantee it. If you do not have access to the Internet, visit your local library. Libraries offer free Internet usage and often let you print information to take home. A note of caution: As you surf the Internet, be aware that you may find bulletin boards and chat rooms in which people are free to express opinions about the Peace Corps based on their own experience, including comments by those who were unhappy with their choice to serve in the Peace Corps. These opinions are not those of the Peace Corps or the U.S. government, and we hope you will keep in mind that no two people experience their service in the same way.
General Information About Country Thailand

On this site, you can learn anything from what time it is in the Bangkok to how to convert from the dollar to the Thai currency. Just click on Thailand and go from there.

Visit this site for general travel advice about almost any country in the world.

The State Department‘s website issues background notes periodically about countries around the world. Find Thailand and learn more about its social and political history. You can also check on conditions that may affect your safety in the site‘s international travel section.



This site includes links to all the official sites for governments worldwide.

This online world atlas includes maps and geographical information, and each country page contains links to other sites, such as the Library of Congress, that contain comprehensive historical, social, and political background.

This United Nations site allows you to search for statistical information for member states of the U.N.

This site provides an additional source of current and historical information about countries around the world.
Connect With Returned Volunteers and Other Invitees

This is the site of the National Peace Corps Association, made up of returned Volunteers. On this site you can find links to all the Web pages of the ―friends of‖ groups for most countries of service, made up of former Volunteers who served in those countries. There are also regional groups who frequently get together for social events and local volunteer activities. Or go straight to the Friends of Thailand site:

This site is hosted by a group of returned Volunteer writers. It is a monthly online publication of essays and Volunteer accounts of their Peace Corps service.



Recommended Books

1. Cooper, Robert, and Nanthapa Cooper. Culture Shock! Thailand (rev. ed.). Singapore: Times Publishing, 1986. 2. Cummings, Joe, and Steven Martin (eds.). Lonely Planet Thailand. 3. Fieg, John P. A Common Core: Thais and Americans. Yarmouth, Maine: Intercultural Press, 1989. 4. Hollinger, Carol. Mai Pen Rai Means Never Mind. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965. 5. Klausner, William. Reflections on Thai Culture (4th ed.). Bangkok: Siam Society, 2000 6. Klausner, William. Thai Culture in Transition. Bangkok, Siam Society, 2000. 7. Wyatt, David K. Thailand: A Short History. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1986.

Books About the History of the Peace Corps 1. Hoffman, Elizabeth Cobbs. All You Need is Love: The Peace Corps and the Spirit of the 1960s. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000. Rice, Gerald T. The Bold Experiment: JFK’s Peace Corps. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1985. Stossel, Scott. Sarge: The Life and Times of Sargent Shriver. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2004. Meisler, Stanley. When the World Calls: The Inside Story of the Peace Corps and its First 50 Years. Boston, Mass.: Beacon Press, 2011.




Books on the Volunteer Experience 1. Dirlam, Sharon. Beyond Siberia: Two Years in a Forgotten Place . Santa Barbara, Calif.: McSeas Books, 2004.



Casebolt, Marjorie DeMoss. Margarita: A Guatemalan Peace Corps Experience. Gig Harbor, Wash.: Red Apple Publishing, 2000. Erdman, Sarah. Nine Hills to Nambonkaha: Two Years in the Heart of an African Village. New York, N.Y.: Picador, 2003. Hessler, Peter. River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze. New York, N.Y.: Perennial, 2001. Kennedy, Geraldine ed. From the Center of the Earth: Stories out of the Peace Corps. Santa Monica, Calif.: Clover Park Press, 1991. Thompsen, Moritz. Living Poor: A Peace Corps Chronicle. Seattle, Wash.: University of Washington Press, 1997 (reprint).







Communications Mail

Thailand has a relatively reliable postal system and every subdistrict and district town has a post office. Some, but not all, post offices are equipped with postal box rentals, overseas telephone facilities, and express mail services. Regular mail within Thailand usually takes two or three days, while express mail takes one to one and one-half days. International mail takes two to three weeks. Your mailing address during training will be: ―Your Name,‖ PCT 242 Rajvithi Road Amphur Dusit Bangkok 10300, Thailand Only letters will be accepted at this address. Wait until you are assigned to your site and have packages sent to that address. Trainees and Volunteers should not have any packages delivered to the office in Bangkok. Note: there are often high customs fees for packages, especially for electronics.

Public telephones that accept both coins (one baht for 3 minutes for local calls to land line phone, 4-5 baht per minute to cellphone) and phone cards are available in almost all towns. If a booth is not available, private homes often offer telephone facilities for a reasonable charge, typically a minimal flat fee plus the Telephone Authority of Thailand (TOT) per-minute rate, which depends on the destination and length of the call. Cellphone systems in Thailand use frequencies of 800, 900, or 1800 megahertz, but 900 is the most effective for up-country sites. Other frequencies may


not work in Thailand. Cellphones, which can be purchased for as little as 1,500 baht (approximately $47), are quite popular. Trainees are given about 1,700 baht to purchase a cellphone during training as a safety and security requirement. Volunteers regularly use text messaging to communicate with each other, their Thai friends, and people in the U.S. Some Volunteers live in housing with phones in place. The service charge is about 107 baht per month plus 1 baht per minute for local calls to a land line and 4-5 baht for calls to cellphones. Unlike in the U.S., cellphones in Thailand are not charged for incoming calls. When Volunteers move to their assigned sites after training, they complete an emergency contact form with their name, address, telephone number (or the number of the nearest neighbor), and a map to their home, which is kept in the Peace Corps office in Bangkok for emergency purposes. Many trainees and Volunteers in Thailand now use voice-over Internet services such as Skype, Yahoo Voice, or others to stay in voice contact with family and friends back home. A Magic Jack device can provide you with a U.S. phone number and works through the USB port Internet connection and is another low cost service for voice communication between Thailand and the United States or anywhere in the world
Computer, Internet, and Email Access

Shops that provide Internet and email access exist in cities and rural towns throughout Thailand. The cost f or access is 15 to 20 baht (less than $1) per hour. Most offices and schools have computers, which are in constant use, but the majority do not have Internet connections. Most computers in Thailand are PCs, although there are a few Macs. Many Volunteers bring laptops from home. Wireless Internet access (from your personal laptop) is becoming popular and is available in some of the bigger towns and cities. There are plenty of computer repair shops in Bangkok and most other large cities in


Thailand. If you have a laptop, it is recommended that you consider bringing it with you and purchase insurance.
A Note about Blogs, Websites, My Space, etc.

Blogs, websites, My Space, etc. are a great way to help you meet the Third Goal of Peace Corps and a great way to share your experience with friends and family. It is a Peace Corps worldwide policy that Volunteers and trainees with blogs or websites inform the country director of the addresses. For safety and security reasons, it is strongly suggested that if you do have a website, blog, or use other means of electronic communication, that you password protect it and provide the password to those you wish to have access. Each country has post-specific guidelines to ensure host country sensitivities are observed. For example, in Thailand it would be inappropriate to post comments deemed negative to the Thai Royal family. Additional Thailand-specific guidelines will be discussed during pre-service training.
Housing and Site Location

In villages and small towns, where most Volunteers live, homes have electricity and indoor plumbing, including toilets (normally of the type known as Turkish or squat toilets) and cold-water showers (occasionally a hand pump is used to obtain the water). Drinking water must be either boiled or purchased, but is readily available. During pre-service training and for the first month of service, trainees and Volunteers live with a homestay family. Basic amenities (e.g., soap, shampoo, hair conditioner, lotion, sanitary napkins and tampons, towels, film, stationery, stamps, sodas, and instant coffee) should be available in provincial or regional centers, if not in your town. You should also be able to purchase items like an iron, rice cooker, or fan, etc.



Living Allowance and Money Management

As a Volunteer, you will receive a monthly living allowance. Currently, the monthly living allowance is 7,500 baht (approximately $240), which will be transferred to your bank account at the end of each month for the following month. Most Volunteers find this allowance to be adequate. Like Peace Corps Volunteers worldwide, those in Thailand are expected to live at a level commensurate with that of their Thai co-workers. This means that dinners out at expensive Bangkok restaurants or visits to spas designed for European tourists will not be possible. However, the allowance is certainly sufficient to enable you to purchase the basic necessities and to go to the movies or have an occasional night out. Because you will receive your living allowance only once a month, you will have to budget wisely. Access to a U.S. dollar account is possible throughout Thailand via ATMs with Cirrus or Star networks. Bring your ATM card to access funds for vacations, etc.
Food and Diet

The food in Thailand is extraordinary. A popular joke is that Thais are eating, talking about what they recently ate, or planning what to eat next. The staple food is rice, so you will find a variety of rice (or noodle) dishes for all meals. For example, you might have boiled rice with some type of meat for breakfast, fried rice or noodles with or without meat for lunch, and boiled white or brown rice with curry or stir-fried vegetables for dinner. Breads, rolls, and doughnuts are available in almost all convenience shops (including 7-Elevens and AM/PMs). In these mini-marts, Volunteers can occasionally find cereals, spaghetti, and peanut butter. All kinds of vegetables and fruits are available in the markets year-round, and tofu can be found in most locations. Food stalls in district towns offer reasonably priced cooked food and are open from early morning until late at night. Food stall


vendors generally meet the Thailand Ministry of Public Health‘s standards for sanitation and food handling. Volunteers can cook for themselves, buying meat, rice, vegetables, and fruits from local fresh food markets at their sites. Food is relatively cheap and can be purchased comfortably with the monthly living allowance. Vegetarians can also eat well in Thailand, but some may find it difficult to maintain a strict diet, especially in some social contexts and due to the common use of fish and oyster sauce.

The transportation system in Thailand is good and convenient. One can travel to and from sites to other towns, including Bangkok, via air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned buses or, on a few regional routes, by trains (with sleepers) or airlines. Transport within towns is typically by a covered pickup with two rows of seats or by bicycle. Car transportation arranged by a school or office is sometimes available to schools that are difficult to reach by bicycle. Driving or riding as a passenger on a motorbike is strictly forbidden. Finding a consistent means of transportation can be challenging, especially in the early months of service. The Peace Corps will provide you with a monthly transportation allowance. A mountain bike and bicycle helmet are also provided to each trainee and Volunteer for travel to offices and schools, for errands, and for pleasure. Thus, trainees and Volunteers are expected to be comfortable riding a bicycle 5 to 10 miles per day. The bicycle will be the only mode of transportation during pre-service training (PST) for daily travel between homestay accommodation, language, and technical training sites. Because PST is usually in a large town and in villages, you may be riding along four-lane roads, as well as rough asphalt roads in the villages. Bike training for the local context will be provided during the first week in Thailand.



Peace Corps requires that Volunteers wear helmets whenever they are on a bicycle. In addition to a helmet, Peace Corps also provides the following bike accessories: Water bottle Flat tire patch kit Headlight Taillight Bicycle tools Lock (key lock) Mudguards (fenders) Other bike accessories are available at reasonable prices locally.
Geography and Climate

Thailand is a tropical country with generally warm weather (averaging 84 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Celsius). The heat peaks in March and April (to about 95 F or 35 C), followed by the rainy season, which can last from May to November. On most days the rains last from minutes to hours, but they are not the typhoondriven rains of some other tropical countries. Later, there are usually some cooler days in November, December, and January. A few Volunteer sites are located in the mountains of the north, where temperatures can drop to 59 F to 68 F (15-20 C) in the cool season, which can feel rather cold in houses without insulation. Snow does not fall in Thailand.



Social Activities

You will spend much of your free time playing sports, eating, going to movies, attending Thai festivals and cultural events, and socializing with your Thai colleagues and neighbors. Dating as it is known in the United States will be noticeably absent. Your ability to adjust to and enjoy this kind of social life will be an important aspect of your success as a Volunteer.
Professionalism, Dress, and Behavior

The following paragraphs provide a basic description of the dress and personal appearance standards expected of trainees and Volunteers. Although they may seem somewhat restrictive, they are designed to help you make the transition into your new Thai community and to maintain the good reputation of the Peace Corps. The PST staff will help guide you in learning how to make informed decisions about appropriate dress. The Welcome CD prepared by currently serving Volunteers will also help you see what is considered appropriate in different situations. Although you will see some Thais dressed less conservatively, following the dress standards will help you avoid unintentional offenses and incorrect assumptions on the part of Thais. Once you are at your worksite, you will have enough knowledge of Thai culture to make informed decisions. Observe how respected colleagues are dressed in your workplace as a guide to professional dress in your school or office. You will hear references to ―riap roi,‖ a Thai term that means ―appropriate and complete.‖ When used to refer to clothing, riap roi means appropriate professional clothing, which in Thailand is very similar to what people in America wear as teachers or office workers. For men, this consists of collared shirts, nice pants, a belt, and casual dress shoes. For women, it consists of dresses or skirts with hemlines covering the knees (while standing and sitting) and blouses or ―polo-like‖ shirts with sleeves and collars (i.e., no low-cut tops or visible cleavage). Clothing should not be sheer or see-through. If you follow these standards, you are


unlikely to attract unwanted attention, nor offend anyone in Thailand. (For more information, see the packing list later in this book and the fashion slide show on the CD-rom. You will be happier if you bring clothes in your personal style that fit within these guidelines.) Male Volunteers should know that long hair, beards and moustaches, and earrings are generally not worn by Thai men and are not appropriate, particularly in rural provinces. If male trainees arrive with any of the above they will be taken to a barber. Multiple-pierced ears and body piercings are also not appropriate for either gender. Tattoos that are not discreet, especially for women, may also cause unwanted attention in rural areas of the country. If you have large tattoos, be prepared to wear clothing that will cover them. Peace Corps/Thailand emphasizes community integration and intentional relationship building as the most effective way for Volunteers to enter and be accepted into Thai communities. Feedback from Thai counterparts and supervisors also indicates that the first three months at site are critical, so Volunteers should be at their sites as much as possible to be viewed as a community member. During the first 30 days after swearing-in, Volunteers can only leave their sites if traveling with their Thai host family or with co-workers unless there is a specific need. Visitors are not allowed during the first three months of service. Peace Corps/Thailand is very serious about Volunteer professionalism, as each Volunteer also has the responsibility to represent Peace Corps so the image and reputation of the agency will meet expected standards. To be successful in Thailand you will need to develop good relationships. It is disrespectful to the people of Thailand, to Peace Corps/Thailand, and to fellow Volunteers to act or behave in anything less than a professional manner. Trainees and Volunteers are expected to adhere to the following professional standards:



Show respect for the people and culture of Thailand at all times. Observe local standards of behavior, dress, and protocol. Comply with policies that ensure your safety and security. Strive to integrate into your community and Thai society, spending more time with Thai colleagues and counterparts than with other Americans and expatriates. Learn the local language as an ongoing responsibility during your entire service. If you choose to drink alcohol, only drink in a socially appropriate, culturally respectable, sensitive, and safe manner, respecting yourself, your country, Peace Corps, and the people of Thailand. Behave as a professional colleague of your Thai co-workers, other Volunteers, and Peace Corps staff by resolving any differences through openness and respectful dialogue, avoiding gossip, rumor, or personalization of any conflicts. Be completely open and honest with Peace Corps staff about difficulties you face as a Volunteer or trainee, enabling a collaborative approach toward resolution of any problems. Recognize that you are a co-owner of the Peace Corps/Thailand public image, along with staff and the more than 5,000 Volunteers who have served in Thailand before you.



Finally, remember that as a development worker, you want to embrace a grassroots community-based approach to development, working to meet the needs and wishes of the community, which means being sensitive to local expectations related to behavior and dress.
Personal Safety

More detailed information about the Peace Corps‘ approach to safety is contained in the ―Health Care and Safety‖ chapter, but it is an important issue and cannot be overemphasized. As stated in the Volunteer Handbook, becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer entails certain safety risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment (oftentimes alone), having a limited understanding of local language and culture, and being perceived as well-off are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk. Many Volunteers experience varying degrees of unwanted attention and harassment. Petty thefts and burglaries are not uncommon, and incidents of physical and sexual assault do occur, although most Thailand Volunteers complete their two years of service without incident. The Peace Corps has established procedures and policies designed to help you reduce your risks and enhance your safety and security. These procedures and policies, in addition to safety training, will be provided once you arrive in Thailand. Using these tools, you are expected to take responsibility for your safety and well-being. Each staff member at the Peace Corps is committed to providing Volunteers with the support they need to successfully meet the challenges they will face to have a safe, healthy, and productive service. We encourage Volunteers and families to look at our safety and security information on the Peace Corps website at Information on these pages gives messages on Volunteer health and Volunteer safety. There is a section titled ―Safety and Security in Depth.‖ Among topics addressed are the risks of serving as a



Volunteer, posts‘ safety support systems, and emergency planning and communications.
Rewards and Frustrations

Most Volunteers find that the main challenges of service are not physical hardships or safety and security issues, but psychological stress caused by limited language, cross-cultural misunderstandings, and differences between Americans and host country nationals in values and expectations. Lack of structure in some situations and social pressure to fit into the role of guest, teacher, and community development worker are issues for many Volunteers. While frustrating, these challenges present opportunities for tremendous learning.



Pre-Service Training

Pre-service training (PST) begins the competency-based model that continues throughout your 27 months of service in Thailand. PST ensures that Volunteers are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to effectively perform their jobs and live within a Thai community. PST is managed by Peace Corps/Thailand with participation from representatives of Thai organizations, former Volunteers, and training staff or contractors over a 10-week period. Training staff and trainees are asked to continually assess the achievement of learning objectives so training can be adjusted to support trainees in achieving the competencies and learning objectives for language, culture, health and safety, and technical skills, prior to swearing in as Peace Corps Volunteers. PST affords the opportunity for trainees to develop and test their own resources. You will be asked to prepare for an experience in which you will often have to take the initiative and accept responsibility for decisions. The success of your learning will be enhanced by your own effort to take responsibility for your learning and through sharing experiences with others. Peace Corps training is founded on adult learning methods and often includes experiential ―hands-on‖ applications, such as conducting a participatory community needs assessment and facilitating groups. Community integration is a core competency for Volunteers to achieve both in PST and during the first several months of service. Sustainable development work is based on the local trust and confidence Volunteers build by living in, and respectfully integrating into, the Thailand community and culture. Trainees are prepared for this through a ―homestay‖ experience, which requires trainees to live with host families during PST. Integration into the community not only facilitates good working relationships, but it fosters language learning and cross-cultural


acceptance and trust, which help ensure your health, safety, and security. You will be exposed to topics such as community mobilization, conflict resolution, gender and development, nonformal and adult education strategies, and political structures.
Language Training

As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you will find that language skills are key to personal and professional satisfaction during your service. These skills are critical to your job performance, they help you integrate into your community, and they can ease your personal adaptation to the new surroundings. Therefore, language training is at the heart of the training program. You must successfully meet minimum language requirements to complete training and become a Volunteer. Thailand language instructors teach formal language classes five days a week in small groups of four to five people. Your language training will incorporate a community-based approach. In addition to classroom time, you will be given assignments to work on outside of the classroom and with your host family. The goal is to get you to a point of basic social communication skills so you can practice and develop language skills further once you are at your site. Prior to being sworn in as a Volunteer, you will work on strategies to continue language studies during your service. Woven into the competencies, the ability to communicate in the host country language is critical to being an effective Peace Corps Volunteer. So basic is this precept that it is spelled out in the Peace Corps Act: No person shall be assigned to duty as a Volunteer under this act in any foreign country or area unless at the time of such assignment he (or she) possesses such reasonable proficiency as his (or her) assignment requires in speaking the language of the country or area to which he (or she) is assigned.



Health Training

During pre-service training, you will be given basic medical training and information. You will be expected to practice preventive health care and to take responsibility for your own health by adhering to all medical policies. Trainees are required to attend all medical sessions. The topics include preventive health measures and minor and major medical issues that you might encounter while in Thailand. Nutrition, mental health, setting up a safe living compound, and how to avoid HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are also covered.
Safety Training

During the safety training sessions, you will learn how to adopt a lifestyle that reduces your risks at home, at work, and during your travels. You will also learn appropriate, effective strategies for coping with unwanted attention and about your individual responsibility for promoting safety throughout your service.
Qualifying for Service

Peace Corps/Thailand‘s competencies are designed to be accomplished throughout the Volunteer‘s 27 months of learning. A trainee may not be able to complete all learning objectives for a competency during pre-service training; however, he or she must show adequate progress toward achieving the competencies in order to become a Volunteer. Thailand‘s core competencies for all trainees include the following: Focus on Cultural Integration and Professional Service Facilitate the transfer of knowledge and skills Commit to safety and maintaining well-being Thailand‘s competencies for Community Based Organizational Development (CBOD Volunteers):


Integrate effectively into the community and local agencies Identify and assess community resources using participatory techniques Collaborate with the community in project planning Implement and evaluate projects and activities Thailand‘s competencies for Teacher Collaboration and Community Outreach (TCCO Volunteers): Integrate effectively into the school community Work cooperatively with Thai co-teachers Enhance educational resources and participatory learning methods Facilitate and participate in community outreach activities Technical training will prepare you to work in Thailand by building on the skill you already have and helping you develop new skills in a manner appropriate to the needs of Thailand. Peace Corps/Thailand staff, experts, and current Volunteers will conduct the training program. Training places great emphasis on learning how to transfer the skills you have to the community in which you will serve as a Volunteer. Evaluation of your performance throughout service is a continual process, as Volunteers are responsible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for personal conduct and professional performance. Successful completion of PST is characterized by achievement of a set of learning objectives to determine competence. Failure to meet any of the selection standards by the completion of training may be grounds for a withdrawal of selection and disqualification from Peace Corps service.


Progress in one‘s own learning is a dialogue between you and the training staff. All of the training staff will work with you toward the highest possible competencies by providing you with feedback on learning objective performance throughout training. After reviewing and observing your performance, the country director is responsible for making the final decision on whether you have qualified to serve as a Volunteer in Thailand Upon successful completion of training, trainees who qualify for Peace Corps service are required by law to swear (or affirm) an oath of loyalty to the United States; it cannot be waived under any circumstances. The text of the oath is provided below. If you have any questions about the wording or meaning of the oath, consult a staff member during training. I, (your name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, domestic or foreign, that I take this obligation freely, and without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge my duties in the Peace Corps (so help me God).
Ongoing Learning

You are expected to improve your knowledge and skills in the areas of technical, language, cross-cultural, diversity, health, and safety throughout your service as a Volunteer. Training staff provide learning objectives during the 27-month continuum to help guide Volunteers throughout service. The manner in which you do this may be formal, through tutoring or workshops organized by the host government or in-country staff, or informally, through conversations and reading. Your learning will continue after you become a Volunteer, formally and through inservice training opportunities, specialized language or technical workshops, and a close-of-service workshop to help you evaluate your service and prepare for your return to the United States.



Formal opportunities for ongoing learning in Thailand include the following: On-going language tutoring at your site: Volunteers are encouraged to seek a language tutor at their sites and will be reimbursed for a specified amount of tutoring. PST Reconnect Training: Volunteers have an opportunity to brush up on language skills, explore technical skill areas in-depth, learn with counterparts, and work on project ideas with counterparts, etc. Midservice Conference: Assists Volunteers in reviewing their first year of service, reassessing their personal and project objectives, and planning for their second year of service. Close-of-Service Conference: Prepares Volunteers for their future after Peace Corps service and reviews their respective projects and personal experiences. The number, length, and design of these trainings are adapted to country-specific needs and conditions. The key to the Peace Corps training system is that learning events are competency-based, designed, implemented, and evaluated cooperatively by the Peace Corps staff and Volunteers.



The Peace Corps‘ highest priority is maintaining the good health and safety of each Volunteer. Peace Corps medical programs emphasize the preventive, rather than the curative, approach to disease. The Peace Corps in Thailand maintains a health unit with two full-time medical officers (a U.S. PA-C and a Thai registered nurse) who take care of Volunteers‘ primary health care needs. Additional medical services, such as testing and basic treatment, are also available in Thailand at local hospitals. If you become seriously ill, you will be transported either to an Americanstandard medical facility in the region or to the United States.
Helping You Stay Healthy

The Peace Corps will provide you with all the necessary inoculations, medications, and information to stay healthy. Upon your arrival in Thailand, you will receive a medical handbook. At the end of training, you will receive a medical kit with supplies to take care of mild illnesses and first aid needs. The contents of the kit are listed later in this chapter. During pre-service training, you will have access to basic medical supplies through the Medical Officer. However, you will be responsible for your own supply of prescription drugs and any other specific medical supplies you require, as the Peace Corps will not order these items during training. Please bring a threemonth supply of any prescription drugs you use becausethey may not be available here and it may take several months for shipments to arrive. You will have physicals at mid-service and at the end of your service. If you develop a serious medical problem during your service, the medical officer in Thailand will consult with the regional medical officer and the Office of Medical Services in Washington, D.C. If it is determined that your condition cannot be


treated in Thailand, you may be sent out of the country for further evaluation and care.
Maintaining Your Health

As a Volunteer, you must accept considerable responsibility for your own health. Proper precautions will significantly reduce your risk of serious illness or injury. The adage ―An ounce of prevention …‖ becomes extremely important in areas where diagnostic and treatment facilities are not up to the standards of the United States. Many illnesses that afflict Volunteers worldwide are entirely preventable if proper food and water precautions are taken. These illnesses include food poisoning, parasitic infections, hepatitis A, dysentery,, tapeworms, and typhoid fever. Your Medical Officer will discuss specific standards for water and food preparation in Thailand during pre-service training.

Strict adherence to prevention techniques for vector-borne diseases, such as dengue fever and malaria, is extremely important. Significant illnesses, injuries, and any possible exposure to a rabid animal (through bites, scratches, or contact with animal saliva) must be reported to the health unit immediately. The Peace Corps medical officer (PCMO) will consider many factors in deciding the appropriate course of therapy necessary to prevent rabies. The PCMO will administer all necessary rabies immunizations.
Abstinence is the only certain choice for preventing infection with HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. You are taking risks if you choose to be sexually active. To lessen risk, use a condom every time you have sex. Whether your partner is a host country citizen, a fellow Volunteer, or anyone else, do not assume this person is free of HIV/AIDS or other STDs. You will receive more information from the medical officer about this important issue.



Volunteers are expected to adhere to an effective means of birth control to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. Your medical officer can help you decide on the most appropriate method to suit your individual needs. Contraceptive methods are available without charge from the medical officer. It is critical to your health that you promptly report to the health unit or other designated facility for scheduled immunizations, and that you let the medical officer know immediately of significant illnesses and injuries.
Women’s Health Information

Pregnancy is treated in the same manner as other Volunteer health conditions that require medical attention but also have programmatic ramifications. The Peace Corps is responsible for determining the medical risk and the availability of appropriate medical care if the Volunteer remains in-country. Given the circumstances under which Volunteers live and work in Peace Corps countries, it is rare that the Peace Corps‘ medical and programmatic standards for continued service during pregnancy can be met. If feminine hygiene products are not available for you to purchase on the local market, the Peace Corps medical officer in Thailand will provide them. If you require a specific product, please bring a three-month supply with you.
Your Peace Corps Medical Kit

The Peace Corps medical officer will provide you with a kit that contains basic items necessary to prevent and treat illnesses that may occur during service. Kit items can be periodically restocked at the health unit.



Medical Kit Contents

Acetaminophen Bismuth Subsalicylate Triple Antibiotic Ointment Cetylpyridium Throat Lozenges Chlorhexidine Detergent Dextromethorphan Throat Lozenges Antacid Tablets Diphenhydramine Capsules Hydrocortisone Cream 1% Clotrimazole Anti-Fungal Cream Ibuprofen Tablets 200mg Iodine Water Purification Tablets Oral Rehyration Salts (ORS) Packets Phenylephrine HCL Tablets 5mg Saline Eye Drops Anti-Diarrheal Caplet 2mg Caladryl Cream Adhesive Tape Bandages


Butterfly Skin Closures Condoms Lubricated without Nonoxynol-9 Dental Floss – Unwaxed Elastic Bandage Gauze Pads, Sterile Exam Gloves, Non-Sterile Insect Repellent 30% DEET Lip Balm with SPF 15 First Aid Pocket Guide Safety Whistle Bandage Scissors Sunscreen Cream SPF 30 Splinter Tweezers Disposable Thermometers



Before You Leave: A Medical Checklist

If there has been any change in your health—physical, mental, or dental—since you submitted your examination reports to the Peace Corps, you must immediately notify the Office of Medical Services. Failure to disclose new illnesses, injuries, allergies, or pregnancy can endanger your health and may jeopardize your eligibility to serve. If your dental exam was done more than a year ago, or if your physical exam is more than two years old, contact the Office of Medical Services to find out whether you need to update your records. If your dentist or Peace Corps dental consultant has recommended that you undergo dental treatment or repair, you must complete that work and make sure your dentist sends requested confirmation reports or X-rays to the Office of Medical Services. If you wish to avoid having duplicate vaccinations, contact your physician‘s office to obtain a copy of your immunization record and bring it to your pre-departure orientation. If you have any immunizations prior to Peace Corps service, the Peace Corps cannot reimburse you for the cost. The Peace Corps will provide all the immunizations necessary for your overseas assignment, either at your pre-departure orientation or shortly after you arrive in Thailand. You do not need to begin taking Malaria medication prior to departure. Bring a three-month supply of any prescription or over-thecounter medication you use on a regular basis, including birth control pills. Although the Peace Corps cannot reimburse you for this three-month supply, we will order refills during your service. While awaiting shipment—which can take several months—you will be dependent on your own medication supply. The Peace Corps will not pay for herbal or non-prescribed medications, such as St. John‘s wort, glucosamine, selenium, or antioxidant supplements.



You are encouraged to bring copies of medical prescriptions signed by your physician. This is not a requirement, but they might come in handy if you are questioned in transit about carrying a three-month supply of prescription drugs. If you wear eyeglasses, bring two pairs with you—a pair and a spare. If a pair breaks, the Peace Corps will replace it, using the information your doctor in the United States provided on the eyeglasses form during your examination. The Peace Corps discourages you from using contact lenses during your service to reduce your risk of developing a serious infection or other eye disease. Most Peace Corps countries do not have appropriate water and sanitation to support eye care with the use of contact lenses. The Peace Corps will not supply or replace contact lenses or associated solutions unless an ophthalmologist has recommended their use for a specific medical condition and the Peace Corps‘ Office of Medical Services has given approval. If you are eligible for Medicare, are over 50 years of age, or have a health condition that may restrict your future participation in health care plans, you may wish to consult an insurance specialist about unique coverage needs before your departure. The Peace Corps will provide all necessary health care from the time you leave for your pre-departure orientation until you complete your service. When you finish, you will be entitled to the post-service fee-based health care benefits described in the Peace Corps Volunteer Handbook. You may wish to consider keeping an existing health plan in effect during your service if you think age or pre-existing conditions might prevent you from re-enrolling in your current plan when you return home.



Serving as a Volunteer overseas entails certain safety and security risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment, a limited understanding of the local language and culture, and the perception of being a wealthy American are some of the factors that can put a Volunteer at risk. Property theft and burglaries are not uncommon. Incidents of physical and sexual assault do occur, although almost all Volunteers complete their two years of service without serious personal safety problems. Beyond knowing that Peace Corps approaches safety and security as a partnership with you, it might be helpful to see how this partnership works. The Peace Corps has policies, procedures, and training in place to promote your safety. We depend on you to follow those policies and to put into practice what you have learned. An example of how this works in practice—in this case to help manage the risk of burglary—is: Peace Corps assesses the security environment where you will live and work inspects the house where you will live according to established security criteria provides you with resources to take measures such as installing new locks ensures you are welcomed by host country authorities in your new community responds to security concerns that you raise

You lock your doors and windows


adopt a lifestyle appropriate to the community where you live get to know neighbors decide if purchasing personal insurance for articles is appropriate for you request authorization from Peace Corps BEFORE changing residences communicate your concerns to Peace Corps staff This Welcome Book contains sections on: Living Conditions and Volunteer Lifestyle; Peace Corps Training; and Your Health Care and Safety that all include important safety and security information to help you understand this partnership. The Peace Corps makes every effort to give Volunteers the tools they need to function in the safest way possible, because working to maximize the safety and security of Volunteers is our highest priority. Not only do we provide you with training and tools to prepare for the unexpected, but we teach you to identify, reduce, and manage the risks you may encounter.
Factors that Contribute to Volunteer Risk

There are several factors that can heighten a Volunteer‘s risk, many of which are within the Volunteer‘s control. By far the most common crime that Volunteers experience is theft. Thefts often occur when Volunteers are away from their sites, in crowded locations (such as markets or on public transportation), and when leaving items unattended. Before you depart for Thailand there are several measures you can take to reduce your risk: Leave valuable objects in the U.S.



Leave copies of important documents and account numbers in the U.S. with someone you trust. Purchase a hidden money pouch or "dummy" wallet as a decoy Purchase personal articles insurance After you arrive in Thailand, you will receive more detailed information about common crimes, factors that contribute to Volunteer risk, and local strategies to reduce that risk. For example, Volunteers in Thailand learn to: Choose safe routes and times for travel, and travel with someone trusted by the community whenever possible Make sure one‘s personal appearance is respectful of local customs Avoid high-crime areas Know the local language to get help in an emergency Make friends with local people who are respected in the community Limit alcohol consumption As you can see from this list, you have to be willing to work hard and adapt your lifestyle to minimize the potential for being a target for crime. As in other countries of the world, crime does exist in Thailand. You can reduce your risk by avoiding situations that place you at risk and by taking precautions. Crime at the village or town level is less frequent than in large cities; people know each other and generally are less likely to steal from their neighbors. Tourist attractions in large towns as well as beaches are favorite worksites for pickpockets and for people to try to charge


more because you are a foreigner. Use your Thai and politely state that you live in Thailand to help the local communities. Following are other security concerns in Thailand of which you should be aware: Theft: Property taken from Volunteers without use of force or physical contact (e.g., pickpocket on busses or in crowded markets). Burglary without PCV: Illegal entry into Volunteer‘s residence/ homestay room/hotel room when Volunteers are not present. Solicitation: Offer of illegal activity, such as drugs or prostitution. Harassment: Bothersome behavior that violates victim, such as stalking or name calling, or invasion of personal space. Accidents: Mishaps involving a Volunteer riding a bicycle or as a pedestrian. Volunteers tend to attract a lot of attention both in large cities and at their sites, but they are more likely to receive negative attention in highly populated centers, and away from their support network —friends and colleagues—who look out for them. While whistles and exclamations may be fairly common on the street, this behavior can be reduced if you dress conservatively, abide by local cultural norms, and respond according to the training you will receive.
Staying Safe: Don’t Be a Target for Crime

You must be prepared to take on a large degree of responsibility for your own safety. You can make yourself less of a target, ensure that your home is secure, and develop relationships in your community that will make you an unlikely victim of crime. While the factors that contribute to your risk in Thailand may be different, in many ways you can better assure your safety by doing


what you would do if you moved to a new city anywhere: Be cautious, check things out, ask questions, learn about your neighborhood, know where the more risky locations are, use common sense, and be aware. You can reduce your vulnerability to crime by integrating into your community, learning the local language, acting responsibly, and abiding by Peace Corps policies and procedures. Serving safely and effectively in Thailand will require that you accept some restrictions on your current lifestyle.
Risk Reduction Measures

Establish Volunteer‘s status within the community early through self introductions and explanations to the purpose of being here (serving as a Volunteer, and not a rich tourist). Dress appropriately for proper occasions: Thai‘s don‘t wear short shorts except during exercise activities. Keep room and valuables, such as passport, cash, jewelry, credit cards, and identification cards locked in a secure place or safely secured on you. Ignore harassment, or learn enough of the local language to say, ―No thank you; I‘m not interested; I‘m too busy; I‘m just too busy; or my friends and family are waiting for me.‖ Be aware and be alert to different traffic laws and cultures; people speed, motorcycles drive on the wrong side of the road, and many will not stop for pedestrians.
Support from Staff

If a trainee or Volunteer is the victim of a safety incident, Peace Corps staff is prepared to provide support. All Peace Corps posts have procedures in place to respond to incidents of crime committed against Volunteers. The first priority for all posts in the aftermath of an incident is to ensure the Volunteer is safe and receiving medical treatment as needed. After assuring the safety of


the Volunteer, Peace Corps staff members provide support by reassessing the Volunteer‘s worksite and housing arrangements and making any adjustments, as needed. In some cases, the nature of the incident may necessitate a site or housing transfer. Peace Corps staff will also assist Volunteers with preserving their rights to pursue legal sanctions against the perpetrators of the crime. It is very important that Volunteers report incidents as they occur, not only to protect their peer Volunteers, but also to preserve the future right to prosecute. Should Volunteers decide later in the process that they want to proceed with the prosecution of their assailant, this option may no longer exist if the evidence of the event has not been preserved at the time of the incident
Crime data for Thailand

Crime data and statistics for Thailand, which are updated yearly, are available at the following link: Please take the time to review this important information.
Few Peace Corps Volunteers are victims of serious crimes and crimes that do occur overseas are investigated and prosecuted by local authorities through the local courts system. If you are the victim of a crime, you will decide if you wish to pursue prosecution. If you decide to prosecute, the Peace Corps will be there to assist you. One of our tasks is to ensure you are fully informed of your options and understand how the local legal process works. The Peace Corps will help you ensure your rights are protected to the fullest extent possible under the laws of the country. If you are the victim of a serious crime, you will learn how to get to a safe location as quickly as possible and contact your Peace Corps office. It‘s important that you notify Peace Corps staff as soon as you can so the Peace Corps can provide you with the help you need.


Volunteer Safety Support in Thailand

The Peace Corps‘ approach to safety is a five-pronged plan to help you stay safe during your service and includes the following: information sharing, Volunteer training, site selection criteria, a detailed emergency action plan, and protocols for addressing safety and security incidents. Thailand‘s in-country safety program is outlined below. The Peace Corps/Thailand office will keep you informed of any issues that may impact Volunteer safety through information sharing. Regular updates will be provided in Volunteer newsletters and in memorandums from the country director. In the event of a critical situation or emergency, you will be contacted through the emergency communication network. An important component of the capacity of the Peace Corps to keep you informed is your buy-in to the partnership concept with the Peace Corps staff. It is expected that you will do your part in ensuring that Peace Corps staff members are kept apprised of your movements in-country so that they are capable of informing you. Volunteer training will include sessions on specific safety and security issues in Thailand. This training will prepare you to adopt a culturally appropriate lifestyle and exercise judgment that promotes safety and reduces risk in your home, at work, and while traveling. Safety training is offered throughout service and is integrated into the language, cross-cultural aspects, health, and other components of training. You will be expected to successfully complete all training competencies in a variety of areas, including safety and security, as a condition of service. Certain site selection criteria are used to determine safe housing for Volunteers before their arrival. The Peace Corps staff work closely with host communities and counterpart agencies to help prepare them for a Volunteer‘s arrival and to establish expectations of their respective roles in supporting the Volunteer. Each site is inspected before the Volunteer‘s arrival to ensure placement in appropriate, safe, and secure housing and worksites.


Site selection is based, in part, on any relevant site history; access to medical, banking, postal, and other essential services; availability of communications, transportation, and markets; different housing options and living arrangements; and other Volunteer support needs. You will also learn about Peace Corps/Thailand‘s detailed emergency action plan, which is implemented in the event of civil or political unrest or a natural disaster. When you arrive at your site, you will complete and submit a site locator form with your address, contact information, and a map to your house. If there is a security threat, you will gather with other Volunteers in Thailand at predetermined locations until the situation is resolved or the Peace Corps decides to evacuate. Finally, in order for the Peace Corps to be fully responsive to the needs of Volunteers, it is imperative that Volunteers immediately report any security incident to the Peace Corps office. The Peace Corps has established protocols for addressing safety and security incidents in a timely and appropriate manner, and it collects and evaluates safety and security data to track trends and develop strategies to minimize risks to future Volunteers.

In fulfilling its mandate to share the face of America with host countries, the Peace Corps is making special efforts to see that all of America‘s richness is reflected in the Volunteer corps. More Americans of color are serving in today‘s Peace Corps than at any time in recent years. Differences in race, ethnic background, age, religion, and sexual orientation are expected and welcomed among our Volunteers. Part of the Peace Corps‘ mission is to help dispel any notion that Americans are all of one origin or race and to



establish that each of us is as thoroughly American as the other despite our many differences. Our diversity helps us accomplish that goal. In other ways, however, it poses challenges. In Thailand, 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 Thailand. Outside of Thailand‘s capital, residents of rural communities may 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 have blond hair and blue eyes. The people of Thailand 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. To ease the transition and adapt to life in Thailand, you may need to make some temporary, yet fundamental compromises in how you present yourself as an American and as an individual. For example, female trainees and Volunteers may not be able to exercise the independence available to them in the United States; political discussions need to be handled with great care; and some of your personal beliefs may best remain undisclosed. You will need to develop techniques and personal strategies for coping with these and other limitations. The Peace Corps staff will lead diversity and sensitivity discussions during pre-service training and will be on call to provide support, but the challenge ultimately will be your own.
Overview of Diversity in Thailand

The Peace Corps staff in Thailand recognizes the adjustment issues that come with diversity and will endeavor to provide


support and guidance. During pre-service training, several sessions will be held to discuss diversity and coping mechanisms. We look forward to having male and female Volunteers from a variety of races, ethnic groups, ages, religions, and sexual orientations, and hope you will become part of a diverse group of Americans who take pride in supporting one another and demonstrating the richness of American culture.
What Might a Volunteer Face? Possible Issues for Female Volunteers

In recent years, the proportion of female Volunteers in Thailand has reached close to 75 percent, including those who are married. Most female Volunteers experience a high degree of security in their communities and when they travel within the country. Physical harassment is not common, but precautions still need to be taken. The higher status of men compared with women can manifest itself in both subtle and not-so-subtle ways. For example, women are often expected to take on more work than men are, and they often do so. This can be frustrating for both female and male Volunteers. Additionally, young females may face an uphill battle to gain the respect of their male Thai counterparts as age and experience is often valued over youth and enthusiasm—especially for women. Volunteer Comment: ―As a trainee I felt complimented as people remarked on my beauty, and other times I felt humiliated and treated more like a doll than a person.‖
Possible Issues for Volunteers of Color

Many Thais are not well-informed about the ethnic and racial diversity of the United States, and they, therefore, expect Volunteers to be caucasian. In addition, many Thais view lighter skin as more beautiful, a perception based more on an aesthetic bias than any racial prejudice and one that existed long before encounters between Thailand and the West. African-American Volunteers, in particular, should not take Thais‘ views of skin


color personally and should try to see them within this context. In addition, people in villages may have a difficult time seeing some people of color as Americans. Unfortunately, in recent years, heroin smugglers have used WestAfrican nationals to smuggle drugs out of Thailand, which has led to a belief among some Thais that American blacks are Africans who smuggle drugs. Fortunately, professional and personal relationships between African-American Volunteers and their Thai counterparts have broken down these stereotypes. Many Thais are not familiar with the term ―Hispanic American‖ or many of the countries in Central and South America. They may ask you what country you trace your ethnicity to and refer to you as that nationality rather than as American. You may have to remind Thai co-workers and friends that you are indeed an American. Thais have become aware of some Spanish-speaking countries through the media. Male Volunteers of Mexican descent may be affected by stereotypes stemming from the many boxing matches between Thai and Hispanic boxers. Volunteers of Cuban descent may be asked about Fidel Castro and Cuba. Colombian Americans may be asked about the violence associated with the drug cartels in South America. Volunteer Comment: ―An image of a Hispanic American is usually tied to the country of origin of that person‘s family. However, the important thing to remember and to remind our Thai hosts is that Hispanics from various countries of origin are Americans.‖ All Volunteers of color may find that Thai co-workers initially do not respect your professional skills as much as they respect the skills of white Volunteers. However, most Volunteers find acceptance and respect once personal relationships have been developed and professional competence has been demonstrated. Speaking Thai and showing respect for Thai cultural norms will help, and providing information about your family and your life in the United States will assist in breaking down stereotypes. If you


are shy, you may have some trouble allowing Thais to indulge their curiosity by touching your skin, hair, and clothes. Sharing pictures of your home and family in the United States is one way to help people get to know you as an American and as an individual.
Possible Issues for Asian-American Volunteers

It is common for Asian Americans to be mistaken for Thais, which can have both benefits and drawbacks. One advantage is that Asian Americans blend better into the community and, thus, may not receive as much unwanted attention in public. A disadvantage is that Thais may initially expect you to have the language skills of a native speaker. Thai friends told one AsianAmerican Volunteer that they were disappointed they did not get a ―real American‖ as they had requested. This Volunteer also felt that her Thai co-workers initially valued her less than they valued Caucasian Volunteers because they thought an Asian American was not very different from a Thai. But once people know you are not Thai, you are likely receive the same celebrity treatment that most foreigners receive in Thailand. If you are an Asian American, Thais may ask you about your ethnic origin, wanting to know the country of your ancestors. Thailand is home to many Asian minority groups related to contemporary Chinese, Burmese, Khmer, and Lao peoples, many of whom lived in the area before there was a distinct country known as Siam (later Thailand). The small Vietnamese population arrived primarily in the 1950s, and most have remained in the northeastern Thai towns and cities where they took refuge. Volunteer Comment: ―Yes, I am Asian; Filipino, to be exact. But I am also American and I‘ve spent the past five years of my life living in California and while I am very Filipino, I am also very Californian. I also happen to be a Peace Corps Volunteer, which means I sort of work for the United States government. None of what I wrote above would be a source of confusion for people living in the United


States or for anyone who has had experience with American diversity. But for the people of rural Thailand, I am an anomaly! ―To the people of rural Thailand, I am . . . a ‗farang‘ who does not have blond hair or blue eyes. an Asian looking man (they all think I am Thai...or Chinese...or Japanese...or Korean) who does not speak Thai, Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. an English-speaking-Asian-looking-man who wears farang clothes and does not speak Thai but loves rice but does not drink beer out of a straw. a Farang who looks like a Thai man because I am darker than a white man but I am also lighter skinned than a Thai man so, therefore, I am Chinese. But I speak English, therefore I am American, but I have black hair (not blond) so I am Thai, but I am ... You get the picture. ―Traditionally, the only contact people from very rural Thailand have had with farangs have been with the older white men who have married women from their villages. So when they heard that they would be receiving a visitor from the United States, I can only imagine the images that danced in their heads—tall, white skin, blond hair, blue eyes ... ―And of course, they got me! And thus the ensuing confusion (and the fun of it all). ―Brian, a Volunteer who hosted me for two days, was called a liar by a person in his village for introducing me as an American. Brian‘s principal was a little more polite and did a decent job of masking his disbelief.


―The person who met me in the bus station at my village told me I did not look American; I heard ‗mungkan kon Thai‘ (same as Thai) echo through the mouths of my city hall‘s staff when I arrived to meet the mayor; and the supervisor of my Education Service Area Office gave me the ‗I have a meeting with an American in a couple of minutes, what can I do for you?‘ look.‖ Anton Turuc, Group 119 – TCCO Project
Possible Issues for 50+ Volunteers

Thai government workers are subject to a mandatory retirement age of 60 (with exceptions for some with specialized skills), so Volunteers over 60 will have Thai co-workers who are younger than they are. Thais give great respect and importance to senior family members, and senior Volunteers often receive similar deference and respect, though this does not necessarily translate to greater respect for their professional competence or technical knowledge. Your co-workers may smile, nod, and appear to agree with you when the opposite is true, perhaps because they do not want to offend you. Although more people older than 50 are joining the Peace Corps today, most of your fellow trainees are likely to be under age 30. Generally, 50+ trainees are warmly accepted by other trainees; still, there may be times when you miss interacting with people of your own age, especially in social situations. The Thai language trainers recognize the different learning styles and needs of ―older language learners‖ and will endeavor to provide the most suitable training for older trainees. However, it will be important for the trainee to communicate his/her own learning style to their trainers and work together to adapt the language training to meet those needs.
Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Volunteers

Thais do not usually view bisexuality and homosexuality as sinful or unnatural, nor are there criminal penalties against sexual acts


between members of the same sex. However, some bisexual and homosexual Volunteers have found it necessary to adjust their behavior to be effective in their jobs and respected by members of their communities. Many choose to remain ―in the closet‖ to Thai friends and co-workers at their sites. Physical contact in public between members of the same sex (such as linking arms while walking down the street) is a common way for Thais to show affection, and it is important for Volunteers to realize that such displays of affection likely are nonsexual in nature. Volunteers who are accustomed to being part of a large gay community in the United States may not get the support to which they are accustomed. However, gay communities do exist in urban centers, such as Bangkok and Chiang Mai, and you will probably find significant support within the Peace Corps community. All women will have to deal with questions or teasing about boyfriends, marriage, and sex. All men will have to deal with questions about American women and girl watching, and they may be pressured by co-workers to visit brothels. During preservice training, trainees are encouraged to think through these issues and plan possible responses.
Possible Religious Issues for Volunteers

A high degree of religious tolerance exists in Thailand. Volunteers who refrain from drinking for religious reasons find that once this message is conveyed to their counterparts, it is typically respected and honored. It is doubtful that any religious issues will arise, unless one breaks the Peace Corps‘ prohibition against proselytizing by Volunteers.
Possible Issues for Volunteers With Disabilities

As part of the medical clearance process, the Peace Corps Office of Medical Services determined you were physically and emotionally capable, with or without reasonable accommodations, to perform a full tour of Volunteer service in Thailand without


unreasonable risk of harm to yourself or interruption of service. The Peace Corps/Thailand staff will work with disabled Volunteers to make reasonable accommodations for them in training, housing, jobsites, or other areas to enable them to serve safely and effectively. Thais‘ respect for others extends to individuals with disabilities, and the country has made efforts to help disabled individuals have productive jobs and lives. One example is the tradition of blind masseuses and masseurs in Thailand. In addition, schools are beginning to mainstream those with disabilities into regular classrooms. Volunteers with disabilities need to be aware of the rigors of the Peace Corps/Thailand program during both training and service. Trainees and Volunteers are expected to use their own transportation (bicycle) to get to the various training venues and workplaces. Any special accommodations needed during training and when at one’s site, such as an alternative to travel by bicycle, should be made known during the placement process in the United States, prior to arrival in Thailand.
Possible Issues for Married Volunteers

Serving as a married couple is typically very different than serving as an individual. There are unique challenges for couples wherever they serve. However, these challenges have proven to be particularly evident in Thailand, especially for women and for younger couples. Thai culture is patriarchal and married women often find that Thais will not address them directly, preferring to address the husband instead. Married women may find that Thais, especially Thai women, judge them poorly if their husband does not seem ―cared for‖ according to Thai standards. When viewing Thai gender roles and expectations from an American perspective, there is clearly a double standard. Married men may face questions (sometimes joking and other times serious) about the number of minor wives they have. It is not


unusual for husbands to receive invitations to visit prostitutes or to take a second wife, often in front of their wives. On the other hand, if a Volunteer wife seeks to go out somewhere on her own or seeks to establish her individual identity as a Volunteer independent of her husband, the host community may have difficulty accepting that both the wife and husband are separate and equal as individual Volunteers. It isn‘t impossible to serve successfully as a married couple in Thailand. However, it is important for married couples to understand from the beginning that these are issues they are likely to face. Couples will have a chance to talk with currently-serving married couples during PST to discuss strategies for addressing some of the challenges. Married couples are strongly encouraged to talk to Peace Corps/Thailand staff prior to making the final commitment to serve in Thailand. The country desk team (James Metzgar) can provide information related to speaking with staff in Thailand.

How much luggage am I allowed to bring to Thailand?

Most airlines have baggage size and weight limits and assess charges for transport of baggage that exceeds those limits. The Peace Corps has its own size and weight limits and will not pay the cost of transport for baggage that exceeds these limits. The Peace Corps‘ allowance is two checked pieces of luggage with combined dimensions of both pieces not to exceed 107 inches (length + width + height) and a carry-on bag with dimensions of no more than 45 inches. Checked baggage should not exceed 80 pounds total with a maximum weight of 50 pounds for any one bag. Questions about baggage limits should be directed to the particular domestic and international airlines on which you will be traveling. IMPORTANT:



Peace Corps does not have a special agreement with airline carriers, so check with your airline carrier to determine their specific baggage limits. If you exceed an airline‘s baggage limits, you may be assessed a fee. However, if your luggage conforms to the parameters stated above, Peace Corps will reimburse you for fees incurred for which you have a valid receipt. The Peace Corps recommends that you do not bring more than you can carry. You will be responsible for handling your luggage en route to post and overseas. Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take pets, weapons, explosives, radio transmitters (shortwave radios are permitted), automobiles, or motorcycles to their overseas assignments. Do not pack flammable materials or liquids such as lighter fluid, cleaning solvents, hair spray, or aerosol containers. This is an important safety precaution.
What is the electric current in Thailand?

How much money should I bring?

Volunteers are expected to live at the same level as the people in their community. You will be given a settling-in allowance and a monthly living allowance, which should cover your expenses. Often Volunteers wish to bring additional money for vacation travel to other countries. Credit cards and traveler‘s checks are preferable to cash. If you choose to bring extra money, bring the amount that will suit your own travel plans and needs.
When can I take vacation and have people visit me?

Each Volunteer accrues two vacation days per month of service (excluding training). Leave may not be taken during training, the first three months of service, or the last three months of service, except in conjunction with an authorized emergency leave. Family and friends are welcome to visit you after pre-service training and the first three months of service as long as their stay does not


interfere with your work. Extended stays at your site are not encouraged and may require permission from your country director. The Peace Corps is not able to provide your visitors with visa, medical, or travel assistance.
Will my belongings be covered by insurance?

The Peace Corps does not provide insurance coverage for personal effects; Volunteers are ultimately responsible for the safekeeping of their personal belongings. However, you can purchase personal property insurance before you leave. If you wish, you may contact your own insurance company; additionally, insurance application forms will be provided, and we encourage you to consider them carefully. Volunteers should not ship or take valuable items overseas. Jewelry, watches, radios, cameras, and expensive appliances are subject to loss, theft, and breakage, and in many places, satisfactory maintenance and repair services are not available.
Do I need an international driver’s license?

Volunteers in Thailand do not need an international driver‘s license because they are prohibited from operating privately owned motorized vehicles. Most urban travel is by bus or taxi. Rural travel ranges from buses and minibuses to trucks, bicycles, and lots of walking. Many Volunteers bring their driver‘s license as another form of identification. In a safety and security emergency, the country director may authorize a Volunteer to use a motorized vehicle.
What should I bring as gifts for Thailand friends and my host family?

This is not a requirement. A token of friendship is sufficient. Some gift suggestions include knickknacks for the house; pictures, books, or calendars of American scenes; souvenirs from your area; hard candies that will not melt or spoil; or photos to give away.



Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?

Peace Corps trainees are not assigned to individual sites until the later part of pre-service training. This gives Peace Corps staff the opportunity to assess each trainee‘s technical and language skills prior to assigning sites, in addition to finalizing site selections with their ministry counterparts. Keep in mind that many factors influence the site selection process and that the Peace Corps cannot guarantee placement where you would ideally like to be. Most Volunteers live in small towns or in rural villages and are usually within one hour from another Volunteer. Some sites require a 10- to 12-hour drive from the capital. You might have the opportunity to provide input on your site preferences, and staff will consider your preferences in tandem with the host country needs at different sites.
How can my family contact me in an emergency?

The Peace Corps‘ Office of Special Services provides assistance in handling emergencies affecting trainees and Volunteers or their families. Before leaving the United States, instruct your family to notify the Office of Special Services immediately if an emergency arises, such as a serious illness or death of a family member. During normal business hours, the number for the Office of Special Services is 800.424.8580; select option 2, then extension 1470. After normal business hours and on weekends and holidays, the Special Services duty officer can be reached at the above number. For non-emergency questions, your family can get information from your country desk staff at the Peace Corps by calling 800.424.8580.
Can I call home from Thailand?

Yes, it is relatively easy to call the United States from Thailand. Locally purchased cellphones are very common among Volunteers in Thailand. Although many Thailand Volunteers also have a telephone in their homes, you should not assume that you will have one because home telephones are still a luxury in many



provinces. If you do not have a home phone, there are phones for international calls at almost all post offices in Thailand.
Should I bring a cellular phone with me?

Peace Corps/Thailand will provide you with funds to purchase a cellphone during pre-service training as it is a safety and security requirement, so there is no need to bring your own. Public phones are also readily available throughout Thailand.
Will there be email and Internet access?

Internet shops exist near most Volunteers‘ sites, either in their community or within an hour‘s travel. Internet access is very cheap and is a common mode of communication used by Volunteers, who communicate regularly by email or texting with both Peace Corps staff and friends and family back home. Please note that during the 10-week pre-service training, Internet access will not be readily available.
Should I bring my computer?

A computer is not necessary for your work because most offices have computers. However, you are strongly urged to bring a computer as many Volunteers enjoy having laptops for personal use. We suggest you purchase personal insurance if you plan to bring your laptop to Thailand.



Summing up Peace Corps/Thailand in a few paragraphs is not an easy task. In fact, it‘s difficult to even think of where to begin. So I guess the only thing that makes sense is to start at the beginning. We arrived in Bangkok after about 24 hours of traveling. We piled into a bus in the middle of the night to go to our training site. We spent the first week comfortably in a hotel, getting to know our fellow trainees–a group as diverse as America itself, with ages ranging from 21-70 and home states ranging from Alaska to Hawaii. We learned an important lesson very quickly–we are all in this together. We share the common bond of being crazy enough to devote two years of our lives to this journey, away from our friends, family, and loved ones, but we will have each other to lean on for support and friendship. Perhaps never did that support become more necessary than the start of the second week of training, when we left the comfort of the hotel to enter the unknown world of a host family. The first night with our host families was probably like no other experience of our lives. Awkward doesn‘t quite describe it well enough. We could barely speak, we could barely express our gratitude to the strangers who had taken us in, and we could barely get over our loneliness after being separated from our friends and thrown into this completely unfamiliar situation. But this was also where the Peace Corps experience really started to take shape. This was the beginning in a long series of instances when we will be confronted with the new and unknown. But that‘s what Peace Corps is all about–adapting to the unknown, facing what‘s thrown at you, and smiling the whole time. Not trying to change it, refuse it, or reject it; but instead, opening up to it, experiencing it, and learning from it. Anyway, I'm through two paragraphs now and I‘ve only made it through the first two weeks of training, so I‘ll try to pick up the pace. We completed training, and then we began our lives at our sites. We were familiar with the language, familiar with the culture, and undoubtedly familiar with the feeling: what am I


supposed to be doing here? To those of us who are assigned as CBOD Volunteers, our roles can feel vague at times. We have a very broad range of projects that we can do. This is both the best and worst thing about CBOD–best, because we are not limited in what we can do; and worst, because we don‘t have the comfort of clearly structured responsibilities. Again, it comes back to adapting to the situation you find yourself in, and moving forward. This means riding your bike into the community, meeting as many people as you can, and being open to every new experience offered to you. If you are in the right mindset, you will find that this is not difficult–Thais are incredibly gracious hosts who will welcome you with smiles and open arms. The best thing you can do is to smile back and enjoy the hospitality. I have been in Thailand for about one year and eight months. I have worked with farmers in my village to try to promote organic farming practices, I have worked with a newly formed youth group on trash pickups and environmental awareness activities, I have helped raise money from America to support victims of devastating floods in my province, I have taught English to kids and adults, and next month I will be running a sex education and life skills camp for teenagers in my community. But what I will most take away from my Peace Corps/Thailand experience aren‘t the projects I‘ve helped with, but instead it‘s the relationships I‘ve formed. I still talk with my host family from training almost every week–and in much better Thai than that first night, I might add. I love the people at my site, who welcomed me into their lives and accepted me as family. On a day to day basis, there‘s no telling what new opportunity or new challenge you will be faced with, but I can honestly say, it is an experience that I would not trade for anything in the world.

—Joel Gerstman, CBOD Group 122
Welcome to Peace Corps/Thailand! You‘re in for a great adventure in a fun and unique country. I suggest leaving your preconceived notions at home, since it will take time to get to know your community and figure out where you fit in. Despite



what may be on your resume, you probably have additional skills you won‘t know about until you‘re here! Reflecting on my past 20 months of service, I am thankful for a new perspective about my own personal goals, about service, and about the world. The work is rewarding and I do see some results, like students‘ increased confidence speaking English. But the most meaningful part is the two-way cultural sharing aspect of Peace Corps: the opportunity to dive into the culture and to experience, in the context of our differences, how similar we all really are. To deal with all the stress that surrounds getting ready for Peace Corps service, take some advice from a few common Thai phrases: ―mai pen rai‖ (never mind; don‘t worry about it) and ―jai yen yen‖ (cool your heart; chill out). Don‘t stress out about packing. (Everything you need can be found here.) Don‘t worry about the language; you‘ll learn what you need and your community will be impressed that you‘re trying! (Some of my favorite moments are laughing with friends as we bumble through awkward attempts at communication.) And finally, before you leave the U.S., take some time to celebrate this opportunity and your readiness for the unknown. Congratulations and good luck!

—Sarah Bluth, TCCO Group122
Welcome! From day one, I was impressed with the dedication and energy of the Peace Corps/Thailand staff. I was also impressed with the intense and beneficial language training, as the language is a typical fear for all Volunteers. Overall, the pre-service training was a positive experience for me so when it was time for me to wrap up that chapter of my Peace Corps book and head to my community to begin the real adventure, I was pumped. As I got closer and closer to my village, I became nervous. It was as though reality finally hit me and I was going at it alone in rural Thailand. I was no longer surrounded by the supportive Peace Corps staff or the new Peace Corps Volunteers who had become


my family. I was finally living the adventure I had hoped for, for so long, and I was the most scared I‘d ever been. Those first few days at my site were some of the most difficult days I‘ve ever had. I was completely removed from my comfort zone, I didn‘t understand anything and I felt lonely, even though everybody went out of their way to make me comfortable–one of the amazing things about Thai people. Thankfully, those days didn‘t last long. Five months later and I barely remember the hard days as the consistent good days overshadow everything else. The first few months at my site were a whirlwind. I was brought to every community and religious event, celebration, funeral, and festival one could think of. I was introduced to so many people I wondered how I‘d ever remember anybody. I wondered when I‘d ever understand what was going on around me. I smiled anyway. I rode my bike a lot. I ate–Thai people love to eat and love to feed others. I sweated … a lot. I learned about my community and was warmed by its welcoming nature. I made friends and I laughed … a lot. From the beginning, riding my bike around was my favorite thing to do. These bike rides always lead me to something new, including singing karaoke with a new friend, eating something outrageous, learning how to play a new sport with the village kids, or learning how to make organic fertilizer. I‘ve now been at my site for five months and somehow I‘ve found a way to communicate. My language has improved, but my ability to communicate (not just verbally) is mostly because I‘ve met people who are patient and willing to take the time to understand and help me. I‘ve made relationships with people with whom I am able to share myself and where I come from. People are able to share things about themselves and their culture with me, always teaching me. People here will help you and immediately take you in as a family member. Even though each Volunteer has different experiences, this is true for all. As Peace Corps Volunteers, we are forever building relationships and learning–it‘s why many of us do this. Allowing yourself to step outside of your comfort zone and embrace it will teach you about your community and how you can help, about Thai culture


and Thai people, but also about yourself. Take the plunge to do something different and never stop smiling. It will be worth it.

—Erica Christie, CBOD Group 123
Your feet will bring you to where your heart is. -Scottish proverbNearly two years ago, as I sat on the plane to Thailand with more than 60 other new Peace Corps Volunteers, I remember scribbling nervously in my notebook, ―I have no idea what I‘ve gotten myself into.‖ As my time here has unfolded, it‘s become obvious: I ‗got myself into‘ the greatest experience of my life. My feet have brought me to where my heart is. You may have heard that Thailand is called the Land of Smiles. I believe Thailand is also the Land of Generosity. Generosity is pervasive here, as you‘ll see when you arrive. People are generous with their time, generous with their fruit (I love receiving bags of mangoes and freshly plucked pineapple), and generous with their lives. It‘s generosity like I‘ve never experienced before. Despite being a guest in this country, the people have welcomed me into their family, calling me daughter, niece, and sister. I challenge you not to see your departure for Thailand as leaving family or leaving home. I challenge you to see your departure for Thailand as entering a new family and entering a new home. From the minute you step off the plane in Thailand, you‘ll be welcomed with smiles and generosity. Philosopher Thomas Merton said, ―Genuine life is incompatible with complacency.‖ In joining the Peace Corps, you‘ve rejected a life of complacency. You‘ve become the courageous few that will live boldly, bravely, and in Thailand, generously.

—Elizabeth O‘Casey, TCCO Group 123



This list has been compiled by Volunteers serving in Thailand and is based on their experiences. 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. As you decide what to bring, keep in mind that you have an 80-pound weight limit on baggage. Although you can get almost everything you need in Thailand, underwear, clothes, and shoes in larger sizes may be hard to find. One strategy is to pack a box or two with items you probably will not need until after training and arrange for someone to send the boxes to you by surface mail once you get to your site. Most worksites have computers and many also have Internet and Volunteers who own laptops find them useful. If you bring a computer, please also consider personal insurance. Clothing Appearances are very important in Thailand so appropriate professional dress (riap roi in Thai) is essential. The riap roi standard of dress is mandatory during pre-service training, including dresses or skirts for women. Note: time for shopping is extremely limited so Volunteers from Group 121 prepared a slide show presentation for you on the Welcome CD. The visual presentations will hopefully help you select the right type of clothing to bring for your first months in Thailand. For men, riap roi consists of non-denim pants, such as chinos or Dockers, collared shirts (long- or short-sleeved, button-down or polo) in conservative colors and patterns, and casual dress shoes.


Professional dress for women consists of dresses or skirts (covering the knees while in standing or sitting positions) and blouses or polo-like shirts (with collars, sleeves, and modest necklines). A slip or camisole should be worn if the fabric is sheer. Revealing one‘s upper thighs, stomach, shoulders, and cleavage is frowned upon, even outside a work setting. Women should also bring casual pants for biking and nicer pants for some occasions. It is somewhat common to see women wearing pants to the office and in some schools dress slacks are worn. All clothing should be clean and neatly pressed. During PST, shoes should be closed or sandals should have a back strap. Once you get to your site, you will be able to observe and ask questions about appropriate (riap roi) clothing and shoes. Consider shoes that you can slip on and off easily, as shoes are usually removed before entering a home or office. All clothing should be clean and neatly pressed. Note: all-black outfits are generally worn only while in mourning. After hours: For both men and women, T-shirts and jeans are fine to wear, and shorts that reach the knee can be worn when working out. Thais do not generally wear shorts in public, except in very relaxed situations. Tank tops are not recommended, as they do not have sleeves and reveal too much. When you are in your own home, however, what you wear is up to you. General Clothing Two or three pairs of lightweight pants (jeans can be hot, but bring them if you like them because they are expensive to buy here)



Two or three pairs of knee-length shorts (for men) or capris (for women) for biking, which can be changed when arriving at work Four to seven short-sleeve shirts Sweatshirt or fleece top. One or two sweaters (it can get chilly in the cold season or in the mountains) One lightweight jacket, windbreaker, or raincoat Three to five pairs of socks, and one pair of hiking/fleece socks One or two belts Athletic clothes—shorts, T-shirts Baseball cap or other hat Handkerchiefs (to keep dust out of mouth while biking, wetting down to cool off, and mopping up sweat) Exercise-style, sweat-wicking T-shirts for biking Casual dress shirts/short sleeve For Women Four or five work outfits (see description above), including an assortment of lightweight, below the knee-length skirts, a couple of pairs of nice pants, and capris or long sports shorts for biking Bathing suit (a one-piece is best) Lots of underwear in breathable fabrics


At least one black skirt (below the knee) for funerals One or two pairs of black pants (some Volunteers note nonwrinkle synthetic clothes are too hot and not recommended – cotton, breathable clothing is better) For Men Four or five dress shirts Two or three polo-type shirts (although polo shirts with the Thailand emblem in appropriate colors are readily available and can be purchased for under $10 and are appropriate for almost all occasions) Four or five casual dress pants Two or three pairs of lightweight pants (jeans can be hot) Two or three pairs of knee-length shorts One or two neckties Lots of underwear (cotton is recommended since you will likely be showering at least twice per day) Bathing trunks (Speedo-style swimsuits are not recommended) At least one pair of black trousers for funerals




Note: It is customary and expected that shoes are removed before entering a house and some offices (including the Peace Corps Office in Bangkok). Slip-on shoes work well. For women, you may want to choose flats rather than heels. Flip-flops are readily available, but if you have large feet you may want to bring a pair as you may have difficulty finding larger sizes. One pair of dress shoes (loafer style for men and pumps or low heel closed-toe shoes with back strap for women) for work and on occasions such as meetings with government officials, funerals, your swearing-in ceremony, etc. PC requires shoes with back straps during training One pair of sport sandals (e.g. Chacos, Tevas, etc.) One pair of athletic shoes (if you have large feet and play soccer you might want to pack a pair of cleats since soccer is very popular) Extra shoes if you wear size larger than 10 ½ (Most men‘s size shoes are not available larger than 10½) Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items Contact lens supplies (these are available in big cities but you can bring from home) Solid deodorant (only roll-on is available here) Cosmetics (they are expensive here and also have a bleaching component) Tampons or alternative sanitary methods, e.g., Diva Cups, etc. (local selection is limited and only available in big cities)


Athletic supports and braces if you need them Universal sink stopper (for washing clothes in the sink when traveling) Travel towel (towels are readily available here, but you may want a travel towel that is compact and packable); many Volunteers comment that they need one during training and there isn‘t time to buy one

Camera Small alarm clock (or use the alarm on a cellphone) Small backpack for weekend travel Guidebook about Thailand (e.g., Lonely Planet), unless you want to borrow an older copy from the resource center Swiss army knife or Leatherman tool Games (e.g., Scrabble, Uno, and Cards) Photos from your life in the U.S., such as your American house, seasonal photos, and places you have visited in the United States to show to Thai friends Souvenirs from home to give as gifts (e.g., magazines, coins, postcards, stamps, cool pens, flat/small gifts, etc. that are easy to carry are recommended) Walkman/iPod-type device; some folks may want a tape recorder or MP3 recorder for taping language lessons



Durable water bottle, Thermos (coffee) that are easily washable A voltage converter—if you are bringing any electronics Contact information for resources in America (former employers, school loan information, colleges, organizations, etc.), which can useful for obtaining materials during service or for applying for jobs near the end of service Credit card (Visa is the most widely accepted), ATM card, and/or traveler‘s checks Lightweight computer (you can buy a computer here but it may included poor parts and stolen software) One USB drive/micro-storage device/external hard drive – this will be necessary for you to save technical and language training materials that will be provided to you at PST Teaching materials from the U.S (for TCCO Volunteers), or wait and ask folks to mail things later when you know what you need Access to some U.S. funds, perhaps $200 for vacation, or must-have purchases Durable map of Thailand (it would be good to have two sizes that include English as well as Thai) Blow-dryers and battery chargers for rechargeable batteries are easily found in Thailand Raincoat



The following list consists of suggestions for you to consider as you prepare to live outside the United States for two years. Not all items will be relevant to everyone, and the list does not include everything you should make arrangements for.

Notify family that they can call the Peace Corps‘ Office of Special Services at any time if there is a critical illness or death of a family member (24-hour telephone number: 800.424.8580, extension 1470). Give the Peace Corps‘ On the Home Front handbook to family and friends.

Forward to the Peace Corps travel office all paperwork for the Peace Corps passport and visas. Verify that your luggage meets the size and weight limits for international travel. Obtain a personal passport if you plan to travel after your service ends. (Your Peace Corps passport will expire three months after you finish your service, so if you plan to travel longer, you will need a regular passport.)

Complete any needed dental and medical work. If you wear glasses, bring two pairs. Arrange to bring a three-month supply of all medications (including birth control pills) you are currently taking.




Make arrangements to maintain life insurance coverage. Arrange to maintain supplemental health coverage while you are away. (Even though the Peace Corps is responsible for your health care during Peace Corps service overseas, it is advisable for people who have pre-existing conditions to arrange for the continuation of their supplemental health coverage. If there is a lapse in coverage, it is often difficult and expensive to be reinstated.) Arrange to continue Medicare coverage if applicable.
Personal Papers

Bring a copy of your certificate of marriage or divorce.

Register to vote in the state of your home of record. (Many state universities consider voting and payment of state taxes as evidence of residence in that state.) Obtain a voter registration card and take it with you overseas. Arrange to have an absentee ballot forwarded to you overseas.
Personal Effects

Purchase personal property insurance to extend from the time you leave your home for service overseas until the time you complete your service and return to the United States.
Financial Management

Keep a bank account in your name in the U.S. Obtain student loan deferment forms from the lender or loan service.


Execute a Power of Attorney for the management of your property and business. Arrange for deductions from your readjustment allowance to pay alimony, child support, and other debts through the Office of Volunteer Financial Operations at 800.424.8580, extension 1770. Place all important papers—mortgages, deeds, stocks, and bonds—in a safe deposit box or with an attorney or other caretaker.



This list of numbers will help connect you with the appropriate office at Peace Corps headquarters to answer various questions. You can use the toll-free number and extension or dial directly using the local numbers provided. Be sure to leave the toll-free number and extensions with your family so they can contact you in the event of an emergency.
Peace Corps Headquarters Toll-free Number:

1.800.424.8580, Press 2, then Ext. # (see below) Peace Corps Paul D. Coverdell Peace Corps 1111 20th Street, NW Washington, DC 20526

Peace Corps’ Mailing Address:

For Questions About:
Responding to an Invitation

Office of Placement EMA Region

Toll-free Extension

Direct/ Local Number

Ext. 1856 Ext. 2416

202.692.1856 202.692.2416

Programming or Country Information

Thailand Desk



For Questions About:
Plane Tickets, Passports, Visas, or Other Travel Matters Legal Clearance

Travel Officer (SATO Travel)

Toll-free Extension
Ext. 1170

Direct/ Local Number

Office of Placement

Ext. 1840


Medical Clearance Screening Nurse and Forms Processing (including dental) Medical Reimbursements Handled by a Subcontractor

Ext. 1500


1.800.818.8772 Ext. 1770 202.692.1770

Loan Deferments, Volunteer Taxes, Readjustment Financial Allowance Withdrawals, Operations Power of Attorney Staging (Pre-departure Office of Staging Orientation) and Reporting Instructions
Note: You will receive comprehensive information (hotel and flight arrangements) three to five weeks before departure. This information is not available sooner.

Ext. 1865


Family Emergencies (to get information to a Volunteer overseas)

Office of Special Services

Ext. 1470 202.692.1470
9–5 EST





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