There’s a certain lustre and mystique that surrounds Peace Corps. At least, it seems that way when people find out that I’m departing for Peace Corps service next Tuesday. With several recent conversations in mind, I would like to answer some questions that have come up frequently.
Where are you going?
– I’ll be going to Swaziland.
Where is that?
– It’s in southern Africa.
So, you’re going to South Africa?
– No. Swaziland is a sovereign nation. It borders South Africa (and Mozambique), but it is separate.
Oh, Swaziland! That’s the little country that’s inside of South Africa?
– No. You’re probably thinking of Lesotho, another sovereign nation in southern Africa.
So, what exactly will you be doing?
– I’m not sure. It will be something related to youth.
Where will you be living?
– I know that I’ll be in Swaziland. Aside from that, I haven’t a clue.
So, you’re not going to have electricity and running water?
– Those things definitely aren’t guaranteed, and I’m okay with that.
What about internet?
– Internet is available, but it is not as fast and widespread as in the US. As such, internet based communications might be slower.
Why Peace Corps?
– Short answer. Why not? Longer answer. I believe in community, collaboration and creative problem solving. There is a certain “can-do” attitude of many returned Peace Corps volunteers that resonates heavily with me.
– The Peace Corps sends volunteers where they are needed (and requested). I made myself available for anywhere in the world. It was decided that I could be of service in Swaziland.
What do your family and friends think about all of this?
– Most of my family and friends are very supportive. Those who are less than supportive respect my autonomy in my own life.
What are you doing with all of your stuff?
– I have packed two pieces of checked luggage, a backpack to carry on, and a messenger bag as my personal item. Everything else has been sold, donated, gifted, thrown away, used/consumed or otherwise disposed of.
Are you going to be able to come back?
– During service, volunteers are allowed to return to the US at their own expense. In short, this is an option though, I’m not sure how viable it is at this time.
How long are you going to be in Swaziland?
– Peace Corps is a 27 month commitment.
What are you going to do after Peace Corps?
– I’m not sure.
How can I keep in contact with you?
– I will attempt to update this blog with some degree of frequency. I will also have a phone, and hopefully, some data (internet). Let me know if you would like my new number. My email will remain the same. Texting will be best using WhatsApp (Android and iOS). Phone calls may be available for limited amounts of time.
Can I send you fan mail, care packages, postcards, etc.?
– Absolutely! All mail should be sent to
Kirby P. Riley, PCV
US Peace Corps
PO Box 2797
Please notice the emphasis on AFRICA. This is important as mail can end up in Switzerland. And we just wouldn’t want that to happen. Additionally, please write some sort of Christian sayings or scriptures (“God loves you.”) on any packages to help them get to me. Please don’t send anything that breathes, spoils, or leaks. Lastly, use USPS (cheapest option available – i.e., no expedited/express/etc.) when sending packages because everything takes between 2-10 weeks to get from the US to Swaziland.
What language do they speak?
– Swaziland has two official languages, English and sis-Swati.
Will you be learning sis-Swati?
What are you most excited about?
– This is a new experience with new people. The possibilities are endless. That excites me.
What are you most nervous about?
– My immediate nervousness stems from making sure I’m fully packed and don’t forget something important. Generally, I’m nervous about completely uprooting my life to move to an unfamiliar place.