Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Can you hack it and “Live Like a Peace Corps Volunteer” for a week?

I thought this was really interesting.  Even though they do not have it for PC Uganda, Kenya is incredibly close.  I dare you to try it!!

Check out this innovative Challenge launched by a team of currently serving Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) around the world, along with the growing support of others including the National Peace Corps Association. The "Live Like a Peace Corps Volunteer Challenge" started with a simple dare to a PCV’s family to give up a microwave for a week.  That dare wasn't accepted, but the story of it inspired another Volunteer to make a game of the whole thing and tie it into the 50th anniversary of Peace Corps and the 20th anniversary of Peace Corps/ Mongolia where this all started.

The goal of this project is to raise awareness of Peace Corps in America and give those participating in the Challenge a small taste of Peace Corps life, hopefully while having some fun. PCVs in Kenya adapted the challenge to reflect realities of serving in Kenya.  The challenge celebrates our 50
th anniversary while at the same time addressing our 3rd goal.  Perhaps the only things missing from this challenge, things that are extremely difficult to replicate in other settings, are the inherent benefits of service- the sense of accomplishment in mastering your new language, the joy of making a new friend in spite of massive cultural differences, the beauty of the environments in which we serve… Nevertheless, this is a great activity for stimulating discussion about how two-thirds of the world lives. 

The Challenge: Kenyan Rules 
For one week you are asked to give up some of the everyday conveniences that we PCVs and our communities do without. The levels are arranged from more common to less common living conditions of PCVs in Kenya while also taking into account the difficulty of completing the challenge in the US.  So while none of us here have a car, it ranks quite high in the challenge as it is much more difficult to do without one in the states.  Kenya is known for its beautiful safaris in which you can spot the “The Big Five” animals, for which we’ve named our levels (they are in order of rareness in the Mara).
  • First, decide which month you want to participate.  The first week of the month you choose (the 1st-7th) will be when you need to forgo certain items.
  • Next, look through the list below and decide which one of the five levels of difficulty you want to take on, and which items you will abstain from  (although your items may come from multiple difficulty levels you are only trying to complete one level, the most difficult you think you can manage).
  • Finally, let us know that you’ve taken up the challenge by completing the Accept the Challenge section of the general “Live Like a PCV”

LionDifficulty Level I
(choose two) 
  • Forgo the use of the microwave.
  • No checks, no debit cards or credit cards, cash only all week.
  • No washing machine or dish washers - plus you must attempt laundry by hand once. (Let’s be honest you probably have enough clothes to easily go a week without washing.)
  • Cook dinner by candlelight.
  • Keep a journal or write a handwritten letter to a friend about your experiences this week.
BuffaloDifficulty Level II
(choose two plus one item from Level I) 
  • No television (This includes Hulu and Adult Swim online, they are not available outside the US)--You can listen to the radio and read local newspapers.
  • Baths or showers allowed only every other day-  You can wash yourself at the sink with a cloth each day.
  • No fast food, no restaurants (this includes coffee places, bars, and delivery).
  • Internet only every other day. (You can use the internet for your job but you're on the honor system here.)
  • Start and finish a book this week.
  • Buy your fruits and vegetables for the week locally.
  • Wild Animals! You can't leave your yard between 7:30 PM and 6:30 AM unless accompanied by 3 or more people.

ElephantDifficulty Level III
(choose two plus one item from Level II or two items from Level I) 
  • You can use your toilet but you must manually fill the tank or do a bucket flush. (Turn off the water to the toilet.)
  • Lack of temperature control - No heater or air conditioner in your car.
  • Greet everyone you know with a handshake and genuine questions about their family, home, and health.
  • You can only use one burner on your stove and no oven.
  • Ration your water to only 10 gallons a day.  This includes cooking, drinking, bathing, and washing clothes.
  • Teach someone the 4 ways the HIV virus is transmitted.

LeopardDifficulty Level IV
(choose two plus one item from Level III, or two items from Level II, or three items from Level I) 
  • Reduced living space.  You may only use your living room, bathroom and kitchen.
  • Bathe only once this week. (You may wash yourself with a cloth at the sink each day.)
  • No driving.  You can use public transport, bicycle, and walking.
  • Internet one day this week.  (Again, you can use it for your work only.)
  • Power outage.  Throw a dice (6 sides) every day for how many hours you will be without power sometime between 5.00pm -11.00pm (turn off your power breakers).

RhinoDifficulty Level V
(choose one item from each Level) 
  • No running water from your house, you must go fetch it from somewhere else (a neighbor’s house is fine).
  • No English for the entire week.  (You can speak English at work only.)
  • You can’t use any toilet in your house, you must go somewhere else or improvise.
  • No refrigerator.
  • Spend the whole weekend in one room of your house. Using no electricity - you are allowed 3 books and the battery life of your computer (no recharging).

Questions for Reflection:
  • How did you find this challenge- difficult?  Easier than you had anticipated?
  • What surprised you about participating in this challenge?
  • What did this challenge teach about how people in developing countries live? 

When you’ve successfully completed your Challenge check out our “Show Support” page at  for gear to let others know of your triumph and help us spread the word.

1 comment:

  1. Dave & I can hack it. We will be doing Leopard- level 4. Is anyone else up for the challenge?