|Peace Corps Training and Older Volunteers (Peace Corps, 1985, 12 p.)|
The process of leaving familiar surroundings and support groups is difficult for all trainees. All have various involvements and responsibilities which may transfer into the training program itself. This process may be simpler or more complicated depending on the issues related to age and experience.
Older trainees may be leaving children, grandchildren and/or spouses to join the Peace Corps. Whatever the age and independence of their offspring, many parents want to assure that close family ties can be maintained during their Peace Corps Volunteer service. Parents may feel that for special events or emergencies the distances are far too great, which may create a sense of uneasiness among them.
Peace Corps staff may assist the Volunteer in maintaining communications with his/her children and other family members by facilitating the use of the telephone, visits to or from the family and expediting the mail. As one ages the finiteness of time and closeness of family may become more important. Discussing the family with staff or other Volunteers frequently provides the feeling of closeness to the family for both younger and older Volunteers.
Shortly after arrival in country, staff should provide the trainees with information concerning cables, letters and flights home. Although they may never avail themselves of these procedures, the knowledge that families can be reached quickly in emergencies may reduce anxiety caused by the distance involved.
The network of friends and community organizations developed prior to joining the Peace Corps is significant. Volunteers may receive news of friends who are retiring, moving, ill or even dead. Since these friends and associates have been an important part of the Volunteer's life, events of this kind may have a major influence on them.
Support should be provided throughout their service to help the Volunteers adjust to changes or the loss of friends. The COS conference provides a good arena to discuss the changes Volunteers may experience when they return to the U.S.
Sometimes older Volunteers have more concerns than younger Volunteers, such as house disposal, furniture, car, investments, pension payments, social security, etc. Even sound personal and financial planning cannot cover all of the problems which may arise during a two-year period.
Facilitating the flow of communication and information on personal items is important for the staff to remember. Availability of appropriate forms and facilitating contacts with embassy personnel for guidance on income, property, business taxes, power of attorney, property transfers, bonds and other investments can reduce potential tension and anxiety.