Advice for Future West African Peace Corps Trainees

As swear-in is drawing closer, I thought I would pass on some helpful hints to future trainees

  1. Electronics go to Africa to die. Fact. I would strongly advise against bringing any brand new electronics. The heat (at least here in BF) will kill your battery. For example: I already had a netbook a year and a half before I came to Burkina,  so if it dies, I’m not going to be too upset about it.
  2. Clothes also go to Africa to die. Bring stuff that you do not mind getting ruined. You can get stuff made, and become bien integre. Also, bikes can kill skirts and put holes in pants quite easily.  Bring a sewing kit or make friends with your local tailor.
  3. If you are bringing your instrument, do not take anything that you would not mind being destroyed. I.e. Not of high value, easily replaceable…
  4. Get a hard drive – the bigger the better, you will be glad that you did.
  5. Do not worry about bringing books. Most PC Offices/Transit Houses have bookshelves full of books that all the volunteers share.
  6. If you bring a Kindle/Nook, make sure that you have all of the books downloaded in case your kindle dies. Case in point: My kindle died, and I called Amazon and they were happy enough to send me a new one because it was 6 months after I got it. (They sent it to my parents and then my parents sent it on to me. )
  7. Back up your music collection for your mp3 player if that is important to you.
  8. Make sure iTunes is downloaded on to your computer that you are taking…West African Internet is Slow and downloading takes forever.
  9. Exchange all of your money that you get at Staging/exchange the rest of your American money with the Admin Officer once you get there.
  10. Bring Pepto Bismol before you come. It is always useful to have an extra supply.
  11. In terms of host family gifts – they love anything, even decks of cards, post cards, little stuffed animals, it’s the thought that counts.
  12. Go to Batteries Plus/some battery store with the electronics you want to charge. They can help you find a solar charger/rechargeable batteries that work for you.
  13. If you like to cook bring your own knives.
  14. From Karista, Niger-Madagascar RPCV 2009-2011: Always bring a book wherever you go , you never know how long you will be waiting, also, never trust a fart.
  15. Always bring toilet paper with you
  16. Bring Hand Sanitizer
  17. Pay attention to local dress requirements – in West Africa, dress is modest, and most of the training sessions require business casual attire. This will also help you integrate!
  18. Host families love American newspapers
  19. Try all of the food before making any judgments, who knows, you might even like it!
  20. Keep an open mind, be flexible, and try to maintain a positive mental attitude. (Hey, that’s what got you here in the first place).

If you have any other questions, please feel free to email me at

Good LUCK!


3 responses to “Advice for Future West African Peace Corps Trainees

  1. Great info. I’m heading to BF in October. Thanks for the good advice. A couple of us have been taking notes.

  2. I agree, Thanks for the info! My mom chatted with yours and put me in touch with your blog. I’m heading to Cameroon in September.

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