The Different Types of Volunteers

Volunteers come in all different shapes, sizes, races, ages, and days out of college. I want to give you a cross section of the Peace Corps Volunteers you might meet, especially since Peace Corps isn’t filled with 8999 people just like me (unfortunately, obviously). Disclaimer! PCVs who may perchance be reading this. These are my versions of ridiculous generalizations, none of these descriptions characterize anyone in particular – except for probably me.

And I’m going to do it my way. Think of them like superlatives. Emphasis on the super.


Zazu – The Obnoxious One
There is always that one person who just drives everyone insane. Whether they are just straight up annoying, full of themselves, or have grating “local” English, this person always gets an eye roll. Secretly, of course. (By the way, we have these birds here! – Just sayin)

peter pan

Peter Pan – The Over-Achiever
Oh you know, that person that holds a training every day of the week. The person that is simultaneously weighing a baby, teaching about malaria prevention, instructing kids how to add in the local language, planting a forest, and showing locals how to keep proper records. You know all in the same breath.


Alice – The Wanderer
This Volunteer’s concept of “site” is hazy. Site is more like the entire country, and sometimes the neighboring countries too. The concept of staying in your own home for more than a week is baffling.


Chip – The Just Out of Colleger
Graduated in May, serving in the Peace Corps in June. So full of hope and enthusiasm and a strong dose of naivety. If nothing else, they bring their communities a smile and an able body.


Carl – The Senior Citizen
What else is there to do when you are retired? Join the Peace Corps! Share your years of knowledge and wisdom with hoards of adoring fans. And prepare yourself for intense arthritis.

evil queen

The Evil Queen – The Diva
Smallsmall mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the cleanest of them all? No power today? OMG I AM GOING TO DIE. Spider in your room? Call a neighbor to kill it for you. Ran out of mascara? OMG I AM GOING TO DIE.


Lefou – The Alcoholic
Ooo, touchy! I know, I went there. Breakfast beers, afternoon shots, and evening night caps followed by more night caps. Isolation and difficult living conditions tend to breed self-destructive behaviors. Everyone knows who they are, even if they don’t.


Hercules – The Superman
Excuse me while I swoop into the country, save thousands of lives from life-threatening illnesses and poverty. Oh don’t worry, I’ll move on to another place in two years, saving babies there. Kryptonite? Reality.


Crush – The Bum
It’s alright dude, I’ll just sit over here, attend some festivals, drink some local brew, and integrate myself. Maybe I’ll do a project at some point, but until I feel like everyone in my village, the next village, and my market town knows my name, personal history, favorite sports team, and lucky t-shirt, I’ll just hang out.

the govenor

The Governor – The Capital Hog
Every once in a while, you need a bit of respite and solace from your lonely life in the village. So you trek yourself the many hours to the capital for good food, expensive everything, and to restock on personal items (aka go watch a million movies). Some people tend to do this a lot more than others. They are sippin the good life gatorade a little too much.

sleeping beauty fairies

Fairies – The Token Gay
”Oooo girl, that dress is fabulous, who’s your tailor?” Loud, proud, and somehow silenced by cultural stigmas. The locals are really just willingly blind to the fabulousness that exudes from these volunteers, because every Volunteer, expat, and random white person’s radar is going off the charts.


Pinocchio – The Site Braggart
And I have running water and electricity and someone washes clothes for me and cleans my room and my job is perfect and my life is awesome and I don’t ever want to leave my village! Let’s get real, some stuff is awesome – like running water, but ain’t nobody’s Peace Corps life a giant heaping plate of cupcakes.

prince naveen

The Frog – The Surprise
Quiet, shy, and a little weird at first – there is always one person that everyone thinks either won’t make it or will go crazy. And wonderfully enough, that person always turns out to be an incredible volunteer, sometimes even extending for another year. Loved by their community, flourishing in the environment, always warms your heart – after you realize how heartless you were.

ruby red

The Ruby Red Slippers
Okay, not exactly in the same line as the others, but whatever. There’s no place like home, and sometimes people can’t last two years without it. Everyone has their reasons, but I’ll let you in on a not so nice secret. All Peace Corps Volunteers judge those who Early Terminate. There I said it, mean sassy cat is out of the bag.


Sneezy – The Infectious Disease’s Wet Dream
Germs, bacteria, viruses, blood borne pathogens, fungi, rabid animals – all things that somehow find some Volunteers more than others. Always sick, somehow dying, we are all hypochondriacs and for good reason here in the bush. Because what doesn’t kill you, actually just makes you super weak, delirious, and writhing in pain.

snow white

Snow White – The Everyone’s Best Friend
Nice, friendly, personable, always smiling, everyone wants to be best friends with this person. And we all are! Every time you see this person you just want to hug the living shit out them and then tell them all your problems.


Bashful – The Quiet One
Somewhere in a village that no one can remember the name of, there is a super sweet, quiet volunteer doing their job and minding their own business. When you run into them, you suddenly remember: “oh my gosh, I do know you. How is wherever you live?”


Cinderella – The One Everyone is Always Jealous Of
They have the perfect village, they speak the local language beautifully, their community loves them, blah blah blah. Someone is always doing something better than you, having a better experience. Maybe they have better amenities, a bigger town, an awesome counterpart – whatever it is, someone always wants it.


Gaston – The Creeper/Womanizer
Someone always has to take this title. No matter what. It doesn’t matter if it is their strange lust for locals, ability to hit on everyone in a 100 yard radius, or just plain sleeziness – someone always gets labeled the creeper.


Mulan – The Fight the Man!
I’m going to take on the system and come out swinging. Corruption, infrastructure, politics, all that good stuff Peace Corps Volunteers are told to turn a blind eye to. Take it all on! Fight the powers! Rise up locals! Yeah yeah, this person normally gives in eventually.


Ariel – The Whiner
My life is so hard! Bucket baths are gross. Eating with your hands is disgusting. There isn’t enough to do in this country. I want to see the world, not this place! I don’t have electricity. I hate my site. No one in my village will work with me. Yeah, yeah, we all experience these feelings – some people just vocalize theirs more often.


That Raccoon – The Cheeseaholic
Every Volunteer has some weird obsession with something from back home. Bacon, pizza, hamburgers, a grocery store, M&Ms, and cheese are some of the big ones. Cheese holds a special place in my heart. Volunteers can talk about food for hours on end. Someone always has some weird obsession with cheese and it always gets brought up.


Pocahontas – The Hippie
Come roll in all the riches that surround you, come taste the sunsweet berries of the earth. Yada yada yada. This is Peace Corps – one is bound to be around.


Woody – The Ultra Volunteer
Unlike Over Achievers and Supermen, the Ultra Volunteer does it all with finesse, humility, and humor. They are completely integrated, never on anyone’s immediate radar, accomplishing boatloads, and probably going to extend. They aren’t overworked, almost always happy and healthy, and tend to stay at site. This person is who everyone wants to be.


Beast – The Overly Hairy One
Mustache. Check. Beard. Check. Chest hair waving in the wind. Check. Toe Hair. Check. With not so safe razors far from site, this Volunteer blooms! Hair hair everywhere. Since we are in Peace Corps – why not go for crazy bush man?


Scar – The Power Tripper
Whether it is in a committee, with staff, or in their community – this Volunteer has the mindset that they are somehow superior to everyone else. Maybe we just aren’t worthy.


Genie – The Life of the Party
This Volunteer gets invited to all the parties in country. Everyone wants them to show up to entertain them. Something ridiculous will happen when this person shows up and YOU want to be around to see it. You know to tell your children about all the amazing life-changing things you did in Peace Corps.

And there you have it – the types of Peace Corps Volunteers you meet in country. I’m sure there are lots more I could come up with, but I think I’ve probably offended enough people Smile. It shouldn’t be too hard to guess which ones are me.

I do not claim to own the copyrights to any of these images. Remember that they are to be used strictly for non-profit purposes. The images are © copyrighted by Disney.


25 thoughts on “The Different Types of Volunteers

  1. Kudos!! I liked how you used the Disney characters to reflect each type of volunteer.Hope you didn’t step on too many toes. lol. you said in an earlier have to develop a thick skin. People are all different..and isn’t that really what makes for an interesting world? Keep blogging…I really enjoy it.

  2. Girl! you forgot the secret missionary..the one that will bring Jesus to save them from all their poverty IF ONLY THEY WOULD JUST BELIEVE. Ha! got a character for that? I love this post and had to repost!

    • You’ll never look at the “creeper/womanizer” the same without thinking: “And now that I’m grown I eat five dozen eggs/So I’m roughly the size of a barge.”

  3. This is fun to read, & except for the hardships being experienced where you are, we have some of these same people. all through our lives. The one who’s always HAPPY, & makes us ashamed when we just want to feel sorry for ourselves.The pretty one who never looks messed up no matter whats going on. The smart one who catches on to every challenge right away. We can’t stand them , I wish I was them. Laughing with you, & loving you always. Brittany & Bretts Gramma

    • Ooo that’s a tough one. I’d say Sleeping Beauty. You know that’s a good one, I forgot about the slutty one. How about this?

      Sleeping Beauty – The Slutty One
      You know that one person who shows up to a party and everyone is simply embarrassed to even look at the person. Why? Because it is like watching a flirtatious train wreck slam into everyone with a penis (or a vajayjay – let’s not discriminate). The Slutty One is like a sex collector. “Well, I’ve had a local, but I haven’t had a new volunteer yet. I wonder when I can make that happen.”

  4. Thanks everyone for your awesome comments. I’m glad my post was universal. Glad to see Peace Corps Volunteers really are a community!

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