Wednesday, October 8, 2008



$400/month (USD) is my Peace Corps salary. Some may think it too much, others too little, and for others amazed that we are paid at all. In perspective my salary is about what schoolteachers with seniority and many nationals working as Peace Corps staff earn. It is equivalent to being paid minimum wage at a 40-hour/week job. Our salary puts us at about the same level as middle class Samoans.

Out of this money, the Peace Corps expects you to pay for all your living expenses and expenses relating to your Peace Corps assignment. Those volunteers living in Apia are faced with all the temptations of the modern world, such as cheese, movies, restaurants, and stores with merchandize. We who are based in rural villages are in turn faced with higher travel expenses and the needs of those living amongst us. Just who is farther ahead financially depends on what level of living standard you set for yourself and your level of generosity for others.

As time rolls along, the Samoan world is becoming my world and my world fading from memory. It is hard to be critical of either world, but to try and fathom the gulf between them; the apparent gluttony of the one, the serenity of the other, each desirous of what the other possesses and the difficulty to cross the chasm.

While the outside world is in financial panic caused in part by its gluttony, my life seems pretty good. The birds are singing, my garden growing, and hopefully my $400/month remittance keeps coming.


Anonymous said...

You were aware of what being paid to you before going...on your vacation, that of a middle-class Samoans income, so be it. Tax free$400.00 plus your Social Security monthly is far beyond middle-class to them, also the option of returning.. and they?? Flying fox are eatable you know, if tired of mutton flaps.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous,
Please feel free to air your options. This is an open blog and I enjoy all comments. However, your facts are off. Both Peace Corps and Social Socurity are taxed like any other income.
P.S. Unless you include your name with your comments, there is no way I can respond. Maybe just as well you remain anonymous.

Anonymous said...

Dear Nick/Anonymous
You have responded, lets keep that way.

Anonymous said...

I would say it's a good salary in Samoa, but that $400 is already spent before it comes in because they would have so many faalavelave and aitalafu to pay for. As you say life is not easy there, they are constantly working the land, and to have to buy sugar, salt, pay the electicity, etc....that $400 is not enough. At least they have their land.