I've been pondering the ideal career combination for married couples who live overseas. I think the ideal situation (for Americans) is one spouse at Peace Corps and the other spouse at the international school.
Advantages of a Peace Corps spouse:
* know the "official" Americans (embassy/USAID folks) plus all the NGO Americans
* know a lot of host country nationals because of PC's grassroots orientation and work with the govt.
* get to travel a lot because of scouting for sites and visiting volunteers
* all the perks of "official" Americans (generous shipments, pouch privileges, Armed Forces Network, etc.)
Advantages of an international school spouse:
* know all the parents and kids at the international school, including missionaries, expats of other nationalities, plus host country nationals
* international school people/facilities are "insta-community"
* get to travel a lot because of school field trips
There are a couple of downsides - PC staff have to pay taxes (NGO folks don't) and don't get annual home leave (NGO folks do - or, at least, we do). Not to mention having to deal with volunteers. Another disadvantage is that the teacher spouse is subject to current openings at the school.
I was thinking about this over the weekend as I participated in the annual trivia night (I was with three international school teachers and we placed second) and the following day's yard sale. MoBob and I are really at the social periphery of the international community. His Peace Corps gig is at the training center so he doesn't deal on a daily basis with a lot of the PC staff. I'm pretty much stuck in my office and prefer that other colleagues attend external events in my place. We don't have kids. Neither of us go to church. We don't hang out with singletons. We rarely go out on the weekends. We spend a lot of time at the international school and yet we're really not part of that community - or any other.
what about USAID staff? Maybe they are too ingrained in the "official" community, but I felt like USAID staff were more likely to have HCN friends (or at least FSN friends) than embassy people. and USAID pays better than PC, from what i can tell.
i may apply for another NEP position with USAID, but i wouldn't want to enter the foreign service as a single women.
I guess I would put USAID folks as just a little more "official" than PC, but definitely more integrated than the embassy staff. I've thought about USAID off and on but I'm just a little uncomfortable with with the foreign policy side.
I completely agree, life as a single woman overseas is not easy!