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Peace Corps - Volunteering Internationally

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The Peace Corps began in 1960 when then Senator John F. Kennedy challenged students at the University of Michigan to serve their country by living and working in developing countries in the name of peace. From that challenge, a federal agency was developed in 1961 devoted to world peace and friendship. The Peace Corps is more vital than ever. Volunteers continue to help countless individuals who want to build a better life for themselves, their families, and their communities.

The Peace Corps’ mission has three simple goals:

  • Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
  • Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
  • Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

Peace Corps Volunteers work in the following areas: education (36%), Health & HIV/AIDS (21%), Business (15%), Environmental (14%), Youth Outreach (6%), Agriculture (5%), Other (4%). Within these areas, the specific duties and responsibilities of each volunteer can vary widely.

Volunteers have gone to 139 countries in the following areas: The Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, South America, Africa, Pacific Islands, Asia, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East

Take a good look at yourself when deciding whether to join the Peace Corps. Serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer means 27 months of hard work. It takes determination, flexibility, patience, and a sense of humor. You must have a sense of adventure and a desire to help others. Just applying to become a Volunteer takes some time, preparation, and effort.

The men and women who join the Peace Corps reflect the rich diversity of the United States. They are of different races, ethnic backgrounds, ages, religions, and geographic areas. They are of varying physical capabilities. The Peace Corps accepts recent college graduates, seniors, married couples, as well as those between careers. 59% of Peace Corps volunteers are female, while 41% are male. The average age is 27, with 5% of volunteers over the age of 50.

You receive numerous benefits when joining the Peace Corps. The chance to make a difference and the feelings that go with that are important to mention. More tangible rewards include the chance to learn a new language, live in another culture, and develop career and leadership skills. It is a great segue into graduate school. You will have full medical insurance while in service and the opportunity to purchase affordable medical insurance for 18 months after service. You can defer your student loans during service. Volunteers with Perkins loans are eligible for a partial cancellation benefit. 15% of your Perkins loans can be cancelled upon the completion of each 365 days of service during your first two years of service. 20% can be cancelled upon completion of each of the third and fourth years. Four full years of service would equal a 70% cancellation of your existing loan. You will earn a monthly living allowance that should enable you to live in a manner similar to the local people in the community and for a little travel during your vacation time. You earn two days vacation for every month you serve. Upon returning to the United States, you will receive about $6,000, transition assistance related to employment and education, and noncompetitive eligibility for employment in the federal government.

Peace Corps has established partnerships with colleges and universities across the U.S. that offer academic credit and financial incentives to Volunteers during or after Peace Corps service. Master’s International allows you to incorporate Peace Corps service into a master’s degree program at more than 40 colleges and universities. The Fellows/USA program offers returned volunteers scholarships or reduced tuition at more than 30 participating schools.


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