What Is the Peace Corps?

The Peace Corps traces its mission back to 1961.  In a speech at the University of Michigan, then Senator John F. Kennedy challenged students to serve their country in the cause for peace by living and working in developing countries.  The Peace Corps is now  a federal agency devoted to world peace and friendship.

Since 1961, more than 195,000 Peace Corps volunteers have served in 139 host countries to work on issues as diverse as AIDS education to information technology and environmental preservation.

The Peace Corps' mission has 3 goals:

1. Helping the people of interested countries in meeting the need for trained men and women.

2. Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the people served.

3. Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

Volunteer opportunities are available for those with a four-year degree OR a combination of job experience and a two-year degree OR substantial experience, in lieu of a degree, in specialized areas. (Some specialized areas are: skilled trades, farm/agribusiness, vegetable gardening/nursery/forestry or fish cultivation/production, business management, computer technology, nursing (RN/LPN/LVN), non-profit management/organizational development, and work with at-risk youth.)

Peace Corps benefits include medical, dental and housing, as well as a monthly stipend, transportation to and from your host country, graduate study benefits, 24 vacation days a year, and a $6,075 readjustment allowance after your 2-year service. Some student loans can be deferred during Peace Corps service. After your 2-year service, former Volunteers receive one year of noncompetitive eligibility for employment in the federal government.

The Peace Corps is a 27-month commitment, which includes 12 weeks of language training in the host country. Applicants are encouraged to apply at least a year before they want to depart.

You can find more information on the Peace Corps website.