Most people know the basis of what the Peace Corps stands for; an international service organization of the U.S. Every year, volunteers are sent abroad to serve in global communities for two years. Below lists five facts about the Peace Corps that reflect some of the successes, challenges, and interesting components of the long-standing organization.
An Unaccepted Concept
President John F. Kennedy was credited for the creation of the Peace Corps, however he was not the first person to introduce the idea of the organization. Senator Hubert H. Humphrey (D-Minnesota) introduced the first Peace Corps bill in 1957. According to Senator Humphrey in his autobiography, The Education of a Public Man, the senators at that time felt that the idea of young Americans spread out across the world was impracticable. Three years later, during Kennedy’s presidential campaign, he brought up the idea again. Once elected, having a young President urging its approval, it was supported through the Senate.
Steady Decline of Volunteers
During the recession, volunteer numbers were a record high. Recent graduates were struggling to find entry level jobs or a job at all. The option of spending two years abroad became appealing as an alternative employment opportunity. However, since 2009, the number of people applying to serve as volunteers is on a steady decline. Information from the 2013 Peace Corps Annual Performance and Accountability Report suggests that some of the reasons behind this decrease is the question of safety after recent murders as well of reporting of sexual assault during service. These tragedies have been reported heavily in the national media, however safety and security improvements have not been as widely reported to the public.
Commitment to Increase Diversity
In 2013, the percentage of minorities serving in the Peace Corps increased to 24 percent. Despite this growth, the Peace Corps have decided to boost recruitment in more diverse communities. Every regional recruitment office is required to hire an additional diversity recruiter to step up their efforts. The goal is to recruit in underrepresented communities to show how multicultural the United States is through the volunteer force.
University of Wisconsin-Madison Leads the Way
The University of Wisconsin-Madison is the top producer of Peace Corps Volunteers. Currently 90 alumni serve. UW-Madison has held the top spot on Peace Corps’ annual top schools ranking from 2001-2006. Throughout Peace Corps history, UW-Madison has been a leading resource for volunteers having over 3,000 alumni served. In addition, the state of Wisconsin is a top 10 state for Peace Corps volunteers with nearly 6,000 residents having served since the organizations creation.
Growing Interest from Older Volunteers
Volunteers must be at least 18, but there is no upper age limit. In 2004, older volunteers began to make an emergence into the Peace Corps. In 2013, 8 percent of volunteers in the Peace Corps were age 50 and over which is the all time high. Some reasons behind the increase is that people are retiring younger and have been living a healthier lifestyle. Older volunteers are not treated any different than the younger volunteers. As long as they are committed to learning new skills, they are helping to achieve the goal of the host community.
Peace Corps Fact Sheet – Peace Corps
Peace Corps aims to boost recruiting, diversity – Yahoo
Applications to the Peace Corps are Down – Peace Corps
UW-Madison regains top ranking in recruiting Peace Corps volunteers – University of Wisconsin