On March 1, 1961, less than six weeks after John F. Kennedy was inaugurated, he signed legislation that brought the Peace Corps into being. Fifty-four years later, we celebrate Peace Corps Week.
Today, the Peace Corps volunteers number 6,818 with a presence in 64 developing countries. Of that number, are 63 percent female, 94 percent unmarried, 75 percent white and only 7 percent are over 50, according to peacecorps.gov.
Volunteers in the Peace Corps focus mainly on education and health, with 38 percent and 24 percent serving in each of those areas, respectively. To apply, prospective volunteers fill out a 40-page application, in hopes of finding the best fit for volunteers’ service. Once accepted, volunteers serve for 27 months in a country of their choice—a change from in years past when volunteers were assigned to the country where they would serve.
During this week, more than 90 Peace Corps Week festivals will take place across 30 states. According to peacecorps.gov, these festivals will give the American public a chance to “learn about the countries and people Peace Corps volunteers serve.” Live videochats will also be available with current Peace Corps volunteers.
At last week’s Annual Career, Job & Internship Fair in the Student Union Building, the Peace Corps had a table set up, since the Corps is one of the many options open to DePauw students after graduation, and considering the heavy slant towards young, unmarried volunteers, it’s an option many college graduates are taking.
And why not?
The Peace Corps gives its volunteers a chance to travel, contribute to the education or health of many countries and perhaps most importantly to broaden their horizons. For DePauw students struggling to make the leap from college to graduate school, or college to the workforce, the Peace Corps can offer a chance to add oomph to any resume while expanding life experiences in a big way.
While an advertisement for the Peace Corps is not the intention of this editorial, we do hope to make clear that DePauw students have options aside from the two hammered into the heads of college students from the moment they get on campus: going to graduate school or getting a job.
With the arrival of March, and the knowledge that commencement for the Class of 2015 is just a few short months away, programs like the Peace Corps are provide another option for graduating seniors to keep in mind. While the Peace Corps definitely isn’t right for everyone, it’s something to consider, and if not, at least it reminds us to keep our minds open when considering what the next step is—because like it or not, the Class of 2015 will be taking that step soon.