Maybe this is old news to y’all, but this was featured in the Sunday Paper insert the Parade Magazine. Enjoy!

A Bigger, Better Peace Corps

Aaron Williams is the new director of the Peace Corps, a U.S. government agency that places volunteers around the world. President Obama has said the Peace Corps should double in size.

Who can join the Peace Corps?
There’s no age limit to serve—14% of volunteers are older than 30, and 6% are married. We have an increasing number of retirees. There’s an 85-year-old serving in Morocco. Like college, the application process is competitive: About one-third of those who apply are accepted. Applications have been increasing over the last five years, and they’ve spiked dramatically in the last year. I think that Americans are more engaged in the world today, and we’re able to capitalize on that.

Still, with 7500 volunteers now serving, the Peace Corps is roughly half the size it was in 1966. Why?
Funding has gone up and down. But wehave bipartisan support in Congress, plus the administration’s commitment to expand. We plan to add a couple thousand volunteers over the next two years.

What do volunteers do? How would you like to see their roles change?
Volunteers serve 27 months, including three months of training. They might teach English or help a micro-enterprise secure credit to grow. They could work on environmental projects or health programs to combat HIV/AIDS or malaria. Since many volunteers are tech-savvy, I want to use their expertise. For example, in Nicaragua a man with a background in mechanical engineering is developing a stove that people can use to cook with compost instead of wood. I want to put his blueprints and techniques online so that volunteers in Africa, Asia, and Latin America can see what he’s doing.

— Brooke Lea Foster

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