Peace Corps is a United States agency inspired by then-Senator John F. Kennedy, who in 1960 challenged young Americans to serve their country in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries. Since that time, over 215,000 Americans have served in the Corps in over 139 countries. Currently, approximately 7,200 volunteers are serving at any given time in 65 countries around the world.
Peace Corps volunteers serve 27 months overseas in a developing nation where they work with locals toward primary and secondary projects. Volunteers serve in countries all over the world, and in job sectors related to their personal backgrounds and experience.
Volunteers by Work Area
- Education: 40%
- Health: 22%
- Environment: 12%
- Community Economic Development: 11%
- Youth in Development: 7%
- Agriculture: 5%
- Other: 3%
Volunteers are placed in job sectors that generally match their background and education experiences. However, Peace Corps assigns job sectors based on an applicant’s whole “package”, and sometimes job sectors change between the nomination and placement period of the application process. Peace Corps emphasizes the importance of applications remaining flexible in both their expectations and desires in both where they are placed, and what job they are asked to do.
Peace Corps only serves in countries they are invited to, and highly prioritizes the safety of their volunteers and the Peace Corps program. Sometimes, countries develop to the point where Peace Corps is no longer a necessary service, and sometimes countries become unsafe for volunteers and Peace Corps suspends or ends their programs.
Where Volunteers Serve
- Africa: 46%
- Latin America: 20%
- Eastern Europe/Central Asia: 13%
- Asia: 10%
- The Caribbean: 4%
- North Africa/Middle East: 4%
- Pacific Islands: 3%
I have been invited to serve in Zambia, beginning in February of 2014. As with all volunteers, I will spend approximately three months training in-country to learn language, culture, and job skills before swearing in as a volunteer. My experience will be different from the experience of all other volunteers, including my peers in Zambia. Everyone has different reasons for joining Peace Corps, reasons for serving, and take away different experiences from their service. Applying and accepting an invitation to serve is an important decision, and one that can radically (and positively!) change your life. I encourage anyone interested in Peace Corps to learn more about this unique service agency and consider applying. You can also learn more about the process by reading my timeline.
The application process to join Peace Corps can take anywhere between nine months and two years, depending on the candidate. You can learn more about Peace Corps by visiting their website at http://www.peacecorps.gov.