Peace Corps is looking for good volunteers

Wednesday, March 5, 2003

Since its inception in 1961, more than 168,000 Americans have volunteered for the Peace Corps, an international volunteer organization that provides educational and technical assistance around the globe. Currently, the Peace Corps has some 7,000 volunteers in the field, but officials hope that number can be increased to 15,000 over the next five years.

Recently, a Peace Corps recruiter was in Cape Girardeau visiting with students at Southeast Missouri State University and others from the community. His reception was similar to that all over the country. There is still a great deal of interest in serving as a volunteer with little pay but huge personal rewards.

Volunteers must be at least 18 years old and must commit at least 27 months (three months of training and two years of service) to the Peace Corps. They receive a small monthly stipend and health benefits. After two years, volunteers are entitled to a $6,000 readjustment allowance and hiring preferences for federal jobs.

The Peace Corps says being a volunteer is "the toughest job you'll ever love." But don't be misled by the opportunity to live abroad and share a particular skill. It's hard work that is often performed where running water, indoor toilets and climate-controlled environments are luxuries -- if they exist at all.

In spite of this, there is an attraction to the Peace Corps that is rarely matched by other opportunities for volunteer service. In the process, thousands of Americans have enriched their lives while raising the standard of living somewhere else on our planet.

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