The Peace Corps has long been the gold standard for American volunteering. A huge commitment most of us can’t make, two years in service to a foreign community is a lot…and it has immeasurable rewards. I have a few friends who have traveled the Peace Corps path and would not change those experiences for anything–a few who have done back-to-back stints, giving years to service.
For the longest time, since the organization’s founding in 1961, you signed up and crossed your fingers, waiting to hear when and where you would be sent and the type of work you would do. Your preference or desire wren’t part of the equation–you were willing to work, they would send you where they needed you most. Now, as of changes announced today, the exhaustive application process has been streamlined, and registrants can now CHOOSE what nation they will serve and the type of project in which they will engage (Agriculture, Community Economic Development, Education, Environment, Health, Youth in Development, or a grab bag “Anything” category, which still plays by the old rules of matching able bodies to greatest need). This is huge. The website now lists all open projects, the type of work required for the project, and departure dates, so volunteers can more harmoniously engage in the work that inspires them most and where their talents and interests are strongest.
How about you? You busy for the next couple of years?
This program at Tulsa Community College rocks!
For students challenged by the rising cost of tuition, the school has instituted a program where students can defer registration costs as long as they volunteer. Tulsa Achieves will fund up to 63 unit hours of course credit, or up to three years of tuition and fees waived in exchange for 40 hours of volunteering per year. Almost 3,000 students have participated thus far. With a partnership with VolunteerMatch, students find volunteer placements in the Oklahoma community nearest them, and can log hours, find new volunteer gigs, etc. The school places an emphasis on education, social services, and healthcare volunteer placements, but does not mandate that focus.
VolunteerMatch also works with other colleges and universities in similar “Campus Solutions” programs, and AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps, and Teach for America also give tuition credit for logged volunteer hours. Don’t let finances keep you or the young people you know from pursuing the education they desire. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Photo: Peace Corps-Sargent Shriver at refugee camp near Jericho
It’s the ultimate volunteer vacation—that is, if you can get two years off work for vacation.
With the recent passing of Sargent Shriver, the Peace Corps has been more top-of-mind for many. Today, March 1, is the 50th anniversary of that organization that does more for our international reputation and standing than rowboats full of politicians. Proclamations, and even sanctions or other government actions, mean very little to remote villagers struggling with daily survival…but the presence of Peace Corps volunteers who are digging wells and irrigating crops and building medical clinics and turning, if not water into wine, fallow fields into fertile…make a difference to the entire community. A half-century ago today, President Kennedy dared to dream of an America that could be selfless and of service to those who needed us most, and today, that dream continues to bring out the best, and shine a light on the best, of all of us.
This weekend marks the 65th anniversary of the United Nations. The work of the UN is unique in creating alliances between nations, and the work that isn’t just on a political level, but on the ground changing lives. UN Peacekeeping Forces are, right now, making it safe for 200 million people in areas of conflict. 190 countries are banded together to address climate change via the UN. Hundreds of millions of girls are having doors to education opened due to UN work, and millions of children have been inoculated against polio through the United Nations.
And it was fifty years ago that presidential candidate John F. Kennedy called on young Americans to offer their talents and energy to the world in service. That collaborative worldwide effort would eventually be called the Peace Corps, celebrating its 50-year anniversary next year.
What will you collaborate on this weekend? It’s all about doing it together.