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Peace Corps 60th Anniversary Marks 60 Years of Service and the Beginning of a New Chapter

Since its founding in 1961, the Peace Corps has been making a difference around the world

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It has been 60 years since the volunteer program, the Peace Corps, was founded by President John F. Kennedy on March 1, 1961, with the goal of promoting world peace and friendship. Peace Corps volunteers have been making a difference in the world ever since.

 

As the Peace Corps arrives at its 60th anniversary, it celebrates 240,000+ Peace Corps volunteers who provide technical assistance in 142 host countries worldwide. They also look toward future opportunities and challenges of the next decades. Facing the COVID-19 pandemic, the Peace Corps enacted, for the first time in its history, a global evacuation of all its volunteers in March 2020. The agency is now planning for an eventual return to service, actively recruiting Americans for its next chapter.

 

“As the Peace Corps celebrates our 60th anniversary, I am reminded of how far we have come and what an unprecedented time we are in now. The past 60 years have truly prepared us for this historic moment. During a pandemic that has touched every corner of the globe, it’s clear that we are all in this together,” said Acting Peace Corps Director Carol Spahn. “As we look to the next 60 years, I know the Peace Corps will continue to be a community of people—all over the world—willing to do the hard work of promoting peace and friendship.”

 

Once fully operational again, the agency will be active in more than 60 host countries. Peace Corps opportunities range across six general sectors: agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health and youth in development. Anyone interested in joining can find opportunities on the agency’s Volunteer Openings webpage.

 

Sakeena Ali, the Peace Corps recruiter for Cal State Northridge, served as an education volunteer in Ukraine. The students Ali meets as a recruiter inspire her. “They want to make change that is relevant and lasting. They have been given the tools to better this world, and they have the motivation to go do it,” said Ali.

 

Volunteer Benefits

Ghanian children laughing with Peace Corps volunteer

There are many benefits to volunteering for the Peace Corps. Volunteers not only gain new perspectives on how people across the world live; they make a real impact. Volunteers also gain tangible benefits such as a living stipend free housing and full medical coverage. They receive three months of cultural and technical training to prepare them for two years of cultural immersion.  Upon return, they are eligible to receive financial aid for graduate study at a wide variety of educational institutions through the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows program.

 

Ali gained many skills while serving in Ukraine. “Overall it was really great because I not only got to learn more about my Ukrainian community and help them, but I also developed many leadership and project management skills,” said Ali. She helped teachers improve their teaching methods, created a teacher training manual, and was part of a team that prepared an English language textbook for national distribution.

 

Interesting Facts You Probably Did Not Know

female teacher pointing at blackboard in front of students
Here are some interesting facts that you may not know about the Peace Corps:

  • The majority of volunteers serve two years following three months of in-country training. They live and work alongside the people they serve, collaborating with local governments, schools, small businesses, and entrepreneurs. They create sustainable, community-based projects that address local development priorities in agriculture, community development, education, environment, health, and youth development.
  • Volunteers are free to choose where they apply to serve, and many decide to serve where their skills are needed the most.
  • Volunteers return home as global citizens with unique cross-cultural perspectives and leadership, language, teaching, and community development skills. These skills provide a competitive edge in today’s global economy.
  • Peace Corps service can be the first step toward a career or the continuation of a life’s work.
  • While the average age of volunteers is 26, 3.2 percent of volunteers are over the age of 50.

 

Future Plans

Group of people moving a sheep in the Andes
As for Peace Corps’ plans for the future, “We will keep providing our service to communities around the world,” Ali stated.

The Peace Corps wants to open up doors for diverse populations in the United States to apply for service and gain an opportunity to help communities abroad and learn new skills. The agency welcomes applications from U.S. citizens who are 18 and older; there is no upper age limit. Those from different ethnic backgrounds, the LGBTQ+ community, veterans, and more are all welcome to apply.

 

“It is important to showcase the diversity of the U.S population so communities across the globe will have a greater understanding of American cultures,” said Ali. When Peace Corps volunteers return home after two-plus years, they bring eye-opening service experiences to share and promote a greater appreciation of their host country among Americans.

 

Cal State Northridge has a proud history of supporting the Peace Corps. At last count, 542 alumni have volunteered with the Peace Corps. CSUN students are encouraged to connect with Ali for up-to-date information regarding applications and timelines at sali@peacecorps.gov

The Sundial’s editorial staff are not involved in the production of content for The Sundial Brand Studio.

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Peace Corps 60th Anniversary Marks 60 Years of Service and the Beginning of a New Chapter