Mar 282006
Authors: Mary Swanson

Graduating seniors unsure of future plans can consider becoming a Peace Corps volunteer. In completing an application by Friday, students might have the chance to work with young people in Belize, develop computer centers in Armenia or promote AIDS education and awareness in Malwai.

The Peace Corps is a 27-month volunteering commitment aimed at improving the quality of life in an overseas community. Peace Corps volunteers receive an allowance during their service, just more than $6,000 of transitional money on their return to the U.S. and may have their student loans deferred during their service.

“Technically, any American citizen over the age of 18 can apply for the Peace Corps, but most positions require a bachelors degree,” said Christy Eylar, CSU’s Peace Corps representative and former volunteer, “and we can almost guarantee finding a place for bachelor’s degrees.”

After an application is filled out, the applicant does an interview and if they choose to proceed after that are required to wait six and nine months to receive medical and legal clearances.

Eylar, an anthropology graduate student, said that as a result of this lengthy process only about one-third of the 40 to 50 applicants from CSU accept positions abroad.

The Peace Corps was founded in 1961 after then President John F. Kennedy challenged students at the university to serve their country through peace. Now in its 45th year, the Peace Corps boasts having sent 182,000 volunteers abroad to 138 different countries.

According to their Web site, the three goals of the Peace Corps are to help people of interested countries in meeting their needs for trained men and women, help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the people served and help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of all Americans.

“I think joining the Peace Corps would be a huge commitment, but a beneficial lifelong experience,” said Leah Raaflaub, a freshman business management major.

Eylar also said Peace Corps offices are in particular need of volunteers in the areas of forestry, crop extension, agriculture, business advising, primary education, university English and secondary mathematics, along with a background in French and Spanish.

“There are so many different benefits in joining the Peace Corps,” said Jill Thiare, Public Affairs specialist at the Denver regional office. “One of them being that international work experience is becoming valued more and more in the workforce.”

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