New Green Economy, philanthropy, Saving the World, travel

Peace Corps: What Volunteers Get

A few readers wondered what exactly volunteers get out of joining the Peace Corps.  Like, is it charity, like helping at the soup kitchen?  The perception is almost as if you could get the same experience sending a few dollars to a preferred charity or sending old clothes to the Salvation Army.

This is not the case.

If you join the Peace Corps, you travel.  Real travel, not just poking ten toes in the sand on a hot beach in the Caribbean.  (Not that that’s a bad thing but..)

Travel in this case means “travel to experience”… a place, a people, a culture.  Pacific Islands, Asia, South America, Africa….  Like the Army, you go where you’re needed.  You commit.  For over a year.

Peace Corps volunteers travel overseas to make real differences in the lives of real people, says the organization’s web copy.   How awesome is that?  It’s a soul-altering experience.

For love, money, discipline and health benefits

The Peace Corps is a life-defining leadership experience.  It provides a well-traveled perspective and project management experience from which you will draw for the rest of your life.

The most significant accomplishment — and reward — will be the contribution you make to improve the lives of others.  It’s said: just try to feel miserable when the face of a young mother is beaming at you with relief and gratitude at having a new shelter with adequate water.  Watch her sing to her baby now that she can.  And feel it when her eyes catch yours, full of genuine gratitude.

That – will – change – your – life.   Full stop.

Dollars and Sense

There are also other types of benefits for volunteers, personally and professionally.

  • Free Travel: expenses for travel to and from your country of service are 
paid for
  • Living Allowance: a monthly stipend to cover living and housing expenses
  • Vacation: earn two vacation days each month
  • Medical and Dental: 100% medical/dental while serving
  • Health Insurance: affordable health plan up to 18 months after service
  • No Fee: there is no fee to participate in the Peace Corps
  • Student Loans: some deferment, some partial cancellation
  • Transition Funds: receive $7,425 (after full 27 months)

Here’s a form to apply for the Peace Corps. Here are the basics of what it’s like to be a volunteer: http://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=learn

Professional and Career Benefits

As we’ve said, Peace Corps Volunteers gain valuable skills and experience that will help in any career path.  If you’re looking to start your own business or get into Business — there are key things you can learn in the Peace Corps.

Forget feeding the U.S. Private Education Bubble by going $100,000 in debt for an expensive MBA program.  Learn in real life, see what really works.

  • Develop skills for the global marketplace
  • Get job placement support
  • Receive advantages in federal employment
  • Network with vibrant alumni

Talk to someone who was there

The Peace Corps staff of recruiters — all of whom served in the Peace Corps themselves — can tell you what it’s really like to Volunteer, whether or not you qualify, and how to work through the application process.

Contact your local recruiter at 800.424.8580 or use this page to get in touch: http://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=meet

I hope this page helps.  Anyone who is interested in the world and has any sort of interest in making the world a better place must consider the Peace Corps.  Myself included.  Seems like in America we think putting an addition on the house or upgrading the bathroom or getting another degree is going to bring joy to the soul.

There’s more out there.

Leave a comment

Leave a comment if you have been in the Peace Corps and recommend it, or if you have any thoughts on the program.

Remember it’s government run, sort of akin to the National Service in Switzerland (but Peace Corps is not mandatory, just advised).

[note: myself as a blogger / citizen of the U.S. has no affiliation with the Peace Corps at all, just think it’s a friggin’ good idea. cheers.]

New England, New Green Economy, philanthropy, Saving the World, travel

You’re Never Too Old For the Peace Corps

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Peace Corps signed a Memorandum of Understanding last week in Washington, D.C.

Newburyites comment on the Peace Corps
"Never too old for the Peace Corps"

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and Director of the U.S. Peace Corps, Aaron Williams, announced that a Memorandum of Understanding would facilitate stronger institutional ties between the two groups.  The idea is to collaborate on a wide range of environmental issues.  These issues include bringing cleaner cookstoves to millions in the developing world — while “engaging young people,” [quote from EPA] and expanding the global conversation on environmentalism, while supporting local solutions for communities here at home and around the world.

Hold on.  Engaging the “young people?”

That’s great, but what about the rest of us?  Young people want a new skirt, nicer shoes, and a trip to Cancun — not a long day in the African sun helping women repair water mains.  At least, that’s what I wanted…  but I’ve changed!  I swear!

Never Too Late

“It’s never too late to join the Peace Corps,” said Newbury, New Hampshire resident Margo Steeves.  “A woman in my yoga class is 73 and she just returned from a year in Africa.  She had always wanted to join the Peace Corps.  So she just did it.  She liked working in Africa so much she’s going back next year!”

Why do we think we have to be 18 to experience the Peace Corps?  Wouldn’t it make perfect sense to go when we are a little older and wiser?

EPA and Peace Corps Partnership

“The partnership between EPA and the Peace Corps marks an important advance in the work and mission of both organizations,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “EPA and the Peace Corps can expand our efforts both here at home and throughout the world, combining our experiences and knowledge to tackle complex and pressing environmental issues confronting our global community.”

“Everyday, thousands of Peace Corps volunteers around the planet work with local communities to find sustainable solutions to some of the most pressing environmental issues,” said Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams. “Our collaborative work with the EPA will help empower more communities to make environmentally friendly choices.”

Peace Corps Never Gets Old

People in developing countries face extraordinarily high exposures to toxic smoke from indoor fires and inefficient cookstoves that lead to nearly 2 million deaths each year, primarily in young children and women, according to EPA documents.  Thus, the EPA and the Peace Corps will work on:

  1. environmental education
  2. community monitoring
  3. solid waste management
  4. waste water management
  5. safe water management
  6. climate change issues

Peace Corps backgrounder

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps to promote world peace and friendship.

The Peace Corps’ mission states three simple goals:

  1. Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women
  2. Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served
  3. Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans

Peace Corps Facts:

Peace Corps officially established: March 1, 1961

Total number of Volunteers and trainees to date: 200,000+

Total number of countries served: 139

Current number of Volunteers and Trainees: 8,655

Gender: 60% female, 40% male

Marital Status: 93% single, 7% married

Minorities: 19%

Average Age: 28

Volunteers over age 50: 7%

Education: 90% have at least an undergraduate degree

Fiscal year 2010 budget: $400 million

Fiscal year 2011 budget: $400 million

Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams (Dominican Republic 1967-70) Peace Corps Deputy Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet (Western Samoa 1981-1983)

Toll-Free Recruitment Number: 800.424.8580

Further info:  http://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=about.fastfacts

Nature, philanthropy

Christiane Amanpour: Billionaires Giving Back

In a special Thanksgiving edition of “This Week,” Christiane Amanpour sat down with Bill & Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett, and Ted Turner.   The interviews make you glad to be alive.

Warren Buffett, the third richest men in the world says: “…everyone in my office is taxed about 30% while I’m only taxed 16.5% — not because of loopholes or tax breaks, but because that’s the tax break Congress gives the rich in the hopes it will trickle down.  It doesn’t [trickle down].”  He says he and the rich in general should be taxed in accordance with the rest of citizenship.  He has my attention.

16.5%!  Nice tax bracket.

Gates Buffett Turner Give It Away
Give it away now...

“I’ve got everything I possibly need,” Buffett said. “I’ve got a whole bunch of what I call claim checks on society. Little stock certificates. They sit in a box and have been there for 40 years. They can’t do anything for me,” he said, but “they can do a lot for other people if intelligently used.”

Melinda Gates emphasized the importance of education, certainly globally but not just abroad. “In the U.S. we feel the greatest inequity is education, that not every child in this country is getting a phenomenal education,” she said. “And they ought to — that’s the civil rights issue in our country.”

Ted Turner has focused on education of another kind: education about the peril posed by nuclear weapons to humanity. Both Turner and Buffett support the Nuclear Threat Intuitive, which works to reduce the threats posed by weapons of mass destruction.

The Giving Pledge is an organization these folks have started, now joined by 40 billionaire, who have pledged to give away the majority of their wealth.  Not just to give it to the wind, to re-invest it into the society that allowed them to make it in the first place.

(By the way, they all talk about how some give time, attention, patience is often just as relevant as philanthropy in the economic sense.  So far no one talks about giving good blog – but here I will: All Giving Bloggers: good job giving your writing, time, and words.)

There’s so much more to this story – it’s the biggest story of the 21st Century without a doubt. Philanthropy is infusing all relevant programs: health, education, innovation, nukes, environment….  This post is categorized under Nature to call attention to the fact that somewhere in human nature is this momentum toward philanthropy – towards loving-common-sense.

Fantastic program, Amanpour.

If you’re wondering, here’s a taut backgrounder on today’s philanthropy in business.