Most people have heard of the Peace Corps, known someone who braved the experience or even entertained the idea themselves a few times when their future seemed a little uncertain.
The Peace Corps aims to recruit volunteers who have a “passion for travel, adventure and public service,” Peace Corps representative Melody Akhavan said. The volunteers are usually sent to a developing nation for 27 months to work on a variety of projects from bridge building to English instruction to field plowing. Currently, 70 UCSB alumni are volunteering abroad and 1,346 UCSB alumni have joined the Peace Corps since 1961. Graduates from all majors are welcome to apply because the Peace Corps maintains that all applicants have some life experience that would be valuable for volunteer work.
The applying process is competitive and highly selective, given that the work is demanding and the commitment is substantial. However, Akhavan asserts that upon completion, volunteers have gained “international experience, leadership skills and cross-cultural understanding.” These qualities are becoming increasingly important as industry, governments and people find themselves entirely in a global network. Graduate schools also are known to look favorably upon Peace Corps alumni, finding that Peace Corps involvement is a sign of dedication and maturity.
Of course, the Peace Corps has had its critics. Some argue that the Peace Corps is inefficient or, worse, imperialistic. However, the program remains strong and has partnerships with a number of colleges and universities across the United States that offer academic credit and financial incentives. Master’s International, a new program in the Peace Corps, offers the opportunity to count service towards their degree.
The Peace Corps hold informational meetings and office hours at UCSB on a regular basis. For more information, see www.peacecorps.gov for dates and times or call (800) 424-8250.