Thinking about joining the Peace Corps? It’s a big decision, especially because the typical assignment lasts two years. Becoming a Peace Corps volunteer is no walk in the park; it takes months of careful training, years of hard work, and an unwavering determination to make the world a better place. Many people think they have a clear understanding of what the Peace Corps is all about, but before you decide whether the program is or is not for you, make sure you dig a little deeper. Here are five lesser-known facts you may not have known about the Peace Corps to get you started.
Most Positions Require a College Degree
Many young people expect that they can join right after high school, but most Peace Corps volunteer opportunities require applicants to have at least a four-year degree. There is, however, no age limit for participating. In fact, over 50% of volunteers in 2016 are over the age of 50. If you’re older and opted to join the workforce right out of high school, you may still have some options. The Peace Corps does offer a limited number of opportunities to people with job experience and relative education. If this sounds like you, speak with a recruiter to find out if you might be a good fit for an available position.
You Can Serve With Your Spouse or Partner
If you and your partner are interested in joining the Peace Corps together, you can! It might, however, take longer to find appropriate placements and, or process through your applications. You and your partner will need to find positions in the same country that fit both of your skills and then submit your applications at the same time. While placements might be more limited, it’s definitely possible to serve together.
Training Doesn’t End When You Leave the U.S.
Every Peace Corps volunteer is required to go through three months of training before starting their two-year placement, but education doesn’t just stop when you get on the plane. In fact, you’ll be working toward various competencies throughout the entire placement. You should expect extensive community integration, cross-cultural, and language preparation, as well as technical, health, and safety training to be part of your entire Peace Corps experience.
Your Medical Expenses Are Covered
Because placement environments can sometimes be harsh, Peace Corps volunteers are provided full health-care coverage while part of the program. This care ranges from immunizations to med-evac back to the United States. While series medical problems are few and far between, it’s good to know you’re covered in case of an emergency. There are also Peace Corps medical officers available 24-7 to volunteers.
There Are Numerous Financial Benefits for Joining
There are several financial benefits to joining the Peace Corps and they start the moment you apply. You don’t pay to submit your application and, if accepted, all travel, housing, dental, medical, and living expenses are covered for the duration of your service. That’s a very impressive package. Further, while volunteers do not get paid for their services, the Peace Corps does provide $8000 to those who complete their two-year placement. The money is intended to assist you transitioning back into life in the United States after being gone so long, but can be used however you like. Another great perk is the opportunity for discounted tuition rates at select universities for those interested in pursuing a graduate degree.
Contributed by Amanda Vosloh Bowyer