Peace Corps Hopes to Draw Volunteers with Streamlined Application Process

Since its inception in 1961, the Peace Corps has sent hundreds of thousands of volunteers to countries all over the world. Volunteers have helped to bring education and better hygiene practices to remote locales. Thanks to their efforts, many people have access to clean water and know how to prepare nutritious meals. For many who have chosen to serve, it is a watershed experience. Their lives are forever transformed, and the valuable experiences they accumulate often guide subsequent personal and professional choices.

That is, Peace Corps service is a valuable experience for those who could withstand the arduous application process. In recent years applicants have waited for a year or more to find out if their application had been accepted. It was difficult in the interim to make any kind of commitments. Choosing a job, embarking on a romantic relationship and even signing an apartment lease were complicated by not know if or when the applicant might be going to a foreign land for a two year period.

The application had become so drawn out and bureaucratic that many people dropped out before learning whether or not their application had been accepted. Moreover, Peace Corps management noticed that the number of applicants was dropping sharply. It was clear that changes needed to be made.

Newly appointed Peace Corps director Carrie Hessler-Radelet is championing a series of broad changes, the likes of which have never been seen before at the organization. Chief among the reformations is the revamping of the application process. Applicants now only have to turn in one essay. Peace Corps officials say that the application packet can be completed in just one hour, a significant streamlining from the eight hours required with the previous packet. The Peace Corps is also pledging to review the applications within six months rather than a year.mpca-new-logo-black-small-2

Other reforms are aimed at increasing the number of minority volunteers. Currently, about 75% of Peace Corps workers are white. Hessler-Radelet has beefed up the organization’s diversity office in an effort to bring in more minority volunteers.┬áSame sex couples are now allowed to serve together. Hessler-Radelet is also working to address the sexual assault concerns that recently came to light. Several Peace Corps volunteers have come forward to report sexual assault occurring within their assigned country. The organization has introduced several new programs and practices to help protect volunteers in foreign lands.

Another attractive change is the ability to choose preferred service countries. Peace Corps volunteers in previous years could be sentto any one of dozens of countries without consideration for the type of service the volunteer wanted to perform or where they wanted to be stationed Now applicants have a say.201112MembershipGraphRegion

Jason Hope┬árecently applauded the Peace Corps’ new efforts. “Peace Corps volunteers have been offering valuable service to people around the world for more than 50 years,” Jason Hope said. “These new adjustments to the application process should draw interest from more young adults than ever.”