July 5, 2003 - Indy Star: As the economy falters, the Peace Corps beckons

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2003: July 2003 Peace Corps Headlines: July 5, 2003 - Indy Star: As the economy falters, the Peace Corps beckons

By Admin1 (admin) on Friday, July 11, 2003 - 10:26 am: Edit Post

As the economy falters, the Peace Corps beckons

Read and comment on this story from the Indy Star that many college graduates are escaping one of the most frustrating job markets in years by choosing to serve others in the Peace Corps, which has seen its popularity rise as the economy falters. Nationally, applications to the service program established by President John F. Kennedy increased by 13.5 percent during the 2002-03 school year. Read the story at:

As the economy falters, the Peace Corps beckons*

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As the economy falters, the Peace Corps beckons

Sign-ups by Hoosiers have risen 27% in the past 12 months, twice the national rate

By Jon Murray
July 5, 2003

When Brett and Habley Bachman leave the Midwest on Tuesday for Cape Verde, they will join the growing ranks of college graduates escaping one of the most frustrating job markets in years by choosing to serve others.

The Bachmans are among hundreds of Hoosiers in the past year who have sought to join the Peace Corps, which has seen its popularity rise as the economy falters.

Nationally, applications to the service program established by President John F. Kennedy increased by 13.5 percent during the 2002-03 school year.

In Central Indiana, applications jumped 27 percent in the 12-month period ending in June.

Peace Corps officials cite several reasons for the high interest: greater awareness of world events since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks; President Bush's call for community and global service during his State of the Union address last year; and, to a large degree, the economy.

The Bachmans, who recently married after graduating from Goshen College, never started a job search; they planned all along to join the 7,000 Peace Corps volunteers working in more than 130 countries after graduation.

"At a time of war, we want to represent our country in the world in a peaceful kind of way," Brett Bachman said.

But with the nation's unemployment rate hitting a nine-year high last month, graduates of many other schools are experiencing longer, more frustrating job searches, college officials say.

Sloane Boyd, the interim director of Indiana University's Career Development Center, said it used to take three to six months to find a job, but now six to nine months is typical.

Boyd said her office has always encouraged students to explore the Peace Corps and other service programs, such as Teach for America. IU has 64 graduates in the program, the most of any university in the state, while Purdue University has 26.

But Peace Corps officials say activity has picked up elsewhere.

Recruiter Courtney Cunningham organized an information meeting last week at Butler University. The more than 50 attendees ranged from recent graduates to parents to older people exploring the program.

"We weren't quite expecting such a large turnout," she said.

Volunteers in the Peace Corps train for three months and work for two years in business, building, teaching, environmental, community development and health projects.

The Bachmans will teach English to West Africans. Indianapolis resident Courtney Sanders, 26, who recently graduated from the University of Chicago, will leave Thursday to work on AIDS issues in South Africa.

Graduates who joined the program will gain an incredible experience, Boyd said, and will return as more marketable job-seekers.

"The hope is that when they finish this experience, they will have grown enormously, improved their skills and learned new skills, and come back to an economy that is more robust," she said.

In the meantime, the Peace Corps provides volunteers with a stipend to cover living expenses. When they finish the program, they receive $6,000.

Call Star reporter Jon Murray at 1-317-444-6033.

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