November 17, 2003 - Peace Corps Press Release: Peace Corps Volunteer Numbers Reach Record High

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By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Thursday, November 20, 2003 - 10:33 am: Edit Post

Peace Corps Volunteer Numbers Reach Record High

Read and comment on this Peace Corps Press Release that the annual Peace Corps census conducted on September 30 shows that the total number of volunteers in the field is 7,533 - the largest number of volunteers to serve overseas since 1974.

The census on September 30, 2002 was 6,636 volunteers so there has been a 15% increase in the past year. Keep in mind however, that the 2002 number was lower than expected due to the evacuation of hundreds of volunteers from Central Asia after 911, the removal of volunteers from Zimbabwe and Madagascar, and the withdrawal of trainees who were to go to Russia. The figure for 2001 was 6,643 and the figure for 2000 (which can be considered a baseline) was 7,164 volunteers in the field. So the present level is about 6% above the baseline - still an impressive performance that has required a lot of hard work to recover from two "bad" years - 2001 and 2002 with the opening of new programs in Fiji, Swaziland, Albania, Chad, and Azerbaijan to offset volunteers evacuated from Jordan, Morocco, China and the Ivory Coast.

What this means is that it will be difficult for the Peace Corps to meet the President's growth goal, first proposed in his State of the Union Address in February, 2002, of doubling the number of volunteers in the Field to 14,000 by 2007. Peace Corps expansion depends on many factors: the number of countries where the agency has programs, the number of volunteers in each country, having the infrastructure in place to support recruitment, placement, training and volunteer support, and having funds available to pay for it all. Some of these factors are outside the agency's control; e.g. volunteer density in any particular country cannot be increased past a certain point without affecting the quality of programs and the volunteer experience and there have already been concerns raised about this issue on some RPCV listservs. But the primary limiting factor in growth is going to be funding. Doubling the number of volunteers will require an annual growth rate of 15% over a five year period and that growth will not be sustainable without higher budgets from Congress.

The Conference Committee report that just came out of Congress has an appropriation of $325M for the Peace Corps for FY2004, a 10% increase over the FY2003 budget of $297M. There is no reason to believe, given current deficits and the budget climate in the foreseeable future, that the Peace Corps can reasonably expect annual increases in excess of the 10% figure. In fact, the Peace Corps will probably have to fight a yearly battle to maintain a 10% annual budget increase. With 10% annual growth, it will take seven years to reach the President's goal of doubling the Peace Corps rather than five.

Still the Peace Corps can be very proud of their numbers for this year - it is a big accomplishment for the Peace Corps to increase volunteers in the field by almost 1,000 in one year and we extend our congratulations to the Peace Corps and to Director Gaddi Vasquez on this big step. This accomplishment has demonstrated that Peace Corps expansion is not only possible but is actually being accomplished one step at a time. The next Director of the Peace Corps will have a significant challenge to sustain the budget growth, increase the number of programs, maintain program quality and the quality of the volunteer experience, continue infrastructure upgrades at the agency, and address the Safety and Security issues that were highlighted in the recent series by the Dayton Daily News. Read the story at:

Peace Corps’ Volunteer Numbers Reach Record High*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

Peace Corps’ Volunteer Numbers Reach Record High

Largest Number of Americans Serving in 28 Years

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 18, 2003 – Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez is honored to announce that 7,533 Americans are currently serving in the Peace Corps – the largest number of volunteers to serve overseas since 1974. The Peace Corps just verified the numbers after it completed its annual official count on September 30th.

From May to October, nearly 3,000 new Peace Corps trainees arrived at posts worldwide. In September alone, approximately 1,240 trainees arrived in 32 countries ranging in locations from Africa, Asia, Europe, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific.

Specifically, volunteers have arrived in Fiji, Swaziland, Albania, Chad, and Azerbaijan, which are all beginning new Peace Corps programs this year. The Peace Corps also plans on returning volunteers to China and Jordan in 2004.

“The significant number of new trainees in the field and new applicants are enormous indicators that Americans are more willing than ever to dedicate two years of their life to serve others around the globe,” stated Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez. “With Peace Corps’ new recruiting campaign in full swing this fall, we anticipate that new volunteer interest will continue to climb.”

This September, approximately 1,030 Americans applied to the Peace Corps - a 27 percent increase from 2002. From May to September of this year, the Peace Corps also experienced a 16 percent increase in the number of applications received over the same months last year. With increasing requests for applications, a record number of Americans are heeding President Bush’s call to service.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities with the Peace Corps and how to apply, please call 1.800.424.8580 to speak to a recruiter or visit the Peace Corps Web site at

Since 1961, more than 170,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health and HIV/AIDS awareness and education, information technology, business development, the environment, and agriculture. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a two-year commitment.

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Expansion; Peace Corps Directors - Vasquez



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