December 29, 2004: Headlines: Recruitment: San Antonio Current : Wanted: happy, shiny faces without felony convictions

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By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Saturday, January 01, 2005 - 4:17 pm: Edit Post

Wanted: happy, shiny faces without felony convictions

Wanted: happy, shiny faces without felony convictions

Wanted: happy, shiny faces without felony convictions

Wanted: happy, shiny faces without felony convictions

Caption: Former Peace Corps volunteer Laura Booher spent two years in Turkmenistan, a former Soviet republic, where she taught English as a foreign language. (Photo by Mark Greenberg)

These days, recruiting for the Peace Corps probably isn't as tough as convincing people to join the National Guard, but federal budget constraints have hampered the agency's efforts to meet its recruitment goals.

Forty years ago, the Peace Corps had 10,000 volunteers in 44 countries. In 1966, the number of volunteers peaked at 15,556, due in part to the novelty of the Peace Corps and college grads seeking Vietnam War deferments. By 1987, there were only 5,219 - a historical low. During their respective administrations, Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton set an ambitious goal of 10,000 volunteers, but a lack of funding has consistently stunted recruitment. Today, there are about 7,700 volunteers in 72 countries, a little more than half of President Bush's goal of 14,000 by 2007.

"Congress hasn't appropriated enough money to grow," says Peace Corps spokesman Jesus García, who works from the agency's Dallas regional office.

In Fiscal Year 2005, lawmakers set the Peace Corps budget at $317 million, about $80 million less than Bush requested.

To qualify for the Peace Corps, you must be at least 18 years old and an American citizen. Those without a college degree must be highly skilled in their line of work. Fluency in a foreign language is also required, although you can take classes during training.

Volunteers must serve for two years; they receive a monthly stipend of $200-300.

The application process can take six to nine months. Those interested can apply online at or call to request an application. Training information is also available online.

Volunteers undergo a medical exam, criminal background check, and further interviews. Those who fail the physical, are considered a security risk, or don't meet the language requirement during training can be "deselected."

"Countries are getting stricter for qualifications," says García. "They're requiring fluency in a foreign language, especially French or Spanish."

During the Vietnam War, college graduates, often called "generalists" because most had earned liberal arts degrees, comprised the bulk of Peace Corps volunteers. In the early 1970s, Nixon appointee Michael Balzano Jr. directed the Peace Corps to recruit older, "more respectable" volunteers because administration officials feared college grads were either anti-war beatniks or communists.

Today's Peace Corps recruits college graduates, mid-career professionals, and retirees.

Trainees can list a country or regional preference, although the Peace Corps must match host countries' requests with volunteers' skills. Those interested in education, especially teaching English as a Second Language, are in demand, as are health care workers.

San Antonian Mark Rivera is headed for the Peace Corps next year, either to Morocco or Eastern Europe. "It's beneficial for Americans, as we tend to get isolated. We're citizens of the world and we should help out where it's needed."

By Lisa Sorg

When this story was posted in December 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

The World's Broken Promise to our Children Date: December 24 2004 No: 345 The World's Broken Promise to our Children
Former Director Carol Bellamy, now head of Unicef, says that the appalling conditions endured today by half the world's children speak to a broken promise. Too many governments are doing worse than neglecting children -- they are making deliberate, informed choices that hurt children. Read her op-ed and Unicef's report on the State of the World's Children 2005.

December 25, 2004: This Week's Top Stories Date: December 26 2004 No: 346 December 25, 2004: This Week's Top Stories
Soldiers of Peace 23 Dec
Nepal RPCV discovers new species of catfish 23 Dec
Tom Murphy will not seek 4th term as Pittsburgh mayor 22 Dec
Richard Celeste is spicing things up 22 Dec
Gov. Jim Doyle streamlines state government 22 Dec
Namibia Volunteers sworn in 21 Dec
RPCV serves as Ukraine election observer 21 Dec
Christmas Gifts for Peace Corps Volunteers 21 Dec
Estonia RPCV John Isles wins NEA poetry award 21 Dec
Director Vasquez decries racism and discrimination 20 Dec
RPCV criticizes "harrassment by Russian government" 20 Dec
War's horrors turn RPCV's son into pacifist 19 Dec
more top stories...

Changing of the Guard Date: December 15 2004 No: 330 Changing of the Guard
With Lloyd Pierson's departure, Marie Wheat has been named acting Chief of Staff and Chief of Operations responsible for the day-to-day management of the Peace Corps. Although Wheat is not an RPCV and has limited overseas experience, in her two years at the agency she has come to be respected as someone with good political skills who listens and delegates authority and we wish her the best in her new position.
Our debt to Bill Moyers Our debt to Bill Moyers
Former Peace Corps Deputy Director Bill Moyers leaves PBS next week to begin writing his memoir of Lyndon Baines Johnson. Read what Moyers says about journalism under fire, the value of a free press, and the yearning for democracy. "We have got to nurture the spirit of independent journalism in this country," he warns, "or we'll not save capitalism from its own excesses, and we'll not save democracy from its own inertia."
RPCV safe after Terrorist Attack RPCV safe after Terrorist Attack
RPCV Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, the U.S. consul general in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia survived Monday's attack on the consulate without injury. Five consular employees and four others were killed. Abercrombie-Winstanley, the first woman to hold the position, has been an outspoken advocate of rights for Arab women and has met with Saudi reformers despite efforts by Saudi leaders to block the discussions.
Is Gaddi Leaving? Is Gaddi Leaving?
Rumors are swirling that Peace Corps Director Vasquez may be leaving the administration. We think Director Vasquez has been doing a good job and if he decides to stay to the end of the administration, he could possibly have the same sort of impact as a Loret Ruppe Miller. If Vasquez has decided to leave, then Bob Taft, Peter McPherson, Chris Shays, or Jody Olsen would be good candidates to run the agency. Latest: For the record, Peace Corps has no comment on the rumors.
The Birth of the Peace Corps The Birth of the Peace Corps
UMBC's Shriver Center and the Maryland Returned Volunteers hosted Scott Stossel, biographer of Sargent Shriver, who spoke on the Birth of the Peace Corps. This is the second annual Peace Corps History series - last year's speaker was Peace Corps Director Jack Vaughn.
Vote "Yes" on NPCA's bylaw changes Vote "Yes" on NPCA's bylaw changes
Take our new poll. NPCA members begin voting this week on bylaw changes to streamline NPCA's Board of Directors. NPCA Chair Ken Hill, the President's Forum and other RPCVs endorse the changes. Mail in your ballot or vote online (after Dec 1), then see on how RPCVs are voting.
Charges possible in 1976 PCV slaying Charges possible in 1976 PCV slaying
Congressman Norm Dicks has asked the U.S. attorney in Seattle to consider pursuing charges against Dennis Priven, the man accused of killing Peace Corps Volunteer Deborah Gardner on the South Pacific island of Tonga 28 years ago. Background on this story here and here.
Your vote makes a difference Your vote makes a difference
Make a difference on November 2 - Vote. Then take our RPCV exit poll. See how RPCV's are voting and take a look at the RPCV voter demographic. Finally leave a message on why you voted for John Kerry or for George Bush. Previous poll results here.

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Story Source: San Antonio Current

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Recruitment



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