January 27, 2005: Headlines: Recruitment: Florida State University News: Peace Corps volunteers have opportunity to explore, improve world

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Peace Corps volunteers have opportunity to explore, improve world

Peace Corps volunteers have opportunity to explore, improve world

Peace Corps volunteers have opportunity to explore, improve world

Nicole Tucker
Peace Corps volunteers have a unique opportunity to explore and improve the world

by Jillian Traurig
January 27, 2005

In the wake of disasters such as the massive tsunami in Southeast Asia, many people feel the need to help in a more direct way, as opposed to simply donating money. For these people, joining an agency such as the Peace Corps can fulfill this calling.

Established in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, the Peace Corps has sent over 178,000 volunteers to 138 countries to promote world peace, health awareness, economic and agricultural development, and education. A major objective of the agency is to address global needs and to assist other agencies by correcting them in a timely manner.

"I feel as though I have always lived a very privileged life, and I feel that joining the Peace Corps will help make others' lives better," Peace Corps applicant Sally Harris said. "I am very interested in going to a place and doing things I would have normally never done on my own."

The areas that many volunteers work in are education, youth outreach, community development, health and HIV/AIDS awareness, agriculture and environment, business development and information technology. Though there are many volunteers within each of these areas, it is very unlikely that any volunteer will ever be doing the exact same job as another. The possibilities for what type of position a Peace Corps volunteer can obtain are endless, from assuring that households in Niger have sufficient nutrition, to assisting citizens of Ecuador with maintaining an income in the midst of an unstable economy.

Terence Milstead has been the Peace Corps recruiter for Florida State for the past two years. As part of his job, he assists applicants through the application process and is responsible for nominating applicants for service. He also advises students and shares his own experiences of traveling abroad with the agency.

"I was stationed in Bulgaria in Eastern Europe between 1999 and 2001," Milstead said. "While I was there, I worked in community development. My experience led me to work in Bosnia for six months in the Crisis Corps and also teach in China for a year."

While the Peace Corps' only major requirement is that applicants be at least 18 years old, it is advised that applicants complete their undergraduate studies and be in good physical shape before going abroad.

"The application process is very rigorous," Milstead said. "But there are a lot of benefits that can be obtained through the work. A Peace Corps member has the experience of living overseas as well the advantage of learning a second language."

The Peace Corps application process can often take anywhere from six months to a year to complete.

"The application process has been very challenging," Harris said. "I am currently about halfway through applying. Everything about it is very detailed and complicated, but it is going to be worth it."

After being recruited and signing onto the Peace Corps, volunteers are committed to the organization for 27 months. The initial three months consists of field training and learning the language of the country in which they are stationed, and the following two years are spent working on projects. The work can be very strenuous, but rewarding.

While participants are provided with a salary, it is generally very small since it is comparable to the salary of those who are living around them in the host country.

Active volunteers also are provided with both medical and dental insurance.

Following participants' 27-month stint abroad, the Peace Corps offers help through a readjustment allowance of $6000, and assistance in different educational and business-related pursuits. There is also job placement support through the agency. Federal loans taken out prior to duty can be reduced or deferred, including educational loans.

While most former Peace Corps volunteers cite their experiences as fairly positive, there are a certain number of risks while participating. Since the agency's creation in 1961, approximately 250 volunteers have been killed while serving. Some of these deaths have been from common causes such as car accidents and health ailments, but there are over 20 volunteers whom have been killed for other reasons.

According to the Peace Corps' Web site, www.peacecorps.gov, the safety of volunteers is a top priority, and safety is heavily taught during training. Still, the agency addresses that it is common for volunteers to experience petty thefts or some levels of harassment.

Since the beginning of the fall semester, Milstead has assisted many students with the application process, and students interested in applying may learn more about the agency by visiting his office in 229 Bellamy, or by calling 645-1737.

In addition to receiving information directly from Milstead, several Peace Corps information sessions are available for students to learn more about the agency, such as the Seminole Futures Career Fair at the Leon County Civic Center, on Jan. 27 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

When this story was posted in January 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Florida State University News

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