The world is changing and Peace Corps needs to move into the future

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Speaking Out: January 23, 2005: Index: PCOL Exclusive: Speaking Out (1 of 5) : Speaking Out - New Stories: 2008.04.25: April 25, 2008: Headlines: Criticism: Older Volunteers: Christian Science Monitor: Debate is brewing over how the Peace Corps can attract greater numbers of older, more experienced volunteers : The world is changing and Peace Corps needs to move into the future

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Thursday, May 15, 2008 - 4:23 am: Edit Post

As an older RPCV, (I was 65 when I completed my service in Romania in 2005) I read the article about the debate over older volunteers with great interest.

While my experience in Romania was personally rewarding, I regret that my contribution was limited. This was at least partly due to my lack of qualification for the placement I was given. I eventually found another project where my skills were more relevant but there was a lot of "down time".

I am presently volunteering in Swaziland where I was recruited because my qualifications matched the needs of the agency. This is a situation where I can offer some expertise and is much more rewarding for me and hopefully will result in a positive outcome for the organization I serve.

I agree that PCV's are also ambassadors on a small scale but maturity and judgement are important in this role. A 21 year old without some level of maturity may not portray the image of America that is needed abroad. That is not to say that all 21 year old volunteers are immature because many in my group were very mature for their years.

In my opinion, there are a number of accomodations that need to be made to recruit more older volunteers. Shorter terms of service would make it possible for some to serve. Recruitment for specific job requirements would also help. Nobody wants to feel they are wasting their time or skills on an assignment that does not match their expertise. Relax some of the rules about housing, travel within the country and hours of work for responsible volunteers who will get the job done without intense oversight. I believe a "Senior Corps" of experienced volunteers should be created within the Peace Corps who are recruited to fill specific volunteer opportunities.

The world is changing and Peace Corps needs to move into the future.

Jean Salls
PCV Romania 2003-2005

Posted by Admin1 for Jean Salls

By CarmenBailey ( - on Thursday, May 15, 2008 - 6:45 pm: Edit Post

It happened in 1986 but it may as well
have been yesterday... the entire year
is still strong within me. I was posted
to Mombo Tanzania because I was older,
age 50, and I could better handle particular
problems in that area. They said so. To me.
Out loud. Now that I am older yet, age 75 and
a little stiff now and then, I cannot do things
I once did at any age but I know more than ever, some of which is asked for in Ethiopia should I ever get back [I went on my own]. Friends just took my arm and balanced me along in hard places as I gave my advice. I didn't ask them, they were doing it! That says it all right there. A changing world should not exclude the millions who need basics in community farming. Small farming is all I know. It's what turns me on. People are still dying of hunger. I necessarily believe that I and they will never be obsolete.

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