Maybe I should join the Peace Corps

I might have played my get out of jail fee card a bit early by joining the Peace Corps when I did.  When I left America, everything was fine.  Now, all I hear about, from both Azeris and American media online, is that we’re in crisis mode (or in Azeri cree-sees).  The prospect of reentering the American economy jobless and homeless freaks me out and makes me think, “If only there was an interesting way for me to spend a couple years riding out the economic downturn while adding an interesting experience to my resume.”  And apparently I’m not the only one.

From the Atlanta Journal Constitution in Georgia (the state, not the republic):

“We are seeing our numbers go up every month, and I expect an increase in applications and inquiries in 2009,” said David Leavitt, Peace Corps spokesman at the Atlanta regional headquarters. “Nationally, the number [of applicants] is up 16 percent,” he said.

Sounds like volunteerism is on the rise.  I’d like to attribute it to an increased sense of community fostered by Obama, but more likely, people are unemployed and don’t know what to do.  The rise in applicants isn’t just for kids out of college either.  From CNN:

Applications for the Peace Corps from adults over 50 have spiked 44 percent in 2008 compared to 2007, driven largely by the weak economy and a campaign launched in 2007 to lure mature volunteers.

The more people in the Peace Corps, the better I say.  But an expanding PC program needs and expanded budget, because opening up and expanding programs on a preexisting budget AND a dollar that has lost a lot of its value overseas means a lot of cutting and scraping at PC posts around the globe.  We’ve felt it here in PC Azerbaijan, and my group got lucky.  The new PCVs that arrive after I leave are really going to feel it.  A rise in applicants to the PC, for whatever reason, will hopefully bring more funding to the program.

EDIT:  Eli, who I guess is going to be a volunteer in Azerbaijan, posted a link to a website that aims to expand the Peace Corps in the comments.  Thanks.

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3 responses to “Maybe I should join the Peace Corps

  1. Nice post. As a member of AZ7 I am very worried about the funding issue and have been doing what I can to help the PC get more money. In case you and your readers are not aware, Congressman Sam Farr (Colombia 64-66) has introduced HR1066, Peace Corps Expansion Act of 2009. I would strongly urge everyone to contact their representative about this. If you need ideas on what to say or how to contact Congress http://www.morepeacecorps.org/ has all the resources you will need.

    Cheers,
    Eli

  2. Hi Jeff, I’m also due to be an AZ7. Can you give more specifics on how you anticipate the budget situation will affect our group? Unrelated – what part of the NW are you from? I’m in Seattle.
    Jenni

    • northwestjeff

      Jenni – There have been staff cutbacks and certain amenities that were provided but you’re group won’t see, like getting newsweeks, for example. Part of it also has to do with the fact that AZ6 and I’m assuming AZ7 will both have around 60 people in it, making PC Azerbaijan have to work with more volunteers with the same budget they’ve had in years past. This, coupled with the falling value of the dollar and the illogically stable value of the manat, make the post have less resources overall.

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