By Mary O’KEEFE
This week the Peace Corps announced some changes in the agency’s application process. The changes are designed to make it easier and more personalized for applicants to join.
“The agency saw what they needed to do,” said Alejandra Garcia, Peace Corps recruiter in the Los Angeles area.
In 1960, then-Senator John F. Kennedy challenged students at the University of Michigan to serve their country in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries. The Peace Corps was founded in 1961, according to the Peace Corps website.
“Each year we get from 10,000 to 13,000 [applications]. About 3,000 make it to serve,” Garcia said.
Applications are accepted, or not accepted, for a variety of reasons including applicants who find the Peace Corps no longer fits their life style.
“The application [process] was long, so we are cutting out the red tape and focusing on the relevant work of the applicant,” Garcia said.
The new process will allow applicants to choose their country of service and apply to specific programs. It is also a shorter application.
In the past, the process could take up to six hours to complete. The new application should take about an hour, Garcia added.
The agency hopes the changes will increase the number of applicants.
Requirements for applicants include that they must be a citizen of the United States, be over 18 years of age, have earned at least a bachelor’s degree or have some skills that would be valuable to the Peace Corps like experience in farming and agriculture.
“And that [the applicants] have a call for service,” Garcia said.
Garcia was in the Peace Corps from 2007 to 2009 in Guatemala. Her experience was invaluable.
“I got so much out of [serving]. I learned project development, community organizing, working with minimal [resources] and grant writing,” she said.
She even learned to work at a radio station. In addition to learning practical skills, she also learned to appreciate what she had at home in the U.S.
“You learn to be creative and work with what you have,” she said. “It is a one-on-one experience. … It’s what you don’t learn at school.”
To get more information on the Peace Corps, visit
www.peacecorps.gov. Each open Peace Corps position is clearly identified: “Apply By and Know By” deadlines. Applicants will know when they can expect to receive an invitation to serve.
The Southern California regional office is located at 2361 Rosecrans Ave., Ste 155 in El Segundo, CA 90245. For more information, contact
(310) 356-1100, or email