Peace Corps 60th Anniversary Marks 60 Years of Service and the Beginning of a New Chapter

Young volunteer

It has been 60 years since the volunteer program, the Peace Corps, was founded by President John F. Kennedy on March 1, 1961, with the goal of promoting world peace and friendship. Peace Corps volunteers have been making a difference in the world ever since.

As the Peace Corps arrives at its 60th anniversary this year, it celebrates more than 240,000 Peace Corps volunteers who have provided technical assistance in 142 host countries worldwide and also looks toward the opportunities and challenges of the next decades. Facing the COVID-19 pandemic, the Peace Corps enacted, for the first time in its history, a global evacuation of all its volunteers in March 2020. The agency is now planning for an eventual return to service, actively recruiting Americans for its next chapter.

“As the Peace Corps celebrates our 60th anniversary, I am reminded of how far we have come and what an unprecedented time we are in now. The past 60 years have truly prepared us for this historic moment. During a pandemic that has touched every corner of the globe, it’s clear that we are all in this together,” said Acting Peace Corps Director Carol Spahn. “As we look to the next 60 years, I know the Peace Corps will continue to be a community of people—all over the world—willing to do the hard work of promoting peace and friendship.”

Once fully operational again, the agency will be active in more than 60 host countries. Peace Corps opportunities range across six general sectors: agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health and youth in development. Projected opportunities are posted on the agency’s Volunteer Openings webpage. Ashley Baek, Cal State LA’s Peace Corps recruiter, served as an education volunteer in Mongolia from 2014 to 2017. She welcomes inquiries about international service from students at any level. She said, “I appreciate that students at CSULA are curious to explore opportunities outside the box and consistently ask how they can make a difference in the world.”

 

Volunteer Benefits

Volunteer helping children washThere are many benefits to volunteering for the Peace Corps. Volunteers not only gain new perspectives on how people across the world live; they make a real impact. Baek said that volunteers also gain “tangible benefits” such as a living stipend and having their housing and medical expenses paid for. Volunteers receive three months of cultural and technical training to prepare them for two years of cultural immersion, and when they return, they are eligible to receive financial aid for graduate study at a wide variety of educational institutions through the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows program.
People providing medical attention to sheep.Baek gained many skills while serving in Mongolia. “Overall it was really great because I not only got to learn more about my Mongolian community and help them, but I also developed many leadership and project management skills,” said Baek. She taught students the English language, created an English summer camp for her students, and began an eco-club for students to help their village through tree planting initiatives and trash pickups along a river.

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Future Plans

As for Peace Corps’ plans for the future, “We will keep providing our service to communities around the world,” Baek stated.

The Peace Corps wants to open up doors for diverse populations in the United States to apply for service and gain an opportunity to help communities abroad and learn new skills. The agency welcomes applications from U.S. citizens who are 18 and older; there is no upper age limit. Those from different ethnic backgrounds, the LGBTQ+ community, veterans, and more are all welcome to apply.volunteer with children in Ghana“It is important to showcase the diversity of the U.S population so communities across the globe will have a greater understanding of American cultures,” said Baek. When Peace Corps volunteers return home after two-plus years, they, in turn, share their service experiences and promote a greater appreciation of their host country among Americans.

Cal State LA has a proud history of supporting the Peace Corps. At last count, 170 alumni have volunteered with the Peace Corps. CSULA students are encouraged to connect with Baek for up-to-date information regarding applications and timelines at [email protected]