Saturday, August 23, 2008

Despite talk of national service, Peace Corps hit with budget cuts, reduced call for volunteers

Recently, the political candidates, especially Barack Obama, have talked a lot about volunteering and national service. Even so, The Washington Post reported Friday Aug. 22 that the Peace Corps has been cutting back on recruiting new volunteers as it has an $18 billion shortfall.

Bush had once promised to double the size of the Peace Corps. Despite criticisms of the administration’s “life as usual” mantra after 9/11, the administration did place more attention on opportunities like Americorps. However, in fiscally difficult times, the Peace Corps, like other priorities, has gotten whacked.

The Washington Post story is by Christopher Lee, is titled “Peace Corps to Pare Ranks of Volunteers: Despite Bush’s Goal of Doubling Program’s Size, Tight Budget Forces Cuts,” p A15, link here.

I requested a Peace Corps application in 2002 and attended some information briefings while still in Minneapolis. Despite the public call for volunteers (who range in age up to 82), the application is very long, seems to require a history of personal service and volunteering, and many recommendations. Spending one’s work life on call in a computer room does not set one up to be an ideal volunteer.

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