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Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014

Want to join the Peace Corps? The application process just got a little easier

Compiled by Amy McDonald, Deseret News National Edition

Published: Sat, July 19 4:10 a.m. MDT

 U.S. Peace Corps volunteer Jill Preston, second from right, from Florida, holds hands with a fellow volunteer during a ceremony in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Monday, Oct. 3, 2011. More than 100 Peace Corps volunteers on Monday held the swearing-in ceremony before joining Cambodian villagers in the southern provinces of Cambodia.

U.S. Peace Corps volunteer Jill Preston, second from right, from Florida, holds hands with a fellow volunteer during a ceremony in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Monday, Oct. 3, 2011. More than 100 Peace Corps volunteers on Monday held the swearing-in ceremony before joining Cambodian villagers in the southern provinces of Cambodia.

(Heng Sinith, Associated Press)

If you've applied for the Peace Corps in the last few years, chances are you've had to wait more than a few months to hear back from them. That will no longer be the case.

The Peace Corps announced Tuesday that the application process to the agency will be updated to allow candidates to choose the country where they want to serve, recruit more young people and minorities and shorten the application process, The Washington Post reports.

Before the changes, candidates could only express their countries of preference, but allowing candidates to apply to specific countries enables Peace Corps volunteers to align their volunteer experience with their personal and professional goals and will improve the program, the Associated Press reported.

NPR reported that the change is motivated by the Peace Corp's desire to be more modern. Plus, "the number of people who actually complete the application process has fallen by more than a third from its peak in 2009." That's why the process will be "less cumbersome," NPR writes.

"Sixty-page forms that used to take more than eight hours to fill out have now been shortened and streamlined and can be completed online in less than an hour," Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said on NPR's "Here and Now." And the new application reduces the number of essays from two to one, the Post reported.

Plus, under the old system, Peace Corps applicants waited more than a year before being accepted. In interviews with The Washington Post, many applicants said they experienced "restless applicant syndrome" during the process. Many applicants don't even make it through the process. The Post reported that in the past nine months, more than 30,000 potential candidates did not complete their expectations. Now, the new guidelines will reduce the wait time to six months.

The Peace Corps was created more than 50 years ago to send Americans abroad to help communities in developing countries. The federal agency has about 7,000 volunteers at any one time in 65 countries, mostly for two years at a time.

"Today, Peace Corps volunteers build bathrooms at elementary schools in Senegal, work with beekeepers in Ghana to expand honey production, and bike across Togo teaching villagers the benefits of better nutrition and how to cook enriched porridge," Washington Post reporter T. Rees Shapiro writes.

amcdonald@deseretnews.com

Twitter | @amymcdonald89

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1. DN Subscriber
Cottonwood Heights, UT,
July 19, 2014

The "Peace Corps" (PC) was a noble idea and a clever tool to use to win the hearts and minds of third world people. Its workers have done a lot of good.

But, so have volunteers, or paid workers from various church groups. volunteer medical missions, the Red Cross, private corporations and simply a determined individual or small group of kind and generous people.

Let's review the good done by the PC on a cost-benefit basis.
How much does it cost per man year of PC person in the field? Be sure to include the overhead costs of the government bureaucracy.
What have the PC folks done that private groups could not have done?

Weigh the good done by the PC against other programs of the federal government on the value to the U.S. taxpayer. We are $17.5 trillion and debt and can not afford to do all the stuff we have always done just because someone benefits. If PC is the most important thing, then keep it and terminate other programs, or vice-verse.

We are broke and must cut spending immediately!