Do You Have What It Takes to be in the Peace Corps?

(StatePoint) Are you an older adult looking for your next big adventure? The Peace Corps is encouraging U.S. adult citizens to volunteer their service abroad to promote world peace and friendship.

While the Peace Corps temporarily suspended volunteer operations at all posts in March 2020 due to COVID-19, the agency is working to return to service and is accepting applications.

In time for Older Americans Month in May, a legacy of the John F. Kennedy presidential administration along with the Peace Corps itself, here’s what to know:

Experiences Vary Widely

Partnering with communities abroad to develop sustainable solutions for the world’s most pressing challenges, the Peace Corps has served in 61 countries globally. Volunteers serve in such sectors as education, health, youth in development, agriculture, community, economic development, environment and Peace Corps response. Over 240,000 American citizens -- 13,898 of whom served over the age of 50 -- have served in the Peace Corps since it was established 60 years ago in 1961.

Recent older American volunteer experiences have ranged from working closely with a women’s business association in Moldova to help develop small enterprises, to working with the Ministry of Education in Fiji in establishing a solar-powered digital library system and revamping its textbook warehouse.

Older Volunteers are Valued

According to Peace Corps officials and returned volunteers, not only are older Americans uniquely qualified to serve because of their perspectives and experiences, they are viewed and respected as an asset to their new communities.

They’re also recognized back home. Indeed, now through May 23, the Peace Corps is accepting nominations for the Lillian Carter Award, which honors the contributions that older adults bring to service. Established in 1986, the award is named for former President Jimmy Carter’s mother, Lillian Carter, who served as a health volunteer in India in 1966 at age 68. Awardees have demonstrated a commitment to civic engagement and service, advancing the Peace Corps’ mission of promoting world peace and friendship and strengthening Americans’ understanding of the world and its people. The award ceremony will be held on Thursday, June 24, 2021 at 4:00 p.m. EST on Zoom.

Getting Started

There is no upper age limit to Peace Corps service and many volunteers have served into their 80s. Interested applicants can connect with a recruiter to learn more and get the application process started by visiting peacecorps.gov.

While experiences in the Peace Corps are as unique as the individuals and communities involved, building friendships and working locally to address pressing challenges serves as a fulfilling second act for many older Americans, giving volunteers a way to embrace a new purpose in retirement or following other careers.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Peace Corps