Could you see yourself making a difference in a community overseas? Would you like to promover el desarrollo de su país?
The Peace Corps could be your ticket. Today, Volunteers aren’t only 20-something recent college grads. The Peace Corps also needs experienced professionals to help address some of the world’s most pressing development needs – from HIV and malaria prevention to digital literacy and social entrepreneurship. And if you already have language skills and cultural ties to any of our countries of service, we believe there is even more that you can contribute.
Jose Jaime Vasquez, 57, of Chula Vista, California, serves as an ecotourism Volunteer in central Mexico, working on conservation initiatives with the Comisión Nacional de Areas Naturales Protejidas, or National Commission for Protected Areas, as well as teaching English and implementing ecotourism projects in local communities. His Mexican heritage helped him “build bridges between the two cultures,” he says, just as his decades of work experience in U.S. state and national parks have served him well in the field.
“I have had an interest in joining the Peace Corps since I was a teenager,” Vasquez says. “I wanted the challenge of working in another country with the hope of sharing our cultures as well as the desire to share my skills and knowledge in the natural resource management field.”
“The Peace Corps has benefitted me by allowing me to take risks and getting out of my comfort zone,” he adds. And the bonds he has developed with his counterparts, friends, and neighbors have helped strengthen ties to his family’s country of origin. “Mexico has many cultural and natural treasures and the biggest treasure that I have found is [the] generosity [of the people].”
Right now, there are more than 6,000 Peace Corps Volunteers living and working in developing countries, working at the grassroots level to improve people’s lives in the communities where they serve. They train teachers, foster entrepreneurship, fight infectious disease, and empower girls and women in more than 60 countries around the world. Nearly seven percent of Volunteers are over the age of 50. Five percent are serving with their significant other and ten percent self-identify as Hispanic or Latino.
Peace Corps Volunteer Jorge Alfaro, 65, served with his wife from 2012 to 2014, working with students in Botswana to instill healthy behaviors and decision making to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.
“I think being Hispanic-American gives me a unique perspective on Botswana culture,” said Alfaro. “I see many similarities between the two cultures, especially when working with youth. Because I learned English as a second language, it’s easier for me to connect with the kids I’m teaching English to.”
Bringing your cultural heritage and unique experiences to the Peace Corps benefits not only communities overseas, but also back here at home. Talk to any Returned Peace Corps Volunteer whose life has been forever changed by their service. When Volunteers return home, they bring their knowledge and experiences—and a global outlook—that enriches the lives of those around them.
That’s why we want Americans from all backgrounds to know about the Peace Corps, and offer them greater opportunity than ever before to define their impact on the world. It is never too late to serve.
Interested in serving in a specific country? With Peace Corps, you can choose where you want to make a difference through our traditional two-year program – including applying to your country of origin as your preferred country of service or applying to positions in any other country that fit your skills and experiences. We have programs in 11 Spanish-speaking countries, with almost 23 percent of Volunteers currently working in Latin America.
Excited about serving overseas – but not sure you can commit for two years? You can also apply to short-term, high-impact positions that last from three months to a year through a program called Peace Corps Response. If you speak Spanish and have at least ten years of work experience, you could qualify for positions in Latin America. We have openings for university English teachers in Mexico, agricultural specialists in Guatemala, and environmental project managers in Panama – just to name a few.
The Peace Corps is not for everyone. It isn’t the easiest path, or the most glamorous. But I promise that it will be a life-changing, life-defining experience unlike any other in the world – one that will challenge you, teach you, open your eyes, and inspire you for a lifetime.
Visit peacecorps.gov/openings to see our current openings, and find out more about opportunities with the Peace Corps at an event near you by visiting www.peacecorps.gov/events.
Carrie Hessler-Radelet is the Director of the Peace Corps. As the preeminent international service organization of the United States, the Peace Corps sends Americans abroad to tackle the most pressing needs of people around the world. Peace Corps volunteers work at the grassroots level with local governments, schools, communities, small businesses and entrepreneurs to develop sustainable solutions that address challenges in education, health, economic development, agriculture, environment and youth development. When they return home, volunteers bring their knowledge and experiences—and a global outlook—back to the United States that enriches the lives of those around them. President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961 to foster a better understanding among Americans and people of other countries. Since then, more than 220,000 Americans of all ages have served in 140 countries worldwide. Visit www.peacecorps.gov to learn more.