Does the Peace Corps want retired volunteers?

At Home and Abroad

The Peace Corps actively recruits retirees through its "50 Plus Initiative" program.
The Peace Corps actively recruits retirees through its "50 Plus Initiative" program.
Peace Corps

More and more retired volunteers are joining the Peace Corps these days, but does the civilian service corps welcome this trend? In short, the answer is an emphatic "yes." The Peace Corps not only accepts retired volunteers, it actively recruits them through its "50 Plus Initiative," a program designed to reach out to members of the boomer generation who still clearly and fondly recall JFK's call to "ask not what your country can do for you" [source: Weiner]. And it's not just about the numbers. Retired volunteers offer something that even the most willing and enthusiastic new college grad cannot: decades of valuable work and life experience.

Active retirees and soon-to-retire baby boomers have long helped their communities through their volunteer efforts on the home front. But how do their experiences here in the States compare with the jobs that Peace Corps volunteers are asked to do around the world?

Just as many retirees in the United States volunteer their time teaching and tutoring at-risk children, teens and even adults, Peace Corps volunteers lead youth and community development programs and teach English, math, science, HIV/AIDS education and environmental awareness in classrooms around the world [source: Peace Corps]. Peace Corps volunteers also participate in technology initiatives that bring communications and computer skills to their host communities and help farmers find ways to increase their food production in an environmentally sustainable manner [source: Peace Corps].

Of course, in addition to their experience in the volunteer world, retirees and baby boomers possess a wealth of knowledge and expertise gained through years in the business community. Retired Peace Corps volunteers come from a wide range of professional backgrounds, including education, nonprofit, medicine, law, social work, business, construction, politics, academics and science [source: Peace Corps].

It's clear that the Peace Corps seeks and values the contributions of its older volunteers, and host communities have proven to be receptive to help and advice from experienced workers, as well [source: Peace Corps]. But what issues do retired volunteers need to consider before signing on for long-term assignments that, by all accounts, are as strenuous and challenging as they are rewarding? Read on to learn about special considerations for retired Peace Corps volunteers.