Does the Peace Corps want retired volunteers?

Special Considerations for Retired Peace Corps Volunteers

Every Peace Corps volunteer is required to undergo a medical evaluation as part of the application process, and retirees are no exception. The process is the same for all applicants, regardless of their age. The Peace Corps Web site describes the evaluation as a "comprehensive medical and dental assessment," while at least one 63-year-old applicant described it as "extensive, detailed and maddening" [sources: Peace Corps, Weiner].

One advantage younger volunteers may have over retirees is that they have fewer obligations to consider when packing up to leave home for two-plus years. Older volunteers often own their homes, have spouses who may or may not wish to join them on their adventure (7 percent of Peace Corps volunteers are married), have children in college, and have more complicated financial affairs to attend to, including possible implications for their tax liabilities and Social Security earnings [source: Peace Corps]. Some retirees choose to sell their homes before embarking on their adventure, while others rent the property or hire a property manager to care for it in their absence.

Many retirees are concerned that they will feel lonely or out of place in a corps of 20-something volunteers, or that they will have difficulty learning a new language. But the Peace Corps training program includes three months of in-country language training by native speakers, and volunteers learn technical skills related to their jobs and become familiar with their host country's culture. The organization encourages volunteers to alleviate loneliness by building relationships with other volunteers, Peace Corps staff and friends in their host communities [source: Peace Corps]. Additionally, volunteers are welcome to travel on days off and have guests from home come visit during their volunteer term, and most are able to maintain contact with family and friends through e-mail and telephone.

According to the Peace Corps Web site, many older volunteers ultimately find their age to be an asset rather than a hindrance in their overseas placements, "as people of developing nations respect and appreciate the decades of work and wisdom older volunteers bring to their communities" [source: Peace Corps].

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  • Gandel, Cathie. "Boomers Mean Business." AARP. March 1, 2011. (May 9, 2011)
  • Grabianowski, Ed. "How the Peace Corps Works." (May 9, 2011)
  • The Peace Corps. "Fast Facts." (May 9, 2011)
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  • The Peace Corps. "Volunteering at Age 50+." (May 2, 2011)
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  • Weiner, Eric. "The Peace Corps Wants You! Why 'Kennedy's Kids' are again in demand during the agency's 50th anniversary." AARP. Feb. 2011. (May 10, 2011)