Everyone’s heard of the Peace Corps, but who actually joins this government organization started by President Kennedy in 1961? Currently, there are close to 8,000 volunteers serving in more than 100 countries around the world. Each year a few thousand volunteers finish their terms and a few thousand replace them or fill new slots. Ninety-five percent of volunteers have an undergraduate degree. To put this in perspective, this fall almost 16 million students enrolled in colleges and universities across the country. That said, one out of every five thousand students might join Peace Corps next year. EWU has an enrollment of nearly 14,000 students, so this year statistically three or less students will sign up to become volunteers. The numbers are small, and they’re getting smaller.
Because of persisting economic woes, the Peace Corps will receive 13.5 million less than expected for next year. This four percent decrease, combined with the continuing devaluation of the U.S. dollar, is having many far-reaching consequences.
According to Deputy Press Secretary Laura Lartigue, “the number of regional offices in the U.S. has been reduced from 11 to 9.” Many positions overseas are being folded together and the amount of training time for volunteers is also being cut. And the policy of distributing free Newsweek magazines to volunteers, a tradition that dates back to the 1980s, has also been given the axe. But for current or graduating college students, the most glaring result of the budget cuts will be the reduction of admitted volunteers for the next year.
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