Peace Corps Announces Historic Changes to Application and Selection Process

Peace Corps also Releases New Public Service Announcement from President Obama Calling on Americans to Serve

Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet has announced sweeping changes to the agency’s application process that will make applying to the Peace Corps simpler, faster and more personalized than ever before. Under this new recruitment initiative, applicants will now be able to choose their country of service and apply to specific programs, and do so through a new, shorter application. As part of today’s announcement, Peace Corps also released a new video from President Obama calling on Americans to serve. It can be viewed here.

“Today our world is smaller and more interconnected than ever before,” said President Obama in the new public service announcement. “And it presents us with an extraordinary opportunity: to connect with people in some of the most remote corners of the globe and show them that America is paying attention, that we care, and that we’re here to help. That’s what the Peace Corps is all about.”

“More than 50 years after its founding, the Peace Corps is revitalizing its recruitment and outreach to field a volunteer force that represents the best and brightest the country has to offer,” Director Hessler-Radelet (RPCV Western Samoa 1981-83) said. “A modernized, flexible application and placement system will help Peace Corps recruit Americans who are not just interested in imagining a better world, but rolling up their sleeves and doing something about it.”

The key recruitment reforms include:

  • Peace Corps applicants can now choose the programs and countries they want to apply to – selecting the path that best fits their personal and professional goals. Applicants can apply to between one and three specific programs at a time, or they can choose to apply for service wherever they are needed most. The Peace Corps website now lists all open programs by country, work area and departure date, so applicants can browse service opportunities.  
  • A new, shorter application is now available on the Peace Corps website that can be completed in less than one hour. What used to be more than 60 printed pages that took more than eight hours to complete is now a short online application that focuses solely but rigorously on the most relevant information to help the agency select the best candidates.
  • Each open Peace Corps position now has clearly identified Apply By and Know By deadlines, so applicants know when they can expect to receive an invitation to serve. If they apply on time, they’ll know if they were selected on time – just like applying to college or a job. These deadlines give applicants more certainty than ever and help them plan for the future.

“With the tools, technologies and opportunities of the 21st century, the Peace Corps is giving Americans of all backgrounds the freedom to re-imagine their future and redefine their mark on the world,” Hessler-Radelet said. “I believe these changes will help re-ignite the passion of Peace Corps’ early days and that more Americans will seize the opportunity to make a difference across the world and here at home.”

Trio Bound for South Africa

Joshua Murkens

Joshua Murkens

While we prepare to set off fireworks in celebration of Independence Day, three Northeast residents are packing for Peace Corps service! Joshua Murkens, Kelsey Gaus, and Christopher Harris are packing for South Africa, where they will spend three months in training and two years serving local communities as they teach secondary English Education.

Joshua Murkens, 23, of Meadville, Pennsylvania is a graduate of Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. Following graduation, Joshua worked as a substitute teacher which has helped prepare him for his service. He hopes to “improve my own teaching skills, and pass on what I have learned to help others.”

Kelsey Gaus

Kelsey Gaus

Kelsey Gaus, 24, of Audubon Pennsylvania, will teach conversational English to her students and develop teaching materials with local teachers. The 2010 university graduate believes that college prepared her for service in the Peace Corps by providing international experience and background in English Education. Her minor in anthropology will also prove helpful as she learns local culture and is integrated into her community.

Christopher Harris
Christopher Harris

Christopher Harris, 22, of Hillsborough, New Jersey, received his degree in Philosophy from Rider University just this year. His studies in philosophy “fostered a concern for worldly affairs and issues,” said Christopher. He has begun his growth as a global citizen by already working as an English Teacher in Thailand as well.

As secondary English education teachers, these three soon-to-be Volunteers will work with students and help them flourish. “I would like to help the students to develop an appreciation for education,” said Christopher.

We wish all three the best of luck as they make a difference overseas!

Random Reunion

When Volunteers return from service, they become part of a great network of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs).  Byron L. Williams and Larry Roth recently met for the first time at Peace Corps Night with the Brooklyn Cyclones.  

As the two former Volunteers began talking about the land-locked nation in Africa which they lived, they realized that they had not only served in the same city, but in the same community – Mohale’s Hoek, Lesotho, 40 years apart. Larry was part of the first group of Peace Corps Volunteers to serve in Lesotho.

“Hearing Mr. Larry talk about his arrival to country, the mile or so of paved road that turned into a cross-district paved road that connected our community to the capital, and a couple of travel stories was mind-blowing,” said Byron. “Never in a million years did I think I would randomly cross paths with someone who served in my community.”

Larry was able to hear about the changes that took place since his service was completed, four decades before Byron’s.

Larry and Byron, who both served in Lesotho, met for the first time at Peace Corps Night at the Brooklyn Cyclones.

Larry and Byron, who both served in Lesotho, met for the first time at Peace Corps Night at the Brooklyn Cyclones.

Teaming up for the Special Olympics

Peace Corps applicants, Returned Volunteers and agency staff turned out at the University of Rhode Island to help out with a great annual event — the Rhode Island Special Olympics State Summer Games.
The 2014 Games marked the fourth time Peace Corps nominees and invitees have pitched in to make the athletic competition a success and a great experience for participants. This year, they volunteered at the track and field area, walking athletes to events and forming a cheering section to keep up the Olympians’ enthusiasm while they waited to compete.
The Special Olympics Rhode Island program serves more than 2,700 athletes and hosts over 40 local, regional, and statewide tournaments each year.

Future Peace Corps Volunteers from Rhode Island help out at the Special Olympics State Summer Games at URI
Future Peace Corps Volunteers from Rhode Island help out at the Special Olympics State Summer Games at URI


Penn State Alumnus Recruits New Volunteers for Peace Corps Service

Chuck Cascio in Zambia

Chuck Cascio was Peace Corps Volunteer in Zambia

“You might find yourself standing in a classroom in Tonga, a farm in Malawi, or a rural clinic in Peru,” Charles “Chuck” Cascio, who served as a Volunteer in Zambia, advises today’s Peace Corps applicants. “Say you will go anywhere and do anything.”

The Peace Corps recently hired the Pennsylvania State University alumnus and Returned Volunteer as a recruiter for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Office in Washington, D.C.  The 27 year-old will serve as a recruiter in Virginia, promoting awareness of Peace Corps programs and serving as a liaison for Volunteer applications.

Before he took on the recruiter position, Chuck served in the Peace Corps as a Rural Aquaculture Extension Agent in the Eastern Province of Zambia from July 2010 to September 2012. In addition to aquaculture, he conducted many projects including animal agriculture, food security, HIV/AIDS awareness, youth soccer, beekeeping and wildlife conservation.

The Dunmore High School graduate received a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pa., in 2009.

“Penn State helped prepare me for life in the Peace Corps by first providing a diverse, yet well-rounded curriculum during my time as a student,” he explains. “While at Penn State, I could not foresee how some classes, such as Animal Production & Management, would contribute to my future.  I had no desire to work in that profession and, moreover, I’m a vegetarian! Yet, it was because of those lessons that I was able to develop some of my largest, most successful projects in Zambia.

“Not only did Penn State influence the success of many of my Peace Corps projects, but also my ability to adapt to and thrive in a foreign, rural environment,” Cascio adds.