Short on Volunteers, Peace Corps to Change
Applicants will get to choose where they serve
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Jul 15, 2014 8:55 AM CDT
Peace Corps Country Director Emily Untermeyer talks to volunteers during an informal meeting at the Paraguay's Peace Corps office in Asuncion, Monday, Nov. 18, 2013.   (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)

(Newser) – The Peace Corps has been around for more than half a century, but recently, it's been facing some hurdles. The number of applicants who completed their applications dropped 34% between 2009 and 2013, when roughly 10,000 people finished the process, and the number of volunteers is now at a decade-plus low, the Washington Post reports. Multiple reports of sexual assaults in host countries has hampered recruitment, but the arduous application process is also seen as an obstacle: The application period typically lasts a year, and the printed application itself was more than 60 pages, the AP reports.

That process is now changing, in what director Carrie Hessler-Radelet calls "the most extensive reform effort our agency has ever undertaken." Among the changes: an online application designed to be completed in one hour rather than eight, with the overall time frame from application to potential acceptance shaved to six months. Volunteers will also be able to choose the country in which they'd like to serve—a major shift. (Previously, applicants could only identify preferred countries.) "I loved when you applied that you were willing to go anywhere in the world, but that aspect is not for everyone," says a former volunteer.

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Jul 16, 2014 11:29 PM CDT
PC has a policy of NEVER having the back of a volunteer in conflict with a local. Rape, robery, mugging, intimidation..... PC will NEVER seek justice and usually blames the volunteer for "dissing the culture". I was there.....Micro 61.....completed my contract and did good things for my hosts, IN SPITE OF, not because of, PC administration.
John B
Jul 16, 2014 9:12 AM CDT
I'm a former PCV. We were assured that the surveys were for internal use and would be anonymous. For a prospective applicant to sue to see the results is unwarranted. There are many factors going into the decision to assign someone to a host country. Yes, some sites are more comfortable and difficult than others. But suing to find out if a host country is to one's liking, defeats the purpose of going where one is needed even though it may be uncomfortable, frightening, and foreboding.
Jul 15, 2014 12:07 PM CDT
It's an exclusive club for those who can afford to be away for a long period with no pay. When I considered it, they offered a stipend that was paid after completion.