The Peace Corps Grows Up?

Peace Corps

Who you think about when you think about the Peace Corps? Fresh-faced college grads ready to travel the world and make a difference. The thing is, the federal agency is actually looking for more experienced folks for the program these days. The Peace Corps calls it the The 50 Plus Initiative.

The program has no budget for advertising, but it has dispatched recruiters to AARP conventions and launched a special website designed to lure older volunteers. It features photos of older volunteers in exotic locales and words that deliberately echo Kennedy's. "Still asking what you can do for your country? The Peace Corps wants you. It's not too late."

The Peace Corps needs to get rid of its "Peter Pan" mentality and grow up, says Robert Strauss, a former Peace Corps country director in Cameroon and now one of the agency's toughest critics. It cannot continue to send well-intentioned but green volunteers abroad when that's not what the developing world needs, he argues. The people there need expertise. They need experience.

And he's partly right, considering the fact that many developing countries has too many younger Americans, not a shortage. But shouldn't we get all the help we can get? What do you think? Is it time for the Peace Corps to grow up?

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