US Peace Corps comes to BYU-Idaho

By Sam Dalton, @_SamDalton

The United State Peace Corps will be holding its first ever recruiting meeting on BYU-Idaho’s campus Feb. 25 in the Manwaring Center.

Amber Gomes, the recruiter for the Peace Corps in Idaho, will be meeting with interested students in MC 380 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. to give more information about the Peace Corps and to assist in the application process, said Bryan K. Ingham, the campus representative for the Peace Corps and a junior studying sociology.

“This is the first time the Peace Corps has taken an interest in BYU-Idaho, so it’s a huge deal,” Ingham said. “Up until this year, the focus has been on Boise State University, and they have been receiving all of the resources.”

The possible fields of service in the Peace Corps are agriculture, community and economic development, education, environment, health and youth in development, according to the Peace Corps Web page.

“Education is the biggest position, followed by health,” Ingham said. “Education and health make up roughly 50 percent of the actual jobs if not a little more.”

Ingham said the recruiter will be coming to give more information on these fields of work in the Peace Corps as well as raise awareness of what the organization actually is and what it does.

The current number of volunteers and trainees in the Peace Corps is 6,919. The Peace Corps serves in 63 countries and, in 2014, served these countries on a $379 million budget, according to the Peace Corps Web page.

“In the Peace Corps, you get to learn the local languages and literally become one of the locals while helping the people out,” said Megan Butler, a Peace Corps volunteer in Zambia, Africa, and  a BYU-I alumna. “When you sign up for the Peace Corps, it is a 27-month gig: 24 months of service, plus three months of training.”

Ingham said the individuals who work in the Peace Corps are volunteers, meaning the organization pays all their expenses. Nothing comes out of pocket for the volunteer, and they are given a $6,000 stipend upon returning home after service.

“The Peace Corps requires that you have at least a four-year degree,” Ingham said. “The average age is about 26, and many of the Peace Corps volunteers have actually been to grad school already.”

Sixty-three percent of the volunteers in the Peace Corps are female. Ninety-five percent of all the volunteers are single. Since its foundation March 1, 1961, more than 220,000 Americans have served in 140 countries, according to the Peace Corps Web page.

“It isn’t a good option for everyone because I literally live in the middle of nowhere by myself,” Butler said. “You have to be a go-getter. There isn’t anyone to make a schedule for you. Staying busy is up to you.”

Butler said the selection process has changed in recent years. Applicants now have the option of choosing where they want to serve, whereas before the decision was made for them.

“If someone asked me if they should join the Peace Corps, I would tell them don’t wait, do it now,” Butler said. “It has made me so happy. It is one of the best decisions I have made in my life.”

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