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June 23, 2008 Peace Corps Factoids

I cleaned my room today, which included going through some of the mountains of paperwork that I’d stashed away. Some is useless now (like tips for Pre-Service Training), some will be useful soon (like the official Peace Corps Morocco cookbook), and some is very interesting…like the notes I made during our first session, with the Peace Corps statistics.

As of March 1st, there were 8079 current Peace Corps Volunteers or Trainees. That number is different already, of course, because some PCVs have finished their service, and other trainees in other countries have started theirs…but it gives an idea of the scale of Peace Corps. I wonder how it compares to the other corps…the Army Corps, the Marine Corps, etc. We’re the smallest, I have no doubt, but by how much? 5:1? 500:1? How many Marines are there, anyway?

In the 47-year history of the Peace Corps, some 187,000 volunteers have served in 139 countries. We’re in 74 countries now.

The average age of a PCV is 27; the minimum age to apply is 18 (though they prefer you have a college degree, so there are probably few to no 18-year-olds serving) and the oldest active volunteer is 80. Only 5% of PCVs are over 50, and they’re currently recruiting heavily in this age bracket. (The tagline on the poster I used to walk past on my way to work read, “What’s over that hill, anyway?”) The world needs experienced people, not just younguns.

17% of PCVs are “minorities”, and about 60% are women.

Our budget as of March 1st was $330million, but that number has changed. There’s been lots of discussion about it, but I don’t know the actual new number. One statistic I’ve heard is that Peace Corps / Morocco lost the equivalent of $7 million from their budget just because of the tanking dollar.

Speaking of the falling dollar, some PCVs who just finished their service told me that when they arrived in country, $1 could buy 12 Moroccan Dirhams. Today, the number is closer to 7 Ds. (When I came to Morocco, it was 7.7, but it has continued to fall.)

And speaking of budgets, I heard that the Peace Corps budget is approximately equal to HALF of the budget for the military BANDS. Now there’s a factoid for you. The money that Uncle Sam devotes to the Air Force Band, Army Band, etc, is twice what they’re devoting to an organization whose stated mission is to promote world peace and friendship.

Oh, and here’s a quote that was posted on the wall during our Philadelphia training (and which I copied into my Pre-Service Training notebook): “I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life, and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing that I wanted to do.” – Georgia O’Keefe

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Think local. Act global. Learn more about the Peace Corps