On March 1, 1961, the JFK Administration introduced a bold new initiative to the national agenda.
He called it the Peace Corps, an entirely volunteer organization dedicated to the betterment of Third World countries and areas of extreme poverty.
Since then, the Peace Corp has swelled to over 165,000 volunteers that have lived and worked in 135 countries.
This year, there are nearly 7,000 volunteers enlisted.
Participants in the program must be U.S. citizens over 18 years of age.
The program also helps many college graduates with career placement through fellowship and master’s programs after participating in the Peace Corps.
Temple University’s College of Education is one of 31 schools nationwide that operate one of these programs.
Upon graduation, recruits are placed into the Peace Corps program for two years as a volunteer.
When they return, the participants in Temple’s program teach in Philadelphia and Chester-Upland schools.
The program offers incentives for applicants. Graduate school tuition is reduced by two-thirds for participants.
Along with the tuition relief, the program offers a one-time $1,000 relocation stipend and a $29,000 salary upon placement in the program.
Salary increases upon completion of the fellowship and through additional teaching experience.
Temple’s branch of the Peace Corps Fellowship program was founded in 1991, and is located on the Ambler Campus.
The director is Dr. David X. Fitt of the College of Education.
The aim of the program is to get recruits, who are prospective teachers and administrators, to become accustomed to the difficulties of working in poor or underprivileged schools.
“The idea behind the fellowship program is that recruits who serve in the Peace Corps are good candidates for teachers,” he said, “After their service, they have demonstrated that they can work competently with limited or no resources, which continues to be an unfortunate reality for schools all over the country. They are particularly prepared to deal with teaching in the city schools.”
He added that in addition to logistical education of working in impoverished areas, participants also gain deep cultural insight and understanding during the program.
Fitt said that recruits returning from their assignments show “remarkable cultural sensitivity that is invaluable for teaching in Philadelphia public schools.”
Applicants must have at least a bachelor’s degree in secondary education with the following minimum requirements: 30 credits in math, with calculus, 30 credits in a specialty science, 30 credits in general science, and either 30 credits in a language or 36 credits in English.
Graduate exam test scores factor into the selection process, as well as undergraduate GPA and a written statement of the applicant’s goals.
The motto of the Peace Corps is “the toughest job you’ll ever love.”
Peace Corps participants say that is not an easy path to a career, but the advantages of the Fellowship will pay off for a lifetime, and are far more valuable than most things that could be put on a resume.
Interested students should contact Fitt at (215) 204-6110, or visit www.peacecorps.com/gradschool/schools for more information on Fellowship and Master’s programs.
Eric Raible can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.