Have any of you had any experience with the peace corps? I know little of their affect on the world at large, and being a government institution, I wasn't sure if there was any religious bent in their peace works. ( i.e. building churches for third world countries, etc.)

I am at a point in my life where I am considering volunteering for the peace corps as a means of reaching out to the world and benefiting someone's life besides my own. Please let me know if any of you have any thoughts or experience with this. Thanks :)

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My cousin joined the peace corps back in the 60s.  that said, I haven't spoken to her about it.  I looked into joining the peace corps, but my degree was not in an area they found useful.  At that time, they were mainly looking for people with degrees in agriculture and the sciences.  If you have a medical background, I am sure they would be interested in you as well.  I thought they accepted everyone, but apparently, they do not.  Since the peace corps is a government agency, I am positive there is no religious requirement to join and they are not a missionary organization.  Their work seems to be much more practical than spreading religious dogma.  For example, they spend their time providing medical services or agricultural education rather than leading prayer groups.  However, I am sure there are individuals who use this as an opportunity to spread their religion even if that is not what they are supposed to be doing.  However, my knowledge of the peace corps is entirely academic as a historian who has studied the Kennedy Administration.  You might also want to consider Americorps which does the same types of things in the US.  I have lived in areas where Americorps works and have never seen a religious connection with them.  If you have student loans, ask them about having your student loans discharged as this is on of the benefits of serving in the peace corps.
A friend of mine (now deceased) joined the peace corps after he retired. He was assigned to teach young children in what I suppose was essentially an elementary school. His living conditions were unpleasant because of the high humidity and somewhat primitive (by American standards) accommodations, but he did manage to find an apartment to rent that had a window air conditioner in the bedroom.

A friend of mine was in the Peace Corps over 10 years ago. No, they do not "do" religion. She was an English teacher in Chad. The conditions were primitive (by western standards _and_ by African standards), she came home with passengers in her gut, she spent a lot of her time figuring out how to make lasagne (a three-day process, including making the cheese) because the teachers were on strike half the time, so no school was in session. And she still says it was one of the best times of her life. Am I jealous? Yes.

 

There should be a Peace Corps office that serves your region. You could get in contact with them and see if there would be positions available in your area of expertise. Also, I think there are a number of volunteer organizations that do not "do" religion that would be comparable to the PC. I've also been told that if you don't mind so much, the Jesuits actually do quite a bit of good. A long time ago, I used to have a list of organizations, but I'm sure it's long gone.

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