Peace Corps applications skyrocketing

June 2, 2009 at 10:18 AM
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WASHINGTON, June 2 (UPI) -- Requests for applications to volunteer for the U.S. Peace Corps have risen to 25,000 this year, up 40 percent from 2008, officials say.

The surge in requests comes after a 16 percent increase in completed applications submitted last year, a phenomenon that Peace Corps leaders attribute to President Barack Obama's campaign call to public service, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

The surge in applications is different for the volunteer group in that 7 percent of them are coming from people 50 or older, well up from the typical 4 percent that such older applicants constitute.

"We are just skyrocketing in applications," Peace Corps acting director Jody Olsen told the Times. "Obama represents what Americans really want to be asked to do. We want to hear how important service is, whether it is domestic or international."

"It's refreshing and uplifting to witness this sort of outpouring of American idealism again, particularly after the U.S. reputation has suffered such setbacks as Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo," added Bruce Bagley, a University of Miami political science professor and 1960s Peace Corps volunteer.

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