Peace Corps Survey Shows Significant Domestic Dividend
December 16, 1996WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 16, 1996 - The holiday season brings out the volunteer spirit in many Americans. But a new survey released today by the Peace Corps shows that for Peace Corps volunteers, giving and sharing is a year-round affair.
According to the comprehensive survey, 78 percent of former Peace Corps volunteers who responded to the survey have formally volunteered their time to other causes since returning to the United States, including 59 percent who currently volunteer. That is 11 percent higher than the national average. ,P. "This survey shows that when Peace Corps volunteers return home, they are very involved in their communities, sharing the skills that they learned overseas with others," said Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan, who released the results at a luncheon speech at the National Press Club in Washington.
"One of the goals of the Peace Corps is to promote a greater understanding of the world here in the United States. This shows that the Peace Corps provides a significant domestic dividend."
The survey also found that for the vast majority of individuals who served in the Peace Corps, the experience went beyond their expectations. Ninety-two percent of respondents said they met their expectations of experiencing a different culture; 91 percent said their desire for travel and adventure was met; and 94 percent said their expectations to help others had been completely or partially met.
"My Peace Corps experience has given me enormous perspective on my life and my impressions of the United States," wrote one recently returned volunteer polled in the survey. "It helped me arrange my life priorities—like valuing human relationships above all else—and determine my unique skills and talents."
Demonstrating that it really is "the toughest job you'll ever love," 94 percent of the respondents said they would make the same decision to join the Peace Corps.
Ninety-four percent of the respondents also said they made a positive contribution to the development of their host country, with 58 percent indicating they contributed primarily to individuals. Nearly all (97 percent) of the returned volunteers surveyed have participated in activities to promote their fellow Americans' understanding of people from other countries. These activities include teaching, writing published articles and giving formal talks, lectures, demonstrations and media appearances.
The survey was conducted this year to assess Peace Corps volunteers' achievement of the agency's stated goals, as well as the impact of Peace Corps service on those who served. In addition, it focused on the impact of returned volunteers on the United States. The survey is the most comprehensive study of former volunteers to date, surveying volunteers from all four decades of Peace Corps' history. To measure the Peace Corps experience, the survey polled former volunteers who had served in the Peace Corps for at least one year.
More than 147,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps in its 35-year-history. Today, nearly 7,000 volunteers are serving in 90 countries, working in education, agriculture, health, the environment, small business development and other areas