The Peace Corps has international volunteer programs suited to students of every college and major at UC Berkeley, and values the unique experiences that students gain through coursework, school clubs and organizations, creative outlets, and volunteering around the community. The Peace Corps is a great opportunity for UC Berkeley graduates to travel the world, gain leadership skills and experience, and stand out from other applicants when applying to jobs, and graduate and medical schools.
UC Berkeley continues a proud tradition of Peace Corps volunteerism. It comes as no surprise, considering the exceptional abilities of its students, that UC Berkeley ranks the highest in total alumni volunteers (over 3,500) who have served in the Peace Corps since the organization was founded in 1961. With 66 currently-serving Peace Corps Volunteers, UC Berkeley ranks seventh in the nation among volunteer-producing universities in 2014. Attend one of many campus events to meet the Cal Peace Corps representative, hear from Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, and learn how you can contribute to the Peace Corps legacy as a UC Berkeley graduate.
Pick up Peace Corps materials and add your email to our mailing list at our table on Sproul Plaza, meet with Cal recruiter Eddie Rosenbaum during his office hours, or come to one of the many on-campus events.
Education is the Peace Corps’ largest program area. Volunteers play an important role in creating links among schools, parents, and communities by working in elementary, secondary, and postsecondary schools as math, science, conversational English, and resource teachers or as early grade reading and literacy teacher trainers. Volunteers also develop libraries and technology resource centers.
Community Economic Development Volunteers
Volunteers work with development banks, nongovernmental organizations, and municipalities to strengthen infrastructure and encourage economic opportunities in communities. They frequently teach in classroom settings and work with entrepreneurs and business owners to develop and market their products. Some Volunteers also teach basic computer skills and help communities take advantage of technologies such as e-commerce, distance learning, and more.
Volunteers lead grassroots efforts in their communities to protect the environment and strengthen understanding of environmental issues. They teach environmental awareness in elementary and secondary schools and to youth groups and community organizations, empowering communities to make their own decisions about how to protect and conserve the local environment. Volunteers also address environmental degradation by promoting sustainable use of natural resources.
Agriculture Volunteers work with small-scale farmers and families to increase food security and production and adapt to climate change while promoting environmental conservation practices. They introduce farmers to techniques that prevent soil erosion, reduce the use of harmful pesticides, and replenish the soil. They work alongside farmers on integrated projects that often combine vegetable gardening, livestock management, agroforestry, and nutrition education.
Health Volunteers work within their communities to promote important topics such as nutrition, maternal and child health, basic hygiene, and water sanitation. Volunteers also work in HIV/AIDS education and prevention programs to train youth as peer educators, develop appropriate education strategies, provide support to children orphaned by the pandemic, and create programs that provide emotional and financial support to families and communities affected by the disease.
Youth in Development Volunteers
Volunteers work with youth in communities on projects that promote engagement and active citizenship, including gender awareness, employability, health and HIV/AIDS education, environmental awareness, sporting programs, and information technology.
Secondary activities allow Volunteers to customize their service by working in sectors outside of their primary project. These projects are Volunteer-initiated and based on community needs and may utilize funding from Peace Corps partnerships and grant programs.
In addition to other skills and interests, the best way to prepare for Peace Corps service is to get a degree. Over ninety percent of Peace Corps programs require a bachelor’s degree to qualify. UC Berkeley students from all colleges and majors are welcome to apply for Peace Corps service because international communities are very diverse and have different needs. You can find out how your degree qualifies you for particular Peace Corps program areas by attending one of the semester events or speaking with the campus representative, or by checking out the Peace Corps website.
Returned Peace Corps Volunteers describe their service as a life-defining leadership experience that they draw upon throughout their lives. As a volunteer, your most significant accomplishment will be the contribution you make to improve the lives of others, but you will also gain useful skills along the way. Fluency in foreign languages, international experiences, and intercultural understand are highly sought after in today's global economy. Whether you are a recent college graduate or mid-career, the skills you learn through sevice can enhance your maketability and help you achieve long-term career goals.
The Peace Corps provides Volunteers with a living stipend that enables them to live in a manner similar to the local people in their community, covering food, housing, and incidentals. Additionally, Volunteers receive two vacation days per month of service- a total of 48 days over two years. The Peace Corps also covers the cost of transportation to and from the country of service. Unlike other international volunteer programs, there is no fee to participate.
The Peace Corps provides complete medical and dental care during service and covers all related expenses, including those incurred during the training period and while Volunteers are on vacation or any type of leave. If a health problem occurs that cannot be treated by the medical officer and in-country medical facilities, the Peace Corps, without cost to the Volunteer, will send the Volunteer to an appropriate facility in a nearby country of the U.S.
The Peace Corps has unique partnerships with graduate schools across the nation for UC Berkeley students that wish to pursue an advanced degree, and returned Volunteers are offered reduced tuition, assisstantships, and stipends at more than 90 participating campuses in a variety of subject areas.
The Peace Corps offers wonderful post-service opportunities including advantages in federal employment, job and networking support, and a readjustment allowance of $8000+ pre-tax upon completion of service.
Visit the website or attend a Peace Corps event to learn more about the many benefits of service.
The Peace Corps has recently shortened its application process, which consists of an online application which includes an essay and two recommendations, an interview with a Peace Corps staff member, and health and legal clearances. We suggest beginning the process about 7-12 months before you would like to depart for the Peace Corps - so if you want to leave right after you graduate, then apply the summer before your Senior year. Check out the website for more information about the application process.
Many Peace Corps programs require at least a Bachelor’s degree, but other skills and interests can make you stand out from the crowd. Consider taking language courses, especially two semesters of French of Spanish, because many programs have a basic Spanish or French language requirement, and learning a new language is an essential part of Peace Corps training and your success as a volunteer. Take an active role in your community, school, service or student organization to further develop your leadership skills. Check out the Public Service Center for more information about leadership positions in public service on the UC Berkeley campus.
Be sure to watch for application workshops and office hours on campus to make your application stand out from the rest.