By: Kenzley Defler, Shea Brenneman, & Caitlin Rampy
AmeriCorps is sometimes explained as being similar to Peace Corps but located within the United States as opposed to internationally. While this is true in many ways, there are also lots of differences in the application process, training, and service experience for AmeriCorps Members and Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs).
The goal of Peace Corps is to promote world peace and create sustainable change by helping countries meet their needs for professional training and promoting cross-cultural sharing. Peace Corps applicants can choose a specific country and work sector or apply to go wherever they are most needed. Cohorts of selected volunteers spend their first 3 months in country doing intensive language and cross cultural training. Often, this involves living with a local host family and taking language tests to track progress. After training, PCVs are placed at their permanent site where they do hands-on work focused on agriculture, education, health, the environment, community economic development, and youth development. Peace Corps terms are for 27 months, allowing volunteers time to integrate into their community and perform community needs assessments before jumping into projects.
AmeriCorps is similar in its goal to strengthen communities through volunteer work. Applicants can choose from the many programs including VISTA, State and National, NCCC, and FEMA Corps each of which offers service terms of varying length. While all AmeriCorps programs seek to improve lives and foster civic engagement, some programs do this through direct service work and other programs, like VISTA, perform indirect service work.
For some individual insight on Peace Corps and AmeriCrops service, check out the following words from Kenzley, Shea, and Caitlin, all of whom previously served with Peace Corps and are currently serving as AmeriCorps VISTA members in Fairbanks.