Professionals giving back through Peace Corps response

Celebrating 52 years of changing the world

Since President John F. Kennedy signed an executive order to create the Peace Corps in 1961, a lot has changed. To date, more 200,000 Americans have volunteered to help in communities throughout the world, but there's a similar program you might not know much about: Peace Corps Response.

These aren't your typical college students. They're professionals with busy lives, looking for ways to give back.

"I actually lived in my own apartment versus living with a host family," Kelly Pursley said.

Not all positions are what you'd imagine, like rebuilding homes or healing the sick. Pursley returned home in 2011 after traveling to Bulgaria to develop tourism in the region. Instead of the traditional two year commitment, she served for just three months.

"Because I had family at home, I could feel more confident leaving my spouse, serving, and then coming back," she explained.

She feels everyone should have the opportunity to see the world and experience other cultures first-hand.

"Whether it's their sufferings or their joys, or whatever it is, you just see a different part of life that you just can't learn in books," Pursley explained.

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Volunteers generally have a particular set of skills and apply for specific assignments. To qualify, you must have at least 10 years of work experience or have a been a former Peace Corps volunteer.

"Show that you've been able to acclimate successfully into a foreign culture...and that you have the technical skills that fit the position so that you can really get on the ground quickly and start contributing," she said.

Contributions, Pursley said, that can be eye-opening for yourself and the world around you.

"I had somebody walk up and tell me that I changed their life. I think I can walk away saying I've done a good thing."

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