Aryn Bloodworth graduated from the University of Michigan a year ago and hasn‚t found a permanent full-time teaching job.
So, the 23-year-old English major who loves to travel and offer community service applied to the Peace Corps . Bloodworth will leave in September for a 27-month teaching stint in Macedonia.
Bloodworth is emblematic of a growing number of graduating college students who choose to volunteer with service organizations.
This year, the Peace Corps accepted 7,810 volunteers ˆ the largest number in 30 years.
Teach for America received 19,000 applications for the coming school year and accepted 3,500 volunteers. That‚s up from 13,000 applicants and 3,000 volunteers accepted in 2004.
„I had thought about this for some time,‰ Bloodworth says. „I met a bunch of people who were in the Peace Corps on a trip to West Africa and it further convinced me, partly because I didn't see any job prospects.
Experts say that, in part, the poor economy fuels the volunteer trend among the young. But for other students who went to college in the years following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and current events in Iraq, service has become a stronger calling (add „for service rather‰) than seeking a hefty paycheck.
Yet the increase in volunteerism comes when student loan debt is on the rise.
It‚s clear the compensation paid to volunteers will do little to help reduce that debt. The Peace Corps pays volunteers a living allowance, which varies according to the cost of living of the country in which they serve. The corps also pays returning volunteers $225 a month for each month served and defers the payment of student loans while the volunteer works overseas.
„I think the current generation has a real interest in giving back and affecting change,‰ says Jackie McCarthy, Teach for America‚s communications manager. „They‚re looking at building skills and feeling like that they‚re doing something more meaningful than just having a job.
William Nolting, who heads up the office of overseas opportunities at the University of Michigan, has seen an increased interest in community service in all areas of volunteering, including long-term commitments like the Peace Corps, overseas studies, and domestic and overseas service projects.
"I do think that after 9/11 many thought it would scare people away from going abroad," Nolting says. "If anything, students are more resilient than we might give them credit for. There are more students than ever applying to go overseas, and all those numbers have gone up since 9/11."
"Katrina and the  tsunami also caught the attention of students,‰ he adds. „Students have gotten idealistic to do something both internationally and domestically."
News: Campus News
Volunteerism: Grows Among U.S. Graduates
By Margarita Bauz
Article posted on 8/1/2006
This article has been viewed 1530 times.