People over age 50 are welcome in the Peace Corps because they bring life and work experience that benefits the communities they serve. They may also serve as role models for younger volunteers. Additionally, older volunteers are often greatly respected by those in foreign communities due to their age.
Although most Peace Corps volunteers are in their early 20s, older adults are increasingly joining the organization to serve abroad. One volunteer, Irene Porges, served in a small Bulgarian village, where she ran community economic development projects. Porges claimed that her age made it more difficult for her to communicate with the villagers at first, but that later it enabled her to form close friendships with the older women in the community. These relationships helped make her project a success.
Older volunteers can also help younger ones acclimate to a new culture. They can mentor the younger people and share their knowledge and experience to improve the overall success of a project. They can also encourage young volunteers to face the challenges of volunteering. Joy Jones, an older volunteer, explained how she was able to commiserate with a younger colleague about the difficulties of living in a foreign land and learning a new language.
Past work experience also makes seniors desirable volunteers. For example, Judy Frey, an experienced teacher, traveled to China for the Peace Corps. She found that her past work prepared her to teach English and lecture about HIV/AIDS to Chinese students. Frank Zelazny, a retired engineer, discovered that his skills were desperately needed to help repair vital equipment in Ukrainian hospitals.