From a speech by Peace Corps Director Loret Miller Ruppe, July 9, at Fort Collins, Colorado:
In the first days, the average age of the Peace Corps volunteer was about 23. In this past quarter century, it has crept upward toward 29. But what we must begin to prepare for is that we are now projecting that in approximately five to seven years, one volunteer in four will be over 50.
What kind of shifts must we make in order to prepare for the older volunteer? We are already finding that we must teach language a little differently than we do to the younger group.
Should the length of service for the older volunteer who would like to serve, but simply cannot face two whole years without seeing the grandchildren, be shortened?
As our American society grays, and the ranks of retirees expand to greater and greater numbers, we must also begin to think of ways in which we can better utilize our retirees as a resource.
Shouldn't we be thinking about exchanges of retired university professors, retired teachers, retired medical doctors, dentists, lawyers?
Retired teachers and professors should be a bridge to the universities of the developing world. We have surpluses of lawyers, dentists . . . surpluses that weren't present in the 1960s. Couldn't we help to set up schools in the developing world using some of this talent lying fallow now?
It won't be long before we have people retiring from the computer business. Shouldn't we be thinking about ways in which to attract these valuable resources to Peace Corps service in the developing world?