Peace Corps Essay

This essay has a total of 1526 words and 8 pages.

Peace Corps



The Peace Corps is a volunteer service, in which Americans are sent to help undeveloped
and extremely poor countries. The volunteers stay in these host countries for two years.
They live with the people, in many times poor conditions, and serve and work together with
the people of the country. In doing this, the Peace Corps have three major goals: 1) To
provide volunteers who give to the social and economic development of interested
countries. 2) To promote a better understanding of Americans among the people who the
volunteers serve. 3) To strengthen Americans’ understanding about the world and its
people. Most of all, the organization promotes world peace, and understanding between
America and all the other nations and people of the world. It is a United States
government agency, and is funded by tax dollars. How did the Peace Corps come to be? It is
a very difficult political web of happenings, but can be summed together pretty easily; In
the early1960’s the young people of the nation had grown tired of sitting around, they
believed America was becoming snobbish and conceited. They wanted change; they wanted to
change the world. Then the first sight of that chance came. President Kennedy went to the
University of Michigan on October 14, 1960 (though the Peace Corps was originally
established on March 1, 1961). In his speech that day, he asked a group of ten thousand
students present: "How many of you are willing to spend ten years in Africa or Latin
America or Asia working for the US and working for freedom?" This idea, the idea that
later became the Peace Corps, gave the chance to quench this thirst for change, and more
importantly, action. “The Peace Corps oath of allegiance for many of us has meant a
lifetime pledge of public service, of community concern, and of international awareness.
Finding myself now with the opportunity to lead the Peace Corps constitutes a moment of
rare fortune.” [Mark L. Schneider

Shriver Hall, Peace Corps Headquarters, Washington, D.C. January 7, 2000]
As a people to people organization, the Peace Corps has depended upon the dedication and
commitment of individual Americans for two years, in countries that have requested them.
The Peace Corps seeks out people with skill and the dedication to use their skill to help
others. It takes a huge amount of commitment because volunteers are placed in the same
poor environments as the native citizens. These places usually have no electricity or
running water, things that we often taken for granted. "It was an enormous culture shock.
One moment I was watching the Sonics game in Chicago and the next, I’m in a little hut in
Kenya watching a woman milk a cow." [Melvin Smith, a Peace Corps veteran in Kenya from
1993, 1995] However, the Peace Core was not created to let Americans shock and dare
themselves but instead to export America’s potential and brilliance. It trys to find
people like Melvin Smith who gave up the luxuries and comfort of his home for a life in a
developing country with a dedication to make a difference in their society.

Senator Hubert Humphrey and Congressman Henry S. Reuss mainly masterminded the plan behind
the Peace Corps. However, Kennedy was the person who expressed it. He did so at his speech
at the University of Michigan, and many other speeches, including his inaugural address.
Especially with his famous line: "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you
can do for your country" (today this line is kind-of a motto for the Peace Corps). Also,
in March of 1961, after being elected president, Kennedy did as he promised, and gave the
executive order creating the Peace Corps. Less than half a year later volunteers were
already being sent to Ghana. By the end of 1961, the Peace Corps grew to serve a dozen
countries, and had close to a thousand volunteers. “We have Peace Corps Volunteers serving
in the poorest towns of Bolivia, Benin, and Bangladesh as well as rural villages of South
Africa, Slovakia and the Solomon Islands. Everywhere they serve, they have a common
purpose and common goals. President John F. Kennedy explained that purpose as contributing
to world peace and international understanding. The goals were three-fold. First, to
improve the lives of people in developing countries, particularly among the poorest
communities. The second goal was to convey an understanding of the people of the United
States, our values and our ideals, through the friendships and relationships that develop
by living and working side by side with the people of other lands. The third goal was the
flip side of the cross-cultural coin—Peace Corps Volunteers would convey here in the
United States a personal knowledge of other people, other cultures, and other realities
when they return.” [Remarks by the Honorable Mark L. Schneider Director of the Peace
Corps, Yale University-April 12, 2000]


Within the next few years, the number of countries with programs more than doubled, and in
1966, the number of volunteers reached the highest in history of over 15,000. In 1981, it
celebrated its 20th anniversary, and received congratulations from President Reagan. By
this point it had had programs in 88 countries, and build up almost a hundred thousand
former students. In 1989 the "world wise schools" plan was put in place. This plan had
elementary and junior high classes going with the volunteers to the countries, to help
promote worldwide awareness. In 1995, a new form of the Peace Corps, the Crisis Corps, was
created to help nations in cases of emergencies.


Today the Peace Corps continue to help countries in need, and to promote world peace. The
volunteers continue to help countries in the areas of agriculture, education, health, and
trade. However, today they are also helping countries in the areas of teaching English,
business, city planning, youth programs, and even the environment. The education is at 40
percent, the environment is 17 percent, health is 18 percent, business is at 13 percent,
the agriculture is 9 percent, and there is 3 percent of other. These are the current
percentages of learning or helping that the Peace Core is working on. The total amount of
volunteers and trainees throughout history is 155,000, and they have served 134 countries.
The current number of volunteers and trainees is 7000. 61 percent of that is women, the
other 39 percent is male; 93 percent of these people are single, and 7 percent are
married. The average age of a Peace Corps volunteer is 28 years old with the median being
25 years old. The oldest volunteer in the Peace Core is 79. Of the Peace Corps volunteers,
82 percent are undergraduates, and 13 percent have graduated in studies or have degrees.
The budget for this year (2000) is $244 million.
Continues for 4 more pages >>




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