Peace Corps

1. Introduction
“Abundant Rewards.” This is the
title of an essay that was written
by a Peace Corps volunteer, Laura
Stedman, on her reflections of her
work in Swaziland, serving as a
science teacher. The essay
discusses her students and what
turned out to be her most important
accomplishment, to give the
children confidence in themselves.

In this way she opened the door for
them to learn on their own, and to
feel that their opinions were
important. Once the children began
to share their own opinions, she
learned a large amount from them
also.

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The essay I described above sums up
my interests in the Peace Corps. To
be able to help those less
fortunate than you, and in a very
concrete way. Unlike sending “two
dollars a month, to help a child,”
to some informercial, were you
never really see the results, or
are to involved with them either.

You also dont get the amazing
experience of learning about a
countrys culture and customs. Most
importantly, through the Peace
Corps you are able to go through
the enriching experience of
interacting with people, in which
case you both learn from each other
a great deal, and help each other
along the path of life. On a side
note, through the Peace Corps we
also show that the US is not the
“bully of the world” (as Saddam
would like to claim). That some of
us Americans, if not most, do care
about all people, not just
ourselves.


2. Background and Support
Peace Corps is a volunteer service,
in which Americans are sent to help
undeveloped and poverty-stricken
countries. The volunteers stay in
these host countries for two years.

They live with the people, in many
times poor conditions, and serve
and interact with the people of the
country. In doing this, the Peace
Corps have three major goals: “1)
To provide volunteers who
contribute to the social and
economic development of interested
countries; 2) To promote a better
understanding of Americans among
the people whom 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 our tax dollars. Which is
a place where I dont mind my money
going to.
How did the Peace Corps come to be?
It is a very complicated political
web of incidents, but can be summed
together quite easily. In the early
1960s the youths of the nation had
grown tired of being idle, and they
believed America was becoming
pompous and arrogant. They wanted
change. They wanted to change the
world. Then the first glimpse of
that chance came. President Kennedy
went to the University of Michigan
on October 14, 1960. In his speech
that day, he asked the 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.


3. Development and Recognition
The plan behind the Peace Corps was
mainly masterminded by Senator
Hubert Humphrey and Congressman
Henry S. Reuss. However, Kennedy
was the person who articulated 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 somewhat 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 expanded to serve a
dozen countries, and had close to a
thousand volunteers. Within the
next few years, the number of
countries with programs ore 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 accumulated almost a hundred
thousand alumni. In 1989 the “world
wise schools” initiative is put in
place. This plan has elementary and
junior high classes going with the
volunteers to the countries, to
help promote world-wide awareness.

In 1995, a new form of the Peace
Corps, the Crisis Corps, is created
to help nations in cases of
emergencies. This brings us up to
today.


4. Presentation
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.

About six and a half thousand
volunteers and serving in
eighty-four different countries.

The regions in which most of their
effort is concentrated are Africa,
South America, the Pacific, Asia,
the former Soviet Union, the
Caribbean, and Eastern Europe.
President Clinton plans to try to
get the Peace Corps an increase in
funding of about twenty percent. If
he is able to, it is hoped that
within the next few years the
number of volunteers can be raised
to ten thousand, and that the Peace
Corps could have programs in even a
greater number of countries. This
extra money could also help with
the new Crisis Corps programs. The
Crisis Corps are Peace Corps
volunteers who go and help
countries suffering from recent
disasters by working through
non-governmental agencies, relief
agencies, and development agencies.


A part of the Peace Corps that is
not fully illustrated is the people
of countries who have or are
receiving aid. Through the Peace
Corps they gain new knowledge to
improve their lives, but they also
must take the initiative to do so.

Hopefully these people can put the
knowledge into use, and combined
with the continued aid of the Peace
Corps can empower themselves to
improve their lives, but hopefully
also improve the lives of others.


5. Conclusion
Without the Peace Corps the world
would not have one of the great
opportunities to grow together. One
volunteer can effect just one
person in his/her host country.

However, that person who becomes
empowered with new knowledge and
hope, instills that into his
family, who slowly instill this
into their village, and hopefully
at some point the entire country.

All the while America, through the
volunteers, is improving relations
with other countries, while other
nations are able to do the same.

With both parties learning so much
about each other, and through each
other. If this is not an utterly
good and important cause, I dont
know what is. One day these
countries that we are, and have,
helped to improve their lives can
hopefully one day do the same for
others. The dream that I see in the
Peace Corps is one day worldwide
understanding between all people.

As long as the Peace Corps is
around, we know at least we are
striving in this direction.


Category: Miscellaneous