In 1961, President John F. Kennedy created the Peace Corps, a U.S. Government Agency organized to provide assistance to foreign countries in need and to find new ways of halting the spread of Communism in underdeveloped countries.(and, as some pundits might claim, as a convenient cover for covert intelligence operations conducted at the peak of the Cold War). The Peace Corps Act of 1961 established the government-funded service as an agency in the United States Department of State. When the independent agency ACTION was formed in 1971 to consolidate various volunteer programs, the Peace Corps was included. It became an independent agency in 1982.
The Peace Corps grew from 900 volunteers serving 16 countries in 1961 to more than 15,000 volunteers in 52 countries in 1966. By the early 1980s, however, the corps had been asked to leave a number of countries, and the total number of volunteers had dropped to about 5,000 in more than 60 countries. Today, approximately 6,500 volunteers fight hunger, disease, illiteracy, poverty and lack of opportunity in over 90 countries. More than 140,000 Americans have been Peace Corps Volunteers. There are more than 60 assignments available in such fields as agriculture, business, education, engineering, environment, forestry, health and nutrition. The declared purpose of the Peace Corps is to promote the progress of other countries by providing them with skilled workers in the fields of education, agriculture, health, trade, technology, crafts, and community development. Peace Corps volunteers are assigned to specific projects on the basis of their ability, education, and experience. They serve overseas for two years after a 12-week training period in the local language, the technical requirements of the assigned job, and cross-cultural skills to help them adjust to a different society. In June 1990 Peace Corps volunteers arrived in Hungary to teach English, a language in demand since the collapse of Communism in that country. Volunteers also went to the republics of the former Soviet Union after 1991.
It is an American ideal to believe that one can advance their life by working hard. But it is a Peace Corps Volunteer who will actually give their time to help others improve their lives. During the two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer, you have the opportunity to alter and improve the lives of others while changing yourself as well. Working side by side with host country co-workers, volunteers returned home as citizens of the world. Showing they care enough to give of themselves, volunteers help promote peace, friendship, and understanding by experiencing and living among different communities.
The agency fulfills the Peace Corps' mission of providing people to people development assistance at the grassroots level and cross cultural exchange by fielding as many volunteers around the world as it can appropriately recruit, train and support at the budget level approved by Congress.
PEACE CORPS (OFFICIAL) MISSION STATEMENT:
The mission of the Peace Corps is simple: