Monday, March 5, 2012

Peace Corps



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By Diane Forrest


"And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country".

Many of you recognize that famous quote from President Kennedy's inauguration speech; however, do you know that he was talking about the new program to begin called the Peace Corps?  In 1951, at the end of World War II, a young representative in Congress, John, Kennedy, suggested to a group that "young college graduates would find a full life in bringing technical advice and assistance to the underprivileged and backward Middle East ... In that calling, these men would follow the constructive work done by the religious missionaries in these countries over the past 100 years."  In 1957 the bill for the Peace Corps was introduced into Congress  by Senator Hubert Humphries, and in 1961 it was signed into law by the newly elected President Kennedy.  Three days later he appointed his brother-in-law, Sargent Shriver as the Director, and the work began.

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Members of the Peace Corps are volunteers.  The stated mission of the Peace Corps includes three goals: providing technical assistance; helping people outside the United States to understand US culture; and helping Americans to understand the cultures of other countries. The work is generally related to social and economic development. Each program participant (aka Peace Corps Volunteer) is an American citizen, typically with a college degree, who works abroad for a period of 24 months after three months of training. Volunteers work with governments, schools, non-profit organizations, non-government organizations, and entrepreneurs in education, hunger, business, information technology, agriculture, and the environment. After 24 months of service, volunteers can request an extension of service according to Wikipedia.  Currently the Peace Corps operates in 68 countries, and is a government agency.

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For more information about the Peace Corps, or to volunteer or help in other ways, visit this site  http://www.peacecorps.gov/

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