The Peace Corps is an organization that sends Americans abroad to different countries that help change lives through volunteer work; the work is done around the world in small villages, towns and cities. The Peace Corps currently has volunteers in the areas of AIDS education, emerging technologies and rise of new markets. Here are some interesting facts about the Peace Corps as well as those that may not be as well known.
The Peace Corps was established in March 1961 by President John F. Kennedy. The Peace Corps has served in 139 countries with more than 215,000 since the beginning. President Kennedy announced the idea while speaking at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The idea was derived from watching college students spend time volunteering and engaging in life changing experiences.
The volunteers are what make the Peace Corps such a success. The Peace Corps currently has 7,209 volunteers and trainees. The breakdown for this volunteer mix is 63% female and 37% male. The majority of the volunteers are single with only 7% being married. Most of the volunteers are around 28 years of age while 8% are over the age 50.
The major area that the volunteers work in is education. However, the volunteers also work in the areas of health, environment, community economic development, youth in development, agriculture and the rest is in other services.
Many volunteers have used their experience in the Peace Corps to write books. Most of the volunteers spend 27 months on assignment. During their downtime, volunteers have taken up book writing. Over a 1,000 volunteers have written and published books about their own personal experiences abroad. The volunteer memoirs give a realistic look at the volunteer work. There are both comical observations as well as those that share the feelings of loneliness while serving their time in the Peace Corps. The books can give those who want to join an inside look at what the entire experience involves.
A Front for the CIA?
There was a myth going around that the Peace Corps was organized as a way to apply cover for the CIA. The rumor surrounding this claim has never been founded. The Peace Corps has continued to expand over the years despite these rumors. In fact, the CIA actually has a policy that prohibits the use of volunteers for intelligence purposes. The use of the volunteers for any type of intelligence purposes would put them in harm’s way which is not what the Peace Corps wants to represent.