Hearing the term “Peace Corps” for the first time prompted the thought of a group of people going to keep the peace. But that assumption is inadequate to describe the depth of human service that’s designed to gain positive results by helping underdeveloped regions of the world to thrive. Perhaps we can gain a better understanding of the greatest service agency in the world. Like me, you may think the Peace Corps to be less than its true purpose.
What is the Peace Corps?
The Peace Corps is made up of young volunteers who represent the United States abroad, working in a variety of positions, while serving underdeveloped communities specific areas such as:
- youth development
- community economic development
The Peace Corps’ mission is to promote world peace and friendship by fulfilling three goals:
- To help the people of interested countries by supplying trained men and women to meet their needs
- To help promote a better understanding of Americans through the people being served
- To help promote a better understanding of those of other countries on the part of Americans volunteering and living among them
The Peace Corps (idea) began as a challenge to college students from then–Senator John F. Kennedy.
Then–Senator John F. Kennedy challenged 5,000 University of Michigan students to contribute two years of their lives to help people in underdeveloped countries, during an impromptu presidential campaign speech. One could safely say that John F. Kennedy gave birth to the Peace Corps idea on October 14, 1960.
Signing of Executive Order 10924 established the Peace Corps on a temporary pilot basis.
After winning his bid for the presidency, during the cold war, President Kennedy drafted his passion for building peaceful relationships around the world into law. He felt so strongly about how other countries viewed Americans that he created a monumental service program to encourage cultural interaction and charitable work that continues to flourish today. And on March 1, 1961, President Kennedy signs Executive Order 10924 into law establishing the Peace Corps to operate as a temporary pilot.
Did you know the Peace Corps ceased to exist in 1971, a decade after being formed?
On July 1, 1971, a decade after the Peace Corps’ inception, President Nixon signed Executive order 11063 merging it with other service agencies to form one federal volunteer agency called ACTION. However, a decade later, the Peace Corps becomes an independent federal agency again on December 29, 1981, and is officially no longer a part of ACTION.
The Peace Corps was among those nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.