The Peace Corps is an organization that is famously known and respected for the work they do overseas. Run by the United States, the program provides technical support, development, helps foreign countries understand American culture, and reversely helps Americans understand cultures from around the world. Each person who joins the organization is dubbed a Peace Corps Volunteer and will work for an allotted time of 27 months after training. Here are five interesting facts I learned while looking into joining the Peace Corps program.
The First Attempt At Creating The Peace Corps Was A Failure
Although many people believe John F. Kennedy to be the originator of the Peace Corps idea, someone had actually beaten him to the punch. Senator Hubert Humphry introduced a bill in 1957 that would have created the organization. Unfortunately, this bill did not pass in a vote. Three years later Kennedy mentioned the idea in a university speech and once elected president, signed the order for it to be created.
It’s A Massive Organization
One thing I did not know when beginning to look into the Peace Corps was the size. Along with the sizable amount of accomplishments more than 200,000 volunteers have worked with the program in 139 countries. While the program may have come from a humbling start of only 900 members their first year, the program now has over 8,000 active volunteers working for them every year. While these stats are impressive John F. Kennedy’s original goal was 100,000 people active in the organization at any point in time.
The Peace Corps & The CIA
One of the most popular and continuously perpetuated myths about the Peace Corps program is that it is actually a front for the CIA. Rumors started because of the in depth nature of the work the volunteers did in other countries. While they could possibly have information that would help the government, using these volunteers for information would also put their lives at risk. Employment from any intelligence agency immediately disqualifies Peace Corps applicants.
Blemishes On The Trophy
While the organization has been successful and popular for many years, it has also had some very serious complications arise in other countries. Rape, assault, and murder have been problems for the Peace Corps over the years. In 2011 ABC News reported more than 1,000 women had been either raped or sexually assaulted while working with the organization. Along with these sobering numbers over 23 murders have occurs in Peace Corps history committed by locals and volunteers alike.
Originally Thought To Be Anti-War
Originally the Peace Corps organization was thought to be a place for draft dodgers to get out of their duties. Because of the large amount of younger volunteers, John F. Kennedy’s opponent Richard Nixon called the Peace Corps a haven for draft dodgers. With the terror of the Vietnam War looming behind them this was partially true for many men that signed on to the Peace Corps program instead of serving in the war.
The Peace Corps program is brilliant and helps put a much better image of Americans into the heads of people from other countries.
Time- Ten Things You Didn’t Know About The Peace Corps