During the 1960 presidential campaign, candidate John F. Kennedy asked a group of U.S. college students, “How many of you who are going to be doctors are willing to spend your days in Ghana? Technicians or engineers, how many of you are willing to work in the Foreign Service and spend your lives traveling around the world?” Within months of taking office in 1961, Kennedy signed an executive order establishing the Peace Corps.
Since then, more than 200,000 Americans have responded to Kennedy’s challenge by serving as Peace Corps volunteers, helping people in 139 countries to raise fish and farm animals, learn English, and build basic water systems. In the process of helping others, these Americans have learned about the world and brought their enhanced understanding of other countries and cultures back to the United States.
In this issue of eJournal USA, we mark the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps with narratives written by past volunteers and we glimpse the future of the Peace Corps in an essay by current Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams.
Joshua Berman, Travel Writer and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer
For 50 years Peace Corps volunteers have shared skills, built friendships and cultivated greater understanding between Americans and other world citizens.
Aaron S. Williams, Director of the Peace Corps
The Peace Corps will continue to meet the world’s challenges with innovation, creativity, determination and compassion.
Peace Corps Volunteers Share Skills, Build Connections (photo gallery)
• Kathleen Fraser, Panama
• Peter Hendricks and Alene Kennedy Hendricks, Georgia
• Tia Tucker, Morocco
• Don Hesse, Jordan
• Jared Tharp, Senegal
• Juan Rodriguez, Guyana
• Rachelle Olden, Dominican Republic
• Scott Lea, Indonesia
• Kelly Petrowski, Malawi
• Albin Sikora, Bulgaria
• Patty and Harvey Gagnon, Kyrgyz Republic
• Löki Tobin, Azerbaijan