” This is thetitle of an essay that was writtenby a Peace Corps volunteer, LauraStedman, on her reflections of herwork in Swaziland, serving as ascience teacher. The essaydiscusses her students and whatturned out to be her most importantaccomplishment, to give thechildren confidence in themselves. In this way she opened the door forthem to learn on their own, and tofeel that their opinions wereimportant. Once the children beganto share their own opinions, shelearned a large amount from themalso.
The essay I described above sums upmy interests in the Peace Corps. Tobe able to help those lessfortunate than you, and in a veryconcrete way. Unlike sending “twodollars a month, to help a child,”to some informercial, were younever really see the results, orare to involved with them either. You also dont get the amazingexperience of learning about acountrys culture and customs. Mostimportantly, through the PeaceCorps you are able to go throughthe enriching experience ofinteracting with people, in whichcase you both learn from each othera great deal, and help each otheralong the path of life. On a sidenote, through the Peace Corps wealso show that the US is not the”bully of the world” (as Saddamwould like to claim).
That some ofus Americans, if not most, do careabout all people, not justourselves. 2. Background and SupportPeace Corps is a volunteer service,in which Americans are sent to helpundeveloped and poverty-strickencountries. The volunteers stay inthese host countries for two years. They live with the people, in manytimes poor conditions, and serveand interact with the people of thecountry. In doing this, the PeaceCorps have three major goals: “1)To provide volunteers whocontribute to the social andeconomic development of interestedcountries; 2) To promote a betterunderstanding of Americans amongthe people whom volunteers serve;3) To strengthen Americansunderstanding about the world andits people.
” Most of all, theorganization promotes world peace,and understanding between Americaand all the other nations andpeople of the world. It is a UnitedStates government agency, and isfunded by our tax dollars. Which isa place where I dont mind my moneygoing to. How did the Peace Corps come to be?It is a very complicated politicalweb of incidents, but can be summedtogether quite easily. In the early1960s the youths of the nation hadgrown tired of being idle, and theybelieved America was becomingpompous and arrogant. They wantedchange.
They wanted to change theworld. Then the first glimpse ofthat chance came. President Kennedywent to the University of Michiganon October 14, 1960. In his speechthat day, he asked the group of tenthousand students present: “Howmany of you are willing to spendten years in Africa or LatinAmerica or Asia working for the USand working for freedom?” Thisidea, the idea that later becamethe Peace Corps, gave the chance toquench this thirst for change, andmore importantly action.
3. Development and RecognitionThe plan behind the Peace Corps wasmainly masterminded by SenatorHubert Humphrey and CongressmanHenry S. Reuss. However, Kennedywas the person who articulated it.
He did so at his speech at theUniversity of Michigan, and manyother speeches, including hisinaugural address. Especially withhis famous line: “Ask not what yourcountry can do for you, ask whatyou can do for your country” (todaythis line is somewhat of a mottofor the Peace Corps). Also, inMarch of 1961, after being electedpresident, Kennedy did as hepromised, and gave the executiveorder creating the Peace Corps. Less than half a year later,volunteers were already being sentto Ghana. By the end of 1961, thePeace Corps expanded to serve adozen countries, and had close to athousand volunteers.
Within thenext few years, the number ofcountries with programs ore thandoubled, and in 1966 the number ofvolunteers reached the highest inhistory of over 15,000. In 1981, itcelebrated its 20th anniversary,and received congratulations fromPresident Reagan. By this point ithad had programs in 88 countries,and accumulated almost a hundredthousand alumni. In 1989 the “worldwise schools” initiative is put inplace. This plan has elementary andjunior high classes going with thevolunteers to the countries, tohelp promote world-wide awareness.
In 1995, a new form of the PeaceCorps, the Crisis Corps, is createdto help nations in cases ofemergencies. This brings us up totoday. 4. PresentationToday the Peace Corps continue tohelp countries in need, and topromote world peace.
The volunteerscontinue to help countries in theareas of agriculture, education,health, and trade. However, todaythey are also helping countries inthe areas of teaching English,business, city planning, youthprograms, and even the environment. About six and a half thousandvolunteers and serving ineighty-four different countries. The regions in which most of theireffort is concentrated are Africa,South America, the Pacific, Asia,the former Soviet Union, theCaribbean, and Eastern Europe. President Clinton plans to try toget the Peace Corps an increase infunding of about twenty percent.
Ifhe is able to, it is hoped thatwithin the next few years thenumber of volunteers can be raisedto ten thousand, and that the PeaceCorps could have programs in even agreater number of countries. Thisextra money could also help withthe new Crisis Corps programs. TheCrisis Corps are Peace Corpsvolunteers who go and helpcountries suffering from recentdisasters by working throughnon-governmental agencies, reliefagencies, and development agencies. A part of the Peace Corps that isnot fully illustrated is the peopleof countries who have or arereceiving aid. Through the PeaceCorps they gain new knowledge toimprove their lives, but they alsomust take the initiative to do so.
Hopefully these people can put theknowledge into use, and combinedwith the continued aid of the PeaceCorps can empower themselves toimprove their lives, but hopefullyalso improve the lives of others. 5. ConclusionWithout the Peace Corps the worldwould not have one of the greatopportunities to grow together. Onevolunteer can effect just oneperson in his/her host country. However, that person who becomesempowered with new knowledge andhope, instills that into hisfamily, who slowly instill thisinto their village, and hopefullyat some point the entire country. All the while America, through thevolunteers, is improving relationswith other countries, while othernations are able to do the same.
With both parties learning so muchabout each other, and through eachother. If this is not an utterlygood and important cause, I dontknow what is. One day thesecountries that we are, and have,helped to improve their lives canhopefully one day do the same forothers. The dream that I see in thePeace Corps is one day worldwideunderstanding between all people.As long as the Peace Corps isaround, we know at least we arestriving in this direction.Category: Miscellaneous