October 25, 2002 - Envoy Magazine: Peace Corps Benefits from Renewed Interest in Service

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By Admin1 (admin) on Monday, October 28, 2002 - 11:19 am: Edit Post

Peace Corps Benefits from Renewed Interest in Service

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Peace Corps Benefits from Renewed Interest in Service*

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Peace Corps Benefits from Renewed Interest in Service

By Maria Cazares

While campaigning for the presidency in October of 1960, John F. Kennedy posed a challenge to an assembly of college students in Ann Arbor, Michigan; he asked how many of them would be willing to forfeit all commodities and the comfort of their daily lives to instead serve their country and the cause of global peace by lending their services to the developing world—that is, live and serve in developing world.

Three months later, in his inaugural address, President John F. Kennedy proposed the same challenge to the entire nation. He asked the United States to come together “in a grand and global alliance to fight tyranny, poverty, disease, and war.” Kennedy also said, “To those people in the huts and villages across the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves.”

The following March, President Kennedy signed an executive order establishing the Peace Corps and 5,000 volunteers took the first exams. Those who were accepted went on to complete the first Peace Corps assignments in Ghana and Tanzania. For the next 40 years, the Peace Corps have been successful in sending more than 160,000 volunteers abroad to 135 developing countries around the world. During their ‘tour of duty,’ volunteers strive to lend the most crucial and basic services to help the growth and development of the community in which they serve.

However, due to recent volatile political environments in parts of the world where anti-American sentiments continue to grow, the Peace Corps has been forced to cut down on out-reach programs and, in places such as Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, all volunteers have been removed and the programs discontinued until Peace Corps Officials believe it safe to return.

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Peace Corps expected political and social conditions in the country to present complications that would affect the growth and contributions of the organization. However, there was an incredible amount of national support and a noted increase in volunteers. President Bush expressed his support for the continued assistance of the Peace Corps and made known his intentions of doubling the size of the organization within the next five years. He also intends to increase volunteer participation in Muslim countries in an attempt to better political relations.

After the President’s announcement the Peace Corps experienced an increase in inquiries from the public and record web traffic. The application rate is 40% more and web traffic continues at 102% more than last year. And interestingly, during the first two days immediately following the 9/11 attacks and the Presidents address, statistics show that requests for applications rose 300% over last years rate of requests. The rate of completed applications received underwent an increase of 19.49% over last years.

ThePeace Corps’ new Director, Gaddi Vasquez, comments that “the exciting part of the increased attention to volunteer service from the President is that people who were interested in devoting two years of service to the Peace Corps know that now is the right time.”

Six months after the 9/11 attacks, Director Gaddi Vasquez met with Peace Corps officials in Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and Peru to discuss the possible reopening of Peace Corps programs in these states.

A year after 9/11 in Washington D.C, the Peace Corps remembered the attacks by attending local schools, where volunteers spent the day teaching students about cultural awareness. Volunteers took the opportunity to dedicate the anniversary to promoting peace, tolerance and the eradication of hatred and racism. Vasquez explained that through the Peace Corps efforts “we want to teach the world that we value and respect people’s characters and cultures.” And it is with admirable efforts such as these that the Peace Corps continue to live up to their legacy of promoting world peace and friendship.

If anyone is interested in taking part in this 40 year old tradition of peace, service and the promotion of cross-cultural understanding, contact your local Peace Corps Recruiter or visit the website at www.peacecorps.gov. Give yourself the opportunity to represent America in communities around the world.

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By Anonymous ( on Wednesday, April 16, 2008 - 11:06 am: Edit Post

i'm looking for two friends of mine who worked as volonteers of the peace corps at koula moutou in gabon(2002-2003),Clement and Brenda Deveau.i want to contact them!

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