2006.02.24: February 24, 2006: Headlines: 45th Anniversary: History: South Florida Sun-Sentinel: The Peace Corps is on a roll

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Peace Corps Library: History of the Peace Corps: January 23, 2005: Index: PCOL Exclusive: History of the Peace Corps : 2006.02.24: February 24, 2006: Headlines: 45th Anniversary: History: South Florida Sun-Sentinel: The Peace Corps is on a roll

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-25-123.balt.east.verizon.net - on Sunday, March 12, 2006 - 11:15 am: Edit Post

The Peace Corps is on a roll

The Peace Corps is on a roll

At 45, the Peace Corps is on a roll. Its volunteer ranks hit a 30-year high last year, and they are becoming more varied in age and ethnicity. It took a historic turn after Hurricane Katrina, when former Peace Corps volunteers went to the Gulf Coast in a first-ever U.S. assignment.

The Peace Corps is on a roll

Peace Corps to mark its 45th anniversary at Miami-Dade College event

By Jennifer Peltz
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Posted February 24 2006

When the Peace Corps started, some skeptics mocked it as a flaky exercise in international do-goodism -- a "juvenile experiment," a "Kiddie Corps."

At 20, it had shrunk to a third of its onetime size.

It turned 40 in the shadow of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. As the nation headed toward war, the Peace Corps' anniversary gala was canceled.

But at 45, the Peace Corps is on a roll. Its volunteer ranks hit a 30-year high last year, and they are becoming more varied in age and ethnicity. It took a historic turn after Hurricane Katrina, when former Peace Corps volunteers went to the Gulf Coast in a first-ever U.S. assignment.

So, as roughly 150 former volunteers gear up to gather Saturday at Miami-Dade College, there's much to celebrate.

And, as the Peace Corps is always quick to point out, much left to do. Saturday's reunion also is part recruitment, aiming to attract newcomers intrigued by the Peace Corps' challenging offer: Spend two years in a struggling country, doing anything from building wells to teaching math. Be prepared to learn another language, to do without electricity and running water and to be the only American in town. Do this for a small allowance.

In return, get "a life-changing experience," says Linda Alvarez, who volunteered in Cameroon in central Africa in the 1980s. She now lives in Hollywood with her husband, Aurelio, who volunteered in Morocco in the early 1990s.

"You end up getting way more out of it than you put into it," Linda Alvarez said.

The Peace Corps is a legacy of President John F. Kennedy, who broached the idea in a campaign speech and created the agency during his first months in office.

"The Peace Corps give us a chance to show a side of our country which is too often submerged. Our desire to live in peace, our desire to be of help," Kennedy said in a public service announcement during the program's early years.

Since then, more than 182,000 volunteers, including 6,000 Floridians, have served in 138 countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.

The federally financed program counts several members of Congress among its former volunteers, but its fortunes have wavered with changing political and cultural climates. Interest has risen again since the 2001 terrorist attacks and 2002 State of the Union Address, in which President Bush called for doubling the volunteer ranks to 15,000 by 2007.

It's well short of that. But at 7,800, the corps is at its biggest since 1974.

It's also increasingly diverse, in a variety of ways. About 16 percent of volunteers are minorities, up from 7 percent in 1990. More than 6 percent are 50 or older, compared with less than 1 percent in 1966.

Ask Martha Sweitzer about that. At 56, she returned to Hollywood this fall from training schoolteachers in Namibia, in southern Africa -- 20 years after her first Peace Corps assignment helping rural women set up a small bakery business in Honduras.

"It just takes someone who really has a commitment to want to challenge themselves to do something for somebody else," says Sweitzer, who's planning to return to teaching locally. "... Anybody can do it. It's just wanting to do it."

Regardless of whether they rejoin, many volunteers see the experience as a lingering commitment and a lifetime influence. Former volunteers in South Florida raised $17,000 last year for children's health care in Haiti, small-business loans in Colombia and aid to victims of the 2004 Asian tsunami, said Helene Dudley, a two-time volunteer who heads the local group.

Jennifer Peltz can be reached at jpeltz@sun-sentinel.com or 561-243-6636.

When this story was posted in March 2006, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Contact PCOLBulletin BoardRegisterSearch PCOLWhat's New?

Peace Corps Online The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
March 1, 1961: Keeping Kennedy's Promise Date: February 27 2006 No: 800 March 1, 1961: Keeping Kennedy's Promise
On March 1, 1961, President John F. Kennedy issues Executive Order #10924, establishing the Peace Corps as a new agency: "Life in the Peace Corps will not be easy. There will be no salary and allowances will be at a level sufficient only to maintain health and meet basic needs. Men and women will be expected to work and live alongside the nationals of the country in which they are stationed--doing the same work, eating the same food, talking the same language. But if the life will not be easy, it will be rich and satisfying. For every young American who participates in the Peace Corps--who works in a foreign land--will know that he or she is sharing in the great common task of bringing to man that decent way of life which is the foundation of freedom and a condition of peace. "

Top Stories and Breaking News PCOL Magazine Peace Corps Library RPCV Directory Sign Up

The Peace Corps Library Date: February 24 2006 No: 798 The Peace Corps Library
The Peace Corps Library is now available online with over 40,000 index entries in 500 categories. Looking for a Returned Volunteer? Check our RPCV Directory. New: Sign up to receive PCOL Magazine, our free Monthly Magazine by email. Like to keep up with Peace Corps news as it happens? Sign up to recieve a daily summary of Peace Corps stories from around the world.

Top Stories: February 2, 2006 Date: February 4 2006 No: 783 Top Stories: February 2, 2006
Al Kamen writes: Rice to redeploy diplomats 20 Jan
Peace Corps mourns the Loss of Volunteer Tessa Horan 1 Feb
RPCV pursues dreams in America's Heartland 1 Feb
Sargent Shriver documentary to be shown in LA 30 Jan
W. Frank Fountain is new board chairman of Africare 27 Jan
Abbey Brown writes about acid attacks in Bangladesh 26 Jan
Christopher Hill Sees Ray of Hope in N.Korea Standoff 26 Jan
Jeffrey Smit writes on one man diplomatic outposts 25 Jan
Joe Blatchford's ACCION and microfinance 24 Jan
James Rupert writes: A calculated risk in Pakistan 23 Jan
Sam Farr rips conservative immigration bill 21 Jan
Americans campaign for PC to return to Sierra Leone 20 Jan
Kinky Friedman supports Gay Marriage 20 Jan
Margaret Krome writes on Women leaders 18 Jan
James Walsh leads bipartisan US delegation to Ireland 17 Jan
Mark Schneider writes on Elections and Beyond in Haiti 16 Jan
Robert Blackwill on a "serious setback" in US-India relations 13 Jan
Kevin Quigley writes on PC and U.S. Image Abroad 13 Jan
Emily Metzloff rides bicycle 3,100 miles from Honduras 9 Jan
Charles Brennick starts operation InterConnection 9 Jan
Lee Fisher tells story of Pablo Morillo 7 Jan
Nancy Wallace writes: Was PC a CIA front after all? 4 Jan

Paid Vacations in the Third World? Date: February 20 2006 No: 787 Paid Vacations in the Third World?
Retired diplomat Peter Rice has written a letter to the Wall Street Journal stating that Peace Corps "is really just a U.S. government program for paid vacations in the Third World." Director Vasquez has responded that "the small stipend volunteers receive during their two years of service is more than returned in the understanding fostered in communities throughout the world and here at home." What do RPCVs think?

RPCV admits to abuse while in Peace Corps Date: February 3 2006 No: 780 RPCV admits to abuse while in Peace Corps
Timothy Ronald Obert has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a minor in Costa Rica while serving there as a Peace Corps volunteer. "The Peace Corps has a zero tolerance policy for misconduct that violates the law or standards of conduct established by the Peace Corps," said Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez. Could inadequate screening have been partly to blame? Mr. Obert's resume, which he had submitted to the Peace Corps in support of his application to become a Peace Corps Volunteer, showed that he had repeatedly sought and obtained positions working with underprivileged children. Read what RPCVs have to say about this case.

Military Option sparks concerns Date: January 3 2006 No: 773 Military Option sparks concerns
The U.S. military, struggling to fill its voluntary ranks, is allowing recruits to meet part of their reserve military obligations after active duty by serving in the Peace Corps. Read why there is opposition to the program among RPCVs. Director Vasquez says the agency has a long history of accepting qualified applicants who are in inactive military status. John Coyne says "Not only no, but hell no!" and RPCV Chris Matthews leads the debate on "Hardball." Avi Spiegel says Peace Corps is not the place for soldiers while Coleman McCarthy says to Welcome Soldiers to the Peace Corps. Read our poll results. Latest: Congress passed a bill on December 22 including language to remove Peace Corps from the National Call to Service (NCS) military recruitment program

Why blurring the lines puts PCVs in danger Date: October 22 2005 No: 738 Why blurring the lines puts PCVs in danger
When the National Call to Service legislation was amended to include Peace Corps in December of 2002, this country had not yet invaded Iraq and was not in prolonged military engagement in the Middle East, as it is now. Read the story of how one volunteer spent three years in captivity from 1976 to 1980 as the hostage of a insurrection group in Colombia in Joanne Marie Roll's op-ed on why this legislation may put soldier/PCVs in the same kind of danger. Latest: Read the ongoing dialog on the subject.

PC establishes awards for top Volunteers Date: November 9 2005 No: 749 PC establishes awards for top Volunteers
Gaddi H. Vasquez has established the Kennedy Service Awards to honor the hard work and service of two current Peace Corps Volunteers, two returned Peace Corps Volunteers, and two Peace Corps staff members. The award to currently serving volunteers will be based on a demonstration of impact, sustainability, creativity, and catalytic effect. Submit your nominations by December 9.

Friends of the Peace Corps 170,000  strong Date: April 2 2005 No: 543 Friends of the Peace Corps 170,000 strong
170,000 is a very special number for the RPCV community - it's the number of Volunteers who have served in the Peace Corps since 1961. It's also a number that is very special to us because March is the first month since our founding in January, 2001 that our readership has exceeded 170,000. And while we know that not everyone who comes to this site is an RPCV, they are all "Friends of the Peace Corps." Thanks everybody for making PCOL your source of news for the Returned Volunteer community.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; 45th Anniversary; History


Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.