Currently, more than 7,000 Peace Corps volunteers are serving in 77 countries, working to bring clean water to communities, teach children, help start new small businesses, and stop the spread of AIDS. Since 1961, more than 155,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps, serving in 134 nations.
What is the Peace Corps?
When President John F. Kennedy became President in 1961, he issued a call to service to Americans with these words: "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." He manifested this vision by establishing the Peace Corps to promote world peace and friendship.
The Peace Corps has three goals:
- To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
- To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
- To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.
The men and women who serve as Peace Corps volunteers reflect the rich diversity of the United States, but they share a common spirit of service, dedication, and idealism. They serve in their host countries for two years. They are afforded no special privileges and often live in remote communities. Volunteers receive intensive language and cross-cultural training in order to become part of the communities where they live. They speak the local language and adapt to the cultures and customs of the people with whom they work. Volunteers work with teachers and parents to improve the quality of, and access to, education for children. They work with communities to protect the local environment and to create economic opportunities. They work on basic projects to keep families healthy and to help them grow more food. Their larger purpose, however, is to work with people in developing countries to help them take charge of their own futures.
At the same time, volunteers learn as much, if not more, from the people in their host countries. When they complete their service in the Peace Corps, volunteers work to strengthen America's understanding of different countries and cultures.
The Peace Corps is fulfilling its promise by sharing America's most precious resource with the rest of the world: its people. Volunteers have helped pave the way for progress for countless individuals who want to build a better life for themselves, their children, and their communities.
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