Friday, March 1, 2013

Happy Birthday Peace Corps!

JFK with the first volunteers in 1961

Two score and 12 years, John F. Kennedy signed an executive order that established the Peace Corps in the Department of State.  A Peace Corps bill had been floating around in Congress since the mid 50s, but there had been no action taken on it until 1960 when Humphrey in the Senate and Henry Reuss in the House tried to push the bill toward passage, but ultimately it took Kennedy's executive action to make this volunteer service reality.

The first group of 52 volunteers were sent to Ghana in August, 1961.  The country had been independent since 1957.  The Peace Corps has had its ebbs and flows over the years but today numbers over 8000 volunteers with a presence in 76 countries.  I served in Lesotho from 1988-90, as a math and science teacher in a rural high school, an experience I treasure.

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