The First Years Of The Peace Corps

1654 words - 7 pages

“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, for whatever period is required,” (Kennedy 2), John F. Kennedy told an inspired crowd and an ambitious nation during his inaugural address on January 20, 1961. The origins for his plan to establish a program to assist developing countries originated about 4 months earlier during an early morning speech at the University of Michigan, where, at 2 a.m., he challenged the students to “contribute part of [there] life to this country”(Kennedy 1). His speech received a thunderous response and within weeks a petition in support of the idea had been gathered with over a thousand signatures. The Peace Corps was officially established by Executive Order 10924 on March 1, 1961. The Peace Corps proved to be a program consisting of devoted individuals serving their countries to fight against poverty and aiding the men, women and children fighting to survive in their impoverished living conditions. John F. Kennedy was motivated to establish the Peace Corps to assist the people in less developed countries, provide disaster relief, and to develop relations with other countries.
Throughout its years of activity, the Peace Corps has provided indisputable support to developing countries worldwide. Volunteers work in schools, on farms, and in the community to teach much-needed skills in the areas of technology, environment, agriculture, education, and more. Over twenty-thousand volunteers were sent to Latin America within the first three decades of the programs formation. There, they focused on community development and helping the poor people solve local problems. Although budget cuts reduced the program in the 1970s and 80s, projects were still undertaken in agriculture, health, and education. Many African countries also received assistance, including Nigeria. The president, Nnamdi Azikiwe, wanted to establish a four-year American style university, but was having trouble recruiting teaching staff. The Peace Corps made up a third of the staff at the university. In 1971, the Peace Corps left Nigeria. Nevertheless, the Peace Corps legacy was not forgotten, and in 1991, an interview with Bukar Zarma, the editor and publisher of Nigeria’s capital city newspaper, stated, “I was extremely motivated in science by my former Peace Corps science teacher who had such a passion for space” (“Nigerians Speak Warmly… 1). Other Nigerians stated that the “enthusiasm and dedication of the volunteers had fostered their own successes” (“Nigerians Speak Warmly… 1). Clearly, the efforts of the volunteers in Nigeria helped make a positive difference in the people’s lives. Countless numbers of other countries benefited from these programs. In Morocco, volunteers were given various activities such as irrigation projects to teaching physical education. In addition, the Peace Corps built libraries, taught English, and founded...

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