This is Part 1 in a two-part series. For part two, click here.
Peace Corps Week is here. From February 24th through March 2nd. Peace Corps Week celebrates Peace Corps’ anniversary, which is on March 1st. This week, many celebrations happen, as well as activities to bring more awareness of the plethora of activities that Peace Corps is involved with throughout the world. This year, Peace Corps will be celebrating 58 years! The theme this year is “A Day in the Life…”
What is the Peace Corps?
This is a question I have gotten both in America and abroad. Some people think we are associated with the military (due to the “Corps” part of our name). Others think it is some holiday or college-like experience. Others, a gap “year” program. None of that could be farther from the truth.
It all started with an impromptu speech given at the University of Michigan by (at the time) Presidential-candidate John F. Kennedy. It was October 14, 1960 and Kennedy arrived in Ann Arbor at 2:00 am. In front of a crowd of 10,000 students, Kennedy gave “…the longest-short speech I’ve ever made…” From there, the bold new experiment in public service was born. President Kennedy would sign an Executive Order to establish the Peace Corps on March 1, 1961.
Peace Corps is about changing lives throughout the world. Many times, a life changed is the volunteer’s. Peace Corps Volunteers are Americans who immerse themselves in local communities abroad and work side-by-side with local leaders to address issues and challenges facing the community.
The Peace Corps Mission is to promote world peace and friendship through three points:
- 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.
Below is a video, which I’ve shared with some of my family, that tells a little bit about “Who We Are.”
How do Volunteers serve?
Volunteers serve at the local level. Peace Corps is apolitical. We work with schools, NGOs, and small businesses. No two communities are the same and our partners we work with can vary, even in small countries.
Peace Corps is broken up into a few different sectors. Each sector works in their key areas, but collaboration and having a basic understanding of each sector does occur. For example, I’m in the Community Economic Development sector, but I also have an English Club where I teach and help kids learn English (which would typically fall under the education sector). The 6 sectors are:
- Community Economic Development
- Youth in Development
Although not a a sector per say, there is also Peace Corps Response that serves typically under 1 year and responds to disasters or other emergency situations. Most people who serve as Peace Corps Response have special expertise needed for the job at hand (and many also have previous Peace Corps experience).
Where do volunteers serve?
Peace Corps Volunteers serve throughout the world. I’m apart of the 14% who serve in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. As of September 30th, 2018, volunteers serve in 62 countries. Peace Corps Volunteers have served in 141 countries.
More than 235,000 Americans have served in the Peace Corps. Volunteers come from all backgrounds and all corners of the United States. There are currently 7,367 volunteers (and trainees) serving throughout the world (I’m apart of that number!) 64% of volunteers are female and 36% are male. 99% are single with 1% being married couples. 33% of (reporting) volunteers are minorities. The average age of volunteers is 27 years old. And 4% of volunteers are over 50 years of age.
The Days ahead
This week, I will be posting all kinds of facts and figures pertaining to Peace Corps. Be on the look out for more posts about Peace Corps, “A Day in the Life…”, Peace Corps Moldova, and even why I decided to join Peace Corps and what I have learned from my experience so far.
Is there anything I missed about the Peace Corps that you can share or anything else you would like to know?