Peace Corps

Peace Corps, the volunteer foreign assistance program of the United States. The peace Corps places men and women in other countries to help meet the need for skilled persons. Peace Corps members work in eastern Europe and in the developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The Peace Corps is an independent agency of the United States government.

Peace CorpsPeace Corps volunteers are greeted by President Kennedy in 1961.

Volunteers work at jobs assigned by the host country, usually in rural areas and in some technical capacity. They are used as farm specialists, doctors, nurses, engineers, surveyors, bricklayers, carpenters, and mechanics. Some work as teachers.

Qualified volunteers must be at least 18 years old. A majority are single and in their 20's, but some are married with small children and a few are elderly. The normal period of service is two years, but volunteers may resign at any time. Each is given an allowance equal to wages of a local citizen in the same occupation. On returning to the United States, a termination allowance is given for every month of satisfactory service. In the early years of the Peace Corps, most volunteers had a liberal arts college education and were used to teach school in the host countries. Later, however, most volunteers were technically and vocationally trained to help people in practical skills.

The Peace Corps was proposed by John F. Kennedy during his campaign for President and was established in 1961. Its first director was R. Sargent Shriver, Jr. The corps proved both useful and popular in most of the countries served. It inspired the creation of peace corps in other countries, including Norway, Sweden, and West Germany.