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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Peace corps logo16.svg
Agency overview
FormedMarch 1, 1961; 57 years ago (1961-03-01)
HeadquartersWashington, D.C., U.S.
Employees70,000[citation needed]
Annual budget$398 million
(2018 fiscal year)[1]
Agency executive
Parent agencyUS Government
Websitewww.peacecorps.gov

The Peace Corps is a volunteer program run by the United States government. Its official mission is to provide social and economic development abroad through technical assistance, while promoting mutual understanding between Americans and populations served. Peace Corps Volunteers are American citizens, typically with a college degree, who work abroad for a period of two years after three months of training. Volunteers work with governments, schools, non-profit organizations, non-government organizations, and entrepreneurs in education, business, information technology, agriculture, and the environment. After 24 months of service, volunteers can request an extension of service.[2]

The program was established by Executive Order 10924, issued by President John F. Kennedy on March 1, 1961 and authorized by Congress on September 21, 1961 with passage of the Peace Corps Act (Pub.L. 87–293). The act declares the program's purpose as follows:

To promote world peace and friendship through a Peace Corps, which shall make available to interested countries and areas men and women of the United States qualified for service abroad and willing to serve, under conditions of hardship if necessary, to help the peoples of such countries and areas in meeting their needs for trained manpower.

Since its inception, nearly 220,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps and served in 141 countries.[3] The Peace Corps shows "the willingness of Americans to work at the grassroots level in order to help underdeveloped countries meet their needs". The Peace Corps has affected the way people of other countries view Americans, how Americans view other countries, and how Americans view their own country.[4]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ Posh Corps: A Peace Corps Documentary
  • ✪ In Class With Peace Corps Volunteers in Africa, Asia

Transcription

Voiceover: One second. Adjust the light. Veronica: Yes. Voiceover: Is this the [switch]? Veronica: I think it's the other side over there. Voiceover: Oh, it's on this side. This one. Veronica: This one, oh, oops. Voicover: Can't be that one. I shocked myself. Maybe this one? Veronica: Yeah, I think so. Ryan: It's a program that sends Americans all over the world for about two years, sorry. Voiceover: Sorry. Very interesting. Ryan: What do you see? Voiceover: Oh, just- Ryan: Is it a rat? Voiceover: No, it's just a bug. Ryan: Oh, no, that's fine. I thought it was a rat because it could happen. And I was gonna like freak out. George: You know what's funny about South Africa though it's like you said, nothing goes according to plan here. (rain beating) (George sighs) Cameraman: Let's move. (rain beating) (thunder booms) George: Nothing goes according to plan, ever. (Cameraman laughs) (thunder booms) Cameraman: Oh. Fran: You're not gonna be able to do our interview since the power's out. Cameraman: How are you gonna cook if the power's out? Fran: Oh, shit! (rain beating) Fran: Ugh, I'll just prepare it, and then hopefully it will stay on. But then if it doesn't it'll come on eventually. (Veronica laughs) Veronica: Peace Corps is, I would say at the basic level Peace Corps sends Americans to other countries to help with projects or teaching or just help communities to improve their way of living. (guitar music) (horn honks) (guitar music) Uh, I joined Peace Corps because I wanted to help people in some way. And I also wanted to get experience interntaionally. I was hoping to go to Uganda, my first choice in terms of region was Africa, but specifically I wanted to go to Uganda. I was still excited. I didn't know that much about South Africa, but I was still pretty excited. I was kind of surprised with how developed everything was. But yeah, it was kind of weird to just like get off, get on a plane in America and fly for however many hours, and then land in Africa and seem like you're in America still. (laughs) (horn honks) (horn honks) (brakes squeaking) (guitar music) (bell jingling) (chickens clucking) (baby crying) Ryan: Even when I first found out I was coming to South Africa, reaction by some people are like, oh, we didn't know that they, why would they have Peace Corps in South Africa? Not only are we dealing with similar development issues that other volunteers might face, but we're also dealing with knowing that there is money, there are resources in this country, and they're not equally distributed by any means. And we can see it on a, we see it, I mean, when we go to Pretoria, when we go to the cities, we actually feel it. And there are days when, in Pretoria, I can start off, if I'm at a mall or I'm, you know, in a private taxi or I'm having a great meal, and that same day I can be back here in my community. To have that in one day, at first it was really difficult just wrapping your mind around it, and how can people be okay with that? (people talking) Maybe if the HIV rate wasn't the highest in the world, maybe if the youth unemployment wasn't so high, maybe if rape wasn't such a big issue, maybe we wouldn't be here, you know? And it kind of feels wrong having to justify us being here by giving all of those statistics, but, you know, there are problems here. (guitar music) Kevin: What you see here is all the development, and that's it. It's now, as far as you look to the left, as far as you look to the right, protected, there's no, I love it, there's no development. Kevin: You know, Peace Corps markets, like any marketing firm they're going to give an ideal version of what Peace Corps is like. So that's why you see the pictures of digging a well out in the middle of nowhere, and happy people all around you, rejoicing at what you're doing. But, it's so difficult to put a common stamp on Peace Corps because it's true, the saying, every experience is different. And I've observed here in South Africa, just one country, that there is a huge difference in your experience from one town to another town, and it's things that you can't anticipate. I'm living now in paradise. (guitar music) The world has changed since 1961, the communication is different, the access to the internet, which makes the world, we can all communicate well. Most of the volunteers now have Blackberries. Voiceover: Has anybody ever told you that it's like Posh Corps or anything like that? Kevin: Only once, and they'll never make that mistake again. I was in Pretoria at Peace Corps, and it was somebody from, they weren't from South Africa, of course, cause nobody in South Africa will say this is Posh Corps. George: What's Posh Corps? Posh Corps is what Peace Corps volunteers, maybe from other countries or even Peace Corps volunteers within South Africa or within a country, that's what they call the volunteers who have more access to first world amenities. I have two really big sinks right outside my door, and I actually have running hot water from one of them, which is kind of unheard of in Peace Corps. I do have a flushing toilet. Yeah, I actually, I have my own bathroom. It has a flush toilet, it has a bathtub, and it even has like a sink. I'm actually sweeping the ants out of my bathroom before I take a bath. And they just swarm everywhere. I was actually saying how I think they're really resilient, and that kind of embodies Peace Corps. (laughs) No matter how many times I keep trying to keep them out of my house and they keep finding new ways in. I would definitely say that this is not your parents Peace Corps anymore, it's totally different. You have internet, you have computers, you have electricity. The problems the world is facing now isn't necessarily the same ones they were facing in the 50's, and, you know, I mean in the 60's and 70's, you know? Now it's, like we said it's about resource allocation. But there's still be a need for diplomacy, and sharing American culture. Just cause you have cell phones doesn't mean that you don't need those things. Fran: They think that just because we have like Pretoria and Cape Town at our disposal, and that some of our sites have like running water or whatever we have, nice, like we live with host families, we have nice things, that it's easy, you know? And that we don't struggle, but that's not true. Okay, Denella? Kids: L O E. Fran:[Donai] Kids: [Ene]. Fran: Hello. Kids: Hi. Fran: How are you? Kids: Fine. So calling it Posh Corps, I think, is really, can be very ignorant. This country, am I even allowed to say vulgar words? This county's a mind fuck, right? It's like a total mind fuck. (laughs) It like just messes with your head, so, I just think it's a silly thing for people to say. And I get really annoyed when people say it, cause they don't know. Sean: For me, like I studied Swahili in college, and I knew that I wanted to work in Africa, and, I always thought that was gonna be Kenya and Tanzania, and I was kind of bummed when I found out it was South Africa. South Africa never was appealing to me. (animal squealing) (woman in scarf speaking native language.) Sean: Yeah. Woman in scarf: [Turn in.] Sean: It's good? (woman in scarf speaking native language) Sean: Yeah. Woman in scarf: Huh? Alrighty. Sean: Yeah, alright, yeah. (laughs) Yeah, it's good. But, after being in the country and talking to people about other countries in Africa, like, this seems like a great place to start and kind of keep some meat on my bones and make decisions and plot and do things that way. (guitar music) (kids talking and laughing) I knew I was gonna love whatever was gonna come across me eyes and, so whatever came in to South Africa I just decided to love. (singing and clapping) (singing and clapping) Veronica: My village is called Mavalani village. It's, I'm still not sure how many people, but they estimate like 5,000. It's pretty, it's kind of spread out I think. And there's no like structures like a clinic, or a community center or a library or anything like that. We have a few organizations and then a lot of churches and that's about it. Okay, okay, so I'll just start here and then wrap around. But this is where I've stayed during my Peace Corps service. Over here is the garage where we usually store drinking water and things. This is where I do laundry and then hang them. (laughs) Yeah, yeah, I definitely feel like a different person in the village. It's definitely a more relaxed feeling that I have, just because it feels like home at this point. And then this is my room right here. Living in this house, I like it. I like having the big windows and just like having a lot of air coming through, and it's just like a lot of space. This, I don't know how big it is, but it's probably not that much space to other people, but, (laughs) but like, compared to other volunteers it's like a big room. (singing and clapping) So my role in the village is, I'm assigned to an organization called [Here Swingve Bacdahalo Organization], and they run six projects throughout the village. I primarily work with the home based care Drop in Center and then occasionally do stuff with the Victim Empowerment Project. For me, like the thing that I do as a volunteer is just like try to start projects that will benefit the community and that they can get involved in and interested in. (kids talking) So this is a mural that I did, me and the kids did, after an anti-bullying sessions that we did for a week. Yeah, so for the anti-bullying campaign we did a few sessions at the Drop In Center, which was just like teaching kids what bullying is, and then after that the kids came up with rules, things like no hitting and no throwing rocks, no swearing, no calling people bad names. And like, their signature of the contract that they would agree to the rules of the contract we're putting their handprints on the wall in the form of a peace sign, so... (laughs) Phillip: Yeah, when she came with this idea, I took it as a lie (Veronica laughs) but after what you've done here, we have seen a huge change on children, on children's behavior, they're not bullying each other, they're not fighting, they're working as a team. They're living like brothers and sisters. What I can say is that she left a mark on us, and we're still expecting more from her, and her leaving, it would be a wound into our hears but we don't have choice It's left a mark that America is a very helpful country. A country that doesn't want other people, that doesn't want seeing other people suffering. They are friendly and so loving. (kids talking and laughing) Veronica: I can tell you like during the first, like I said the first year, the first six months or so I would say, it was, like I said, difficult of getting them to realize that I was an American because I was black. But also it was difficult to prove to them that I could do the work as well as a white person could. Because they would say things like Oh Veronica, don't think like a black person, think like a white person. As if someone else would say, Oh, the early bird gets the worm. It was just like a saying they they had. (laughs) But like I tried to explain to them, I think, I hope I got it across to them just like, why as black people themselves, and just like talking to another black person they shouldn't say something like that and shouldn't think like that. But every now and then something like that will come out of someone's mouth at work. We'll be like Oh, we need a white person to come and do this so they can do it right, or something like that, and I'm just like please don't, please don't say that. Voiceover: And what is the thing you will miss most when Veronica leaves? (Philip translates) (speaking native language) Philip: They are saying that they will miss her love, her support, because they know that in terms of conflict, when they fail to handle conflict, they will call Veronica and help them. There were taking her like their sister. They were family, in fact. So, it will be hard for them when she's gone because they were used to her. Voiceover: Do you hope that she can come back one day? (Philip translates) Women: Yes! (laughing) (speaking native language) (Philip laughs) Philip: Yeah, they say they wish if she can come. If and when she is going back, they are not interested. If it was their way, they would say she must stay. (laughing) (guitar music) Kevin: I think it's incredibly difficult for someone my age to join Peace Corps. I was in a job I didn't really like, I was making money but I didn't feel like I was doing anything meaningful. So I could just stay at my job and make money and spend it on things I don't really care about, or do this. So, I joke it's my midlife crisis, but it's not really. It was just something I've wanted to do, and the timing was such that I asked the question if not now, when? When I first came, the first week I was here, Peace Corps held a perma gardening workshop. And it was for, it was held here, but it was for the Peace Corps volunteers in the area. I had, the only training I've had in gardening was the perma gardening workshop, My background is tech, but, the point I think that should be made is that where I'm hoping Peace Corps remains flexible in letting volunteers have some autonomy because even though I'm a tech guy, with a tech background, I can spend, and I don't mind, that's what I'm here for, I'll help out in any way, but there's interest, so for me, that's opportunity, and they've taken it. And if you look out there, we've got stuff growing all over the place. So again, my background is tech, but there was an opportunity here with the gardening, there was interest, people took off, so I went there. That's where I went and, I don't know how you fit that, how you explain that to a volunteer when they first come to a site, and they're looking for what to do. My suggestion is you kind of have to just be an opportunist and see where you can help out. So that's the biggest challenge is that, what you think you're going to do, you're not going to do it, likely you're not going to do it, and then you're going to get to a site and, there's gonna be other things, other factors in there, that are just gonna prevent you from doing what you think you were going to do. So that's very frustrating. I don't know how Peace Corps, in their defense, I don't know how they can prep you for that. I don't know. (guitar music) I think South Africa was particularly difficult as a location for a number of reasons. Yes, there are a lot of nice things, but you don't have any money, so you can't do these things. So the person you're working with is driving a BMW, and you are not, so there's this disconnect. You know, you're given 80 rand a day, that's your allowance, you know, to put it in perspective that's about 10 dollars a day to live on. So, yeah, you see all this stuff, but you don't get to experience it. I actually, one time I did my laundry, I was in Hinesa, I did my laundry, put it on the clothesline to dry, the woman that comes to the house, didn't like how I did my laundry, took it all down, washed it, put it back up, charged me 30 rand. (laughs) Dark colored underwear, best investment I ever made. I'm just getting into the groove now. Here's what was going to happen: I'm working with 6th and 7th graders, and the lab I work with, we have 20 computers, and the goal is to get them some basic typing skills, and by the end of September they'll be able to research and write a paper. (kids talking) Today what I want you to do is I want you to practice typing, those of you with a typing name, I want you to practice a little bit, and then yes, you can go back to [unka], okay? Yes, I do talk differently and what you do, you know exactly, yeah, you hit it. You become, first of all, you start limiting your words, so you use less words. Have any of you done the typing game yet? Do you know what the typing game is? Do you understand any words coming out of my mouth? Yes, now I know your village voice, and yes, we all do it. You're a Peace Corps volunteer, you and I, were having a conversation, someone will come in, who's English is a second language, and you talk differently, yes, the village voice, so. (guitar music) (kids talking) George: I know I gave it to you, Julia. (kids talking) I will make some more. Antino? When you're a teacher in South Africa, there's no room for compromise. I mean, I think I was, I had some level of preparedness, but I don't think you can ever truthfully be prepared to teach here coming from the United States. (kids talking) Hey! (clapping) Hey! (clapping) Class: [Hey!] (clapping) George: Good morning! Class: Good morning! George: Like they told you your class may be overcrowded, I just didn't expect there to be not enough furniture. Like in the first few days of class half my kids were standing cause there weren't enough desks. (kids reciting) I don't have textbooks for my learners. I just have to write stuff on the board and they have to copy it. It's a waste of time, but... Yeah, it's just stuff like that you don't think about, you take for granted in American classrooms, but they don't have as much materials here. Okay, do this, okay. The second part, activity four, activity five. I'm going to explain them now, again, okay. Do you know how to do a line graph? Class: Yes. George: Okay, let's revise it then. So here we have months and we have numbers, yes? Class: Yes. George: Okay, the numbers are going to represent how many cows a man has. (door banging) Oh, okay. I mean, like, in my school, we have third world materials, we're working with third world materials, we've got chalkboard and chalk, that's pretty much all we got. But, the curriculum, or what they might want us to teach these kids, or the workbooks they might give us, if we get workbooks, it's, the demands are first world, and I feel like the conditions on the ground are still third world. How many from 70 until... You live in a third world place, then you know, you get a call from the office, and you have to go into Pretoria, it's only two hours away. You go two hours from where I am, and you're living in like a bustling metropolis that has first world everything. And then as a Peace Corps volunteer, then you go back to your village. And that's, I've heard that that's one of the most difficult parts of being in South Africa as a volunteer is having the mental toughness to be able to withstand the constant switch from living in a third world going to the first world, then going back to the third world again. (guitar music) My village, the predominant culture in my village is Ndbele, but it's, kwaNdebele is this whole area's kind of weird, because there was this whole homeland [zact] thing where they kind of moved all the different tribes different places. And they moved the Ndebele's to this area. Fendzi: Oh, quite nice. George: Yeah. Fendzi: Yes, very nice. George: So if I was going to get married, I would wear this also. Fendzi: Also, put it inside. This thing, it's a sign from the Ndebeles. I don't know what I can explain but it's our traditional Ndebeles when the boys are coming from the mountain. George: Oh, so this is Ndebeles, it's not Sotho, Fendzi: Yeah, no. George: this is Ndebeles. Fendzi: Ndebeles, yeah. George: So my family is Ndebeles and Sotho. Fendzi: Yeah, yeah. George: I feel like Ndebeles are, there a little more traditional I think. I always thought Ndebeles are, they're really, really proud of their culture. But I can't say if that's specifically a Ndebele thing, because I've only lived in the Ndebele village. Oh, oh yeah, definitely Ndebele colors, Fendzi: They are. Fendzi: No problem, yeah. George: These are very Ndebele colors. I think, I think, (speaking in Ndebele) I see beautiful, yes? Fendzi: (speaking in Ndebele) Yes, you look good in these. You must take a picture, so they will see it in America. (George laughs) Fendzi: (speaking in Ndebele) I think you are adjusting well to South Africa, and with your studies. We are happy that George is in our family, but you need to study more because we do not speak English in KwaNdebele. George: Okay. Fendzi: Thank you, George. (laughs) George: Ah, siyabonga. (laughing) Peace Corps has made me a better person. I can already tell. I'm just more patient, and it's made me, I feel like, what Peace Corps does, and this is why I think a lot of people fail in Peace Corps, is because they come to Peace Corps, like I said, running away from something. Thing about Peace Corps, is that is exposes all your weaknesses. You know what's funny? When my girlfriend and my friends come to visit in September, right, they said they were going to visit, my girlfriend speaks Chinese and I don't speak Chinese. (Sibusiso laughs) Sibusiso: They know how to speak Chinese? George: They know how to speak Chinese. Sibusiso: You don't know? George: I'm not Chinese man, so I don't know how to speak Chinese. I don't speak Chinese, but my friends, they speak Chinese. So you're going to enjoy it, man. Sibusiso: Yeah, yeah, ching, chong. George: No, my gosh, it's not even a word, man. Sibusiso: I want them to speak it at the plaza, man, people are gonna be like, ahh, this guy, I knew you were Chinese. (both laughing) George: That's true, if I'm hangin out with my Chinese friends, they'll be, ahh, you, when, I know. (both laughing) You're Chinese, you've been lying. (both laughing) Yeah, Sibu, Sibusiso, Sibusiso is probably one of my best friends here in South Africa. He's just a really, like, laid back guy. But he's a super serious teacher, and I really like Sibusiso because he kind of took me under his wing when I got here, and he really made an effort to be my friend. (kids talking) I really think, when you're teaching in Peace Corps, especially in South Africa, like you do have to steal your heart a little bit. Because otherwise, you're just gonna bleed out. You have to wear, like, emotional armor, I think, otherwise it's just too much heartbreak. I give my students a practice test, and a lot of them failed it, and some of it's my fault. I over-emphasized some things that were not, that I felt were really important, but weren't emphasized on the work schedule, and that's totally on me and it feels really bad right now. That's what's tough. (George and Sibusiso laughing) Sibusiso: So even the ones that you trusted to pass, they didn't perform well? George: No, I mean, the ones I trusted to pass, they passed or just almost passed, so it's okay. But, I mean, I don't know, I just thought it would be better. I thought it would be better, so I don't know, I thought it would be better. Basically I'm asking him, like, how can I get my math scores higher. Because, I was, I graded a small sample size of them, but they weren't really that good. And he says he gives them a lot more homework than I give them, but, I gave my kids homework in the beginning, they just didn't do it. (laughs) So I'm not sure if that's gonna work. Yeah, I feel like I failed those kids today. Like I really do. Sibusiso: Get past this one and- George: I have to, I learned my lesson now. I have to follow your schedule probably cause I think these kids failed cause I messed up. (scoffs) Anyway, okay, thanks Si. They always tell you this in training and everything, they say, you know, as long as you get to know, or as long as you know two or three kids, get it, then, you made a difference, you know, or as long as that one kid can use the past tense afterwards, or you know, these kids they finally understand their multiplication tables and, you know, even if you were doing it for two years it's worth it. I want to do better than that, and it's not working out so far. (laughs) I can't accept mediocrity, I can't do it, I want all my kids to pass. And I don't know how I'm gonna do that yet. (water streaming) (people singing) (pastor speaking in native language) Sean: So I live in the village of Ha-Lambani. So the first day I arrived was with my principal, I knew that I hit Peace Corps jacktpot. It was this cool sense of feeling that like, I had found a place, or I had been put in a place by Peace Corps that would work for me and that I'd be able to do cool things. Yeah, so there was pure excitement when I came here. And then we parked the car at the school, and I met my host mom, and then afterwards we walked up to the house, and I was like, it was the first feeling of disappointment, cause I was like oh, man, like, my house is really nice, like, I'm not gonna be like that stereotypical Peace Corps volunteer. But then I like met my family, and we spent the night and we had some dinner together, and it was just, I knew it was gonna be cool, yeah. In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen. Bless us Lord in these fine gifts which we are about to receive through thy bounty through Christ, our Lord, Amen. All: Amen. Sean: In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen. (television chatter) Venda is the language spoken by less than a million people spread throughout southern Zimbabwe and northern Limpopo. They still have their own way of eating, their own way of kind of designing things, living in a certain way. They've never really had to sell who they are, they just have been who they are. (guitar music) (kids talking) But in South Africa as a whole, it's one of the only countries where you can go and poop in a pit latrine and then be in a mall and buy a pair of Nike's in the same day within a respectful amount of time. I think for some people it becomes this crippling crutch that, you know, whenever I'm stressed I just need to treat myself and I go into town. So they kind of avoid what's going to keep them feeling connected in Peace Corps, which is staying in your village, being integrated into the community. Oui. Woman in pink: [Mefunzi]. Sean: [Mefunzi], oh right! (speaking native language) Oh the wife of Eric. Is Eric here today? Woman in pink: (speaking native language) Over that side. Sean: Okay, (speaking native language) Yeah, this is South Africa, like you can go to Menlyn Mall, Brooklyn Mall, be in these nice situations, but like, your work is in the village, that's what our agreement is and that's what's gonna kind of keep you happy. Like, we know it's gonna keep you happy. (insects buzzing) Sean: Yeah. (Eric speaking native language) Sean: Yeah. Eric: Maybe three hours [unintelligible]. Three hours. Sean: So it takes about three hours to cut down a tree like this. (speaking native language) Sean: This is more expensive. Eric: Yeah. Sean: You're saying this wood is used mostly for like basic items like spoons and cooking utensils. And it's like a softer wood. And this inner wood is used more for like [mutoli], the thing that we saw him building. He was kind of carving the inside. Oh, okay. Eric: Go like so. Sean: This morning we were at Eric Lambani's house. He is a local artist. And he just has these really hard woods that grow throughout Venda, he cuts down the trees and turns them into items like canes for priests, and he turns them into, like, little sculptures of kids that become ornaments for yards. And we've been working on trying to get some funding for him to expand an arts and crafts program for local kids to kind of teach them the ancient Venda ways of doing woodcarving. (speaking native language) Sean: Oh, yeah. (Eric laughing) So they also make, he also makes the little bones for like the [samgoma] when they put it in a, and then you (blowing). (speaking native language) (laughing) (speaking native language) Sean: Yeah. He was first discussing about like, having coming from God and like God put the message on his tongue, and when he threw the bones he learned different things. And this bone talks about being careful about African magic and that some people have a lot of jealousy and they will try to blind you on your way but you have to keep finding your way. Don't let people be jealous, and there's good people too that, like him and his wife, that aren't here to fight. (speaking native language) Sean: Gossip. Yeah, yeah, yeah. There's so much, as American's, that we don't see, that we don't experience. Peace Corps creates this bizarre productive bubble for Americans to go abroad, like do things that help communities, at the same time help America. But putting Americans in other people's shoes, I think is our real goal. Like putting Americans in shoes of people in other countries because we have such a big impact on the rest of the world. (speaking native language) (guitar music) ("La Bamba" by Ritchie Valens) Fran: ♫ (lyrics) Bamba, bamba ♫ Bamba, bamba ♫ Bamba, bamba ♫ Bamba, bamba ♫ Para bailar La Bamba ♫ Para bailar La Bamba ♫ Se necessita una poca de gracia ♫ Una poca de gracia ♫ Para mi, para ti, ay arriba, ay arriba ♫ So my family is Filipino. I don't know how many Asian parents share with their kids their experiences living in poverty. My parents saw it as, we emigrated out of poverty to get you into a world that's like developed so you can live comfortably. Like, why are you going back to poverty? ♫ Bamba, bamba ♫ Yay! I wanted to see how the rest of the world lived. I knew I wasn't gonna make a huge difference, I knew I wasn't gonna change a village, I knew I wasn't gonna build an orphanage, but I knew that I needed to grow, and I needed to see how the rest of the world lived, and I needed to be grateful for what I had. And I got exactly that. That's what I came here for, and that's exactly what I got. Oh, one sec, one sec, one sec. Lo-Himyani, it's a village that's three hours outside of the capital, Pretoria. You know, in my opinion, the people who stay here have a real shot at getting a bursary and moving out of this area and moving into the city. That's how I feel about Lo-Himyani, and that's why I feel so strongly about making a difference here and building those relationships, cause I really think that these kids are briliant, and their English is very good, and they could climb the social ladder. Oh, I made a mistake here, sorry guys. (laughs) (kids laughing) [Douho] Duoho: H? Fran: Uh-huh. Kids: Oh. L! Fran: What does that spell? Kids: School. Fran: Yay! Okay. Throughout the day I do my lesson, and also prepare for my girl's club meeting. So I have girl's club twice a week, I'll do my girl's club, usually it consists of games and then a topic, and just talking about life. (girl in center speaking native language) (kids talking and laughing) Fran: I just knew that the pregnancy rate in these areas are really high, and I also saw that like, the super bright ones in these classes were girls, but I also knew they were really at risk, because even though they're bright, it doesn't mean that they won't be sexually active when they are 12. So I wanted to reach them at a really young age, and start talking to them really early on about setting their goals and objectives, and not being distracted by boys. What about, do you guys know Michelle Obama? Kids: Yes! Fran: Is she a leader? (kids mumbling yes and no) Fran: No? Kids: Yes. Fran: Okay, so do you think that she's a good leader? Kids: Yes. Fran: Is she in a position where people have to look up to her? Kids: Yes. Fran: Does that make her a leader? Kids: Yes. Fran: Okay. I'm just really worried that they're gonna get pregnant at a really young age. I don't think they're gonna get pregnant, but I kind of think they might get pregnant. I mean, it's just so common here, and it's so like in your face and, it's not like they have role models all the time to tell them that that can seriously ruin their chances. Cause these girls are so smart, if they had the right foundation and the right people to continuously push them, they could be doctors or whatever they want to be. They could do that, but I don't, if they get pregnant they're just not gonna have that option. What does it take to be a good leader? Losecho: To be loyal, responsible, and kind. Fran: Okay, loyal, responsible, and kind. Do you guys- Losecho: And make a difference. I am Losecho [Swayi]. My position in girl's club is as a president. I have to make sure that the girl's club is in order, there's no fighting, people respect each other, and no bullying to the little sisters. Fran: Alright? Kids: Yes. Fran: So Losecho's gonna lead the meeting today. (clapping) Give her a round of applause. (clapping) Okay, so, I want you guys to give her the same kind of respect that you would give me, okay? Kids: Yes. Lesocho: They told us that she was processing [in diego], but in South Africa her name is [Olevie Latuse]. She taught us to be loyal, to never underestimate each other, never undermine each other, never take somebody for granted. Cause you'll never know what she's capable of, as a girl or as a woman. Fran: Okay, respect, yeah? What's one of the rules of our club? Kids: Respect. Fran: Respect. Okay, so if you guys think all of these qualities... Lesocho: I just want to say that, Pasma never underestimates girls. Whenever boys tell them that girls can't do this, girls can't play rugby, girls can't do this, you just must sit them down and tell them that, it is possible. Kids: [Let's go!] (kids talking) When I was younger, I was really picked on. Did you know that? Lesocho: No. Fran: Yeah, when I was really young, when I was your age, I was picked on by people, and people would talk to me that way, and they would make me feel small and left out. And so I was like you, I would cry sometimes, you know, by myself, because it's very hurtful, you know? The president at my primary school, the president is Losecho, one of my girls, [Ketomehse], who's another one of the girls that I am very close to, they're just having problems. I guess [Ketomehse] doesn't want her to be friends with [Tomoho], so she just always make Losecho feel bad. Whenever Losecho says something she like gives her a look. (Losecho crying) There you go, there you go, you'll be okay, Losecho. I know it seems like a very, very big deal now, and it's very scary but I promise, if you stay strong through this, (knocking on door) when you're older you won't even think about it anymore. It breaks my heart, it makes me so sad. I, it makes me really sad whenever they cry, cause I remember how hard that is to have people pick on you or just not fit in, or just be fighting with a friend. Or just, you know, continue to be yourself, and don't let them make you feel small. Because Losecho, you're not small. Think about all the cool stuff that you did today. You led this whole meeting, you know? By yourself. You're president of the counsel, you're smart, so don't let the way somebody treats you make you feel small, okay? Losecho: Yes. Just let her have her space, [Ketomehse] will come around. She'll grow, she's still growing too, okay? Losecho: Okay. Fran: Alright? Losecho: Mm-hmm. Fran: You'll be okay? Thanks for calling me this holiday. (laughing) Losecho: Nobody is going to replace Olebie in my heart, nobody is. She tells us what's right and what's wrong. To me, she's like my own mother but (laughs) not really my own, like my second mother, yeah. (guitar music) I think it's harder to be a female Peace Corps volunteer here than it is to be a male Peace Corps volunteer here. I think there's a lot of restrictions placed on us because we're women and a lot more dangers, like if you ever go anywhere, guys are always hustling you, even in your village. Everyone is, you know, cat-calling you, but that happens everywhere in the world. But I think here it's just there's that extra element of like, if I don't shut this down immediately it might lead to something more. And then, he could rape me, you know? (laughs) And that's just because of all the statistics and people, PCV's who've gotten raped and stuff. That's not even like a subconscious thing. I mean, every time you hear about another one of my friends like getting assaulted, I'm just like, you know, every time I walk around, I'm like, you know, like really jumpy. I wasn't like that when I came here. (crowd talking) It's crazy when you're here for two years, and you can see like another person's growth. I'm sure they look at me and they're like wow, she's changed a lot. Like when I first came here, I was like woo! Cheers and doing dances with them, and like playing games all the time. And really idealistic, and I just wonder like if the kids have seen the change in terms of like me becoming more realistic. Put that under the table. (crowd talking) The balls here, put them underneath the table. I think there's so, I do think there's a lot of potential here, for like volunteers to really make a difference. The frustrating thing about South Africa is there's money here and there's so much potential, and there is a working economy to a degree. But I think volunteers need to know what's going on. Like, I think they really need to know beforehand what they're getting themselves into I guess. I would tell them to be ready for challenges, like mental challenges, and I would tell them to be ready for people to just expect you to do things. And to figure out how you want to approach people who have that attitude towards you. And to know that just because people aren't saying thank you it doesn't mean you shouldn't still help. That's what I would say. Cameraman: [Unintelligible] Fran: Very happy. (crowd talking) Fran: Go to start. (singing in native language and clapping) Ryan: I feel like it's a very typical response to say, you know, I joined Peace Corps to change the world. A main reason I wanted to join Peace Corps was I wanted to be in a different culture, because I wanted to try and see things differently. That was one of the big motivations. I wanted to learn another language, I wanted to feel really uncomfortable. (people talking in native language) Ryan: Sing! (women speaking in native language) Ryan: They must sing! (Women speaking in native language) Ryan: They must! (women speaking in native language) (singing and clapping) I think there's something so beautiful and human and real about the Zulu's singing and dancing and the life behind that, I would love to bring that back. I've been able to go to a few ceremonies and participate in some really wonderful activities with the dancing. (woman speaking in native language) Ryan: You must teach them. (singing and clapping) (laughing and clapping) Ryan: Thank you! (women laughing and talking) Weenen or Veenen is Africans for the place of weeping. Officially it became a town in 1841, when the Africans came to this place after many women and children were brutally killed by the Zulu's in an agreement that went bad. So, they were weeping, coming to this place. And started all different kinds of farming in this area. It's really great farming land. But of course, there were Zulu people living here. It's been said that, you know, apartheid really was birthed in this area. So, there's just a lot of history, a lot of hatred in this place of weeping. But, you could drive through Weenen and not really, you know, see a white person. I also, I guess I saw my role here as bridging these two worlds. Baba: Some people, it's news to them, if you talk about HIV. For some yes, they understand, especially the elderly's. You see, they grown up people, they say oh fuck, you are wasting your time, I've got my wife, and I make so many kids. You come and tell me about HIV now? No, that's no sense, go to the youngsters. Ryan: So yesterday morning we were in an area called Gunka. So I met with the InDuna there, to have a focus group meeting with him and some of the men who attended our event in November. An event where the InDuna trained men about HIV and Aids transmission, prevention, condom use, HIV testing in medical male circumcision mostly. Baba: You see, in our culture, we always pin the responsibility of teaching the boys to the Baba When it comes to girls, we feel that mother is going to, you know, bring the girls up. So it's like, I cannot, as a father, bring my daughter to come and sit here and say, look my daughter, this is how I want you to- Ryan: Of course. Baba: No, it's impossible. Ryan: He seems like a natural born leader, and I just think that it's fantastic that he has been chosen as an InDuna in the area. He can communicate well with different types of people, and holds his authority but not in a powerful way. Where I've seen some other leaders get obsessed with the power. So I've been really happy to work with him, with this HIV education and information, which can be a sensitive topic, especially as a young female talking to an elder male about these things. You don't have to, if you don't want to tell us about testing or Mmc'ing, that's fine, but have you had any conversations from that meeting maybe with your family or any other men, what have you done since that meeting with the information you learned? (woman translating) (man speaks in native language) Translater: He says he didn't say anything. Ryan: I think it's a really complicated and complex history. You have to understand the history to understand how and why things are the way they are. For 50 years you had a government that had an education system that was oppressing people. In this area in particular, the Zulu's were evicted from their lands. They had their land, their homes, and their livestock taken away from them. So you look at all these things and you can understand, you begin to understand where the people are coming from. Which I think, you need to have understanding coming into these communities and working here. You have to. So maybe you can talk to one of the counselors and see if they'd be willing to do that. Baba: Yeah, yeah. Ryan: Wonderful. Also, what I wanted to say is that I'm leaving South Africa in a few weeks. Baba: Really? Ryan: I'm finished, yeah. Baba: Yeah? Ryan: I've been here for three years now. Baba: Oh. Ryan: but I'll miss, I'll miss these things. Baba: It's been so nice working with you. Ryan: Mmm. Baba: Really. (engine chugging) Les: I'm Les. Hazel: And I'm Hazel. Les: And we're the Stanleys. (laughing) Ryan: I met Les and Hazel Stanley after being here about four or five months. So they were doing some outreach work in the community, doing English education on a Friday afternoon. At their home, they have a training center. And it was so amazing, cause they've worked in KwaZulu-Natal their whole lives, they're South African, they've worked in eduction in [imeril] areas their whole lives, so they shared a lot of the same frustrations that I shared. Hazel: We went to friends for supper and they had told us that they had discovered this young, black girl living in Stenden. And, this I remember very clearly, meeting her and immediately thinking wow, she must have something very special. Especially in an area that just has this incredible history of hatred. And here's this young girl in Stenden. We were amazed. You know, for the people, cause I believe that also brings healing amongst even the white people here, when they see what she's done. People who wouldn't even drive, white people wouldn't drive into Stenden, because, you know, you don't drive in there, it's too dangerous. And there's this young girl living there, and suddenly people are going in there. Because they're seeing, you know, it's actually okay. these people are fine. (crowd talking) (woman speaking native language) Ryan: Okay, so let's pretend the water is the male sex fluid, okay? And the male's HIV positive. If he's wearing a condom, the fluid goes into a little pocket, into the condom. (woman speaking native language) Les: Whatever the vehicle that is being used, whether it's HIV, whether it's computer courses that they offer, the most important thing that she's given many of the young folk here, is a hope. And she's, she's enabled them, and she's actually empowered them to be catalysts for change. Ryan: So, exactly, you pinch this so that no air can enter. (woman translating) Ryan: So follow me, okay? Okay? (kids talking and laughing) It's inside out, see? Okay, no very good, very good. Now, can he or someone else explain how does this protect you from HIV? [Kunjen], how? Les: I would just like to say thank you to Peace Corps for what is being done in the country, and yeah, just a very special thank you for Ryan. Hazel: Yeah. (laughs) Yeah, I just, Ryan is just so special to us, and, yeah, she's been like a daughter to us. And we're gonna miss her incredibly. (kids talking) Ryan: For so long we're here, and we feel like we're not making any progress. We feel like we're not having any impact or influence over the people we're working with. It's not often you get people that say, hey thanks for doing this, or you helped me with this. And that's not why you do it, but every once in a while you need that encouragement. So, even just the past few weeks when I've started to tell people I'm leaving, and just to hear their reactions, or to see them feel saddened by it. It's comforting in some way, as strange as that might sound, because it kind of feels like oh, well you did know that I was here, you did recognize that I was at least trying. I might not have done everything that you wanted, but at least I really cared and I tried really hard. So to finally feel like noticed I guess. It means a lot, because it's really hard to keep going when you feel like no one even cares that you're here. And for awhile it feels like that. (kids clapping and talking) (kids singing and clapping) And I think you come in as a volunteer wanting to see these huge changes, but also knowing that sometimes it's in the small things. Those are where the miracles are. It's not this big idea that we have of changing the world, it's starts with each and every one of us, and it's very small but those are the big things. So I think we have to also change the way we view success. (clapping and talking) Ryan: (speaking native language) Girls, get it. (singing and clapping) (guitar playing) (people talking) (Veronica laughs) Veronica: There were a lot of other volunteers in my cohort that started like months and months ago packing up. And I started like not that long ago. (laughs) Like doing the bulk of it this week. So that's been just a hectic thing of sorting through things. Giving away like clothes and things I didn't want. (laughs) Young girl: Veronica? Veronica: Yeah. (boy in t-shirt speaks in native language) Veronica: Yeah. (speaks in native language) (boy in t-shirt speaks in native language) (girl in green speaks in native language) Veronica: No, in America. I think they realize I'm going, but they don't know I'm not coming back. (laughs) No, cause even like adults in my family, or like neighbors, have come up to me this week and just like oh, I didn't even realize that you would like ever leave type thing. And I was just like yeah. (laughs) (laughs) Remember me from the farewell party. Woman in stripes: Okay, thank you. It's nice. (Veronica laughs) Yeah, I remember you Veronica. Veronica: (laughs) Yeah. Woman in stripes: But today, you go? Veronica: Yeah, yeah. And a lot of people, I know this has been used to describe like other South Africans, but I know a lot of people, especially at my organization, they're very stoic and not, they won't like break down and cry, like I didn't expect anyone to break down and cry or anything. (laughs) (Veronica laughs) Woman in stripes: Don't go. Stay here. Veronica: (laughs) No, I have to go. I have to see my family and, yeah. Woman in stripes: Giyan is boring you. Veronica: No, no, I like Giyan. Woman in stripes: You like Giyan. You like to stay with us. Veronica: I'll try to. I definitely felt not as emotional or like, yeah, I guess emotional as other volunteers. So like, I'll talk to other people that, other volunteers in my group, and they're like very sad and crying every day. And it's just like I cried a little bit yesterday, but I don't know if it has hit me yet. And so like, yeah there are times when I'm lying in bed, like, should I, I feel like a bad person because I'm not an emotional wreck. Veronica: Whoa! (girl in pink laughs) Girl in pink: Goodbye. Veronica: Goodbye, I'm gonna miss you. Veronica: Oh! Having the full two years of just like all the interactions, all the experiences, it's how it's changed me. And like I'm glad that I just did the two years because of that and like learned from my organization for the whole two years, and continued to work with them for this entire two years because I felt like having that whole time period was important to me. (rooster cawing) I don't know, I guess I would describe coming back as kind of overwhelming and underwhelming at the same time. I mean, cause there are like adjustments that you need to make and, just like getting used to like how you lived before. And just like reconnecting with friends and family. It's a big thing, but also you realize that just like people have been here living their lives for those two years as well. So it's just like interesting and weird to just like come back and see that your friends have changed, and like oh yeah, they were living for two years too. (laughs) I'm definitely glad to be back. I don't know if I'm gonna miss South Africa. I definitely miss like the people that I worked with and that I lived around in my village. And every now and then there are things that I miss of just like, actually like taxis for some reason, I kind of miss them. (laughs) Cameraman: How is it going? Veronica: It's alright, stressful as well. (laughs) Just to not have your own space and, yeah. It's hard to be 20 living with your parents. (laughs) In your 20's living with your parents. But, I mean, it's good to like be here and just like also spend time with them since I've been gone, too. Veronica's mom: Veronica? Get you some more. Veronica? Veronica: Yes? Veronica's mom: I'll get you some. Veronica: Okay. (laughs) (people talking) (class reciting) Class: How are you. Sean: Sounds good. As I continue to go through Peace Corps, I quickly started to realize that this is like purely dependent on the individual. And it's like a very individual experience. You can let other volunteers and other elements impact you, but at the end of the day, it's really a matter of you. And so, yeah, my opinion changed from it being like this Americans abroad to like Sean abroad, like Sean, the American abroad. So we're gonna read a story, and I want you guys to look for the uncountable nouns, okay? Winnie the Pooh went around to his friend, Christopher Robin. I wonder if you got a balloon, he said. What do you want a balloon for? Do we see any uncountable nouns? Any countable or uncountable nouns? There's this perception about Americans being aggressive, and it's just in general not understanding the rest of the world. And I think that's reflected in our TV, it's reflected in our politics, it's reflected in a lot of elements of our culture. But I think if we have this massive amount of people that got exposed to Peace Corps, and they did in a good, strong manner, I think it would cause a general change in a lot of those layers of our culture. The change that happens within the individuals is immeasurable for like, I don't know, just the benefit of, the social benefit in the states. (water running) Kevin: I would maintain that even a bad Peace Corps volunteer is still good for America. And I mean that by, even if you have a volunteer that, let's say you had one that wasn't good, that liked to party or he didn't go to school as much. He's still a human being, he's seen as, they may look at him as, you know, he wasn't helpful or this or that, but he's not gonna be viewed as evil. To hate America, you kind of have to demonize people, right? That's how bad things happen. So, it's be hard to demonize even the worst Peace Corps volunteer. You might say oh, they're silly, or they didn't do what they were supposed to do. But we're not evil. (kids talking and screaming) Fran: I'm really hoping that one of my girls, like one day will be like President of South Africa, and would be like, I had a PCV who was a teacher, you know, and she changed my mind about my capacity. Alright, listen up, okay! Personally, I feel very fulfilled. I feel like I've grown, and these people have affected me hugely. And, in that I'm very grateful for this opportunity. You have a lot today, eh? (woman in hat speaking native language) We have come into a community where people, people didn't think that America cared about them at all. And we have come and dedicated two years of our lives to show that not only do we care about what's happening with the rest of the world and what's happening with them on a personal level, but that we're just like them. But she makes it perfectly, eh? I won't make it as good as her. Man in jacket: No, just go to her and ask her. Fran: The recipe? Man in jacket: Yeah. Then she'll write down for you. Fran: Mmm, mmm. Man in jacket: Then you'll prepare it for yourself. Fran: Mmm. Man in jacket: You see? Then you'll start a business that side. (laughing) Fran: I don't think America's ready for this. That's why this is important. And it is, it is important, you know? And it is important even in the sense of the government wants us, wants Peace Corps to be that branch that's like look, we are helping the world, because America needs that image. (laughs) We can't just be seen as war mongers all the time, that's not gonna help us. (people talking) Ryan: As I said, it's hard letting go of projects. It's been really hard to come to terms with that I'm leaving here after three years. And that's something I'm personally dealing with. But to know that there is another volunteer coming, that's hopefully going to pick up where I left off. (speaking native language) Should we call? Woman with umbrella: Who is it? Ryan: [Makese, Mama Makese]. Woman with umberella: Makese. Ryan: I guess. Woman with umbrella: Hello? Ryan: This is an amazing place. It's been challenging beyond belief, but it's a beautiful place, the people are so welcoming. So I think the volunteer will do wonderful things. And I can't wait to see what happens. I think maybe Monday, maybe by three or four, if you want to come with me here, I have some books for the volunteer, and I just want to make sure everything's set up nicely so when she comes Tuesday it's okay. Learning about the relationships has been a big part of this experience, and how people are really all that we have. I mean, we get so caught up in so many other worldly things that we forget that. (speaking native language) I want to give books. Mama Makese: Yeah. Ryan: To make it- Mama Makese: Oh finish and make it nice. Ryan: Yeah, yeah. I think we make things more complicated then they are, in America. And there's an obsession of our time being so valuable, but I question what are we doing with our time. If you're not using your extra time to really spend it with the people you care about, or to add real depth and value to your life, is it a good thing? George: Oh, gosh, I was just looking this up yesterday, I'm not gonna lie, I'm kind of at, they call it peaks and valleys, that's what they call it. And the Peace Corps staff, the medical staff, actually gives you like this graph. There's this graph and it's all about your ups and your downs during your service, and it's really accurate. (laughs) And right now I'm kind of in a down turn, currently. I don't really know what it is, I don't know why Peace Corps does it to you. I think because maybe you don't have any control sometimes when you're in Peace Corps, and that can be really difficult for some people. And you know, mentally, gosh, I teach a lot of classes, and so I'm in front of a class, you know, four out of six periods of the day, and sometimes after school, and sometimes on the weekends, so it gets kind of tiring. And emotionally it's like I said, the rug gets pulled out from under you a lot more here, or a lot more during your service then you'd expect. But you just gotta deal with it, gotta roll with it. (laughs) That's the only way you're gonna make it, getting a laugh like I am now. (laughs) Aye, aye, aye. On sour cream walls, donations. Shakespeare's head, cloudless at dawn. It sounds awful, but you can't be too empathetic. Like, there really are some students, and I'm sure it's the same way in the states, they're just not gonna listen to you. And, it's really sad, you try your best, and I have tried my best, but if they don't come to school I'm not sure what I can do. This map becomes their window and these windows that shut upon their lives like catacombs. Break open, break open until they break the town. And show the children green fields, and make their world run azure on gold sands, and let their tongues run naked into books. The white and green leaves open. History is their's who's language is the sun. Oh gosh, I love that, I love that grade 12 poetry class. Yeah so, once a week, usually on Thursdays, I'll meet with some of the grade 12 students who are gonna be taking their exam at the end of the year. I really enjoy it, and I think it keeps me a little sane, maybe? What do you think that means, to be like paper? Student: To be thin. George: Yeah, exactly! Exactly, the paper is thin. So this boy is like paper, you can just rip it. He's so, he's so thin. (students talking) I don't know, maybe I'm a science person. Like, you know, like I want to see statistics. That's also what PC wants to see, too, they want to see statistics. You know, you reach x amount of youth, the passing level went from here to here, that's not really what I think is important. Like I think it's important to make friends and to have people remember you. What you're doing is you're not so much building something, you're building relationships with people. And that's really what Peace Corps South Africa is about. Building relationships with people, and hopefully gradually making a change. None of these, none of them are good. But then, now tell me about [deliverer] number four. Girl in pink: He's just muttering things. Not even concentrating on what is happening. Like, he's not even there. George: Yeah, that's right. It says that his eyes live in a dream, a squirrels dream in a tree root. So, maybe he's sitting there, but he's looking out the window. But the other thing is that it says he's sweet and young. Which means that all these other children [there], they are broken. But this one, he's still, he's still strong, but he's still looking outside. The rest of these children are broken. He's, maybe you can help him. So that's why I said is there any mention of hope on question one. And I think this boy, maybe he has hope. (kids talking) (clapping and singing)

Contents

History

1950–1959

John F. Kennedy greets volunteers on August 28, 1961
John F. Kennedy greets volunteers on August 28, 1961

Following the end of World War II, various members of the United States Congress proposed bills to establish volunteer organizations in developing countries. In December 1951 Representative John F. Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) suggested to a group that "young college graduates would find a full life in bringing technical advice and assistance to the underprivileged and backward Middle East ... In that calling, these men would follow the constructive work done by the religious missionaries in these countries over the past 100 years."[5]:337–338 In 1952 Senator Brien McMahon (D-Connecticut) proposed an "army" of young Americans to act as "missionaries of democracy".[6] Privately funded nonreligious organizations began sending volunteers overseas during the 1950s. While Kennedy is credited with the creation of the Peace Corps as president, the first initiative came from Senator Hubert H. Humphrey, Jr. (D-Minnesota), who introduced the first bill to create the Peace Corps in 1957—three years before Kennedy, as a presidential candidate, would raise the idea during a campaign speech at the University of Michigan. In his autobiography The Education of a Public Man, Humphrey wrote,

There were three bills of particular emotional importance to me: the Peace Corps, a disarmament agency, and the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. The President, knowing how I felt, asked me to introduce legislation for all three. I introduced the first Peace Corps bill in 1957. It did not meet with much enthusiasm. Some traditional diplomats quaked at the thought of thousands of young Americans scattered across their world. Many senators, including liberal ones, thought it silly and an unworkable idea. Now, with a young president urging its passage, it became possible and we pushed it rapidly through the Senate. It is fashionable now to suggest that Peace Corps Volunteers gained as much or more, from their experience as the countries they worked. That may be true, but it ought not demean their work. They touched many lives and made them better.[7]

Peace Corps headquarters at 1111 20th Street, NW in downtown Washington, D.C.
Peace Corps headquarters at 1111 20th Street, NW in downtown Washington, D.C.

Only in 1959, however, did the idea receive serious attention in Washington when Congressman Henry S. Reuss of Wisconsin proposed a "Point Four Youth Corps". In 1960, he and Senator Richard L. Neuberger of Oregon introduced identical measures calling for a nongovernmental study of the idea's "advisability and practicability". Both the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee endorsed the study, the latter writing the Reuss proposal into the pending Mutual Security legislation. In this form it became law in June 1960. In August the Mutual Security Appropriations Act was enacted, making available US$10,000 for the study, and in November ICA contracted with Maurice Albertson, Andrew E. Rice, and Pauline E. Birky of Colorado State University Research Foundation[8] for the study.[9][10]

1960–1969

John F. Kennedy was the first to announce the idea for such an organization during the 1960 presidential campaign, on October 14, 1960, at a late-night speech at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor on the steps of the Michigan Union.[11] He later dubbed the proposed organization the "Peace Corps." A brass marker commemorates the place where Kennedy stood. In the weeks after the 1960 election, the study group at Colorado State University released their feasibility a few days before Kennedy's Presidential Inauguration in January 1961.[12]

Critics opposed the program. Kennedy's opponent, Richard M. Nixon, predicted it would become a "cult of escapism" and "a haven for draft dodgers."[13][14][15]

Others doubted whether recent graduates had the necessary skills and maturity for such a task. The idea was popular among students, however, and Kennedy pursued it, asking respected academics such as Max Millikan and Chester Bowles to help him outline the organization and its goals. During his inaugural address, Kennedy again promised to create the program: "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country".[16] President Kennedy in a speech at the White House on June 22, 1962, "Remarks to Student Volunteers Participating in Operation Crossroads Africa", acknowledged that Operation Crossroads for Africa was the basis for the development of the Peace Corps. "This group and this effort really were the progenitors of the Peace Corps and what this organization has been doing for a number of years led to the establishment of what I consider to be the most encouraging indication of the desire for service not only in this country but all around the world that we have seen in recent years".[17] The Peace Corps website answered the question "Who Inspired the Creation of the Peace Corps?", acknowledging that the Peace Corps were based on Operation Crossroads Africa founded by Rev. James H. Robinson.[18]

On March 1, 1961, Kennedy signed Executive Order 10924 that officially started the Peace Corps. Concerned with the growing tide of revolutionary sentiment in the Third World, Kennedy saw the Peace Corps as a means of countering the stereotype of the "Ugly American" and "Yankee imperialism," especially in the emerging nations of post-colonial Africa and Asia.[19][20] Kennedy appointed his brother-in-law, Sargent Shriver, to be the program's first director. Shriver fleshed out the organization with the help of Warren Wiggins and others.[8] Shriver and his think tank outlined the organization's goals and set the initial number of volunteers. The Peace Corps began recruiting in July 1962; Bob Hope cut radio and television announcements hailing the program.

A leading Peace Corps critic was U.S. Representative Otto Passman of Louisiana's 5th congressional district, based about Monroe. Critics called Passman "Otto the Terrible" for trying to thwart the program by reducing its funding to minimal levels. Ultimately, it would be President Nixon, who despite his previous skepticism rescued the Peace Corps after 1969 from Passman's congressional knife.[21]

Until about 1967, applicants had to pass a placement test of "general aptitude" (knowledge of various skills needed for Peace Corps assignments) and language aptitude.[citation needed] After an address from Kennedy, who was introduced by Rev. Russell Fuller of Memorial Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, on August 28, 1961, the first group of volunteers left for Ghana and Tanzania, known as Tanganyika at the time.[22] The program was formally authorized by Congress on September 22, 1961, and within two years over 7,300 volunteers were serving in 44 countries. This number increased to 15,000 in June 1966, the largest number in the organization's history.[23]

The organization experienced controversy in its first year of operation. On October 13, 1961, a postcard from a volunteer named Margery Jane Michelmore in Nigeria to a friend in the U.S. described her situation in Nigeria as "squalor and absolutely primitive living conditions."[24][25] However, this postcard never made it out of the country.[25] The University of Ibadan College Students Union demanded deportation and accused the volunteers of being "America's international spies" and the project as "a scheme designed to foster neocolonialism."[26] Soon the international press picked up the story, leading several people in the U.S. administration to question the program.[27] Nigerian students protested the program, while the American volunteers sequestered themselves and eventually began a hunger strike.[25] After several days, the Nigerian students agreed to open a dialogue with the Americans.

1970–1999

In July 1971, President Richard Nixon, an opponent of the program,[13][14][15] brought the Peace Corps under the umbrella agency ACTION. President Jimmy Carter, an advocate of the program, said that his mother, who had served as a nurse in the program, had "one of the most glorious experiences of her life" in the Peace Corps.[28] In 1979, he made it fully autonomous in an executive order. This independent status was further secured by 1981 legislation making the organization an independent federal agency.

In 1976, Deborah Gardner was found murdered in her home in Tonga, where she was serving in the Peace Corps. Dennis Priven, a fellow Peace Corps worker, was later charged with the murder by the Tonga government.[29] He was found not guilty by reason of insanity, and was sentenced to serve time in a mental institution in Washington D.C. Privan was never admitted to any institution, and the handling of the case has been heavily criticized. The main criticism has been that the Peace Corps seemingly worked to keep one of its volunteers from being found guilty of murder, due to the reflection it would have on the organization.[30]

2000–present

Although the earliest volunteers were typically thought of as generalists, the Peace Corps had requests for technical personnel from the start. For example, geologists were among the first volunteers requested by Ghana, an early volunteer host. An article in Geotimes (a trade publication) in 1963, reviewed the program, with a follow-up history of Peace Corps geoscientists appearing in that publication in 2004.[31] During the Nixon Administration the Peace Corps included foresters, computer scientists, and small business advisors among its volunteers.

In 1982, President Ronald Reagan appointed director Loret Miller Ruppe, who initiated business-related programs. For the first time, a significant number of conservative and Republican volunteers joined the Corps, as the organization continued to reflect the evolving political and social conditions in the United States. Funding cuts during the early 1980s reduced the number of volunteers to 5,380, its lowest level since the early years. Funding increased in 1985, when Congress began raising the number of volunteers, reaching 10,000 in 1992.

Peace Corps trainees swearing in as volunteers in Madagascar, April 26, 2006.
Peace Corps trainees swearing in as volunteers in Madagascar, April 26, 2006.

After the 2001 September 11 attacks, which alerted the U.S. to growing anti-U.S. sentiment in the Middle East, President George W. Bush pledged to double the size of the organization within five years as a part of the War on Terrorism. For the 2004 fiscal year, Congress increased the budget to US$325 million, US$30 million above that of 2003 but US$30 million below the President's request.

As part of an economic stimulus package in 2008, President Barack Obama proposed to double the size of the Peace Corps.[32] However, as of 2010, the amount requested was insufficient to reach this goal by 2011. In fact, the number of applicants to the Peace Corps declined steadily from a high of 15,384 in 2009 to 10,118 in 2013.[33] Congress raised the 2010 appropriation from the US$373 million requested by the President to US$400 million, and proposed bills would raise this further for 2011 and 2012.[34] According to former director Gaddi Vasquez, the Peace Corps is trying to recruit more diverse volunteers of different ages and make it look "more like America".[35] A Harvard International Review article from 2007 proposed to expand the Peace Corps, revisit its mission, and equip it with new technology.[36] In 1961 only 1% of volunteers were over 50, compared with 5% today. Ethnic minorities currently comprise 19% of volunteers.[37] 35% of the U.S. population are Hispanic or non-White.[38]

In 2009, Casey Frazee, who was sexually assaulted while serving in South Africa, created First Response Action, an advocacy group for a stronger Peace Corps response for volunteers who are survivors or victims of physical and sexual violence.[39][40] In 2010, concerns about the safety of volunteers were illustrated by a report, compiled from official public documents, listing hundreds of violent crimes against volunteers since 1989.[41] In 2011, a 20/20 investigation found that "more than 1,000 young American women have been raped or sexually assaulted in the last decade while serving as Peace Corps volunteers in foreign countries."[42]

International presence

  Countries served by Peace Corps Volunteers as of  2009[update].[43]  Countries formerly served.[44]
  Countries served by Peace Corps Volunteers as of 2009.[43]
  Countries formerly served.[44]
Prime Minister George Cadle Price and a Peace Corps volunteer, Belize, 1976
Prime Minister George Cadle Price and a Peace Corps volunteer, Belize, 1976

During its history, Peace Corps Volunteers have worked in the following countries:[45]

Latin America and the Caribbean

Europe and central Asia

Middle East and north Africa

Subsaharan Africa

Asia

Oceania

Application process

The application for the Peace Corps takes up to one hour, unless one talks to a recruiter. The applicant must be at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen and, according to a 2018 document, they should apply 6 to 9 months before they want to leave. They must go through an interview.[51]

Initiatives

The Peace Corps aims to educate community members on the different illnesses that are present in developing countries as well as what treatments exist in order prevent these illnesses from spreading. Volunteers are also often there in order to teach community members about modern agricultural techniques in order for them to more effectively produce food for themselves and each other (Peace Corps). The Corps is also a proponent of equal education and moves to allow for equal education opportunities for girls in countries like Liberia and Ethiopia. In 2015, the organization partnered with United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to implement First Lady Michelle Obama's Let Girls Learn initiative.[52]

Eradicating malaria in Africa

The Corps launched its initiative to engage volunteers in malaria control efforts in 2011. The initiative, which grew out of malaria prevention programs in Peace Corps Senegal, now includes volunteers in 24 African countries.[53][54]

Environment

The Corps offers a variety of environmental programs. Needs assessments determine which programs apply to each country. Programs include effective and efficient forms of farming, recycling, park management, environmental education, and developing alternative fuel sources.[55] Volunteers must have some combination of academic degrees and practical experience.

The three major programs are Protected-Areas Management, Environment Education or Awareness, and Forestry.

In Protected areas management, volunteers work with parks or other programs to teach resource conservation. Volunteer activities include technical training, working with park staff on wildlife preservation, organizing community-based conservation programs for sustainable use of forests or marine resources, and creating activities for raising revenue to protect the environment.

Environment Education or Awareness focuses on communities that have environmental issues regarding farming and income. Programs include teaching in elementary and secondary schools; environmental education to youth programs; creation of environmental groups; support forest and marine resource sustainability; ways of generating money; urban sanitation management; and educating farmers about soil conservation, forestry, and vegetable gardening.[56]

Forestry programs help communities conserve natural resources through projects such as soil conservation, flood control, creation of sustainable fuels, agroforestry (e.g., fruit and vegetable production), alley cropping, and protection of biodiversity.[57]

Peace Corps Response

Peace Corps Response, formerly named the Crisis Corps, was created by Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan in 1996.[58] Gearan modeled the Crisis Corps after the National Peace Corps Association's successful Emergency Response Network (ERN) of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers willing to respond to crises when needed. ERN emerged in response to the 1994 Rwandan genocide.[59] On November 19, 2007 Peace Corps Director Ronald Tschetter changed Crisis Corps's name to Peace Corps Response.[60]

The change to Peace Corps Response allowed Peace Corps to include projects that did not rise to the level of a crisis. The program deploys former volunteers on high-impact assignments that typically range from three to twelve months in duration.

Peace Corps Response volunteers generally receive the same allowances and benefits as their Peace Corps counterparts, including round-trip transportation, living and readjustment allowances, and medical care. Minimum qualifications include completion of at least one year of Peace Corps service, including training, in addition to medical and legal clearances. The Crisis Corps title was retained as a unique branch within Peace Corps Response, designed for volunteers who are deployed to true "crisis" situations, such as disaster relief following hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions and other catastrophes.

Education and languages

Peace Corps has created resources for teachers in the US and abroad to teach 101 languages.[61][62] Resources vary by language, and include text, recordings, lesson plans and teaching notes.

Laws governing the Peace Corps

Executive orders

Peace Corps was originally established by Executive Order, and has been modified by several subsequent executive orders including:

Laws

Federal laws governing the Peace Corps are contained in Title 22 of the United States Code – Foreign Relations and Intercourse, Chapter 34 – The Peace Corps.[67]

Public laws are passed by Congress and the President and create or modify the U.S. Code. The first public law establishing Peace Corps in the US Code was The Peace Corps Act passed by the 87th Congress and signed into law on September 22, 1961. Several public laws have modified the Peace Corps Act, including:

Code of Federal Regulations

The Peace Corps is subject to Federal Regulations as prescribed by public law and executive order and contained in Title 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations under Chapter 3.

Limitations on former volunteers

Former members of the Peace Corps may not be assigned to military intelligence duties for a period of 4 years following Peace Corps service. Furthermore, they are forever prohibited from serving in a military intelligence posting to any country in which they volunteered.[77]

Time limits on employment

Peace Corps employees receive time-limited appointments, and most employees are limited to a maximum of five years of employment. This time limit was established to ensure that Peace Corps' staff remain fresh and innovative. A related rule specifies that former employees cannot be re-employed until after the same amount of time that they were employed. Volunteer service is not counted for the purposes of either rule.[78]

Union representation

Non-supervisory domestic employees are represented by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 3548. The Federal Labor Relations Agency certified the Union on May 11, 1983. About 500 domestic employees are members. The current collective bargaining agreement became effective on April 21, 1995.

Leadership

Directors

On January 3, 2018, President Donald Trump nominated Josephine "Jody" Olsen as the 20th director of the Peace Corps.[79] Olsen has a long history with the agency, serving as Acting Director in 2009, Deputy Director from 2002 to 2009, Chief of Staff from 1989 to 1992, Regional Director, North Africa Near East, Asia, Pacific from 1981 to 1984, and Country Director in Togo from 1979 to 1981. Olsen also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tunisia from 1966 to 1968.[79][80]

Director Service Dates Appointed by Notes
1 R. Sargent Shriver[81] 1961–1966[81] Kennedy[81] President Kennedy appointed Shriver three days after signing the executive order.[82] Volunteers arrived in five countries during 1961.[83] In just under six years, Shriver developed programs in 55 countries with more than 14,500 volunteers.[82]
2 Jack Vaughn 1966–1969 Johnson Vaughn improved marketing, programming, and volunteer support as large numbers of former volunteers joined the staff. He also promoted volunteer assignments in conservation, natural resource management, and community development.
3 Joseph Blatchford 1969–1971 Nixon Blatchford served as head of the new ACTION agency, which included the Corps. He created the Office of Returned Volunteers to help volunteers serve in their communities at home, and initiated New Directions, a program emphasizing volunteer skills.
4 Kevin O'Donnell 1971–1972 Nixon O'Donnell's appointment was the first for a former Peace Corps country director (Korea, 1966–70). He fought budget cuts, and believed strongly in a non-career Peace Corps.
5 Donald Hess 1972–1973 Nixon Hess initiated training of volunteers in the host country where they would eventually serve, using host country nationals. The training provided more realistic preparation, and costs dropped for the agency. Hess also sought to end the down-sizing of the Peace Corps.
6 Nicholas Craw 1973–1974 Nixon Craw sought to increase the number of volunteers in the field and to stabilize the agency's future. He introduced a goal-setting measurement plan, the Country Management Plan, which gained increased Congressional support and improved resource allocation across the 69 participating countries.
7 John Dellenback 1975–1977 Ford Dellenback improved volunteer health care available. He emphasized recruiting generalists. He believed in committed applicants even those without specific skills and instead training them for service.
8 Carolyn R. Payton 1977–1978 Carter Payton was the first female director and the first African American. She focused on improving volunteer diversity.
9 Richard F. Celeste 1979–1981 Carter Celeste focused on the role of women in development and increased women and minority participation, particularly for staff positions. He invested heavily in training, including the development of a worldwide core curriculum.
10 Loret Miller Ruppe 1981–1989 Reagan Ruppe was the longest-serving director and championed women in development roles. She launched the Competitive Enterprise Development program, the Caribbean Basin Initiative, the Initiative for Central America and the African Food Systems Initiative.
11 Paul Coverdell 1989–1991 G.H.W. Bush Coverdell established two programs with a domestic focus. World Wise Schools enabled U.S. students to correspond with overseas volunteers. Fellows/USA assisted Returned Peace Corps volunteers in pursuing graduate studies while serving local communities.
12 Elaine Chao 1991–1992 G.H.W. Bush Chao was the first Asian American director. She expanded Peace Corps' presence in Eastern Europe and Central Asia by establishing the first Peace Corps programs in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and other newly independent countries.
13 Carol Bellamy 1993–1995 Clinton Bellamy was the first RPCV (Returned Peace Corps volunteer) (Guatemala 1963–65) to be director. She reinvigorated relations with former volunteers and launched the Corps' web site.
14 Mark D. Gearan 1995–1999 Clinton Gearan established the Crisis Corps, a program that allows former volunteers to help overseas communities recover from natural disasters and humanitarian crises. He supported expanding the corps and opened new volunteer programs in South Africa, Jordan, Bangladesh and Mozambique.
15 Mark L. Schneider 1999–2001 Clinton Schneider was the second RPCV (El Salvador, 1966–68) to head the agency. He launched an initiative to increase volunteers' participation in helping prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa, and also sought volunteers to work on information technology projects.
16 Gaddi Vasquez 2002–2006 G.W. Bush Gaddi H. Vasquez was the first Hispanic American director. His focus was to increase volunteer and staff diversity. He also led the establishment of a Peace Corps program in Mexico.
17 Ron Tschetter September 2006 – 2008 G.W. Bush The third RPCV to head the agency, Tschetter served in India in the mid-1960s. He launched an initiative known as the "50 and Over," to increase the participation of older men and women.
18 Aaron S. Williams August 2009 – September 2012 Obama Aaron S. Williams became director on August 24, 2009. Mr. Williams is the fourth director to have served as a volunteer. Williams cited personal and family considerations as the reason for his stepping down as Peace Corps Director on September 17, 2012.[84]
19 Carrie Hessler-Radelet September 2012 – 2017 Obama Carrie Hessler-Radelet became acting Director of the Peace Corps in September 2012. Previously, Hessler-Radelet served as deputy director of the Peace Corps from June 23, 2010, until her appointment as acting Director.[85] From 1981–83, she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Western Samoa with her husband, Steve. She was confirmed as Director on June 5, 2014.
20 Josephine K. Olsen February 2018 – Trump Jody Olsen was confirmed Director of the Peace Corps on February 27, 2018. Olsen previously served the Peace Corps as Acting Director in 2009, Deputy Director from 2002 to 2009, Chief of Staff from 1989 to 1992, Regional Director, North Africa Near East, Asia, Pacific from 1981 to 1984, and Country Director in Togo from 1979 to 1981. Olsen also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tunisia from 1966 to 1968.

Inspector General

The Peace Corps Office of Inspector General is authorized by law to review all programs and operations of the Peace Corps.[citation needed] The OIG is an independent entity within the Peace Corps. The inspector general (IG) reports directly to the Peace Corps Director. In addition, the IG reports to Congress semiannually with data on OIG activities.[citation needed] The OIG serves as the law enforcement arm of the Peace Corps and works closely with the Department of State, the Department of Justice, and other federal agencies OIG has three sections to conduct its functions:

Audit – Auditors review functional activities of the Peace Corps, such as contract compliance and financial and program operations, to ensure accountability and to recommend improved levels of economy and efficiency;

Evaluations – Evaluators analyze the management and program operations of the Peace Corps at both overseas posts and domestic offices. They identify best practices and recommend program improvements and ways to accomplish Peace Corps' mission and strategic goals.

Investigations – Investigators respond to allegations of criminal or administrative wrongdoing by Peace Corps Volunteers, Peace Corps personnel, including experts and consultants, and by those who do business with the Peace Corps, including contractors.[86]

From 2006–07, H. David Kotz was the Inspector General.[87]

Criticism

Critics and criticisms of Peace Corps include Robert L. Strauss of Foreign Policy,[88] an article by a former volunteer describing assaults on volunteers from 1992 to 2010,[89] an ABC news report on 20/20,[90] a Huffington Post article on former Peace Corps volunteers speaking out on rapes,[91] and About.com's article on rape and assault in the Peace Corps.[92]

In the Reagan Administration, in 1986, an article in the Multinational Monitor looked critically at the Peace Corps.[93] On a positive note, the writer praises the Corps for aspects saying that it is "not in the business of transferring massive economic resources. Rather it concentrates on increasing productivity and encouraging self-reliance in villages that are often ignored by large-scale development agencies," and notes the "heavy emphasis on basic education" by the Corps. "Many returned volunteers complain that the Peace Corps does little to promote or make use of their rich experiences once they return ... [A] Peace Corps volunteer is sent in ... [to] relieve ... the local government from having to develop policies that assure equitable distribution of health care ... During the early years there were many failures in structure and programming ... Some critics charge that the Peace Corps is only a somewhat ineffective attempt to counter damage done to the U.S. image abroad by its aggressive military and its unscrupulous businesses ... Many observers and some returned volunteers charge that, in addition to public relations for the United States, Peace Corps programs serve to legitimize dictators ... When he began evaluating the Corps in the 1960s, Charlie Peters found "they were training volunteers to be junior diplomats. Giving them a course in American studies, world affairs and communism ... Although it seems unlikely that the Peace Corps is used in covert operations, wittingly or not it is often used in conjunction with U.S. military interests ... In a review of the Peace Corps in March the House Select Committee on Hunger praised the agency for effective work in the areas of agriculture and conservation, while recommending that the Corps expand its African Food Systems Initiative, increase the number of volunteers in the field, recruit more women, and move to depoliticize country dictatorships."[citation needed]

The author suggests that "the poor should be encouraged to organize a power base to gain more leverage with the powers-that-be" by the Peace Corps and that "The Peace Corps is the epitome of Kennedy's Camelot mythology. It is a tall order to expect a small program appended to an immense superpower, to make a difference, but it is a goal worth striving for."

In December 2003, a report by the Brookings Institution praised the Peace Corps but proposed changes.[94] These include relabeling Peace Corps volunteers in certain countries, greater host country ownership, reverse volunteers (have volunteers from the host country in the U.S.), and multilateral volunteers. The Brookings Institution wrote that a "one-year service commitment [for the Baby Boom generation] could make the Peace Corps more attractive to older Americans, possibly combined with the option of returning to the same site or country after a three-month break" and customized placement to a specific country would increase the number of people volunteering.

In a critique by The Future of Freedom Foundation,[95] James Bovard mixes history of the Peace Corps with current interpretations. He writes that in the 1980s, "The Peace Corps's world-saving pretensions were a joke on American taxpayers and Third World folks who expected real help." He goes on to criticize the difference in rhetoric and action of Peace Corps volunteers, even attacking its establishment as "the epitome of emotionalism in American politics." Using snippets of reports, accounts of those in countries affected by the Peace Corps and even concluded that at one point "some Peace Corps agricultural efforts directly hurt Third World poor." At the end of the article, Bovard noted that all Peace Corps volunteers he had talked with conceded they have not helped foreigners ... but he acknowledges that "Some Peace Corps volunteers, like some Americans who volunteer for religion missions abroad, have truly helped foreigners."[citation needed]

Sexual assault

The Peace Corps has been criticized for failing to properly respond to the sexual violence that many of its female volunteers face.[96] BoingBoing editor Xeni Jardin describes criticism of the agency's response to assault: "A growing number of ex-Peace Corps volunteers are speaking out about having survived rape and other forms of sexual assault while assigned overseas. They say the agency ignored their concerns for safety or requests for relocation, and tried to blame rape victims for their attacks. Their stories, and support from families and advocates, are drawing attention from lawmakers and promises of reform from the agency". Among 8,655 volunteers there are on average 22 Peace Corps women who reported being the victims of rape or attempted rape each year.[97][98]

At a meeting of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in 2011, Peace Corps volunteers shared their experiences of violence and sexual assault. At this meeting, it was found that between 2000–2009 there have been several cases of rape or attempted rape, and about 22 women are sexually assaulted each year. The case of murdered Peace Corps volunteer Kate Puzey was discussed. The Peace Corps has gained attention in the media and their directors have been attacked for how they handled this situation. Kate Puzey's mother was one of those to make a comment at the meeting about how badly the situation with her daughter had been handled. One woman claimed that her country's director had blamed her for getting raped, while other victims have also been similarly blamed.[99] Criticism of how Peace Corps has responded to sexual assaults against volunteers culminated in the appointment of Kellie Green as the agency's first Director of the Office Of Victims Advocacy in 2011. Green was eventually pushed out of her position in April 2015 for purportedly "creating a hostile work environment". Greene maintains that Peace Corps retaliated against her for pressing agency officials to fully comply with their responsibilities towards volunteers who have been victims of sexual assault. A Change.org petition demanding that Green be reinstated began circulating among former volunteers in December 2015.[100]

In 2009, the most recent year reported, 69% of Peace Corps crime victims were women, 88% were under 30, and 82% were Caucasian. Worldwide, there were 15 cases of rape/attempted rape and 96 cases of sexual assault reported for a total of 111 sexual crimes committed against female Peace Corps volunteers. The majority of women who join the Peace Corps are in their mid-twenties. In 62% of the more than 2,900 assault cases since 1990, the victim was identified as being alone. In 59% of assault cases, the victim was identified as a woman in her 20s.[101]

Abortion is also an issue for female Peace Corps volunteers. Women who have been raped in foreign countries while volunteering have wanted to get abortions. The low pay of Peace Corp volunteers combined with the expense of an abortion often makes obtaining one difficult.[102] Since 1979, it has been prohibited for federal funds to cover abortion costs for Peace Corps volunteers. Even in instances of life endangerment, rape and incest, volunteers are not financially covered. Volunteers do receive other forms of health care, including prescription medications, routine examinations, and emergency care, free of charge. These services are provided in-country through a Peace Corps Medical Officer. The abortion topic is very active in the Peace Corps, because when volunteers become pregnant for any reason, they can no longer be volunteers, and a significant number of them want to remain volunteers.[103]

In popular culture

Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention have a song named "Who Needs the Peace Corps?" on their 1968 album We're Only in It for the Money.

In popular culture, the Peace Corps has been used as a comedic plot device in such movies as Airplane!, Christmas with the Kranks, Shallow Hal, and Volunteers or used to set the scene for a historic era, as when Frances "Baby" Houseman tells the audience she plans to join the Peace Corps in the introduction to the movie Dirty Dancing.[citation needed]

The Peace Corps has also been documented on film and examined more seriously and in more depth. The 2006 documentary film Death of Two Sons, directed by Micah Schaffer, juxtaposes the deaths of Amadou Diallo, a Guinean-American who was gunned down by four New York City policemen with 41 bullets, and Peace Corps volunteer Jesse Thyne who lived with Amadou's family in Guinea and died in a car crash there.[104] Jimi Sir, released in 2007, is a documentary portrait of volunteer James Parks' experiences as a high school science, math and English teacher during the last 10 weeks of his service in Nepal.[105] James speaks Nepali fluently and shows a culture where there are no roads, vehicles, electricity, plumbing, telephone or radio.[105] The movie El Rey, directed and written by Antonio Dorado in 2004, attacks corrupt police, unscrupulous politicians and half-hearted revolutionaries but also depicts the urban legend of Peace Corps Volunteers "training" native Colombians how to process coca leaves into cocaine.[106]

In the 1969 film, Yawar Mallku/Sangre de cóndor/Blood of the Condor, Bolivian director Jorge Sanjinés portrayed Peace Corps volunteers in the camp as arrogant, ethnocentric, and narrow-minded imperialists out to destroy Indian culture. One particularly powerful scene showed Indians attacking a clinic while the volunteers inside sterilized Indian women against their will. The film is thought to be at least partially responsible for the expulsion of the Peace Corps from Bolivia in 1971. Peace Corps volunteer Fred Krieger who was serving in Bolivia at the time said, "It was an effective movie – emotionally very arousing – and it directly targeted Peace Corps volunteers. I thought I would be lynched before getting out of the theatre. To my amazement, people around me smiled courteously as we left, no one commented, it was just like any other movie."[107]

In 2016, Peace Corps partnered with jewelry retailer Alex and Ani to create cord bracelets to raise money for the Peace Corps' Let Girls Learn Fund.[108]

See also

References

  1. ^ "The Peace Corps' Fiscal Year 2018 Congressional Budget Justification" (PDF). peacecorps.goc. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
  2. ^ "MS 281 COMPLETION OF SERVICE DATE ADVANCEMENT AND EXTENSION OF SERVICE" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 15, 2011. Retrieved October 16, 2011.
  3. ^ "Fact Sheet" (PDF). files.peacecorps.gov. September 30, 2015. Retrieved April 29, 2016.
  4. ^ Hall, Michael R. "The Impact of the U.S. Peace Corps at Home and Abroad". search.proquest.com. ProQuest. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
  5. ^ Leamer, Laurence (2001). The Kennedy Men: 1901–1963. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-688-16315-0.
  6. ^ "POINT FOUR 'HOE ARMY' SOUGHT BY M'MAHON". The New York Times. January 26, 1952. Retrieved March 19, 2012.
  7. ^ Humphrey, Hubert H (1991). The Education of a Public Man. ISBN 9780816618972.
  8. ^ a b Gerber, Anna (February 27, 2015). "Tops in Peace Corps Volunteers, again". SOURCE, Colorado State University. Retrieved December 10, 2015.
  9. ^ New Frontiers for American Youth: Perspective on the Peace Corps. Public Affairs Press. 1961.
  10. ^ "Guide too the Peace Corps Collections". Colorado State University Special Collections. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
  11. ^ "Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy". Peace Corps. November 20, 2013 [1960]. Retrieved August 3, 2015.
  12. ^ Albertson, Maurice L., Pauline E. Birky, and Andrew E. Rice. 1961. The Peace Corps Final Report. Colorado State University Research Foundation, Fort Collins. January 1961.
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Further reading

External links

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