Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Happy Anniversary to Peace Corps!

That's right, Peace Corps is celebrating it's 50th anniversary today! I feel honored and privileged to be part of the legacy started by JFK on March 1, 1961. Serving in the Peace Corps has been a dream of mine since high school, when I learned of it goals from one of my favorite teachers who had served.

Click here to read President Obama's remarks on the anniversary:

For 50 facts about Peace Corps, check out the following as put together by Yahoo! News:

* Kennedy's idea originated in 1960 when he challenged students at the University of Michigan to engage in a spirit of peaceful volunteerism in foreign countries. He was still a senator at the time and campaigning for president.
* The Peach Corps was designed to help underdeveloped nations succeed in education, business and agriculture in a modern world.
* Kennedy's brother in-law R. Sargent Shriver was the first director.
* In 1961, volunteers arrived in five countries; the first two were Ghana and Tanzania.
* Within the first six years, 55 countries were served with more than 14,500 volunteers.
* Volunteers help communities by teaching children, developing sustainable business practices and teaching health awareness.
* March 2011 will be designated "National Peace Corps Month" in honor of its 50th anniversary.
* Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut is a notable participant in the Peace Corps, serving from 1966-68 in the Dominican Republic.
* Reed Hastings, founder of Netflix, served in Swaziland from 1983-85.
* Chris Matthews of MSNBC also went to Swaziland in 1968.
* Author Paul Theroux was in Malawi from 1963-65.
* The Peace Corps has had 17 directors, usually serving two to four years.
* Carolyn Payton was the first female and African American director of the Peace Corps, serving just over a year starting in 1977.
* Loret Miller Ruppe was the longest-serving director under President Reagan from 1981 until 1989.
* The Crisis Corps consists of volunteers designed to help in times of natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes.
* More than 200,000 Americans have been in the Peace Corps since its inception.
* 139 countries have been served by Peace Corps volunteers.
* The Peace Corps is funded by Congress.
* The only country in the Middle East currently being served is the Kingdom of Jordan with 38 volunteers.
* Peace Corps volunteers currently receive $7,425 after 27 months of service.
* Low-interest or deferred student loans are also a benefit of serving.
* Certain institutes of higher education will also grant college credit for completion of service.
* Volunteers can teach subjects such as English, math and science.
* Community development programs include creating libraries, adult literacy and health education.
* Health volunteers teach communities about safe drinking water and malnutrition.
* Agricultural initiatives include improving crop yields and environmental conservation.
* As many as 40 percent of today's volunteers work with food security issues such as nutrition and agriculture.
* The Peace Corps currently serves 77 countries.
* The average age of volunteers today is 28.
* Minimum requirements to volunteer: 18 and older and American citizenship.
* 37 percent of volunteers engage in educational activities.
* There are currently 8,655 volunteers and trainees in the Peace Corps.
* 90 percent of volunteers have at least an undergraduate degree from college.
* The Peace Corps budget for 2010 was $400 million.
* Many Peace Corps directors, including Aaron Williams who currently heads the organization, started as volunteers.
* The Peace Corps began sending volunteers to China in the 1990s.
* The Philippines boasts the most cumulative volunteers to date at more than 8,500.
* Despite its location as the United States' southern neighbor, Mexico has only been a Peace Corps recipient since 2004 with just 160 volunteers.
* The Peace Corps encourages applicants to apply nine to 12 months in advance of when they will be available.
* Peace Corps volunteers assisted with Hurricane Katrina's aftermath in New Orleans.
* Americorps, the domestic version of the Peace Corps, was started by President Bill Clinton in 1993.
* 37 percent of current volunteers serve in Africa.
* Only 7 percent of current volunteers are in Asia.
* 60 percent of Peace Corps participants are female.
* 93 percent of current Peace Corps members are single.
* More than 130 colleges offer credit for service.
* It takes about nine months from the initial application to commence overseas service.
* Legally married couples may serve together in the Peace Corps.
* Participants earn two vacation days for every month they work.
* The University of Colorado currently has 117 alumni serving overseas, the most of any institution in the United States.

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