News / USA

    Peace Corps Among President Kennedy's Lasting Achievements

    Peace Corps Among President Kennedy's Lasting Achievementsi
    X
    November 19, 2013 10:11 PM
    Friday, November 22, will mark 50 years since the assassination of President John Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. The anniversary has sparked discussion and reflection about Kennedy’s achievements while in office and his presidential legacy. One of his more notable accomplishments was creation of the Peace Corps, a volunteer force of mainly young Americans who have served in developing nations for decades. VOA correspondent Jim Malone looks at John Kennedy’s central role in the formation of the Peace Corps.
    Peace Corps Among President Kennedy's Lasting Achievements
    Friday, November 22, will mark 50 years since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas.  The anniversary has sparked discussion and reflection about Kennedy’s achievements while in office and his presidential legacy. 

    One of the president's more notable accomplishments was creation of the Peace Corps, a volunteer force of mainly young Americans who have served in developing nations for decades. 

    On January 20, 1961, Kennedy said, “And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your country.”

    The president’s call to service during his inaugural address set the stage for one of his lasting achievements - the creation of the Peace Corps.

    The concept was the result of a late-night campaign stop by then-candidate Kennedy in October of 1960 at the University of Michigan.

    Young Americans quickly embraced the idea of delaying their own careers to work in developing countries.

    Creating the Peace Corps was one of the new president’s top priorities.

    “Putting that together was one of the great experiences of my own life.  And Kennedy wanted action," said Sen. Harris Wofford, a former Kennedy advisor. "He wanted us to move and we had the plan of the Peace Corps within the first six weeks.”

    Kennedy hosted the first group of volunteers at the White House before they left for Africa.

    “The fact that you are willing to do this for our country and in the larger sense, as the name suggests, for the cause of peace and understanding, I think should make all Americans proud and make them appreciative,” he said.

    Those early volunteers entered the Peace Corps with a sense of adventure and determination, and among them was Barbara Kamara.

    “Going to Liberia as a Peace Corps volunteer was a life-changing experience for me," she said. " I learned that I could just endure, that you start something and no matter what the challenges were, to do it.  I could keep doing it until it was completed.”

    50 years later, what remains is a sense of pride and accomplishment.

    “When I look back on the great things that Peace Corps volunteers did, the many lives they impacted," said Kamara. "I mean, the vice president of Liberia today gives tribute to his Peace Corps teacher for contributing to his ability to serve in that position as vice president.”

    For most volunteers, Peace Corps was a life-changing experience.

    “When I think back on President Kennedy and creating the Peace Corps, I would say it is probably one of the most significant things that he did as president," Kamara added.  "Would I recommend the Peace Corps to other people?  Absolutely.  If I had my way, I think every young person who is in high school should have an international experience.”

    The creation of the Peace Corps remains an important part of John Kennedy’s legacy, says Harris Wofford.

    “Around the world, people thought, here is the America we’ve been believing in or hoping for, young, optimistic, can-do," he said. "That’s the America that we’ve read about, we’ve thought about, we’ve hoped for, and here he was bringing it about.”

    Since 1961, more than 200,000 Americans have served in the Peace Corps in 139 host countries around the world.

    Jim Malone

    Jim Malone has served as VOA’s National correspondent covering U.S. elections and politics since 1995. Prior to that he was a VOA congressional correspondent and served as VOA’s East Africa Correspondent from 1986 to 1990. Jim began his VOA career with the English to Africa Service in 1983.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.