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Happy 50th Birthday to Peace Corps!


Fifty years ago today, President John F. Kennedy signed the Executive Order that created the Peace Corps. In response to the Cold War, Kennedy proposed developing a “peace corps of talented men and women” who would dedicate themselves to the progress and peace of developing countries. Kennedy wanted to involve Americans more actively in the cause of global democracy, peace, development, and freedom.

Since then, more than 200,000 Americans have served in 139 countries around the globe. They have learned more than 200 languages and dialects.

To recognize Peace Corps’ 50th Anniversary, we are proud to release the next of our Country Study Series, titled, simply, Peace Corps.

Peace Corps was invited to Ukraine in 1992, and has been here ever since. Currently, Peace Corps has about 400 volunteers, serving in three different programs in all oblasts and The Crimea. In the Kirovohrad Region, there are 24 Peace Corps Volunteers right now, serving in villages, rayon centers, and in the city of Kirovohrad.

Here are some basic facts about Peace Corps:

  • A country must invite Peace Corps.
  • Based on its limited budget, Peace Corps decides which countries it can be active in and prioritizes each country’s needs.
  • Peace Corps volunteers must be safe.
  • Peace Corps volunteers do not receive a salary.

Though Peace Corps Volunteers have been coming to Kirovohrad since 1995, Peace Corps Ukraine started keeping records of where volunteers go in 2002. Since that time, 24 volunteers have served in the city of Kirovohrad, and 53 in the Kirovohrad oblast. While most of these volunteers were, and are, Teachers of English as a Foreign Language, there are others who are Youth Developers and Community Developers.

What do Peace Corps Volunteers do for the city and region? They help train men, women, and children in topics such as the English language, business, economics, HIV and AIDS, human trafficking, environmental awareness, and many others. They work with schools and community organizations to bring people together. They provide cross-cultural information on what it is really like to live in the United States, what it is like to be an American. More importantly, they learn about what it is like to be a Ukrainian, and to live in Kirovohrad.

Peace Corps is not just about what Americans bring to Ukraine – it is also about what Americans learn from Ukrainians. There are so many differences in customs, traditions, and ways of looking at things, that it is an eye-opening experience for Americans to live here. They learn a lot, and they bring that information back to the United States with them.

So on this 50th anniversary of the founding of the Peace Corps, we at the Window on America Center say Happy Birthday, and may your good work continue for many years to come!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Natalia Tkachenko permalink
    04/03/2011 17:28

    I would like to say Happy Birthday to American Peace Corps too! I think it was a great idea, thanks to which there has been cultural exchange and enrichment of our knowledge, contribution to peace on our planet. Many people have become friends and it’s great!

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