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President Kennedy created the Peace Corps by Executive Order on March 1, 1961. But if the life will not be easy, it will be rich and satisfying. For every young American who participates in the Peace Corps--who works in a foreign land--will know that he or she is sharing in the great common task of bringing to man that decent way of life which is the foundation of freedom and a condition of peace.

President John F. Kennedy Signs the Executive Order Establishing the Peace Corps

I have today signed an Executive Order providing for the establishment of a Peace Corps on a temporary pilot basis. I am also sending to Congress a message proposing authorization of a permanent Peace Corps. This Corps will be a pool of trained American men and women sent overseas by the U.S. Government or through private institutions and organizations to help foreign countries meet their urgent needs for skilled manpower.

It is our hope to have 500 or more people in the field by the end of the year.

The initial reactions to the Peace Corps proposal are convincing proof that we have, in this country, an immense reservoir of such men and women--anxious to sacrifice their energies and time and toil to the cause of world peace and human progress.

In establishing our Peace Corps we intend to make full use of the resources and talents of private institutions and groups. Universities, voluntary agencies, labor unions and industry will be asked to share in this effort--contributing diverse sources of energy and imagination--making it clear that the responsibility for peace is the responsibility of our entire society.

We will only send abroad Americans who are wanted by the host country--who have a real job to do--and who are qualified to do that job. Programs will be developed with care, and after full negotiation, in order to make sure that the Peace Corps is wanted and will contribute to the welfare of other people. Our Peace Corps is not designed as an instrument of diplomacy or propaganda or ideological conflict. It is designed to permit our people to exercise more fully their responsibilities in the great common cause of world development.

Life in the Peace Corps will not be easy. There will be no salary and allowances will be at a level sufficient only to maintain health and meet basic needs. Men and women will be expected to work and live alongside the nationals of the country in which they are stationed--doing the same work, eating the same food, talking the same language.

How to Join the Peace Corps

Peace Corps: The Toughest Job You'll Ever Love For 36 years, the Peace Corps has advanced a unique and challenging mission: to foster international peace and friendship; encourage grass-roots development in the world's poorest nations; and build greater understanding of the world among Americans. More than 148,000 Americans have served as Peace Corps Volunteers since the agency was founded in 1961. Today, nearly 6,500 serve in 90 countries around the world, providing assistance in education, health, agriculture, environment and business development.


Peace Corps offers trained men and women a chance to gain important international experience, challenge themselves personally and help solve the world's pressing problems. Employers in Government and the private sector value the experience acquired by Peace Corps Volunteers. Peace Corps assignments emphasize appropriate technology and cultural sensitivity. Serving two years, Volunteers work in a variety of fields, usually at the community level:

  • Economic Development
  • Agriculture
  • Forestry and Environment
  • Health and Nutrition
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Industrial Arts

Who is Eligible

Most assignments require a bachelors degree, but some may require an additional 3-5 years of work experience; others may require a master's degree.

Graduates in liberal arts fields must have demonstrated skills requested by Peace Corps host countries. Please note that selection from among liberal arts candidates is highly competitive.

You must be a U. S. citizen at least 18 years old. There is no upper age limit.

Married couples are welcome, but difficult to place. Peace Corps does not place families with dependent children.


During service, Volunteers receive a monthly allowance for food, clothing and incidentals. They also receive free medical and dental care, vacation time, and transportation to and from their overseas sites. Most student loan payments are deferred for the duration of Peace Corps service, and there is a partial Perkins Loan cancellation program available.


Volunteers receive 8-12 weeks of intensive language, cultural and technical training. Periodic in-service workshops assist Volunteers in project planning, reinforcing skills and teaching new ones.

On the Job

Peace Corps Volunteers live in both rural and urban settings at the level of their host country counterparts. They work with host country agencies or institutions and also maintain contact with Peace Corps staff. Often, Volunteers share worksites with, or are located near, other Volunteers. Although they leave family and friends behind in the United States, many Volunteers feel that one of the most rewarding aspects of the experience is making new friends and being welcomed in the host country culture.

Life after the Peace Corps

Following Peace Corps service, Volunteers receive a readjustment allowance of approximately $5,400. They receive job hunting assistance from Peace Corps, and are eligible for Federal employment on a non-competitive basis. More than 50 institutions offer special scholarships and assistantships for returning Volunteers. The Peace Corps Fellows/USA program can open doors for returned volunteers by providing part-time employment in under-served communities while they attend graduate school. There is even a way to get academic credit for certain Peace Corps training.

How Do I Apply

If you are interested in becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer, call (800) 424-8580 (toll-free) and choose option one. This will put you in touch with your local recruiter, who will discuss your options, and send you an application and any additional information you request. Keep in mind, the application process can take up to one year, so please plan accordingly.

Visit the Peace Corps Web Site for more information.[1]