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JFK

February 1, 2023

Be Good, Be Kind, and Be Lucky

Parting advice from a writer and friend By Steven Boyd Saum Almost three decades ago, before I left California to begin serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine, my friend Clark Blaise passed along the phone number for a fellow writer he knew in Kyiv. Yaroslav Stelmakh was the first Ukrainian to receive a fellowship to attend the International Writing Program at Iowa — a program that Clark directed and, since 1967, has connected well-established writers from around the globe.   Slava Stelmakh (that's him on the left) was primarily a playwright — and staking out what was newly possible to say and...

May 20, 2022

Meet the Members of the Peace Corps Community Recognized with the 2022 JFK Service Award

Every five years, Peace Corps presents the John F. Kennedy Service Awards to honor members of the Peace Corps network whose contributions go above and beyond for the agency and America every day. Here are the 2022 Awardees. By NPCA Staff Photo: Dr. Mamadou Diaw, Peace Corps staff recipient of the 2022 JFK Service Award. Photos Courtesy of the Peace Corps   On May 19, at a ceremony at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C., the Peace Corps presented The John F. Kennedy Service Awards for 2022. Every five years, the Peace Corps presents the JFK Service Award to recognize members...

December 20, 2021

Operation Crossroads Africa and the “Progenitors of the Peace Corps”

The program you may not know about that inspired JFK. And that has been sending U.S. volunteers abroad since 1958.   By Reverend Dr. Jonathan Weaver   The man who was the visionary behind Crossroads Africa, Dr. James Robinson, in many ways has not gotten the recognition he deserves. Dr. Robinson first traveled to Africa in 1954 on behalf of the Presbyterian Foreign Missions Board and saw sweeping changes taking place throughout the continent. He went to Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, where he was introduced to several giants in African history: Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, who later served as the first president...

May 16, 2021

President’s Letter: An Historic Moment

A time to honor the past — and commit to a different future By Glenn Blumhorst Illustration by Richard Borge   HERE’S A FAMILIAR CELEBRATORY REFRAIN: On March 1, 1961, President John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order 10924, establishing the Peace Corps with the mission of building world peace and friendship. In honor of that beginning, every spring is a time for us to recognize the ways that the Peace Corps has made an impact — in individual lives and in communities around the globe. But this year is different. And an unprecedented time in so many ways. One year...

May 15, 2021

Now Is the Time: From the Editor of WorldView Magazine

An invitation to listen, learn — and roll up our sleeves. By Steven Boyd Saum   Let’s start with a story about an invitation. There’s that historic letter from JFK below, sent to the first would-be Volunteers. And let me tell you about Laurel Hunt, a recent engineering grad from University of Minnesota, and the years of Peace Corps service she has yet to undertake in Peru, working with a community on health and sanitation. Return to March 2020: “Friday the 13th was my last day at work,” Hunt writes. “As I packed up my desk that afternoon, I got a...

May 11, 2021

1961: Towering Task Edition

A look at the year in which the Peace Corps was founded with great aspirations — and the troubled world into which it emerged.   Research and editing by Jake Arce, Orrin Luc, and Steven Boyd Saum   Map images throughout from 1966 map of Peace Corps in the World. Courtesy Library of Congress.   For the Peace Corps community, 1961 is a year that holds singular significance. It is the year in which the agency was created by executive order; legislation was signed creating congressional authorization and funding for the Peace Corps; and, most important, that the first Volunteers trained and began...

January 29, 2021

Annotation: “Ask not what your country can do for you …”

How do the words President John F. Kennedy spoke on January 20, 1961 resonate across the decades?   On January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy delivered his inaugural address. The conclusion of that speech inspired a generation — and profoundly shaped the launch of the Peace Corps in 1961. Here are the last three paragraphs. For the 60th anniversary of this speech, we asked returned Volunteers and members of the Peace Corps community from around the world to share how these words resonate across the years. Read the entire address below. And tell us what these words mean to you. Use the comments form or email us....

November 2, 2020

Peace Corps 60th Anniversary

We’re marking the events in 1960 and 1961 that led to the creation of the Peace Corps. And we seek inspiration in how we can reimagine Peace Corps for a changed world. By WorldView Staff   At 2 a.m. on October 14 the Peace Corps community kicked off 60th anniversary celebrations with a once-a-decade gathering: We returned (virtually) to the steps of the student union at University of Michigan to commemorate the impromptu speech by John F. Kennedy that helped launch the Peace Corps. The questions that caught the zeitgeist: “How many of you who are going to be doctors are willing to spend your days in Ghana?...

October 9, 2020

JFK at the Union: The Impromptu Campaign Speech that Launched the Peace Corps

Well after midnight on October 14, 1960, presidential candidate John F. Kennedy arrived at the steps of the Michigan Union. Legend has it that he first proposed the idea of the Peace Corps here. The truth is a little more complex, but far more interesting. By James Tobin   Senator John F. Kennedy’s motorcade rolled into Ann Arbor very early on the morning of Friday, October 14, 1960. The election was three and a half weeks away. The Democratic nominee for president and his staff had just flown into Willow Run Airport. A few hours earlier, in New York, Kennedy had fought Vice...