Archive - June 16, 2010

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Why Did You Join the Peace Corps?
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Where Did The Three Goal of the Peace Corps Come From?

Why Did You Join the Peace Corps?

“Why did you join the Peace Corps?” People are still asking that question as we approach the half century of the agency. Back in May of 1966, Joseph Colman, who was then the Acting Associate Director of the Peace Corps for Planning, Evaluation, and Research, published a paper in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences and recently Marian Beil asked if I knew about this paper. I tracked down a copy of Colman’s paper that reports on several studies of motivation for joining the agency. One was a 1962 study of 2,612 applications’ replies to a motivational question on the application form; another a 1963 interview study of why people who apply later decline a specific invitation to enter training; and the third was a 1964 interview study of college seniors and their interest in the Peace Corps. Colman’s paper concludes [not surprisingly] that Volunteers . . .

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Where Did The Three Goal of the Peace Corps Come From?

Quiz any RPCV or PCV and they’ll tell you the three goals of the Peace Corps. While the wording varies from one publication to the next, these are the goals: (1) Contribute to the development of critical countries and regions; (2) Promote international cooperation and goodwill toward the country; (3) Contribute to the education of America and to more intelligent American participation in the world.  Now, those are the stated goals, and I know that they have been tweaked with by staff and PCVs over the last 49 + years. For example, “living at the level of the HCNs” is often stated as Goal # 2. But the question is, who came up with these goals and why only three? Or why not just one? Well, at the famous Mayflower Hotel when the task force began to draft the proposal to give JFK that would define what “Peace Corps” was, a . . .

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