Stanley Meisler on the 50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps Meisler, a former L.A. Times staff writer and author of a book on the Peace Corps, writes that the Corps today is in some ways “a shadow of what it once was.” He recounts the history of the Corps from its founding in the 60’s, when it was held in such high esteem that volunteers names were often included in the papers, to current days when many people have forgotten that it even exists. Still, the effectiveness of the Peace Corps on-site, “providing skilled manpower to poor countries in need,” has in some ways improved. The Corps’ role in local and American politics has always been fraught, he says, but it has been useful in improving the image of America abroad. He notes many famous alumni, from Chris Dodd to Paul Theroux to the founder of Netflix. “It’s possible to cite the pounds of fish sold or the pounds of honey produced under volunteer projects,” he says “but how do you measure the influence of an inspiring teacher?” He points to Peru, were an impoverished teenage boy named Alejandro Toledo worked with Corps volunteers–and ended up president.