According to the 1st Annual Report to Congress for the Fiscal Year that ended on June 30, 1962 there were 7 major problems facing the Peace Corps in March 1961, the day President Kennedy signed the Executive Order establishing the agency.
1) Were there enough qualified and talented Americans willing to respond to the Peace Corps invitation to service?
2) Would foreign governments request these Volunteers to fill their middle-level manpower needs?
3) Could the right Volunteers be selected?
4) Could they be adequately trained to avoid the pitfalls of Americans who had failed overseas before?
5) Would they have the stamina to stay on the job?
6) Could the Peace Corps undertake its mission independently or would it be entangled in existing red tape?
7) Would Congress approve the Corps at all, an even if it did, would enough money be appropriate for a new world-wide undertaking involving thousands of Americans in difficult, new roles aboard?
There were other problems, too. How would the Communists react to Americans fanning out through the backlands of the world? How would our own foreign service view the sudden influx of Americans without diplomatic training? Would the private agencies and religious missions throughout the world resent the Peace Corps, feeling their work would be usurped by government? What about the sickness overseas? Who would assume responsibility for Peace Corps health?
The largest hurdle, of course, was the cynicism with which many important professionals and experts viewed the idea. This was compounded by a fear that this nation had gone soft and could no longer produce people to meet the standards and goals set by the Peace Corps. The undercurrent of doubt, a people’s uneasy lack of faith in themselves, was perhaps the most serious of the early problems facing the Peace Corps.