John Chromy (India) writes: “Small Things Make Great Things Possible”

John Chromy (India 1963-65)


A Fifty-Year Perspective on Ten Peace Corps Programs That Enabled Their Host Country People, Communities and Institutions to Substantially Improve the Lives of Millions!


From its very founding the Peace Corps believed that Americans willing to voluntarily dedicate two years of their lives to helping people and communities in countries where there existed great needs, could in multiple ways make important improvements in peoples’ daily life.

Since 1961 more than 250,000 American Peace Corps Volunteers have responded to President Kennedy’s call to “serve in the huts and villages” around the world. While not all the Volunteers were successful, most experienced some modest success in their communities, a few made large impacts and in some case the cumulative efforts of many Peace Corps Volunteers, in partnership with their host country people and institutions, laid the groundwork for great achievements that have grown, blossomed withstood the test of time and during a half century changed countries forever!

1) The Poultry and Egg Production Industry in India

2) The Creation of National Parks and Forest Reserves in Chile

3) The Launching of Underwater Snorkeling and Scuba Diving Trails/Parks in Dominica

4) The Dramatic Expansion of Tilapia Fish Farming in Cameroon and Zaire

5) The Introduction in Eight Countries of Social Services, Education, Advocacy and Special Olympics for Children with Mental and Physical Handicaps

6) And More (yet to be determined)

Former Volunteers, staff and supporters of the Peace Corps, have assured this author that there are many such programs which have had major impacts in countries around the world.

It is the intent of this project to gather narratives on at least ten programs where the cumulative efforts of Peace Corps Volunteers and their host country counterparts either initiated, expanded or laid the groundwork for future expansion of programs that over a half century have become permanent elements in improving the lives of millions of people.

It is also our intent to share these great narratives with a wide audience and to make these achievements a historical hallmark of the Peace Corps concept and its inherent belief in the value of “bottom-up community-based development”

To document these Programs of Great Impact it is necessary to gather:

a) Archival information from Peace Corps documents

b) Narratives and photographs from the women and men who served in the Peace Corps

c) Supportive information and (if possible) verification from host country counterparts

d) Information on the numbers of Volunteers, years of service, countries/locations of the programs and techniques implemented

e) Information and data (if available) on current status of the programs and impact they have made.

Some Brief Examples

Poultry in India: From 1961 to1976, more than a hundred PCVs and their Indian counterparts, introduced through 1500 demonstration projects in 7 states, modern poultry production practices, improved strains of chickens, proper nutrition, sanitation and expanded marketing of eggs and poultry meat.

A fledgling concept in 1961 has become an annualized 2.5 billion dollar industry, the third largest in the world and one of India’s major agro-food components.

National Parks & Forest Reserves in Chile: A plan to initiate National Government sponsored and protected reserves was launched in 1963. Today the country of Chile has established and maintained for the benefit of the environment and future generations, 52 such reserves.

Underwater Snorkeling/Scuba Diving Trails & Services in Dominica: Launched by Peace Corps Volunteer in 1978, Dominica maintains 12 mapped and self-guided national coral reserves which attracts tourism revenue from people around the world to a Caribbean Island dependent upon nature tourism as a important element in the country’s economy creating supportive services employment for hundreds of Dominican people.

We will welcome information on other such “major long-term impact programs” in which Peace Corps Volunteers and their host country counterparts were instrumental in initiating, launching, expanding and institutionalizing.

John Chromy (India 1963-65)
Associate Peace Corps Director, India  1967-69
Special Assistant to the Director of Peace Corps  1976
Peace Corps Director, Eastern Caribbean 1977-79
Associate Director for Volunteers, Peace Corps, Washington DC  1980-81
cell: 202 360 6037


Leave a comment
  • John,

    Thank you so much for addressing an issue long neglected … what are the lasting accomplishments the Peace Corp has left behind in the countries they served? In other words, how has the Peace Corps done in reaching its first goal over the last 60+ years.

    I have to applaud you for your long service and for your commitment to documenting the Peace Corps success over 6 decades.
    As you point out, there is a dearth information about how we have actually impacted those we served . Part of the problem may be the consequences of the Peace Corps “Five Years and out” dictum. I suspect the real factor may be there are so few of us with the experience, skills, interest, desire, energy, ability and willingness to share the fruits of their your global wanderings.

    And thank you for providing your e-mail address and phone number., allowing us to take the next step in the exchange of ideas.

    Kevin Denny

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