Your Monday Briefing
By ADEEL HASSAN
John F. Kennedy first suggested the idea of a Peace Corps in an impromptu, 2 a.m.address at the University of Michigan, three weeks before he was elected president. He signed legislation creating the organization on March 1, 1961, less than six weeks after his inauguration. Fifty-four years later, this is Peace Corps Week.
The organization has 6,818 volunteers working in 64 developing countries, less than half the record high of more than 15,000, reached in 1966.
But sweeping changes to the application process last year – like allowing volunteers to select their country of service – increased the number of candidates by more than 70 percent.
Today’s Peace Corps volunteers are mostly female (63 percent), unmarried (94 percent), white (75 percent) and youthful (only 7 percent are over 50).
Education is its biggest focus, followed by health services. Forty-five percent serve in Africa, and 23 percent in Latin America.
California provides the most volunteers by far, distantly followed by New York and Washington.
Since the start, the University of California at Berkeley has produced more Peace Corps volunteers than any other school, followed by the University of Wisconsin and the University of Washington.
The University of Michigan, where it all started, is fourth.