Everyone wants to be first! We know Ghana One were the first PCVs to step onto the tarmac in Accra on September 1, 1961. Those in training joked, “Here today, Ghana tomorrow.”
But what nation made the first request to JFK for his Peace Corps Volunteers?
Well, in late April 1961, Ghana also was the first country to ask for PCVs, and they got the first Volunteers. Tanganyika One (now Tanzania) started and finished their training earlier, but Ghana arrived in West Africa a few days before the Tanganyika Vols reached Dar es Salaam.
Going to Africa in 1961, it took the Ghana group 21 hours in a propeller-driven DC-7. When the 50 Volunteers arrived in Accra, Ken Baer, who had his B.A. from Yale and his M.A. in history from Berkeley, spoke for the group. He addressed the press and host country officials in Twi, saying in part, “We have come to learn as well as to teach.”
That greeting has become for the Peace Corps the way generations of new Volunteers have entered a host country. It’s not a bad way to say hello.