It might be interesting, in light of the discussion about the ET rate, to look at what else has changed in the fundamental attitudes and beliefs and practices of the agency. Here was some of the thinking and statements within the first year, 1961.
In the first days of the Peace Corps (early ’61) the ‘experts’ working with the agency decided there should be a ‘corps’ of between 300 and 500. That would be a realistic number for a ‘pilot program’ to make sure that the Peace Corps got off on the right foot.
That idea, however, changed quickly after a Peace Corps ‘team’: Shriver, Wofford, Franklin Williams, and Edwin Bayley returned from a trip to Africa and Asia in May of ’61. They had received requests from around the world for PCVs. And at home there had been an onslaught of letters and cables coming to HQ from people who wanted to volunteer. So the numbers of PCVs jumped to 500 to 1,000 by December 31, 1961, and 2,400 by June 30, 1962, the end of the Peace Corps’ first fiscal year. The governments of Ghana, Nigeria, Tanganyika, India, Pakistan, Malaya, Thailand, Colombia, Chile, St. Lucia and the Philippines all requested PCVs.
Also, between March 1961 and June 1961, the basic politics for the Peace Corps were set. This was the 12 Step Program that the original staff set down. Now how true has the Peace Corps been to this vision?
First, Peace Corps Volunteers would only go to countries where they were invited.
Second, Volunteers would work for the host country government or a private agency or organization within the foreign country, serving under a host country supervisors, and working with host country co-workers wherever possible.
Third, Volunteers would not be “advisers” but “doers.”
Fourth, Volunteers would serve for two years, without salary or draft exemption.
Fifth, Volunteers would be provided a living allowance enabling them to live a modest manner compareble to the circumstances of their co-workers.
Sixth, Volunteers would enjoy no diplomatic privileges immunities, have no PX or commissary rights, receive no “hardship’ or cost-of-living allowances and have no vehicles unless needed for their job.
Seventh, Volunteers would learn to speak the language of the host country, learn to appreciate its customs, be able to discuss adequately and intelligently the United States when questioned, refrain from political or religious proselytizing, and set as the standard of their success how well the requested job was fulfilled.
Eighth, a termination allowance of $75 for each month of satisfactory service was established to help the Volunteer get started again in this country.
Ninth, the Peace Corps would be open to all qualified, single Americans above 18 and for married couple with no dependents under 18, where each had a needed skill.
Tenth, a college degree would not be a requirement for service. A special effort was made to attract farmers and craftsmen who possessed skills and experience but no degrees.
Eleventh, the highest medical, psychological, and character standard were established and it was determined that final selection would be made at the conclusion of training.
Twelfth, it was decided that the hardships of Peace Corps life would be featured in recruitment so no candidate would misjudge the terms and conditions under which he or she volunteered to serve.
Finally, trainees and Volunteers would be told they could resign from the Peace Corps at any time and the Peace Corps would pay their way home.
I’d give the agency an A-
But you have to remember I’m an easy grader. How would you grade the Peace Corps?