Peace Corps Challenges

January 11, 2013 • Volume 23, Issue 2
Has the venerable agency outlived its purpose?
By Reed Karaim

Introduction

Allisa Kispersky — one of about 8,000 Peace Corps volunteers in 76 countries — helps a village women's organization (Reuters/Ranu Abhelakh)
Allisa Kispersky — one of about 8,000 Peace Corps volunteers in 76 countries — helps a village women's organization in Suriname with its bookkeeping. The 24-year-old from San Jose, Calif., signed up for a two-year stint in the Peace Corps because she believes true happiness “can only be gained from helping others.” (Reuters/Ranu Abhelakh)

The Peace Corps has long stood as one of America's most idealistic efforts — a program founded in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy to send young Americans to some of the world's poorest countries with a mission to spread good will and offer assistance. The agency still sends volunteers on two-year assignments and is active today in 76 countries. But the idealism in the Peace Corps’ charter has come up against some troubling accusations. Volunteers who say they were sexually assaulted while overseas complain that the Peace Corps ignored or downplayed their allegations. Other volunteers say they received inadequate training, and still others question the agency's accomplishments. Yet supporters say there has never been a greater need for the kind of person-to-person, international understanding promoted by the Peace Corps and that the agency is addressing many of the recent concerns.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Peace Corps, National Service, and Volunteerism
Jan. 11, 2013  Peace Corps Challenges
Jun. 30, 2006  National Service
Dec. 13, 1996  The New Volunteerism
Jun. 25, 1993  National Service
Jan. 25, 1991  Peace Corps' Challenges in the 1990s
Oct. 31, 1986  Blueprints for National Service
Jan. 25, 1985  International Relief Agencies
Dec. 12, 1980  Volunteerism in the Eighties
Jun. 15, 1979  Future of the Peace Corps
Apr. 03, 1963  Domestic Peace Corps
Nov. 28, 1962  Peace Corps Expansion
Jan. 04, 1961  Government Youth Corps
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Humanitarian Assistance