UH Manoa - RPCVs 8
Opening remarks to Returned Peace Corps Volunteers at the University of Hawaii at Manoa Peace Corps 50th Anniversary celebration. Invited speakers included Ann and Richard Port (Ghana 1), Ned Shultz (Korea 1), Rosemary Casey and Sena Pierce. The event was held from 2:30-5 pm. in Hemenway Hall courtyard (aka Manoa Gardens).
This event marked President Kennedy's March 1, 1961 signing of the Executive Order creating the Peace Corps. The move to create the Peace Corps came on the heels of a now-famous, impromptu speech he gave on the campaign trail at the University of Michigan a few months earlier.
In front of a large crowd of students, Kennedy said: "How many of you who are going to be doctors, are willing to spend your days in Ghana? Technicians or engineers, how many of you are willing to work in the Foreign Service and spend your lives traveling around the world? On your willingness to do that, not merely to serve one year or two years in the service, but on your willingness to contribute part of your life to this country, I think will depend the answer whether a free society can compete."
Since the executive was signed, more than 200,000 mostly young Americans have gone off as Peace Corps Volunteers to live in rural, poor cities and villages in 139 countries on every continent but Antarctica. They have undertaken training to work in a variety of programs, from teaching English, to building wells, to beekeeping.
In 2011, the Peace Corps has 8,675 volunteers serving in 77 countries.