Peace Corps: The "Idea of the American People"
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy introduced the Peace Corps program, telling the nation that it was "the idea of the American people." Kennedy said that the program was not meant to be a "weapon of propaganda or a tool of the Cold War," but was rather a genuine U.S. "effort to play a part in working for peace and improving the lives of all mankind."
Kennedy also said that in spite of the fact that there was no real salary paid to those who signed up for the program, there had already been more applications for Peace Corps positions than for all other job openings in the federal government combined.
The Peace Corps celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Thursday, Kojo's talking with current Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams about how the program has changed and adapted, and how it plans to handle the issue of volunteer safety after recent criticisms by volunteers of inappropriate and harsh program responses to reports of sexual assaults that happened while they were serving.