The Peace Corps is a volunteer program run by the United States government.
The stated mission of the Peace Corps includes providing technical assistance, helping people outside the United States to understand American culture, and helping Americans to understand the cultures of other countries. The work is generally related to social and economic development. Each program participant, a Peace Corps Volunteer, is an American citizen, typically with a college degree, who works abroad for a period of 24 months after three months of training.
Volunteers work with governments, schools, non-profit organizations, non-government organizations, and entrepreneurs in education, hunger, business, information technology, agriculture, and the environment. After 24 months of service, volunteers can request an extension of service.
The program was established by Executive Order 10924, issued by President John F. Kennedy on March 1, 1961, announced by televised broadcast March 2, 1961, and authorized by Congress on September 21, 1961, with passage of the Peace Corps Act (Pub.L. 87–293). The act declares the program’s purpose as follows:
To promote world peace and friendship through a Peace Corps, which shall make available to interested countries and areas men and women of the United States qualified for service abroad and willing to serve, under conditions of hardship if necessary, to help the peoples of such countries and areas in meeting their needs for trained manpower.
Between 1961 and 2013, over 210,000 Americans joined the Peace Corps and served in 139 countries.