Roberta Hylton learned to weave from Tz'utujil women as part of the ecocultural tourism program in San Pedro where she served. Photo courtesy of Roberta Hylton.
It was 2 a.m. on Oct. 14, 1960, when then-Senator John F. Kennedy addressed 5,000 students at the University of Michigan in an impromptu presidential campaign speech, in which he challenged them to contribute two years of their lives to help people in countries of the developing world.
It was an idea that, just months later, gave birth to the Peace Corps and a call to service that, since then, has been answered by more than 200,000 Americans.
Today, as it celebrates 50 years of service, the Peace Corps continues to promote world peace and friendship with more than 8,600 volunteers serving in 77 countries around the world.
The newly elected President Kennedy formally established the Peace Corps when he signed Executive Order 10924 on March 1, 1961. Since then, more than 200,000 Americans have served in the Peace Corps in 139 countries.
Volunteers commit to 27 months of training and service overseas. During that time, they are provided a living allowance that enables them to live in a manner similar to the local people in their community. They are also provided complete medical and dental care and paid transportation to and from their country of service. At the close of service, they are paid a pre-determined amount to assist with the transition back home.
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