"Ambassadors of Peace"

Click the title of this post for a recent and great Kyiv Post (English-language Ukrainian news) article on the Peace Corps’ role in Ukraine for the past 18 years.

Some interesting factoids about Peace Corps/Ukraine:

  • “Ukraine is home to the world’s largest contingency of Peace Corps volunteers.” There are more than 300 PCVs in Ukraine, the largest group in the 74 countries where PCVs serve. It’s exciting to join such a big, diverse group!
  • As I’ve noted before and the article restates, “The Peace Corps-Ukraine partnership began when U.S. President George Bush Sr. signed a bilateral agreement with Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk in 1992,” not long after Ukraine declared independence.
  • Since the Peace Corps-Ukraine partnership began, “some 2,300 PCVs have served in over 1,200 communities as teachers, management consultants, environmentalists and youth development specialists. More than 1 million Ukrainian citizens have received training in 18 years. Some volunteers even return to Ukraine or stay behind to keep working.” Who knows? Maybe I’ll be there for longer than 27 months…
  • “In Ukraine, volunteers receive a monthly living allowance of Hr 1,372 paid for by U.S. taxpayers.” Thanks, taxpayers! “It’s enough to live on, but more importantly, they don’t live much better than many Ukrainians in their midst.
  • Today most PCVs in Ukraine are sent to underdeveloped rural towns — this is different from the 1990s and early 2000s, when many PCVs worked in urban centers.   

And some factoids about the Peace Corps in general:

  • “The Peace Corps’ original inspiration came from U.S. President John F. Kennedy, who called on Americans to support his ‘New Frontier’ slogan of greater social and economic progress worldwide.” So in 1961, JFK started a federal government agency — www.peacecorps.gov“devoted to world peace and economic development.” My dad was part of the early PC pioneers: he served in Tanzania from 1964-66 to teach high school math and physics.
  • Today, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls the Peace Corps part of “‘smart power,’ an attempt to revive a positive view of America’s standing in the world. Consequently, the Peace Corps is getting more attention in President Barack Obama’s administration — and more cash. On June 30, its budget was upped by 11.5 percent in 2011, to $446 million.” We must be doing some things right!   
  • I finally got some selectivity numbers, too: 1-in-3 Peace Corps applicants are accepted as volunteers.

So now you don’t have to read the article unless you want to. But I certainly learned a bit more about the Peace Corps and the place I’ll be for the next 27 months: Ukraine. I’m certainly excited to participate in the Peace Corps’ incredible cultural exchange.

More later, as I begin to pack for my September 17th departure!

“U.S. President John F. Kennedy hands a pen to his brother-in-law, R. Sargent Shriver, after signing legislation at the White House giving the Peace Corps permanent status, on Sept. 22, 1961. Nearly 200,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps since, serving in 139 countries, making a difference every day.” (AP Photo)
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