The Peace Corps traces its roots and mission to 1960, when then-Senator John F. Kennedy challenged students at the University of Michigan to serve their country in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries. From that inspiration grew an agency of the federal government devoted to world peace and friendship.
Since the Peace Corps first arrived in the Dominican Republic in 1962, well over 4,000 Americans have served in this Caribbean nation. Almost every Dominican community and village has known a volunteer and the short and long term effects on changing people’s lives will probably never be totally known. The Friends of the Dominican Republic, in cooperation with Peace Corps staff, have begun compiling stories and photos of these volunteers. Together these are the beginnings of a comprehensive history.
Following disasters or urgent needs in Peace Corps countries of service, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers have been invited to serve to assist recovery efforts and short term projects. Formerly known as Crisis Corps, Peace Corps Response is now open to anyone who has the specific skills for the position. Response Volunteers have served in the Dominican Republic after major hurricanes.
Peace Corps’ programs in the Dominican Republic evolve over time to meet the new needs expressed by the Dominican government and community groups. Those that served in the early years will find some things the same and others quite different. Community development and capacity building remain the fundamental orientation of the multitude of sectors and special initiatives. Two groups of approximately 40 volunteers each arrive yearly for in-country training. The trainees are hosted by Dominican families to provide friendly immersion in the language and culture. This is has proven more effective than US university campus training of the early years in that the trainees have developed stronger understanding of the culture, language, and projects earlier on.