“The Peace Corps is ...”

“The Peace Corps is part of our effort...to help in the world-wide assault against poverty, hunger, ignorance, and disease — a grass roots, volunteer effort.”
Sargent Shriver |San Juan, Puerto Rico|Oct 11, 1962

Our Quote of the Week encapsulates Sargent Shriver’s ambitious vision for the Peace Corps, that it should contribute to the elimination of the scourges of humanity around the world – poverty, hunger, ignorance and disease.

In 1962, Sargent Shriver found himself at a Puerto Rico conference dedicated to “Human Skills in the Decade of Development”. He spoke these words during that conference. In the speech, Shriver shows a forward-thinking point of view about humanity’s reach. He alludes to space exploration and goes beyond the global to talk about “the universe”, and speaks to issues of equity and inequality. He also challenges us to think globally and generously about humanity:

“The world is coming alive. New countries are bursting with activity. In Latin America and the Middle East, in Africa and Asia, there is an urgent desire to leap into the twentieth century.”

“More importantly, the young men and women of the world are on the move. The President of the Central African Republic is 31. The chief of state of Guinea is 39. Mauritania’s Prime Minister is 37. The Prime Minister of Morocco is 32. In this world it is an asset to be young – and to be committed to responsibility.”

Shriver speaks of developing countries in an exciting way – he shows the potential of the people and the fact that we, as a country, can serve them in ways that can make the world more equal, more connected, and therefore more peaceful. He then ends with these words:

“We hope the activities of our volunteers will help the people of other nations to understand the true nature of America – and that our volunteers will gain a greater knowledge and a deeper understanding of the people of other nations. It is a two-way street. It is this mutual understanding – this deeper appreciation – that leads to mutual respect and to world peace.”

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Peace requires the simple but powerful recognition that what we have in common as human beings is more important and crucial than what divides us.
Sargent Shriver
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