History of the Peace Corps in the Eastern Caribbean

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History of the Peace Corps
Since 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, more than 182,000 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in 138 countries all over the globe.

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The Peace Corps entered the Eastern Caribbean in 1961, when St. Lucia became one of the first countries in the world to receive Volunteers. Since then, approximately 3,300 Peace Corps Volunteers have served on various island nations in the region. Volunteers were initially assigned to education, agriculture, health, youth, and community development projects. The contributions of Volunteers in these areas have provided strong and consistent technical support to the Eastern Caribbean for more than 40 years. Basic human needs programming in the 1970s encouraged health, special education, preschool education, teacher training, forestry, fishery, and livestock extension projects. The 1980s were a period that focused on four projects: education, health, agriculture, and small enterprise development. At the beginning of the 1990s, education, environment, health, and youth initiatives were priorities. Peace Corps/Eastern Caribbean has made significant progress since January 1991 to establish project-based programming and to provide focus to the program. After concluding an assessment of the program in 1993, efforts focused on developing partnerships with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and moving steadily away from formal education into educational projects targeting at-risk youth.

Peace Corps Volunteers currently serve in six island nations in the Eastern Caribbean: (1) Antigua and Barbuda, (2) Dominica, (3) Grenada, Carriacou, and Petit Martinique, (4) St. Kitts and Nevis, (5) St. Lucia, and (6) St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

History and Future of Peace Corps Programming in the Eastern Caribbean

Programming on each island nation of Peace Corps/Eastern Caribbean is guided by the development priorities of the various governments and their ministries, as expressed in official plans and budget documents. With these partners, Peace Corps/Eastern Caribbean periodically reviews programming on each island nation to ensure continuing appropriate focus and direction.

At present, the major focus of Peace Corps /Eastern Caribbean is on improving the quality of life of disenfranchised and low-income communities by assisting in their transformation from recipients of aid into partners in change. Volunteer activities are aimed primarily at assisting communities in identifying, evaluating, and developing solutions to the many challenges they face. In responding to needs and priorities identified by their communities, Volunteers may be involved in a wide range of activities, including strengthening the capacity of community-based organizations and ministries working at the community level, raising awareness about HIV/AIDS and other chronic diseases, and enhancing educational and employment skills by emphasizing skills transfer in the areas of special education, literacy, and service learning. Peace Corps is considered by many government officials to be a leader in addressing the social and economic problems resulting from high unemployment, drug and alcohol abuse, and unhealthy lifestyle choices among community members in the Eastern Caribbean.

The integrated community development program in the Eastern Caribbean addresses community needs and provides Volunteers with the flexibility to find the projects and programs where community needs and Volunteers skills and interests intersect.. As a result, Volunteers are assigned to a community where they work directly with community stakeholders. In addition to a community placement, a few Volunteers may also be assigned to a specific organization or government agency. This, of course, requires careful planning and coordination to ensure that a Volunteer’s primary focus on the community is maintained.

While all Volunteers will address the needs of the community where they have been placed, Volunteers over time will find their special niche in the areas of health, youth development, business, organizational strengthening, education, and service learning. Volunteers may train teachers in special education methodologies or assist national governments in organizing special education services for their students. Volunteers with a passion for business may coordinate Junior Achievement activities and promote entrepreneurship among various groups in their community. Other Volunteers may apply the behavior change communication (BCC) methodology to develop communication products and community outreach programs targeting HIV/AIDS and other problems, such as teenage pregnancy or drug use.

Assignment History

Sector Assignment Beg. Yr End. Yr
Agriculture Ag Economics 1980 1991
Ag Education 1982 1986
Ag Extension 1968 1993
Animal Husband 1976 1988
Animal Husband Lg 1981 1991
Apiculture 1973 1995
Crop Extension 1961 1994
Farm Mechanics 1983 1985
Fisheries Marine 1981 1991
Soil Science 1976 1983
Business Accounting 1974 1988
Archictecture 1982 1991
Business Advising 1976 2007
Business Development 1995 2001
Computer Science 1998 2005
Cooperatives 1981 1990
NGO Advising 1995 2007
Urban and Regional Planning 1981 1981
Crisis Corps Crisis Corps 1991 2008
Education Art Education 1982 1998
Bus. Ed/Sectl Skl 1981 1994
English Teacher 1981 2000
English Teacher Trainer 1991 1994
Fisheries Fresh 1981 1991
Gen. Construction 1981 2000
Home Economics 1980 1991
Industrial Arts 1972 1998
Library Science 1981 1995
Literacy Ed. 1996 1997
Math Teacher Trainer 1991 1995
Occupat. Therapy 1981 1987
Phys. Ed/Youth Wk 1980 1997
Prim-Ed/Teach Trn 1981 1999
Science Ed/Gen. 1982 1982
Science Teacher Trainer 1991 1995
Secondary-Ed Math 1982 1996
Secondary-Ed Sci. 1970 1996
Special Ed/Blind 1986 1988
Special Ed/Deaf 1981 1996
Special Ed/Gen. 1980 2007
Speech Therapy 1981 1995
Voc. Trainer 1971 1996
Environment Comm Forestry Ext 1993 1993
Environmental Ed. 1991 2001
Forestry 1980 1991
Protected Areas Management 1987 1996
Health Disease Control 1978 1988
Envir. and Water Resource 1970 1988
Health Degreed 1981 2005
Health Extension 1981 2007
Home Econ/Ext. 1983 1996
Hygiene Ed/Sanitation 1992 1992
Med. Technician 1980 1994
Nursing 1981 1995
Physical Therapy 1982 1990
Master's International Masters Internationalist 1993 1999
Other Flexible App 1976 1988
Unique Skill 1980 1996
UNV United Nations Volunteer 1977 2001
Youth and Community Development Appropriate Tech. 1980 1989
Commun. Serv/Deg. 1980 2007
Mechanics 1988 1988
Road Const/Engin. 1980 1982
Rural Youth Dev. 1978 1994
Youth Development 1996 2007