This interview with Kennedy aide and Peace Corps founder Sargent Shriver, which ran on the front page of the Monitor on May 6, 1963, offers a look at the Corps just two years after its founding, at a time when it had just over 4,000 volunteers. Since then, some 200,000 Americans have served with the Corps, which will turn 50 this year.
R. Sargent Shriver Jr., Director of the Peace Corps, attributes its success, in large part, to the fact that it is what he calls "a nuts and bolts operation."
That is, a foreign aid program that operates "at a common level in human experience - among the people themselves."
The Peace Corps, now two years old, has attained a degree of success surprising to many of its critics and even some of its supporters.
Its director frankly admits he anticipated more problems than have arisen. He is proud of the attainments of the corps and the manner in which members have conducted themselves abroad.
Clean Slate Retained
No member of the Peace Corps has ever been brought into court for any reason anywhere in the world, Mr. Shriver told this correspondent in an interview."And no country has ever asked us to remove a volunteer for incompetence or improper conduct or for any other reason," he added.
There have been failures in the Corps, to be sure - those who did not adjust and had to be brought home.
But out of the first 4,000 sent overseas, only 50 have been separated from the Corps for that reason.
"That is lower than I thought there would be," Mr. Shriver candidly admits.
Today 4,126 volunteers are serving in 45 countries, with 877 more in training in this country and Puerto Rico.
Rep. Frances P. Bolton (R) of Ohio who saw the Peace Corps at first as "a terrifying thing . . . because they are going at it too fast," now concedes "they have proved themselves and arc doing a very good work."
Rep. Howard W. Smith (D) of Virginia, chairman of the House Rules Committee, who voted against it in the beginning, now is thoroughly sold on the Corps.He said on the floor of the House last year he felt they had 'done a good job." He liked the idea "of getting these young folks of ours in there to mingle with the common people."