On March 1, 1961, U.S. President John F. Kennedy signed an executive order to establish the Peace Corps, a volunteer program with the mission of providing technical assistance to other countries and fostering cross-cultural understanding. The official Peace Corps Act, passed later that year, declares the purpose of the program as:

"To promote world peace and friendship through a Peace Corps, which shall make available to interested countries and areas men and women of the United States qualified for service abroad and willing to serve, under conditions of hardship if necessary, to help the peoples of such countries and areas in meeting their needs for trained manpower."

Since 1961, over 230,000 Americans have become members of the Peace Corps, serving in 141 countries. Members focus on initiatives including sustainable food security, malaria elimination and prevention, Aids relief, and girls' education, with an emphasis on community development.

Image courtesy of Peace Corps on Flickr.