Gone, But Not Forgotten

In Panama, an ex-Peace Corps volunteer finds a surprising legacy

The goals set by President John F. Kennedy were noble: to create a "peace corps of talented young men and women, willing and able to serve their country." Living like those they had come to help, the volunteers were to bring modern skills to the primitive, the diseased and the ignorant, and to show off America at its best. Twenty-five years after the founding of the Peace Corps, some 6,000 volunteers still labor in 62 nations, but the agency's lofty ideals are tempered by a sense of its limits. Critics, including former volunteers, have questioned whether the corps actually helped or...

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