International Educator - January/February 2013 - 39
HEY WERE JUST BRIEF REMARKS in the wee hours
on Far Corners of the World
of the chill October 1960 night on the stone steps of the Michigan Union from a tired John F. Kennedy who had
flown in after debating rival Richard Nixon in New York. But the future president threw out a challenge to the thousands of students who had waited in the drizzle to greet him. Speaking off the cuff, he asked, “How many of you who are going to be doctors are willing to spend your days in Ghana? Technicians or engineers, how many of you are willing to work in the foreign service and spend your lives traveling around the world?” The idea of an international volunteer corps of young Americans already had been percolating in Congress, but the Michigan students got the ball rolling, gathering hundreds of signatures on a petition expressing a willingness to serve in poor countries. Kennedy formally proposed a Peace Corps in a San Francisco speech a few days before winning one of the closest elections in U.S. history. On March 1, 1961, JFK signed an executive order creating the agency, which Congress later wrote into law. Among the first volunteers were Alan and Judy Guskin, the Michigan graduate students who organized the petition drive. Half a century later, no tour of the Michigan campus is complete without a stop to read the inscription on the marker on the Union steps: “Conception of Peace Corps First Mentioned on This Spot October 14, 1960.”
J A N + F E B . 13
Provost Philip Hanlon says Michigan has made tough budgetary decisions while remaining on its “upward trajectory” and expanding international activities.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Profiles of the five winners of the 2012 Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization are being included in IE. The full set of profiles can be seen in Internationalizing the Campus 2012: Profiles of Success at Colleges and Universities. NAFSA gratefully acknowledges Hobsons, a NAFSA Global Partner, for underwriting the Internationalizing the Campus 2012 report.