In 1962, the recently established Peace Corps announced plans for an intensive field training initiative that would acclimate the agency's burgeoning multitude of volunteers to the conditions of poverty in “underdeveloped” countries and immerse them in “foreign” cultures ostensibly similar to where they would be later stationed. This training was designed to be “as realistic as possible, to give volunteers a ‘feel’ of the situation they will face.” With this purpose in mind, the Second Annual Report of the Peace Corps recounted, “Trainees bound for social work in Colombian city slums were given on-the-job training in New York City's Spanish Harlem…. New Mexican Indian reservations and Spanish-speaking villages make realistic workshops for community development trainees. Puerto Rico provides experience in living in a Latin American environment. The Island of Hawaii, with its multiracial population, remote valleys and varied rural economy, performs a similar function for volunteers headed for Southeast Asia.”1 Local communities throughout the United States were chosen for their apparent similarities to locations abroad such that they might serve as a staging ground for President John F. Kennedy's vaunted Cold War diplomatic venture.
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