Once in a while I’ll come across a news item or other report that focuses my attention on the incredible work done by Peace Corps  volunteers around the world. Occasionally it prompts me to visit the Peace Corps  website to rekindle a long-held desire on my part to give two years of my life contributing to community elsewhere in the world.
Recently I sat down and started scribbling a list of things I want to accomplish before I die. No surprise to me, I wrote “Peace Corps” as one of my top five. The years are slipping away. For sure, I’m going to see fewer sunrises than I’ve seen to date.
Yet middle-aged folks such as me, and even the elderly, can take heart that if you’re motivated by an altruistic concern to contribute personally, one-on-one, in a developing country, the Peace Corps  in non-discriminatory with regard to the age of its volunteers.
The organization was founded by President John F. Kennedy  in 1961 to help foster social, economic, and political development throughout the Third World. Its prime motivation was as a counterweight to the rapid spread of Leftist, and especially Leftist revolutionary, momentum following the success of the Cuban Revolution  in 1959.
Costa Rica  was the third country in Central America, and one of the first twenty countries in the world, to receive Peace Corps  volunteers, most of them then as now college graduates. The first 26 students arrived in Costa Rica  on January 23, 1963. Most worked assisting small-scale farmers or as teachers in rural primary and secondary schools.
One of the early volunteers was my friend Jim Hamilton, who came in 1968 to work on the country’s first census. After his two years was up, he stayed, bought land, worked it himself as a cattle farmer. He later married a Costa Rican woman and established the Tilajari Country Club,  near La Fortuna .
He’s one of 3,310 Peace Corps  volunteers who have served in Costa Rica  during the past half-century (currently 105 United States’ citizens are serving in Costa Rica ). During that time, the focus has evolved to include projects in ecotourism (such as efforts to help save marine turtles), community economic development, youth families at risk, and English as a foreign language.
Volunteers are trained and work in Spanish.
For further information about travel in Costa Rica, buy Moon Costa Rica 
If you're traveling only to San José and the Caribbean, buy Moon Spotlight Costa Rica's Caribbean Coast  pocket guide.
If you're traveling only to the beaches of Nicoya, buy Moon Spotlight Costa Rica's Nicoya Peninsula  pocket guide.
If you're traveling only to Arenal and/or Monteverde, buy Moon Spotlight Costa Rica's Arenal & Monteverde  pocket guide.
Disclosure: I occasionally accept free or discounted travel when it coincides with my editorial goals. However, my opinion is never for sale. The opinions you see in Cuba & Costa Rica Journal are my unbiased reflection of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Copyright © Christopher P. Baker