We will send Americans abroad who are qualified to do a job. We will send those abroad who are committed to the concept which motivates the Peace Corps. It will not be easy: None of the men and women will be paid a salary. They will live at the same level as the citizens of the country which they’re sent to — doing the same work, eating the same food, speaking the same language. We’re going to put particular emphasis on those men and women who have skills in teaching, agriculture, and in health.
From John F. Kennedy’s announcement of Executive Order 10924 Establishing the Peace Corps, delivered on March 1st, 1961.