News / USA

Peace Corps Marks 50 Years of Promoting Peace, Understanding

Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams (L) talks with Caroline Kennedy at the reception following a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's inaugural address about the Peace Corps, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, January 20, 2
Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams (L) talks with Caroline Kennedy at the reception following a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's inaugural address about the Peace Corps, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, January 20, 2

Multimedia

Deborah Block

Fifty years ago, U.S. President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps to promote peace and friendship between the U.S. and other countries. Since then, 200,000 volunteers have served as health workers, teachers, and technical advisers in many countries.

“The fact that you are willing to do this for our country, and in the larger sense, as the name suggests for the cause of peace and understanding, I think should make all Americans proud and make them all appreciative,” said Kennedy.

The volunteers were mostly idealistic college graduates in their 20s. Barbara Joe, however, waited until she was 62 to join up.

“I always had it in the back of my mind since 1961 that I would like to join the Peace Corps one day.  We had children, we moved, I got divorced, I lost my son, my foster son, and then I finally said, ‘Well, if I’m going to do it, I better do it now.”

Eleven years ago, Joe went to Honduras where she was a health volunteer. The experience helped her heal from the past.

“I found I was able to help Honduran parents who had lost their kids,” she said.

Joe says although working in Honduras was challenging, the experience was so worthwhile that she signed up for a second two-year tour.
She wrote a book about her experiences called "Hope and Triumph," the names of the Honduran villages where she worked.

She said only seven percent of Peace Corps volunteers are over the age of 50 and she hopes more older people will join.  

"In a developing country, they enjoy more respect. Secondly, they have life experience. They don’t get depressed, homesick, as much, at least in my experience, and often have more skills,” said Joe.

Emily Doerr was a more typical volunteer. She joined the Peace Corps after college. Four years ago, she went to Mali. She lived in a village, learned the local language and taught people about nutrition.

“One of the biggest impacts by Peace Corps volunteers is the fact that they’re integrated and they speak the language, and they dress the same and while we obviously don’t blend in completely, we’re trying really hard,” said Doerr.

She said she went in being idealistic and came out more realistic. “Development is not easy. It doesn’t happen overnight,” she noted.

Doerr said her Peace Corps experience made it easier to get a job in international development.

Now she works on education projects at the Agency for International Development, a government organization that provides humanitarian assistance to other countries.

“Peace Corps gave me real work experience. And I think employers like to see that because they like to know that you can do things without being micro-managed or being told what to do,” said Doerr.

As for Joe, today she's a Spanish translator in Washington. She returns to Honduras almost every year with a group that delivers medical supplies and operates on children in poor communities.  

She's 73 now and would like to be a Peace Corps volunteer again - anywhere.

“If I reach the ripe old age of 80, I’ll retire from interpreting, and then I’d like to go into the Peace Corps for six months. They have a program, if you once completed it, you can go for six months,” said Joe.

Joe and Doerr say the Peace Corps changed their lives. They hope they also changed the lives of others.

You May Like

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that was eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports on how one band is bringing Yiddish tango to Los Angeles.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid