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

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney 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.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid