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

    Republicans Struggle With Reality of Trump Nomination

    Despite calls for unity by presumptive presidential nominee, analysts see inevitable fragmentation of party ahead of November election and beyond

    Nielsen's, Sina Weibo Team Up for Closer Look at Chinese Social Media

    US-based rating agency reaches deal with China's Twitter-like service to gauge marketing effectiveness on platform which has more than 200 million users

    Despite Cease-fire, Myanmar Landmine Scourge Goes Unaddressed

    Myanmar has third-highest mine casualty rate in the world, according to Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, which says between 1999 to 2014 it recorded 3,745 casualties, 396 of whom died

    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.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora