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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More