Peace Corps Celebrates Fathers by Honoring Legacies of Volunteerism
One father, Robert Raymond, a returned Peace Corps Volunteer who served in Samoa from 1973-1975, says, "It's a bittersweet feeling to see my independent-minded daughter embarking on her Peace Corps odyssey. I'm sad to have her so far away and anxious about the challenges and struggles she will face but happy that she has chosen to volunteer and help others and that she, like me, will know the magic of immersing oneself in another culture in a strange and remote land."
Vanessa Raymond, a Peace Corps Volunteer who recently left for Bulgaria on May 20, says that she is very proud of her father. "I've been hearing about the Peace Corps since I was born. My father had just graduated with an architecture degree when he joined the Peace Corps. Im really proud of him because he went in a different era when Peace Corps was only 10 years old. At this point in my life, everything is global and Ive traveled the world but my dad hadn't at that point. He saw things he never would have imagined. I am honored to be able to start a legacy."
Heather Pack is a youth development Peace Corps Volunteer in Peru who was also inspired to follow in her fathers footsteps. Her father, Theodore Pack, taught English literature at a government boarding school in Malaysia from 1970-1972. Said Theodore Park, "It was the most exciting thing I did, and she must've heard my stories a couple hundred times here and there from slide shows shown to dinner guests, and sharing it in her classes."
Heather Pack says her father was a source of inspiration: "My father always talked about his Peace Corps service while I was growing up. My favorite treat as a child was watching his Peace Corps slides after dinner when we had company over. I was mesmerized by the different looking people, clothes, foods, and ways of living. It was all so exotic and beautiful to me. It instilled in me a desire to travel the world and learn about other cultures. Peace Corps was always something I knew I wanted to do, thanks to my father's influence. It was a life-changing experience for him, as it has been for me."
Adrienne Scherger's father, David Benson, had a profound impact on her decision to become a Volunteer. Benson was a former community development Peace Corps Volunteer in India from 1963-1965. "To my father, the Peace Corps represented an adventure of depth, and the stories he told of his adventures in India were fascinating to me as a kid. Peace Corps, to my dad, was a means to an interesting life, and it became a rite of passage for me. There was never a time in my life when I didn't assume Id join Peace Corps when I could, and my father's stories were a seminal influence. When I went to Nepal in September of 1992, almost exactly 29 years after my father went to India, I felt that I'd arrived. My project was TEFL, and my village was in the mountains, not the desert, but I suddenly had this major commonality with my dad. That shared experience made us even closer. Peace Corps changed my father's life. He became a development worker and spent his career in Africa with USAID. It changed my life too, in different ways, and I thank my father for being such an inspiration to me, for giving me the courage to jump into that unknown with nothing but a burning curiosity, a sense of adventure, and a desire to serve."
As the Peace Corps approaches its 50th anniversary, its service legacy continues to promote peace and friendship around the world. Historically, over 195,000 Volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 139 countries in which they have served. Applications to serve in the Peace Corps have increased 16 percent this past year, the largest boost in the last five years. Currently, 7,876 Peace Corps Volunteers are serving in 76 countries. Peace Corps Volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment.
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