A Family Inspired
June 6, 2007Family adventures motivate others to follow in their footsteps
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 6, 2007 Legacies within our Peace Corps family are among the most inspiring Volunteer stories. Returned Peace Corps Volunteers cant help but motivate sons, daughters, nieces and nephews to join the Peace Corps, bringing new generations into the Peace Corps as the agency goes into its 46th year.
Peace Corps Desk Officer Pam Benson is part of one of those special legacy families. Pams husband, daughter, son-in-law, and niece were all Returned Peace Corps Volunteers! Among them, theyve worked in 8 different countries.
Pam joined the Peace Corps in the summer of 1963 and served as a teacher in the Philippines. Pams work was recognized by Sargent Shriver himself in 1964 in a letter addressed to her father, Jeffery Cohelan, former U.S. Congressman from California. Shriver wrote, I appreciate your strong support during debate on the Peace Corps authorization last Wednesday. You have contributed much to the success of the Peace Corps including the talents of your daughter and Im grateful. P.S. I hear from our people in the Philippines that Pamela is doing a fine job. Sarge
Following the completion of her service, she traveled through Southeast Asia where she eventually ended in India. Soon after arriving to New Delhi, Pam met her husband David Benson who had just completed service in India. Six weeks later they were married and continued working and living abroad.
The Bensons raised their children abroad and like all Volunteers shared their stories, skills, and enthusiasm. Pams daughter, Adrienne, followed in her parents' footsteps and joined Peace Corps Nepal after college, from 1992-1994. Adrienne said, Growing up among their stories of adventure and their commitment to development, there was never a time when I didnt dream of joining the Peace Corps myself. For me, Peace Corps was a way to experience life abroad on my own terms, to connect with people and give something back.
After her Peace Corps service Adrienne returned to work at Paul C. Coverdell Peace Corps Headquarters. While back in Washington D.C. she met Michael Scherger, who was also working at Headquarters. Michael had returned from serving in Romania (1996-1997), and the two married about a year after meeting. Michael took a job with Peace Corps Albania and the family is raising two sons abroad, two possible future Peace Corps Volunteers!
Pams niece (and Adriennes cousin), Karima Ulmer also grew up hearing the stories of Peace Corps adventure. Karima served as a Volunteer in Cameroon working on Public Health from 1996-1998. Karima said of her service, I grew up hearing stories from my aunt, uncle and cousins living in distant lands. I had the desire to help people, and Im proud of the friendships and successes I achieved while living abroad.
Director Tschetter recognized the importance of our Peace Corps legacies, It is a real testimony to the spirit of volunteerism and service of these families. Im so grateful for the dedication and commitment they have to the international community.
Since 1961, more than 187,000 Peace Corps Volunteers have helped promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of the 139 countries where Volunteers have served. Peace Corps Volunteers must be American citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment.
erican citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment.