Astronaut and returned Peace Corps volunteer Joe Acaba speaks with students from space

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 8, 2018 – NASA Astronaut and returned Peace Corps volunteer Joe Acaba spoke live February 7 from the International Space Station with students at H.D. Cooke Elementary School, Acting Peace Corps Director Sheila Crowley, and a global audience virtually.

Acaba, who shared speaking duties aboard the space station with fellow NASA Astronaut Mark Vande Hei, is a former teacher who served with the Peace Corps as an environmental education volunteer in the Dominican Republic from 1994-96.

“We’re like technicians working in a laboratory, doing science,” he said. “And everything you have to do at your house to keep it up and running, we have to do on the space station… Why are we important? You need people to explore and try new things, and we’re lucky enough to have the opportunity to go up in space.”

Through NASA’s live education downlink, students in the United States and around the world had the opportunity to learn from Acaba about living and working in space, as well as the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education. Acaba is part of a mission called Expedition 53 that launched to the International Space Station in September 2017, focusing on astrophysics, technology demonstrations, cellular biology and biotechnology.

Prior to the live downlink, Peace Corps volunteer classrooms from around the world submitted questions for the astronauts, which were shared with students at Washington’s H.D. Cooke Elementary School. The Washington students posed these questions to Acaba on behalf of their international counterparts, along with questions of their own.

H.D. Cooke Elementary School participates in World Wise Schools, a program that promotes global learning by connecting students and educators in the United States with Peace Corps volunteers abroad. Students from the Dominican Republic, Nepal, Paraguay, Kosovo, Madagascar, Guinea, Morocco, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan submitted questions with the support of their Peace Corps volunteer teachers.

“What is the toughest job you’ll ever love—being a Peace Corps volunteer or being an astronaut?” asked Acting Director Crowley. Acaba’s response: “Peace Corps!”

Click the following link for video from the February 7 event:

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About the Peace Corps: The Peace Corps sends Americans with a passion for service abroad on behalf of the United States to work with communities and create lasting change. Volunteers develop sustainable solutions to address challenges in education, health, community economic development, agriculture, environment and youth development. Through their Peace Corps experience, volunteers gain a unique cultural understanding and a life-long commitment to service that positions them to succeed in today's global economy. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, more than 230,000 Americans of all ages have served in 141 countries worldwide.

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