Branford Resident Directs 6th Annual Youth Theater Festival in Thailand

March 2, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 2, 2009 - Kelly Rowe of Connecticut is making a dramatic difference in the lives of students throughout Thailand. This January, with the help of a dedicated team of Peace Corps Volunteers, teachers, and community members, Rowe led the sixth annual Thai Youth Theater Festival. The festival featured 300 students from rural communities across the country performing English-language plays.

This project grew from the idea that theater could provide Thai youth with an outlet for learning English, improving self-confidence, and developing a lifelong appreciation for the arts.

The festival brought students together in Thailand's third largest city, Nakhon Ratchasima. They performed student-directed plays for an audience of their peers on one of the most professional stages in the country. Participants were members of Thai Youth Theater clubs at their schools, and had practiced their performances, built sets, and designed costumes for over six months. In addition to preparing for their performances, clubs raised funds to cover the cost of transportation to the festival.

The project was funded through the Peace Corps Partnership Program, which allows individuals or groups to donate funds to specific Peace Corps projects. Rather than simply giving money to communities, the program works to create true partnerships between donors and the communities where Peace Corps Volunteers serve. In order to receive funding through the program, a community must make a 25 percent contribution to the total project cost, in addition to outlining "success indicators" for the project. This helps to ensure community buy-in, a greater chance of long-term sustainability and, ultimately, the success of the project.

One-hundred percent of each tax-deductible donation goes toward a development project. To see other projects currently in need of funds, visit www.peacecorps.gov/contribute.

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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