Peace Corps Commemorates 50 Years of Service at Smithsonian Folklife Festival

June 30, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 30, 2011 The Peace Corps is a featured program at the 2011 Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., from June 30-July 4 and July 7-11. The festival highlights the contributions and accomplishments achieved by Peace Corps volunteers, staff members, and host countries in 139 countries over the last 50 years.

The festival also includes daily demonstrations from current and returned Peace Corps volunteers (RPCVs) and local artisans, craftspeople, musicians, theatrical groups, and dancers from Peace Corps host countries. Each demonstration will showcase the work of Peace Corps volunteers in economic development and income generation; ways volunteers have helped support local groups to help educate communities; and food and cooking traditions that have played a role in the Peace Corps experience.

The Folklife Festival is a historic opportunity to share the mission of Peace Corps: to promote world peace and friendship, said Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams. By bringing together Peace Corps volunteers and citizens from the communities we serve, we are able to promote a greater understanding of people and cultures from around the world. The festival is an extraordinary opportunity for volunteers and community members to showcase their talents and innovative ideas to the thousands of Americans who attend the festival.

Peace Corps volunteers, RPCVs, and local community members who have worked with Peace Corps volunteers are sharing the rich culture of their countries through events with artisans, musicians, theatrical groups, and dancers. The sixteen countries that will be featured include:

Belize: RPCV Tim OMalley (2003-2005) of Philadelphia, Pa., is accompanying the Umalali Women Singers, a musical group that blends traditional Garifuna sounds influenced by Belizean and Honduran cultures. Over 1,878 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Belize since the program was established in 1962. Currently, 89 volunteers serve in Belize.

Botswana: RPCV Ed Pettitt (2006-2009) of Newfane, N.Y., is escorting five members of the Botswanan Naro Giraffe Dance Group to perform traditional social, spiritual, and healing dances called San dances. Over 2,154 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Botswana since the program was established in 1966. Currently, 106 volunteers serve in Botswana.

Dominican Republic: RPCV Barbara Jo White (1988-1990) of Cullowhee, N.C., is the creator of the first World Map Project, which simplified the method of painting murals of world maps on the walls of schools and at other venues. She is sketching and painting a world map on a portable wall at the National Mall. Over 4,140 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in the Dominican Republic since the program was established in 1962. Currently, 214 volunteers serve in the Dominican Republic.

Georgia: Volunteer Johnny McRae (June 2009-Present) of Atlanta, Ga., and Georgian community members are demonstrating the traditions of Georgian wine-making by teaching traditional toasts, displaying handmade artisan crafts, and inviting the public to partake in grape stomping. Over 373 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Georgia since the program was established in 2001. Currently, 63 volunteers are serving in Georgia.

Ghana: RPCV Rahama Wright (Mali, 2002-2004) of Williamstown, N.Y., and three women from Ghana are producing shea butter with shea butter nuts. Over 4,129 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Ghana since the program was established in 1961. Currently, 162 volunteers serve in Ghana.

Guatemala: RPCV Laura Kutner (2007-2010) of Portland, Ore., and two Guatemalan counterparts are constructing a wall using bottles filled with inorganic trash, wrapped in chicken wire, and covered with concrete. Stuart Conway (1984-1987) of Fort Collins, Colorado, is building and demonstrating how to use clean cook stoves. Over 4,690 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Guatemala since the program was established in 1963. Currently, 227 volunteers serve in Guatemala.

Jamaica: Volunteer Patrick Marti (2010-Present) of Warren, Pa., and two Jamaicans from the Bluefields Organic Farmers Group are demonstrating sustainable farming practices and organic farming techniques. Over 3,690 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Jamaica since the program was established in 1962. Currently, 81 volunteers serve in Jamaica.

Kenya: RPCV Laura Lemunyete (Nepal, 1990-1993) of New Richmond, Wis., and Samburu women from Kenya are demonstrating how to create high-quality woven baskets from local materials. Over 4,930 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Kenya since the program was established in 1964. Currently, 106 volunteers serve in Kenya.

Kyrgyz Republic: Volunteer Andrew Kuschner (2010-Present) of Montclair, N.J., and a local Kyrgese artist are creating scarves and bags using silk from wool that has been binded together. Over 900 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Kyrgyz Republic since the program was established in 1993. Currently, 82 volunteers serve in Kyrgyz Republic.

Mali: RPCV Vina Verman (2004-2007) of Concord, Calif., and Mali Chic, a boutique and exporter of Malian ethnic products, are demonstrating how to produce Bogolan (mudcloth) bags. Over 2,460 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Mali since the program was established in 1971. Currently, 171 volunteers serve in Mali.

Morocco: Volunteer Anna Hermann (2009-Present) of Saint Louis, Mo., and a group of women carpet weavers and embroiderers from a village in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco are exhibiting traditional carpet weaving. Over 4,300 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Morocco since the program was established in 1963. Currently, 289 volunteers serve in Morocco.

Peru: RPCV Camille Smith (2008-2010) of Annapolis, Md., is performing traditional Peruvian (Marinera, Tondero, and Festejo) dances. Over 2,900 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Peru since the program was established in 1962. Currently 270 volunteers serve in Peru.

Philippines: Volunteers Leah Ferrebee and Tom Ferrebee (2009-Present) of Virginia Beach, Va., and 10 youth from Rehoboth Childrens Home in the Philippines are performing a traditional dance with bamboo, and demonstrating traditional papermaking and Filipino cooking. Over 8,500 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Philippines since the program was established in 1961. Currently, 259 volunteers serve in Philippines.

Tonga: Volunteer Elena Borquist Noyes (2009-Present) and an artist from Tonga are demonstrating traditional and modern weaving techniques. Over 1,550 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Tonga since the program was established in 1967. Currently, 38 volunteers serve in Tonga.

Ukraine: Volunteer Shelia Slemp (2008-Present) of Big Stone Gap, Va., is singing, acting, and dancing with the Opika Performance Group, a group of nine young students from Ukraine. The group also educates the community, through performance art, about quality of life issues impacting Western Ukraine. Over 2,250 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in Ukraine since the program was established in 1992. Currently, 466 volunteers serve in Ukraine.

Zambia: Volunteer Alexandra Chen (2008-Present) of Los Angeles, Calif., RPCV Elizabeth Spellman (2008-May 2011) of Woburn, Mass., and Peace Corps/Zambia Environment Program and Training Specialist Henry Chilufya are demonstrating alternative technology techniques. This includes creating charcoal with corncobs, solar-food dryers, fuel-efficient stoves and pedal-powered cell phone chargers, clothes washers, coolers, cookers, smokers, and corn hullers. Over 1,125 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Zambia since the program was established in 1994. Currently, 179 volunteers serve in Zambia.

Other sections of the festival include the RPCVillage, where the Smithsonian will collect oral histories and organize daily gatherings for RPCVs, Peace Corps staff, and the public. In the Family Learning Area, children can learn about different languages and games from Peace Corps countries.

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is an annual festival that brings together musicians, artists, performers, craftspeople, storytellers, and community members to the National Mall to demonstrate the skills and knowledge of community-based traditions. Admission is free. The Peace Corps program is produced in partnership with the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

About the Peace Corps: President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps on March 1, 1961, by executive order. Throughout 2011, Peace Corps is commemorating 50 years of promoting peace and friendship around the world. Historically, more than 200,000 Americans have served with the Peace Corps to promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of 139 host countries. Today, 8,655 volunteers are working with local communities in 77 host countries. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment. Visit www.peacecorps.gov for more information.

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