Peace Corps Commemorates 50 Years of Service: Events held across U.S.

March 10, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 10, 2011In commemoration of Peace Corps Month, Peace Corps nine regional offices held recruiting and educational events throughout the United States to honor the agencys 50th anniversary. March 1, 2011, marked the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedys signing of an executive order establishing the Peace Corps. Broadcast quality audio and video of the executive order signing is available on the Peace Corps website.

Returned Peace Corps volunteers reflect on Peace Corps 50th anniversary:

Returned Peace Corps volunteer Brian DeFilippo in the Chicago Tribune:
"It put me on a different career path when I came back," DeFilippo said. "It put me more in tune with the world perspective, and I wanted to do something (that had) more of an impact on the world.

Returned Peace Corps volunteer Julian Martin in the Los Angeles Times:
"It's the best thing that's ever happened to me," said Martin, now 74. "I learned more in those two years than in any other stretch of my life.

Returned Peace Corps volunteer Arianne Burger in the The Denver Post:
"Part of our mission is to connect volunteers back to each other, then back to their communities," Burger said. "The third goal of the Peace Corps is to bring understanding to Americans of other cultures."

Returned Peace Corps volunteer Maggie Keenan in The Register-Guard in Eugene, Oregon:
I think it is clear to see that I was able to get so much more than I was ever able to give, but that is just part of the equation, Kennan said.

Returned Peace Corps volunteer Anne Rimoin on CNN:
"The Peace Corps completely changed everything in my life," Rimoin says. "It changed who I was. It changed my perception of the world, and my perception of what I could do in the world."

Peace Corps/Thailand Country Director John Williams, who also served as a volunteer in Thailand, on Voice of America:
The encouragement that they give to a student or a farmer, or a woman in a weaving group, or a person living with AIDS who thinks nobody cares about themthese are the people that Peace Corps volunteers typically work with, Williams said. Peace Corps volunteers dont come with a lot of material resources but they come with a lot of heart.

Following are highlights from 50th anniversary events across the country:

Atlanta Region: February 27 Jacksonville, Fla., hosted a Peace Corps Expo featuring a panel discussion with returned Peace Corps volunteers. The event was featured in The Florida Times-Union.

Boston Region: March 5 Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams (Dominican Republic, 1967-1970) and Caroline Kennedy presented the 2011 John F. Kennedy Service Awards at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. The Awards are held every five years and recognize six individuals who have given outstanding service, both at home and abroad. Read about one of the Kennedy Service Award winners in the Chicago Tribune.

Chicago Region: February 28 The Ohio State University held a panel with Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee, Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder, returned Peace Corps volunteer and Ohios 67th Governor Bob Taft, and returned Peace Corps volunteer and state Rep. Ted Celeste, recognizing the Peace Corps. Read more about the event in The Columbus Dispatch.

Dallas Region: March 4-6 Returned Peace Corps volunteers of Colorado held a 50th Anniversary Gala Weekend in Denver, Colo. During the three-day event, hundreds of returned volunteers and community members commemorated Peace Corps anniversary with a screening of the film "American Idealist: The Story of Sargent Shriver," and panel discussions at the University of Denver. Read about the gala in The Denver Post.

Los Angeles Region: March 2 One thousand people attended a University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) panel discussion, Peace Corps: The Next 50 Years, moderated by returned volunteer and MSNBC host Chris Matthews. Other panelists included Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams, and returned Peace Corps volunteers Haskell Sears Ward, Vanity Fair Special Correspondent Maureen Orth, and State Department Program Analyst Francoise Castro. Former Peace Corps staff member Frank Mankiewicz also served as a panelist. Read more in the Los Angeles Times.

New York Region: March The Empire State Building was illuminated red, white, and blue in honor of the Peace Corps 50th anniversary. Read about the lighting on CNN.com.

San Francisco Region: February 28 The California State Senate hosted 50 returned Peace Corps volunteers on the Senate floor to receive a proclamation honoring Peace Corps 50th anniversary. Listen to a segment from Sacramentos Capitol Public Radio.

Seattle Region: March 1 An exhibit titled, Idaho Celebrates 50 Years of Peace Corps Service, at the Idaho Historical Museum in Boise drew hundreds of people. The program featured state and city proclamations recognizing Peace Corps, cultural music and dance performances, and remarks from returned volunteers, including Lorissa Wilfong Holt a holocaust survivor who served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Hungary in the 1990s. Read more about the ongoing exhibit in the Idaho Statesman or listen to stories from returned volunteers on Boise State Public Radio.

Washington, D.C., Region: March 1 Hundreds of Peace Corps staff volunteered at food banks and soup kitchens to commemorate Peace Corps anniversary. Read about the Peace Corps 50th anniversary in the The Washington Post. Listen to an interview of Peace Corps Deputy Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet on WTOPs Federal News Radio.

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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