Peace Corps Exhibit at Smithsonian Folklife Festival Concludes

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 13, 2011In the Peace Corps historic 50th anniversary year, the agency was a featured participant in the ten-day Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The Peace Corps: Fifty Years of Promoting World Peace and Friendship exhibit highlighted the contributions of Peace Corps volunteers, staff members, and host countries in 139 countries over the last 50 years. It is estimated that nearly 1.1 million attendees visited the Festival, which ran June 30-July 11, 2011. The Peace Corps exhibit was designed to educate festival participants on the significance of the Peace Corps mission to promote world peace and friendship through service and cooperation. The event was open to the public.

The Festival featured individual exhibits by Peace Corps volunteers and Peace Corps host countries, including dance performances, hands-on demonstrations, artesian crafts, an RPCVillage and a Kids Corps tent. In the RPCVillage, returned Peace Corps volunteers (RPCVs) reunited with other volunteers and attended daily reunions. In the Kids Corps tent, young participants wrote postcards to Peace Corps volunteers overseas, participated in foreign language lessons and received passport stamps for different Peace Corps activities.

Returned Peace Corps volunteers reflect on the 2011 Smithsonian Folklife Festival:

Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams (RPCV, Dominican Republic, 1967-1970) in The Washington Post:

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, said Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams.

Peace Corps Deputy Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet (RPCV, Western Samoa, 1981-1983) in The Washington Post:

The Folklife Festival is special in that it brings the public into our reunion experience, says Hessler-Radelet, who served in Samoa with her husband and whose grandparents, aunt and nephew served in other countries.

Laura Kutner (RPCV, Guatemala, 2007-2010) in the Portland Tribune:

The festival is unique celebration of all the work we do with communities and the integration of culture, said Kutner.

Links to photo collections from Peace Corps exhibits in the 2011 Smithsonian Folklife Festival:

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 painted a world map on a portable wall at the National Mall. Click to see photos of the World Map Project.

Georgia: Volunteer Johnny McRae (June 2009-Present) of Atlanta, Ga., and Georgian community members demonstrated the traditions of Georgian wine-making by teaching traditional toasts, displaying handmade artisan crafts, and inviting the public to partake in grape stomping. Click to see photos of the Georgian wine-making demonstration.

Ghana: RPCV Rahama Wright (Mali, 2002-2004) of Williamstown, N.Y., and three women from Ghana produced shea butter. Click to see photos of the Ghana shea butter demonstration.

Guatemala: RPCV Laura Kutner (2007-2010) of Portland, Ore., and two Guatemalan counterparts constructed a wall using bottles collected at the Festival filled with inorganic trash, wrapped in chicken wire, and covered with concrete Stuart Conway (1984-1987) of Fort Collins, Colorado, demonstrated how to use clean cook stoves. Click to see photos of the bottle school wall, and the clean cooks stove demonstration.

Jamaica: Volunteer Patrick Marti (2010-Present) of Warren, Pa., and two Jamaicans from the Bluefields Organic Farmers Group demonstrated sustainable farming practices and organic farming techniques. Click to see photos of Jamaican sustainable farming practices.

Kenya: RPCV Laura Lemunyete (Nepal, 1990-1993) of New Richmond, Wis., and Samburu women from Kenya created high-quality woven baskets from local materials. Click to see photos of the Kenyan basket weaving.

Kyrgyz Republic: Volunteer Andrew Kuschner (2010-Present) of Montclair, N.J., and a local Kyrgese artist created scarves and bags using silk from wool that has been binded together. Click to see photos of the
silk scarves and bags demonstration.

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 exhibited traditional carpet weaving. Click to see photos of the traditional carpet weaving from Morocco.

Tonga: Volunteer Elena Borquist Noyes (2009-Present) and an artist from Tonga demonstrated traditional and modern weaving techniques. Click to see photos of the Tongan weaving techniques.

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 demonstrated alternative technology techniques. This included creating charcoal with corncobs, solar-food dryers, fuel-efficient stoves and pedal-powered cell phone chargers, clothes washers, coolers, cookers, smokers, and corn hullers. Click to see photos of the alternative technology demonstrations.

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. 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 76 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 for more information.

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