Peace Corps Salutes its 50+ Volunteers

May 15, 2009

Agency Recognizes the Work of Older Americans in the Peace Corps

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 15, 2009 - During the month of May, Peace Corps is celebrating the service and commitment of older Americans. In accordance with this year's national theme, "Living Today for a Better Tomorrow," Peace Corps lauds all of the older Americans, "50+" Volunteers, who make better tomorrows for countless individuals and communities overseas through their dedicated Peace Corps service.

"Older Volunteers bring years of life experience to their Peace Corps service," said acting Director Jody K. Olsen. "We are so thankful for the diversity of age and experience they bring to our volunteer pool in their respective countries of service. Their contributions to fulfilling Peace Corps' mission of peace and friendship worldwide continue to be considerable."

Today, 7,876 Americans serve in the Peace Corps, and 5.4 percent of those Volunteers are age 50 or older. Peace Corps regards older Volunteers as a great asset, bringing both their professional and life experiences to help countries around the world meet their development needs. Currently, Volunteers over the age of 50 are serving in 58 of the 76 Peace Corps countries. Here are some examples:

  • In Thailand, Volunteer Jackie Kehl of Downers Grove, Ill., 60, co-teaches with local teachers in her rural community. Kehl is introducing activities that teachers can use in their classrooms to help students become more involved in their learning and reinforce what is being taught. Kehl says her life experience has given her a good base for patience in teaching and learning. "Change happens slowly, and on their timetable, not mine," said Kehl.


  • In Botswana, Volunteer Autumn Robin Preble of Aberdeen, Wash., 58, serves as a district AIDS coordinator. Preble says she helps out wherever needed, doing everything from upgrading computers to addressing staff development issues. Currently, Preble is spearheading an effort by a corps of concerned citizens to raise dissemination standards of HIV/AIDS information. "Everything I am and all of my life experience is brought to bear in my life and work here, especially my qualities of patience, acceptance and humor," said Preble of her volunteer experience.


  • In Thailand, Volunteer Pete Geiger of Arlington, Va., 54, currently teaches at two schools and works with teachers to provide methodology for the teaching of literature. Geiger also served in the Philippines from 2004-2007 and worked with an NGO on a municipal waste management program. He also assisted with an original biodiversity study of a large national park and designed alternative income sources for poor families.


  • In Morocco, Volunteer Linda Zahava of Seattle, Wash., 63, is a "craftswoman" who works with women artisans in small business development. Her work includes activities designed to encourage and empower local women. While building on their skills and strengths, women working with Zahava are learning to transform their home handicrafts into a successful enterprise. Zahava believes that the women she works with have become more confident by traveling to craft fairs to sell their products. Zahava hopes to encourage and support quality of life improvement for the women she works with and to motivate young girls to remain in school.

To learn more about older Americans serving in the Peace Corps, go to the Peace Corps 50+ mini-website: www.peacecorps.gov/50plus.


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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