Peace Corps at 50

The Peace Corps' mission has three simple goals:

  • Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
  • Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
  • Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

I have always been remiss on goal three - bringing Ghana home to Americans. Primarily because I live abroad. In a nation in which Peace Corps has served for 45 years.

I was invited to the 50th/45th commemoration here on Pohnpei, which provided a rare opportunity to break out that same nwoma seen above.

At the actual commemoration Ambassador Prahar, himself an alumni of the University of Michigan, read from the speech that then senator and candidate for the presidency, Senator John F. Kennedy, gave at 2:00 a.m. on October 14, 1960 on the steps of the University of Michigan Union. In that speech, Kennedy challenged the students to give two years of their lives to help people in countries of the developing world.

"How many of you who are going to be doctors, are willing to spend your days in Ghana? Technicians or engineers, how many of you are willing to work in the Foreign Service and spend your lives traveling around the world?" quoted Ambassador Prahar.

Later in his address he noted the presence of a returned Peace Corps volunteer from Ghana, and asked me to stand. After the commemoration, I had the opportunity to shake hands with his excellency, President of the Federated States of Micronesia "Manny" Mori.

As for goal three, well the occasion provided the only real opportunity I have had to tell people about my experience in Ghana. Not that I could not make other opportunities, but that I am indeed living where Peace Corps serves. In some vague sense, I simply never went home.

Ghana remains an important touchstone for me to this day. Ghana is where I first learned to engender learning in students abroad. Ghana was my training ground for living abroad. And Ghana taught me about the extended family and brought me understandings such as one does not marry a spouse, one marries their family. I remain certain that but for my experience there, I would not be here in Pohnpei now.


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