Peace Corps Volunteers

The adventure for each began with a poster. Just a poster that they each saw at their college or university. The poster called for those interested in becoming a Peace Corps volunteer to contact the organizers by postcard. It was in the late 1960s, about 1968.

Two of the volunteers, one a lawyer now holding office in northern Arizona, the other a retired teacher in New Mexico, had heard the clarion call of President Kennedy. Young, bright and eager to change the world, they said yes we can.

Another exPC volunteer had grown up abroad in Peru. For him, the Peace Corps volunteers were just those older kids his American parents opened their home to from time to time-the kids who came to take a hot bath in the family bathtub.

Another return volunteer is a pediatrician whose parents were from Mexico. In college she was so poor, she remembers the usually impossible task to find 15cents for a cup of coffee.

A couple of other exPC volunteers had hit personal walls--wanting an adventure, a way out of Kansas-literally for one, or a change of life at the ripe young age of 20 years old. None were members of the 'lucky gene' club; those of the well-to-do world whose claim to fame is that they picked rich DNA donors to start life with.

Whatever the returned volunteers personal motivation, their Dr Who time-traveling, Tardis vehicle to another life was that poster that led them to their lives today. It was the key to changing the lives of participants--as well as recipients. Whether they went to Peru, Honduras and Liberia. Whether they succeeded and failed. They all lived lives of non-violent, gun-less hope in foreign countries still unknown to most Americans. As Dr Who said, who needs a gun when you have the world's knowledge at your fingertips?

Whether they went on to become doctors, lawyers or teachers; business employees or entrepreneurial coffee growers or a forestry agent--the Peace Corps changed each for the better. And lest we forget, they too served our government, though Peace Corps volunteers don't get benefits for life or "thank you for your service" pats on the back. Peace makers never do.

If their lives are a sample of what actual service to others can do--perhaps it is time to expand the Peace Corps domestically too. Why not? Tough to do, you say--so was achieving the dream of going to the moon. And we did that.

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    Candace Drimmer

    I was an accidental expatriate; love and marriage led me to it. One day I was a bandy-legged kid sitting atop my dogwood tree looking out of my small backyard world in 1950s New Jersey, wanting to move somewhere--anywhere, different. Next thing I knew my father had accepted a job in Houston TX. I was ecstatic, it was a foreign land in 1961 America. After high school graduation, my parents’ gave me a matched set of fawn-colored hardsided American Tourister luggage. Taking the hint, I went to college; well four colleges in five years--it was the 60s after all. Meeting a young hirsute anti-war, soon-to-be-Peace Corps volunteer, I fell in love. After finishing up college coursework for my degree, but before I even walking a graduation stage, I grabbed the paper airline ticket my boyfriend had sent me, my brand-new passport, and was off to the airport and Lima, Peru.

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