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Romania
Dominican Republic
Philippines
Guinea
Guinea Bissau
Cape Verde
Solomon Islands
Nepal
Jamaica
Niger
 

Back from the Peace Corps

IC faculty, staff, and alumni who worked as volunteers in developing nations agree that their lives have been forever changed by the experience --- for the better.

Many of us look back on our college days as a romantic period where discussing ideas until the wee hours of the morning was part of the experience of being away from home, among friends who were also testing their intellectual wings. In a way, the Peace Corps owes its existence to such late-night brainstorming.

Romania
Dominican Republic
Philippines
Guinea
Guinea-Bissau
Cape Verde
Solomon Islands
Nepal
Jamaica
Niger

On October 14, 1960, John F. Kennedy was campaigning for the U.S. presidency. He and his entourage stopped at the University of Michigan, arriving in Ann Arbor at 2:00 a.m., expecting to head to bed for some well-deserved rest. Instead, they found 10,000 students waiting for Kennedy to appear. In an impromptu speech on the steps of the Michigan Union he posed some late-night philosophical questions to the crowd, wondering how many of them would be willing to work for worldwide peace by going to live among people of various cultures, helping developing nations by providing service.

In President Kennedy's inaugural speech on January 20, 1961, he shared the results of the subsequent discussions, telling the world that he envisioned young Americans joining a "grand and global alliance" to "fight tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself." The challenge to Americans issued in his speech became law just seven weeks later, when the president signed an executive order establishing the Peace Corps.

To date more than 168,000 volunteers have heeded Kennedy's call. Among them are a not insignificant number of Ithaca College alumni (as well as faculty and staff). They have served all over the world, and each decade of graduates has seen itself well-represented. One thing they'd all surely confide over a late-night snack in a dorm lounge: service in the Peace Corps changed their lives in ways they'll never forget or regret.

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A. Ozolins, Ithaca College Office of Publications, 28 October, 2003