From Afghanistan to Vanuatu: Celebrating 50 Years of the Peace Corps through the experiences of Regis University Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
Fifty years ago, just months after his inauguration, President John F. Kennedy signed an Executive Order establishing a program called the Peace Corps. He challenged Americans, both young and old alike, to give of themselves in service of their country by being part of a pool of trained men and women to meet the urgent need of developing countries for skilled manpower. These volunteers would not be paid a salary. They would live on the same level as the citizens of that country, doing the same work, eating the same food, speaking the same language. The initial emphasis would include skills in teaching, agriculture, and health. He was hopeful that it would be a source of satisfaction to Americans and a contribution to world peace.
Throughout these past fifty years, many Regis graduates have gone on to serve in the Peace Corps having a “can do” attitude and a “glass half full” vision as they faced “the toughest job you’ll ever love.” They became teachers, health workers, agriculturalists and lived and worked with their counterparts all over the world.
It should come as no surprise that these “Children of Kennedy” would return to the U.S. and seek employment at Regis University to continue their calling as men and women in service of others. Among the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers currently at Regis University are:
Rita Axford, Mauritius
Rebecca Carlson, Colombia
Janet Lee, Ethiopia
Jeremy Lee, Ecuador
Alejandro Marquez, El Salvador
Jeanne Mata, Ivory Coast and Morocco
Lucas Merrigan, Vanuatu
Theresa Neuroth, Senegal
Melissa Nix, Bulgaria
Many of these RPCVs have gathered together as time has allowed to share this experience with the Regis Community through an exhibit celebrating 50 Years of Peace Corps in the Doyle and Margaret Hartman Gallery of the Dayton Memorial Library. The exhibit includes traditional clothing, arts and crafts, photos, and other memorabilia.
They also welcome Nasim Khwajazada, a native of Afghanistan, whose life was touched by a Peace Corps Volunteer. She made such an impact that over 400 members of the community came out to bid her farewell. He has since then always felt an affinity with Peace Corps.
The exhibit will run through the entire month of August.