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Voices of the Peace Corps

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Towering Task will analyze the history of the Peace Corps through a lens of civic, political, and community themes, and the elusive concept of peacemaking by opening up a conversation with historians, political scientists, sociologists, and journalists about what a mission of world peace and friendship means in today’s conflict-filled world. A Towering Task will use the Peace Corps as a case study of a U.S. agency dedicated to citizen-led peace 

of a U.S. agency dedicated to citizen-led peace making by bringing to life compelling stories of the forces that shaped its past and present, and that will set the direction for the future. This documentary offers a critical look into the intricacies of peace and diplomacy through this unique volunteer organization to actively engage the American public in a dialogue about the role we want to play in the 21st century global community.

 
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Presidents

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 "Well, I’m glad that the Peace Corps still has the word peace in its name, which I think to me and other people, it may be a constant reminder that the United States of America, which has been involved in more wars, perhaps, than any other country on earth since the Second World War, we’ve been at war about thirty different times still have a commitment to the overall concept and high ideals of peace."
Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States, son of Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Lillian Carter, and grandfather of Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Jason Carter

"It's a global village, and there is no way in today's communication revolution that you can close the doors, you can stop people from traveling. It's in our interest to keep interchanging, to keep talking, to be learning about the experience of others so that we can share information and knowledge and be able to address and respond to changing circumstances, changing global conditions."
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia, 2006 - Present


Peace Corps Historians

"The Peace Corps ... is mom’s apple pie.  It’s positive.  If you say to someone I was the director of the Peace Corps, that means you’re all right, you’re a good guy, you’re a good woman; that’s the legacy that is brought to the role by all the work that volunteers have done for fifty years."
John Coyne, Author, Editor, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Ethiopia 1962-1964, Peace Corps Staff (1960s and 1990s), Editor of PeaceCorpsWorldwide.org, and "unofficial historian of the Peace Corps" according to Sargent Shriver

"The Peace Corps never was easy and it will never be easy, because it was struggling with certain central dichotomies. Did it exist mainly to enable one nation to live out its own values? Or to provoke other nations to change theirs? Was it a means of demonstrating human solidarity with others' trials or was it a means of implementing solutions?"
Elizabeth Cobbs, Author: All You Need is Love: The Peace Corps and the Spirit of the 1960s

"The vision and scale for the Peace Corps reflected the big ideals of the time, the belief that a grand notion such as world peace was not only attainable, but that the US could play a major role in making it happen."
Gerard T. Rice, Author: The Bold Experiment: JFK's Peace Corps


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Founding Voices

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"In order to capture the national sentiment at that time, in order not to get waylaid into a small program that would be enveloped by some larger State Department or ICA, etc., you’d have to move quickly and say, 'Yes, we are creating this.'"
Lisa Wiggins, daughter of Warren Wiggins, co-author of the A Towering Task white paper

 

“What other peoples most need from America is a country that understands the very complex, challenging world that we now live in.” Harris Wofford Co-Founder of the Peace Corps and Former United States Senator

“What other peoples most need from America is a country that understands the very complex, challenging world that we now live in.”
Harris Wofford, Co-Founder of the Peace Corps and Former United States Senator

“What is required is leadership that is inspired and that is not risk adverse.” Bill Josephson Founding General Counsel of the Peace Corps

“What is required is leadership that is inspired and that is not risk adverse.”
Bill Josephson, Founding General Counsel of the Peace Corps and co-writer of the A Towering Task white paper

“There are many organizations that do any one of these three goals, or any two of these three goals, but not all three of them. And so what happens when you combine the three goals you're creating this unique animal… that's Peace Corp.” Jody Olsen, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer and Former Deputy Director of the Peace Corps

"The media loved it the first few years and Shriver gave a lot of attention to getting publicity, a lot. So we had some of the smartest PR people in the Western world in that office. These were all guys who were kind of geniuses at PR and so with the natural fascination of the Peace Corps and their gift for getting the right stories in the paper—the publicity in the first year was truly fantastic."
Charlie Peters, Peace Corps Washington Evaluations 1961-1965


Peace Corps Directors

“If more Americans had a better understanding of the rest of the world and other people had a better understanding of Americans, I think that we would all be better of.” Allison O'Donnell Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Honduras

Nick Craw, Peace Corps Director Peace Corps Director 1973-1974

“Those Peace Corps Volunteers come home, back to the United States. And they bring with them the knowledge of the world. They bring with them an understanding.” John Garamendi Returned Peace Corps Volunteer and United States Representative

Richard Celeste, Peace Corps Director 1979-1981

"I learned in talking to Sargent Shriver before he passed away that in Kennedy’s original dream he thought that maybe if we sent off these young Peace Corps volunteers and they really lived in these countries and became aware of the languages and cultural nuances in history and politics, that they’d come back and be the new recruits for the State Department and USAID and we would be able to change American foreign policy." Sam Farr Returned Peace Corps Volunteer and United States Representative

Mark Gearan, Peace Corps Director 1995-1999

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Mark Schneider, Peace Corps Director 1999-2001

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Gaddi Vasquez, Peace Corps Director 2002-2006

“We are taught that we are not the experts. Part of the whole Peace Corps culture is that we are human beings going to share an experience with the people in some other interesting other part of the world. We'll learn from them. They'll learn from us. We teach each other.” Charles "Chic" Dambach Returned Peace Corps Volunteer and Former President of the National Peace Corps Associaton

Ron Tschetter, Peace Corps Director 2006-2008

“I think that soft side of the American civilization, of the American culture is extremely powerful, extremely important.” Surin Pitsuwan Former Foreign Minister of Thailand

Jody Olsen, Acting Peace Corps Director, 2009  

"It's one of the few things left that represents an era that we wish still existed.” Nancy Tongue Returned Peace Corps Volunteer and Founder of Health Justice for Peace Corps Volunteers

Aaron Williams, Peace Corps Director 2009-2012

Carrie Hessler-Radelet, Peace Corps Director 2012 - 2017


Scholars

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Sahana Dharmapuri, Women, Peace, and Security Specialist

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Conor Seyle, Political and social psychologist

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Randolph "Randy" Adams, Sociologist, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Dominican Republic 1966-1969, Peace Corps Washington staff

Lex Rieffel, Nonresident Senior Fellow - Global Economy and Development, Brookings Institution, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer India XVI

Will Allen, Dean of University of Liberia School of History and Social Sciences

Frank Moya Pons, Preeminent Historian of the Dominican Republic


Journalists

Maureen Orth, award winning journalist, Special Correspondent for Vanity Fair Magazine, founder of Marina Orth Foundation, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Columbia

Peter Hessler, American writer and journalist, staff writer at The New Yorker, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer China 1996-1998

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Maria Shriver, award winning journalist, activist, and author, daughter of first Peace Corps Director Sargent Shriver

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Antonio Gil, journalist, Dominican Republic

 

Peace Corps Staff

 Juliane Heyman, Peace Corps Washington staff, first woman training officer at Peace Corps 1961-1966

Lewis Butler, Peace Corps Malaysia Country Director 1962- 964, Peace Corps Consultant 1961-1968

Zay Zay Miller, Peace Corps Liberia Training

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Denny Robertson, Country Director, Peace Corps Ukraine

Marit Woods, Peace Corps Liberia Communications

Kevin Fleming, Country Director, Peace Corps Liberia

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Iryna Krupska, former Training Manager, Peace Corps Ukraine

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Roman Oleksenko, Program Manager, Peace Corps Ukraine

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Sam Sampson, Program Manager, Peace Corps Liberia

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Paul Sack, Country Director, Peace Corps Tanzania (Tanganyika), 1966-1967

 

Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and Community leaders

Joe Kennedy, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Dominican Republic 2004-2006

Donna Shalala, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Iran 1962-1964

Alberto Ibarguen, Former Peace Corps staff and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Venezuela 1967-1968, and Colombia 1969-1971

Beth Brownfield Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Honduras

Beth Brownfield, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Honduras 1967-1969

“Peace Corps Volunteers put themselves out there. We sacrifice. And we do it for the objective of a better world. That's certainly worth honoring.” Mike Tidwell Returned Peace Corps Volunteer and Founder and Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network

“Peace Corps Volunteers put themselves out there. We sacrifice. And we do it for the objective of a better world. That's certainly worth honoring.”
Mike Tidwell, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Zaire 1985-1987 and Founder and Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network

“The Peace Corps was a big breakthrough, because we got outside the big cities into parts of the country where people had never had any interaction with Americans or with any foreigners except colonists.” Roger Landrum Returned Peace Corps Volunteer and Founder of Youth Service America

“The Peace Corps was a big breakthrough, because we got outside the big cities into parts of the country where people had never had any interaction with Americans or with any foreigners except colonists.”
Roger Landrum, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Nigeria 1961-1963 and Founder of Youth Service America

"I learned in talking to Sargent Shriver before he passed away that in Kennedy’s original dream he thought that maybe if we sent off these young Peace Corps volunteers and they really lived in these countries and became aware of the languages and cultural nuances in history and politics, that they’d come back and be the new recruits for the State Department and USAID and we would be able to change American foreign policy."
Sam Farr, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Columbia 1964-1966 and United States Representative
 

“Those Peace Corps Volunteers come home, back to the United States. And they bring with them the knowledge of the world. They bring with them an understanding.”
John Garamendi, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Ethiopia 1965-1967 and United States Representative
 

“We are taught that we are not the experts. Part of the whole Peace Corps culture is that we are human beings going to share an experience with the people in some other interesting other part of the world. We'll learn from them. They'll learn from us. We teach each other.”
Charles "Chic" Dambach, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Columbia 1967-1969 and Former President of the National Peace Corps Association
 

Wylie Greig, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer India 1966-1968

Janet Greig, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer India 1966-1968

Ron Boring, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Guinea 1964-1967

Frank and Antoinette Almaguer, Frank became Peace Corps Country Director to Honduras and ambassador to Honduras, worked with USAID, and is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Honduras 1969-1971; Antoinette is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Honduras 1968-1970

 

 

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“If more Americans had a better understanding of the rest of the world and other people had a better understanding of Americans, I think that we would all be better of.”
Allison O'Donnell, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Honduras 2007-2009

"It's one of the few things left that represents an era that we wish still existed.”
Nancy Tongue, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Chile 1980-1982 and Founder of Health Justice for Peace Corps Volunteers

Jason Carter, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer South Africa South Africa 1998-2000

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Jerry Dupuis, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Dominican Republic 1962-1964, first group of volunteers

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 Amanda Silva, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Indonesia 2013-2015

Edward Crawford, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Dominican Republic 2004-2006

Teddy Shriver, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Peru 2011-2013 and grandson of Sargent Shriver

Tim Shriver, Special Olympics Chairman and son of Sargent Shriver

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Juana Bordas, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Chile 1964-1966

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Taylor Hackford, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Bolivia 1968-1969

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Vicki Huddleston, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Peru 1964 -1966

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Haskell Ward, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Ethiopia 1963-1965

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Leah Ward Sears, former Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Georgia, wife and mother of RPCVs

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Kirby Jones, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Dominican Republic 1963-1965, Peace Corps Staff 1965-1967

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Meg Garlinghouse, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Niger 1989-1992

 

Host Country Nationals

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Inocencia "Sensa" Hernandez Martes, Angostura Women's Group, Dominican Republic

Surin Pitsuwan, Former Foreign Minister of Thailand
 

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Roseda Marshall, Director of the Liberian College of Physicians and Surgeons

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Amantina de la Rosa, Doctor, Dominican Republic

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Altagracia Mendez de Uribe, Community Organizer and Champion of Women's Rights, Dominican Republic

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Siotame "Drew" Havea, Chairperson of the Civil Society Forum of Tonga

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Berhane Daba, President, Ethiopian Women with Disability National Association

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Jose Maria de la Cruz, Industrial Expert and Environmentalist, Dominican Republic

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Lyudmyla Shylova, Teacher, Ukraine

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Romelle Horton, Deputy Minister for Instruction, Ministry of Education, Liberia

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Otasia Mejia, Teacher, Dominican Republic

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Vasyl Shatruk, Chief Expert at Lviv Regional Youth Center, Ukraine

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Z. Sherman Adams Jr., Interim Dean, A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine, University of Liberia

 

 
 

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