Final Ann Arbor Images
By Jonathan Pearson on Thursday, October 21st, 2010
Though David Giltrow never served in the Peace Corps, he is part of Peace Corps history.
As chief photographer at the Michigan Daily back in 1960, Giltrow noted with a laugh how he assigned himself as staff photographer for John Kennedy’s historic visit.
Fifty years later a number of the 200-plus black and white photos Giltrow took during the course of JFK’s visit are on display to remember the University of Michigan’s role in the formation of the Peace Corps. ”It’s really quite terrific in the sense that the Daily used one or two of the photos,” said Giltrow, adding that he had seen many of his photos only as negatives, and was now seeing them as reproductions for the first time.
Giltrow’s photos are among the few surviving images of that historic night of October 14, 1960. There is no doubt the technology of our new century will yield thousands of images from hundreds
of sources chronicling the events last week on the Michigan campus.
While the gatherings past and present will be connected by these images – and by a date on the calendar – the strongest connection comes from the emotions both events embody: A spirit of optimism. A belief in the power of an individual to make a difference. A strong sense of hope for the best our humanity has to offer.
“I’m so proud to say I represented peace, not war,” said Louise McMaster (Turkey 68-70), a resident of Ann Arbor who was among the hundreds of members of the Peace Corps community who attended last week’s celebration.
At the more recent end of the returned Peace Corps volunteer spectrum, fellow Ann Arbor RPCV Davy Gockel (Zambia 08-10) reflected on her Peace Corps experience and made an observation that is rooted in the 21st century and timeless all the same: ”You can learn a lot (about another country) through the internet. But what you read on paper and what you experience in real life are two very different things. Peace Corps helps people get out of their comfort zone and really get to know the outside world in a way that is deeper and much more valuable.”
“I wanted to learn what people want, not just what they need from a textbook,” said Elizabeth Rankins (Togo 06-08), who recently moved to Ann Arbor. ”You only get that if you go and live with people, become a friend, a part of the culture…and it becomes your life, what you do everyday. Pretty soon you learn what they want and how you can be a better advocate for that.”
As much as the coming year will include reflections on the past, our hope is that the 50th will be a foundation for the future, a time in which our community looks forward to how we can advance the ideals of the Peace Corps to address global challenges and uplift the human condition. It is up to us to decide through our actions if the images we will recall from Ann Arbor – 2010 will be noted as the end of the past 50 years…or the beginning of the next 50 years.
Follow this link to view our photo album of 50th anniversary celebrations at the University of Michigan.
NPCA puts you there! Links to all of our University of Michigan Peace Corps 50th anniversary blogs:
- Marking History as Michigan Celebration Begins
- Wednesday Morning in Michigan
- From Recruiter to Director
- Fifty Years Ago
- 400,000 Years of Service
- History Again…If We Make It So
- Peace Corps’ Past and Present