Marking History as Michigan Celebration Begins
By Jonathan Pearson on Wednesday, October 13th, 2010
The University of Michigan’s moment in Peace Corps history began in Ann Arbor Tuesday night with a reception that provided the first of what is sure to be many magical moments in the days to come.
For more than two years, Kay Clifford (Uganda 69-71) has been at work preparing an extensive display of memorabilia to mark the 50th anniversary of candidate John Kennedy’s October 14th speech on the steps of the Michigan Student Union, and the student reaction that led to the creation of the Peace Corps.
A Tuesday evening reception at the Hatcher Graduate Library concluded with Clifford giving a personal tour of the exhibit to Alan and Judith Guskin, two of the student leaders who half-a-century ago were so inspired by Kennedy’s call to international service that they began a petition drive which helped move the Peace Corps from concept to reality.
Clifford, who recently retired as Associate Director of UM’s International Center, says it was amazing to show the display to the Guskins in person. She has conversed with them on numerous occasions to validate key times and incidents associated with Kennedy’s speech and the student reaction. It was particularly exciting to share some of the rare photographs she was able to track down that mark the gathering.
It was an exciting and emotional moment for the Guskins. “It’s sort of like watching your life. And if I had to choose one moment, this would be it,” said Alan. Judith concurred. “I’m overwhelmed at how beautifully done (the display) is. This makes it feel like I was part of history, and it is very humbling.”
Activities to mark the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy speech at the University of Michigan move into high gear on Wednesday with a day long symposium on the future of international service, followed several hours later with a 2 AM gathering on the steps of the Michigan Union to mark the moment of this central point in Peace Corps history. Both Alan and Judith Guskin say they will be at the steps of the Michigan Union in the early hours of this coming Thursday morning – just as they were 50 years ago.
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