Commemorating 50 Years of Peace Corps
(Summer 2011 - Volume 24, Number 2) By Angene Wilson
Teachers may be mentioning the tenth anniversary of 9/11 next month. Probably there will be repeated images on television to educate teens who were very young at the time. How about also mentioning an anniversary of peace?! Teens were, of course, not born when Peace Corps began 50 years ago, but Peace Corps volunteers are still making a difference in their assignments overseas and as returned volunteers.
Two articles in the most recent Summer 2011 WorldView magazine will give students insight into life as volunteer today and what returned Volunteers accomplish: “Rain” by Sarah Singletary (pp. 35-36), a volunteer in Niger and now Cameroon, and “Sweet Smell of Sustainable Success” by JoAnna Haugen (pp. 41-43) about two returned Volunteers who founded a chocolate production company in Madagascar. Do you remember the chocolate bar exercise many teachers used to illustrate global interdependence? In this case, the Madecasse company not only buys cocoa from farmers in Madagascar but it also makes the chocolate bars in Madagascar.
Teacher should look at the peacecorps.gov website, specifically WorldWise Schools – http://www.peacecorps.gov/wws/ , to see the many resources for learning about what current Volunteers are doing. One possibility is suggested for this lesson plan. Madecasse.com includes a picture gallery, short video, and explanation of how the chocolate company works.
On this 50th anniversary to learn about what current Peace Corps Volunteers do and what returned volunteers do.
Articles in WorldView
- “Rain” by Sarah Singletary (pp. 35-36)
- “The Sweet Smell of Sustainable Success” by JoAnna Haugen (pp. 41-43)
Tell students it’s the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps and ask what they know about the agency. Do any know current Volunteers or people who have been Volunteers? What do Volunteers do? What are their lives like? What do Volunteers do after their service? Have any of them thought about joining the Peace Corps?
Ask students to read the very brief article “Rain” and then talk about how differently they perceive rain in their lives than the volunteer and people in Niger do. (Be sure students know where Niger is.) The article does not say what Sarah’s job is, but it shows what Volunteers learn. To show students what some current Volunteers are doing in their assignments show the short video “Fighting Malaria One Net at a Time,” - http://www.peacecorps.gov/wws/multimedia/videos/malaria/ – narrated by 2009-2011 Senegal volunteer April Williamson (part of the lesson plan “WebQuest: The Malaria Challenge” – http://www.peacecorps.gov/wws/educators/lessonplans/ – on the WorldWise Schools website under 9-12).
As an illustration of what returned Volunteers have done in their host countries, ask several students to read “The Sweet Smell of Sustainable Success” ahead of class and to present its points and to show pictures or the very short video from the Madecasse website (http://madecasse.com/). Be sure the class understands how doing the entire operation of making chocolate bars in Madagascar creates more value to the country. Maybe you’ll want to conclude the class by eating some chocolate!
Invite a returned Volunteer or two to speak to your class, perhaps someone recently returned and someone who served in an earlier decade. (Connect with a local NPCA member group – http://www.peacecorpsconnect.org/resources/member-groups/ – or sign up through Speakers Match – http://www.peacecorps.gov/wws/speakersmatch/ – to find returned Volunteers.) Ask them to talk about their assignment and their life in the Peace Corps country and also about what they learned and what they are doing now that relates to their Peace Corps experience. Or sign up for Correspondence Match – http://www.peacecorps.gov/wws/correspond/ – through peacecorps.gov.