With a growing collection of first-hand narratives, the museum connects people, places, and objects. Those all connect us — across nations and generations.
By David Arnold
“Your Peace Corps service began when you entered training and embarked on your service in another country and culture,” says Patricia Wand (Colombia 1963–65), president of the Museum of the Peace Corps Experience. “We’ve collected many cherished cultural artifacts Peace Corps Volunteers brought home and the stories behind them. We want to add your story of that experience.”
The museum’s most recent exhibit was hosted at American University Museum in Katzen Arts Center, Washington, D.C. The next curated exhibit will be at Peace Corps Place when National Peace Corps Association opens its new Washington headquarters, slated for fall 2022. In the meantime, tour an online display of more than 50 objects and stories and learn how to donate your own artifacts and stories: museumofthepeacecorpsexperience.org.
Share Your Story
Here are some ways to tell your story through the Museum of the Peace Corps Experience:
- You may donate an object and propose a story or artifact from your time in your host country of Peace Corps service.
- You may submit a 700-word article or 300-word memoir relating your Peace Corps service including how it had a significant impact on your own life, focusing on an individual, a community, the culture, or a powerful and transformative event.
- All drafts or summaries are submitted with the understanding that the Museum’s editors and curators may suggest improvements or deny publication of the final drafts.
Sharing stories is an essential aspect of the Peace Corps experience. To date, more than 240,000 Volunteers have worked alongside host counterparts in 142 countries. Each of these Volunteers has countless experiences to be learned from, a notion with increased importance after March 2020, when all Volunteers were evacuated from their countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Museum of the Peace Corps Experience strives to not only collect stories but also to highlight the accounts and values of the Peace Corps and its Volunteers. This in turn allows the stories to connect and inspire people around the world, promoting the idea of a common experience of humanity over the ideas that divide us.
To better reach audiences around the world, the Museum of the Peace Corps Experience recently relaunched a website with improved functionality. The new website allows for interactive presentations of published stories about objects — the cultural artifacts — that Volunteers brought home from their years of service. The exhibit and the website feature unique stories, and 54 objects with stories make up the virtual exhibits. The new website, through Google Earth, also links each story and object to the country and site where the Volunteer worked. Viewers can pull up photos of the village or community itself via this engaging display.
All this is to better fulfill the purpose of the museum: preserve the legacy of Peace Corps as seen through the lens of Volunteers and host communities. Theirs are the experiences that illustrate Peace Corps ideals.
David Arnold served is editor emeritus of WorldView magazine. He served as a Volunteer in Ehtiopia 1964–66.