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Peace Corps Week 2021: Events to mark the 60th Anniversary of its founding — and renew a commitment to the work of building peace and friendship

From February 28 to March 6, the Peace Corps community around the world commemorates the establishment of the Peace Corps in March 1961. This year we celebrate 60 years of Peace Corps. And here at National Peace Corps Association, we’re working to transform it for a changed world.

By NPCA Staff


On March 1, 1961, President John F. Kennedy signed executive order 10924, establishing the Peace Corps with the hopes of promoting world peace and friendship. Peace Corps Week is a time for us as a community to commemorate and recognize all of the ways that Peace Corps has made an impact — in individual lives and in communities around the world.

This is an unprecedented time for the Peace Corps. In March 2020, all Volunteers serving around the world were evacuated because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a community-driven effort, National Peace Corps Association is working to help transform Peace Corps: to reimagine, reshape, and retool the agency for a changed world. So while we celebrate this historic milestone, we also focus on the work that must be done in the present to make a better and stronger Peace Corps for the future. Because the work of building peace and friendship across the country and around the world is far from over.

Here is a roundup of events lined up to celebrate Peace Corps Week 2021. This listing will be updated as more events become available. See our calendar for more events. And be sure to sign up for our newsletter (at the bottom of our homepage) and to follow us on social media for the latest.


Time zones: EST = Eastern Standard Time | CST = Central Standard Time | MST = Mountain Standard Time | PST = Pacific Standard Time 


A map of the world: a schoolgirl in Panamá, with a map started as part of a Peace Corps project. Photo by Eli Wittum


Sunday, February 28, 2021

3:00 PM EST: RPCVs of West New York | “A Towering Task” Open Discussion
The film will be available beginning February 27 for 24 hours, with discussion happening on the February 28. More info here.

6:00 PM PST: San Diego Peace Corps Association | Virtual Dinner Party
A virtual dinner featuring your favorite international dish. RSVP here.

7:00 PM EST: Friends of Liberia Book Club | Discussing She Would Be King by Wayétu Moore.
Anyone with the book is free to join the event and can participate in the discussion. Join via the Zoom Link here.

Monday, March 1, 2021

1:00 – 2:00 PM EST: Peace Corps Agency | 60 Years of Service: The Multigenerational Impact of Peace Corps. For more info click here.

5:00 – 6:00 PM EST: Peace Corps Agency | 60 Years Of Service: Peace Corps Through the Ages. More info here.

6:00 PM CST: Peace Corps at University of Wisconsin-Madison | Celebrating 60 Years of Service and Friendship — A Conversation with Peace Corps Directors

To celebrate Peace Corps’ 60th anniversary, University of Wisconsin-Madison is hosting a panel discussion featuring 10 previous Peace Corps Directors. These panelists, including moderator Donna Shalala, will discuss Peace Corps’ legacy and changes through the years. Register here.

7:00 PM EST: RPCVs of Northeastern New York | Union College Peace Corps Night
Open discussion about the Peace Corps, all alumni panelists are RPCVs. More info here.

7:00 PM EST: New York City Peace Corps Association, A Toast to Us: Peace Corps 60th Anniversary

Join the New York City Peace Corps Association, National Peace Corps Association, and special guest Dr. Jeffrey Sachs for a 60th anniversary celebration honoring 60 years since President John F. Kennedy signed an executive order establishing the Peace Corps on March 1, 1961

8:30 PM EST: National Peace Corps Association | National Days of Advocacy Kickoff
Hear from several strong congressional supporters of Peace Corps including RPCV Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA), Congressman Garret Graves (R-LA) and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME). Get an update on key pending Peace Corps legislation. Hear about Days of Advocacy activities being planned for the months of March and April. Register here.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

6:30 – 8:00 PM EST: Women of Peace Corps Legacy | Former Women Peace Corps Directors: A Conversation

Join the Women of Peace Corps Legacy as they host former women Peace Corps Directors in an open discussion about the Peace Corps. This 1.5 hour discussion panel will feature Elaine Chao, Jody Olsen, Carol Bellamy, Carrie Hessler-Radelet.

More info and RSVP.


Wednesday, March 3, 2021

12:00 – 1:00 PM EST: Peace Corps Agency | 60 Years of Service: Careers in Service Panel

More info here.

6:30 – 7:30 PM CST: RPCVs of San Antonio | JFK Story Slam
To celebrate our 60th anniversary, we are honoring John F. Kennedy by bringing together a panel of older Americans who have met or felt greatly inspired by him.

Register here.

7:00 – 8:15 EST: Museum of the Peace Corps Experience and Katzen Arts Center at American University: Exhibit Opening – “Peace Corps at 60: Inside the Volunteer Experience”

More info and register.

7:30 – 8:30 PM EST: Peace Corps Agency | 60 Years of Service: The Legacy of JFK
A panel of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers share stories of how John F. Kennedy impacted their lives. Hosted in collaboration with Texas A&M University – San Antonio.

Speakers: Philip Duane Hardberger | Karen Jean Hunt | Douglas Lee Hall

Hardberger applied for Peace Corps service immediately after JFK’s inauguration. He served as as the agency’s executive secretary, practiced law in San Antonio for 30 years, served as Chief Justice of the Fourth Court of Appeals and as mayor of San Antonio. Karen Jean Hunt was inspired by JFK, served in the Air Force, and later as a Volunteer in  Kenya (1986–88), Armenia (2017–19), and Ethiopia (2019–20). She  is currently a COVID 19 AmeriCorps member, serving in Alaska. Douglas Lee Hall met JFK in 1963 when Hall was 16; he told the president that he planned to join the Peace Corps. It took him 50 years.

More info and register here.


Thursday, March 4, 2021

12:00 PM EST: RPCVs of West Virginia | West Virginia University Peace Corps Prep Panel
All WVU Alumni are encouraged to come. More info here.

5:45 PM CST: Tennessee Returned Peace Corps Volunteers | Screening of “A Towering Task”
Greetings start at 5:45 PM and the film will start at 6:00 PM. Details and reminder can be found here.

4:00 – 5:00 PM EST: Peace Corps Agency | 60 Years of Service: RPCVs Impact on the Fields of Philanthropy and Corporate Social Responsibility

Panelists include Bruce McNamer, President, The Builders Initiative (RPCV/Paraguay) | Stephany Guachamin Coyago, Manager, Leadership Advancement Programs, Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (RPCV/Peru) |  Harris Bostic, Senior Advisor, The Tides Foundation (RPCV/Guinea)

Register to attend here.

5:00 – 8:00 PM EST: Smithsonian Folklife Festival | The Peace Corps at 60 and Beyond: “A Towering Task” Screening & Discussion

ASL interpretation, real-time captioning available. More info here.

Since March 1, 1961, when President John F. Kennedy signed the executive order to establish the Peace Corps, more than 240,000 Americans have served in 141 countries. Now sixty years later, the Peace Corps is at a critical crossroads. Facing the coronavirus pandemic, the agency evacuated all volunteers in March 2020. This pivotal moment allows us to look back on sixty years of promoting world peace and friendship, while also looking forward to the next chapter of Peace Corps history.

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival began in 1967, not long after the Peace Corps, with many similar goals — especially to promote a greater understanding and appreciation of world cultures. In 2011, the Folklife Festival commemorated the agency’s 50th anniversary with a program that featured Peace Corps Volunteers and their partners from 16 countries.

In 2021, the Festival once more explores the agency’s significance and impact through a panel discussion and a screening of the 2019 documentary film “A Towering Task: The Story of the Peace Corps.” Join us for the discussion with Peace Corps Acting Director Carol Spahn, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers Rayna Green, Rahama Wright, and the film’s director, Alana DeJoseph, on March 4 at 7 p.m. ET.

Two ways you can watch the film:

• Register on Eventbrite to receive a link to watch at your convenience between Monday, March 1, at 5 p.m. ET through Thursday, March 4, at 11:59 p.m. ET.

• Join our watch party on Facebook immediately before the panel, 5–6:45 p.m. on March 4.

7:00 PM EST: Rotary Club of Frederick, Maryland | Peace Talks: An Evening with Chic Dambach, Global Peacebuilder and Author
Register here.

Chic Dambach is a 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee, Past President of National Peace Corps Association, and a national champion kayak racer. He’s a knowledgeable and inspirational speaker at local, national and International events and on college campuses on the topics of leadership, service, building peace, and creating climates of respect to improve organizations and increase productivity. He was a speaker at the Rotary International peace conference in Sao Paulo, and he was featured at the Future of Peace Summit in Washington, DC as well as the War Victims conference in Kampala, Uganda. His career began as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Colombia, and his memoir, “Exhaust the Limits, the Life and Times of a Global Peacebuilder,” features a lifetime of service and successful initiatives for peace. He has lectured at Harvard Law School, College of William and Mary, Brandeis University, Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins University, American University, Rice University, Stanford University, and elsewhere.


Friday, March 5, 2021

5:00 – 6:00 PM EST: Peace Corps Agency | 60 Years of Service: Peace Corps through the Decades Story Slam.

Register here.


Saturday, March 6, 2021

6:00 PM CST: Kansas City Area Peace Corps Association | Open House
Celebrate the Peace Corps 60th and share your experience!

6:30 PM PST: San Diego Peace Corps Association | “A Towering Task” Open Discussion with Director Alana DeJoseph
Attendees are able to stream the film from Friday, March 5, at 4:00 PM PST through Sunday, March 7, at 4:00 PM PST. RSVP here. 

8:00 – 10:00 PM EST: Sacramento Valley RPCVs | Peace Corps 60th Anniversary with Representative John Garamendi
RPCV Congressman John Garamendi and wife and fellow RPCV, Patti Garamendi, take part in a conversation with Peace Corps recruiter John Keller. The Garamendis served with the Peace Corps in Ethiopia. On March 1, John Garamendi introduced the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act of 2021, which includes important reforms. Register here. 

Last updated March 4 at 5:45 PM. 

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