We’ve just launched our new website! Some features may still be in the works – thank you for your patience as we fine-tune your experience.


April 18, 2022

Park Experience, Antarctic Service, a National Press Foundation Award — and a Recently Appointed Rep in Raleigh

Recognition for three members of the Peace Corps community. And an RPCV appointed to the North Carolina Legislature. By NPCA Staff Photo: Shelton Johnson, recipient of the 2022 American Park Experience Award. Courtesy National Park Service   Shelton Johnson | Liberia 1982–83 Shelton Johnson received the 2022 American Park Experience Award for his years of advocating for diversity in national parks and helping families and youth feel welcome by seeing their stories told there. Johnson has worked for the past 35 years as a ranger with the National Park Service at Yellowstone and now Yosemite National Park. His storytelling talents landed him a prominent...

August 28, 2021

First Volunteers, 8/28/61

The legislation that permanently created the Peace Corps had yet to pass the Senate. But the Peace Corps had been launched by an executive order issued in March. And the first Volunteers were about to embark on service in Ghana and Tanganyika.   A moment in time: August 28, 1961. Founding Peace Corps Director R. Sargent Shriver leads 80 Volunteers who are headed for Ghana and Tanganyika, now Tanzania, to the White House, where President John F. Kennedy will give them a personal send-off. JFK thanks them for embarking on their service, “on behalf of our country and, in the...

May 11, 2021

Annotation: Changing World — The Globe in 1961, the Year the Peace Corps Was Founded

In 1961, nine countries welcomed the first Peace Corps Volunteers. THE GLOBE IN 1961, the year nine countries welcomed the first Peace Corps Volunteers — and the year after 17 nations in Africa gained independence. For the first Peace Corps programs, demand is strongest for teachers and agricultural workers. Volunteers are urged to embark on their journey in the spirit of learning rather than teaching. To lay the groundwork, Sargent Shriver, the first Director of the Peace Corps, undertakes a round-the-world trip to eight nations from April to May.   Photos by Brett Simison. Words by Jake Arce and Steven...

May 11, 2021

1961: Towering Task Edition

A look at the year in which the Peace Corps was founded with great aspirations — and the troubled world into which it emerged.   Research and editing by Jake Arce, Orrin Luc, and Steven Boyd Saum   Map images throughout from 1966 map of Peace Corps in the World. Courtesy Library of Congress.   For the Peace Corps community, 1961 is a year that holds singular significance. It is the year in which the agency was created by executive order; legislation was signed creating congressional authorization and funding for the Peace Corps; and, most important, that the first Volunteers trained and began...

May 4, 2021

Fierce Advocate for the Land

A remembrance of Paul Johnson By Jake Arce   Paul Johnson understood what it means to tend the earth. He was a farmer and a state and national leader in the movement to conserve soil and water. As chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, he led the agency to produce a national report card on the state of America’s private lands. He called it “A Geography of Hope.” Johnson joined the Peace Corps in 1962, serving in one of the first groups in Ghana. After returning to the United States in 1964, he completed studies in natural development, earning...

August 18, 2020

Coming Home: Ghana

Ghana | Meg Holladay Home: Amherst, Massachusets   I was serving as a Peace Corps Health Extension Volunteer in southern Ghana, in a farming community of about 1,200 people. When we were evacuated, I had been in my community for a year and had one more year to go. I was the first Peace Corps Volunteer there. I felt like I was just starting to hit my stride, to identify the projects that would be truly helpful and the people who were the most committed to working together for the long term. I was working with community members on a...

August 14, 2020

This is Not a Drill

When times are good, being a country director for Peace Corps may be the best job in foreign affairs. This has not been such a time. As told to Steven Boyd Saum   Photo: Vyshyvanka Day, when schoolchildren don the traditional Ukrainian shirt — and here, pose as one. Photo by Kevin Lawson   Kim Mansaray | Country Director, Mongolia JANUARY AND NEWS OF THE VIRUS came out in China. Mongolia says we’re not sending kids back to school. Our winter break became endless winter break. Then the virus exploded in China, and Mongolia went on hardcore lockdown — borders and...

August 10, 2020

Groundbreaking Work: Richard Paul Thornell in memoriam

By Jonathan Pearson and Steven Boyd Saum Richard Paul Thornell was only 24 years old when Sargent Shriver and Harris Wofford sent him to Ghana as director of the Peace Corps Africa Regional Office. “For him, it was a lifelong sense of pride,” his son Paul Thornell told the Washington Post. “The Peace Corps is the thing that has lasted, in a meaningful way, longer than other things, and the fact that my dad had a central role in launching it, that meant a lot to him.” Yet that was only one of the groundbreaking roles Richard Paul Thornell played. A graduate...

June 15, 2020

Aaron Williams: In international development, it’s time to tackle systemic racism.

Williams issues a clarion call for building a more inclusive network for global development. And he explores the arc of Peace Corps history in an interview about the documentary A Towering Task. By Del Wood and Steven Boyd Saum We are in an historic moment. The protests against racial injustice that have swept the United States and scores of other countries since the end of May were sparked by the killing of George Floyd — one of so many Black women and men killed by police. The protests erupted with anger and frustration — and not only among Blacks. They have also ushered...

Skip to content