Peace Corps at 50
On October 14, 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy capped off a day of campaigning with a brief appearance in front of the Michigan Union. It was well after midnight. The presidential election was just three weeks away, and the race was tight, but Kennedy was upbeat. People packed the streets and leaned out of windows, straining to see the candidate. Kennedy joked that his talk that night was “the longest short speech I’ve ever made”—but his words made history, for that night he challenged the students of the University of Michigan to devote themselves to global peace and justice by living and working in developing nations. His speech, and the enthusiastic response of Michigan’s students and faculty—hundreds of whom signed petitions endorsing Kennedy’s idea—led to the creation of the Peace Corps, the signature program that has defined global volunteer service for the past half-century.
This October, UM will host the national kick-off of the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps. As part of the celebration, the university is collecting stories from the more than 2,200 UM graduates who’ve volunteered for the Peace Corps. Are you one of them? If so, we want to hear from you. Where did you go, and when? What did you do? How did the experience change your life?
The fall issue of Findings will feature a special section on SPH alumni who’ve lived abroad in the service of world peace. To submit your story or to sign up for e-mail updates on anniversary events, visit www.peacecorps.umich.edu or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.