This year, the Peace Corps is officially 57 years old. On March 1, 1961, President John F. Kennedy issues Executive Order #10924, establishing the Peace Corps as a new agency within the Department of State. The same day, he sent a message to Congress asking for permanent funding for the agency, which would send trained American men and women to foreign nations to assist in development efforts. Every year for their anniversary, Peace Corps highlights a different theme of service and celebrates the amazing work it has done of the past 50+ years.
The 2018 Peace Corps Week theme is Highlighting Home: What does home, family, and community look like in your Peace Corps country? I have been lucky enough to travel throughout my life and live in several places around the world. No matter where I was, I felt like I was home because I was surrounded by people that I loved and cherished. That has not changed since coming to PC. The group of friends that I have made will last me for a life time, and if I gain nothing else out of this experience it will have all been worth it.
To celebrate Peace Corps Week, my site mate Beth and I decided to have a week filled with activities! Here is a quick breakdown of what we did:
While we didn’t have any official activities planned for Monday, we had a meeting with all of the students and teachers to give them a short history of Peace Corps and announced the events for the week.
Each year, PC has a worldwide video competition. Volunteers from around the globe are invited to submit a short film that discusses the topic for that year. Beth and I organized a mini-film festival in which we showed our students some of the top videos from this year’s submissions. We showed them videos from Namibia, St. Lucia, Mongolia (this one was special because the volunteer who made it is a friend of mine from college), Guatemala, Cambodia, Thailand, and more. Before watching the videos, we tried to find the locations on a world map. I loved watching the students as they observed some of the differences and similarities between the countries on the screen and their own. In the end, they all agreed that although we may not all look alike and our lives may seem worlds apart, home is a similar feeling no matter where you are in the world.
Here is a link to a playlist of some of the videos!
Unfortunately, we had to cancel our plans for this day due to the weather. We had planned a photo scavenger hunt for the 5th-9th graders, but that darned snow just kept falling and the temperature outside fell to an all time low. That’s okay, I’ll save it for next year!
The fun continued this day with a skype call to America. Beth’s mom is a 5th grade teacher back in the States. With the help of some technology, our students were able to show off their English skills and talk with American students their own age. We discussed everything from a typical day in Moldova and the States to holidays (it was Martisor here in Moldova) and we even taught them some Romanian words!
To end the week, we had a few American guests come to our school. Paul, Ryan, and Grace were gracious enough to travel to our village and present a little bit about what “home” means to them. I had expected a good size crowd, but little did I know that 50 to 60 of our students would actually show up! The students were captivated as they watched us show pictures from our past and talk about what our live were like before we got here. Beth and I even got in on the fun. I mentioned I was in an a cappella group and showed them a short video of me performing. Overall, the kids were so attentive and really loved getting to meet some new Americans. At the end, it was like the guests were famous as a line of students formed to take pictures with them!
Moments like these make me realize just how big of an impact I can have on some of these kids. I forget that Goal 2 and 3 of Peace Corps are simply cultural exchanges. We work to show them all of the colors of America, and yet I forget how much of an impact they are having on me. I love my village and the students, teachers, and families that make my community my Moldovan home.