Tag Archive | JFK

Happy 50th Anniversary Peace Corps!


Enjoy this infographic I made to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps!

Peace, Mari

{Click on image to open a larger version.}

Sources: Peace Corps Website Fast Facts, National Archives

Why Peace Corps?

I believe that it is just as important to have a federal program for promoting peace as it is to promote war.

I believe that peace is a radical notion and requires radical solutions. Giving up 2+ years of our lives to live in possible conditions of hardship is as radical as I can think of at this point in my life.

Reading JFK’s speeches on the subject of peace, I find new inspiration to join the program his administration birthed. His words are just as relevant today as they were in 1963. In particular, his words at a 1960 campaign stop at University of Michigan (when Michigan students were inspired by the potential idea of the Peace Corps) and then at the American University Commencement on June 10, 1963, express more eloquently than I ever could why it is essential for our country to make efforts of peace throughout the world.

From JFK’s University of Michigan Remarks

On the idea of international service…

“How many of you who are going to be doctors are willing to spend your days in Ghana? Technicians or engineers: how many of you are willing to work in the Foreign Service and spend your lives traveling around the world? On your willingness to do that, not merely to serve one year or two years in the service, but on your willingness to contribute part of your life to this country, I think will depend the answer whether a free society can compete. I think it can. And I think Americans are willing to contribute. But the effort must be far greater than we’ve ever made in the past.”

From JFK’s American University Commencement Address

On the definition of peace…

“I have, therefore, chosen this time and place to discuss a topic on which ignorance too often abounds and the truth too rarely perceived. And that is the most important topic on earth: peace. What kind of peace do I mean and what kind of a peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, and the kind that enables men and nations to grow, and to hope, and build a better life for their children — not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women, not merely peace in our time but peace in all time.”

On the feasibility of peace…

“First examine our attitude towards peace itself. Too many of us think it is impossible. Too many think it is unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable, that mankind is doomed, that we are gripped by forces we cannot control. We need not accept that view. Our problems are man made; therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man’s reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable, and we believe they can do it again. I am not referring to the absolute, infinite concept of universal peace and good will of which some fantasies and fanatics dream. I do not deny the value of hopes and dreams but we merely invite discouragement and incredulity by making that our only and immediate goal.”

“Let us focus instead on a more practical, more attainable peace, based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions — on a series of concrete actions and effective agreements which are in the interest of all concerned. There is no single, simple key to this peace; no grand or magic formula to be adopted by one or two powers. Genuine peace must be the product of many nations, the sum of many acts. It must be dynamic, not static, changing to meet the challenge of each new generation. For peace is a process — a way of solving problems.”

A Childhood Dream

Life Magazine Photo

From the photo you’re probably thinking that my childhood dream was to get married. Actually, I wasn’t that interested in marriage until, well…just a few months ago. I grew up not only as a tomboy but as someone with a unique definition of family and while having children has always been important to me, going through with a wedding ceremony and having a man by my side has not. When I learned what the term “out of wedlock” meant from Murphy Brown at the age of 11, I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. I mean, I’ve grown up not only as someone who was adopted but also as a member of a larger adoption community where I know personally dozens of nontraditional families.

That was before I met Paul.

Paul and I started dating in 2007 and became Domestic Partners in December of 2008. The decision to become DPs was a big one for us. We think of it as something we did for ourselves. Getting married and having a wedding on the other hand, is something we want to do to share this experience with other people.

So, why the change now?

Well, besides getting engaged, Paul and I have shared the exciting news with our friends and family that we’re interested in joining the Peace Corps or a similar international volunteer organization in the next two years for a period of at least two years. Most people who know us are not surprised when they hear this since we have both dedicated our careers to working in or supporting the nonprofit sector, we have both lived abroad, and we are both passionate about social justice. However, we didn’t realize we shared this desire until a few months ago when we were talking about our careers and the future.

That’s when we realized that we share this dream of serving in the Peace Corps.

I have wanted to join the PC ever since I was a little girl staring at a poster of JFK and his daughter Caroline on my bedroom wall. The quotation below the image said:

“It is time for a new generation of leadership, to cope with new problems and new opportunities.  For there is a new world to be won.”

I strive to be part of this “new generation of leadership” and joining the Peace Corps is one way I can do this. After all, it was JFK who inspired the idea of the Peace Corps to begin with. Signing up on the PC website and reviewing the requirements, we learned that in order to serve as a couple we must be married. In fact, there is a relatively new rule that states that a couple must be married for 12 months before they start a PC placement. What’s a nontraditional girl to do? Being Domestic Partners has been good enough for me for the past couple of years but learning about the PC requirement and celebrating my 30th birthday has made me realize that since I am fortunate to have found my life partner making our relationship official for the outside world is not that big of a deal.

My only hesitation is that this option is not open to everyone.

The PC requirement specifically addresses the definition of marriage to be in line with the federal government definition. Therefore, at this moment in time, same sex partners cannot serve in the PC as a couple since, at the federal level, same sex partnerships are not recognized as marriage. In my opinion, if two people want to make either a commitment to one another or a commitment to volunteer 2+ years of their life for their country, they should be able to. Aside from this reservation, I am coming around to the idea of marriage.

So, you could say that my childhood dream of serving in the Peace Corps has led me to come to terms with the childhood dream of others: to be joined in marriage with the person I want to spend the rest of my life with…starting with two years of volunteering abroad.

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