Peace Corps Commemorates 50 Years at Carolina

Carolina hosted a celebration in honor of Peace Corps’ 50th anniversary on Monday in the Pit. UNC’s campus recruiter and returned Peace Corps volunteer, Suzannah Ellis Johnston ’06, and other returned Peace Corps Volunteers were available to answer questions and speak about the Peace Corps.

A special screening of American Idealist: The Story of Sargent Shriver, a documentary about the first director of the Peace Corps, also was planned Monday evening in the Great Hall of the Student Union. The film’s director, Bruce Orenstein, introduced the film about Shriver, who died in January at age 95.

Ninety-four undergraduate alumni of UNC currently serve in the Peace Corps, making Carolina No. 3 in the rankings of large schools nationwide producing Peace Corps Volunteers. Since Peace Corps’ inception, 1,145 UNC alumni have served in the agency.

Johnston, who received her bachelor’s degree in international studies, served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Niger from 2006 to 2008. Johnston plans to host an information session on campus on Wednesday, March 23, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the FedEx Global Education Center, Room 1005. For more about the event, contact Johnston at (919) 962-0185 or at

Gov. Beverly Eaves Perdue has issued a proclamation recognizing March as “Peace Corps Month in North Carolina,” which honors volunteers past and present from the state. Last year there were 247 Peace Corps Volunteers from North Carolina, and more than 3,780 North Carolinians have served as Peace Corps Volunteers since the agency’s inception. President Barack Obama also issued a presidential proclamation.

President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in March 1961 to promote world peace and friendship through three goals: helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women; helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served; and helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

Over those 50 years, more than 200,000 Americans have served in the Peace Corps in 139 countries. Today, more than 8,650 Peace Corps volunteers serve in 77 countries in a number of ways, including teaching English as a second language, working with HIV/AIDS prevention and care programs, and providing advice and instruction on nutrition and food availability issues to mitigate the adverse consequences of the food security crisis.

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