2021 marked 60 years since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps by Executive Order in 1961. That year, 750 volunteers set forth to serve in 13 countries. In the 59 years since then, more than 240,000 volunteers have served in 142 countries.
The 60th anniversary is an opportunity to celebrate the spirit of international peace and friendship and honor the volunteerism and service embodied by Peace Corps. But plans for celebrating the 60th anniversary in 2021 were put on hold because of COVID-19.
In addition, the absence of volunteers in the field due to the March 2020 evacuation of more than 7,300 volunteers from 60 countries tempered celebration of this important milestone. But with changing circumstances and some easing of the pandemic, Peace Corps is again issuing invitations and sending volunteers into the field: in March 2022, 35 volunteers left for service in Zambia and the Dominican Republic.
And now, the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Wisconsin—Madison (RPCVs of Madison) and the University of Wisconsin—Madison International Division are preparing to welcome Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and friends of Peace Corps to Madison to gather and celebrate the 60th anniversary. We hope you will join us!
Along with recognizing the of work of volunteers in their countries of service, we want to showcase the important Third Goal work done by RPCVs everywhere—helping to promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.
The members of the RPCV Madison group frequently work in collaboration with the Campus Peace Corps Recruiter and the International Division. We take pride in UW—Madison’s success at recruiting volunteers: Since 1961, the UW has been the #2 recruiter among large universities and is steadily moving toward the #1 position. Madison-area RPCVs assist the campus recruiter with campus and community presentations and at other events. They work with the UW International Division in hosting a Volunteer Send-Off Brunch and an annual Story Slam. In addition, the Madison group holds the annual Freeze for Food fundraiser, publishes the International Calendar, and hosts other activities that are designed to honor the idea of Peace Corps and the work of volunteers.
The Madison-area RPCVs have been celebrating Peace Corps’ 60 years in the following ways, with our celebrations culminating in this final gathering in mid-July.
Details about the July 21st event will be posted as planning continues, so be sure to check back here for updates.