Next Sunday isn’t just any old day. That’s because it marks 54 years of the Peace Corps, an organization that’s particularly meaningful to us here at Discover Corps. Not only are we proudly affiliated with the National Peace Corps Association — our founder Andrew discovered his passion for travel and service as a Peace Corps volunteer.
Simply put: Without the Peace Corps, Discover Corps wouldn’t exist.
When President Kennedy established the Peace Corps on March 1st, 1961, nobody could have guessed the magnitude of his dream. His chief goal was to allow other countries to gain more understanding of the United States, while in turn, for Peace Corps volunteers to understand the cultures they were meant to help.
In the 54 years since, more than 200,000 people have served in the Peace Corps and contributed to a better world. Many of them have gone above and beyond their service — so on this special day, we’d like to highlight five former Peace Corps volunteers who have done extraordinary things. We’re sure their stories will inspire you.
5 Peace Corps Volunteers Who Changed the World
1. Carol Bellamy
When Carol volunteered in Guatemala from 1962 to 1965, the experience sparked a lifelong desire to give back. She went on to become the director of the Peace Corps, the executive director of UNICEF, and in the last few years, has focused on global citizenship and education.
A quirky fact: She was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun by Japan in 2006.
2. Donald Mosley
Donald served in Malaysia and was a Peace Corps regional director in South Korea. While acting as the director for Koinonia Farm in southwest Georgia in the 1970s, he co-founded Habitat for Humanity. Donald wanted to fight racism and the mounting problem of homelessness.
What he didn’t anticipate was a global movement of empowering others by giving them a home. He’s since helped to launch Habitat for Humanity programs in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Lebanon, Nicaragua, and Jordan.
3. Lillian Carter
Jimmy Carter is an accomplished man who eventually became President of the United States — but he didn’t get there alone. His mother Lillian had a major influence on his humanitarian views.
A trained nurse, Lillian treated leprosy patients in India in 1966. Incredibly, she was aged 66 at the time. Her efforts were never forgotten, for Emory University formed the Lillian Carter Center for International Nursing in honor of the work she did with the Peace Corps.
4. Mark L. Schneider
Mark’s successes are vast — one being his term as a Peace Corps volunteer in El Salvador, where a bridge he helped to build is named after him — and another, his lauded appointment as Peace Corps director from 1999 to 2001.
The Peace Corps deeply affected his philosophies on development; he called his volunteer work, “illuminating and rewarding.” He is currently vice president of the International Crisis Group — an organization that conducts field research on violent conflict and consults with government entities to find resolutions.
5. Florence Reed
When Florence Reed saw the devastation that deforestation exacted on the people and land of Panama during her Peace Corps days in the early 1990s, she took action.
In 1997, she founded Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) a non-profit dedicated to working with farmers on sustainable farming practices in Central America. SHI has worked with farming communities in Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama to restore tropical forests and become economically self-sufficient.
And of course, as a bonus to this list, we’d add our founder: Andrew Motiwalla, who is changing the world through sustainable travel. Our Next Step Travel trips are particularly special, because they allow you to see your destination through the eyes of a National Peace Corps Association host; you’ll learn about local Peace Corps projects and connect with others passionate about international volunteerism.
These amazing people embody exactly what President Kennedy envisioned. But really, they are actually like any of our travelers — ordinary human beings with a desire to give their knowledge and love to make the world a better place.
Have you ever considered volunteering with the Peace Corps?