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50th Anniversary Celebration of Peace Corps Founding in Ann Arbor

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Peace Corps, which occurred right here in Ann Arbor. After hearing a late night campaign speech by Senator John F. Kennedy on the steps of the Michigan Union on October 14, 1960, University of Michigan students began a grassroots efforts, leading to the creation of the organization envisioned by Kennedy in his call to service. The celebration will continue with events in Ann Arbor and around the country throughout 2011.


The anniversary celebration marks 50 years of promoting peace and friendship around the world. It will also serve as a platform for connection with millions of people who may not know about the Peace Corps, as well as reconnecting long-time supporters. The objective of the 50th anniversary celebration is “to utilize (the celebration) as a platform to support the agency's mission and legacy by honoring our past, demonstrating our effectiveness, and inspiring the next generation of volunteers through education and engagement.” This further supports the three primary goals of the Peace Corps: helping the people of interested countries in meeting their needs for trained men and women; helping promote a better understanding of Americans by the peoples served, and helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the parts of Americans.


A Passing of the Torch is an hour-long documentary film which captures the amazing circumstances, efforts, and coincidences that occurred, as well as the extraordinary people that made the Peace Corps a reality. The film will premiere in mid November on public television. Upcoming events at the University of Michigan, here in Ann Arbor, include:

  • Now through November 30: U-M and the Peace Corps: It All Started Here - Normal library hours, Hatcher Graduate Library, Library Gallery (Room 100)

  • Now through October 31: Serving Others Around the World - Normal Union hours, Michigan Union, Art Lounge


  • October 26 and November 2, 9, and 16: Film Series: International Development Issues—Four Countries - 8:00 pm North Quad Dining Hall

  • October 27: Swords into Plowshares: Peace Corps Service in Eastern Europe and Eurasia - 12:00–1:30 pm – 1636 International Institute/School of Social Work Building

  • October 28: Sarah Chayes: Penny W. Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series - 5:10 pm, Michigan Theater

  • November 4: Advancing Global Public Health: Presentation of the Thomas Francis, Jr. Medal from 2:00 pm–4:00 pm. Ross School of Business, Blau Auditorium. A reception will follow.
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Posted Friday, October 22, 2010 by Martin Bouma
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