Last month, the U.S. Peace Corps celebrated its 48th annual Peace Corps Week in honor of the work of its volunteers. During this week, third goal activities help Americans understand the people and cultures of other countries. The University of Denver has one of the largest Returned Peace Corps Volunteer graduate student cohorts in the country, with the majority attending the Josef Korbel School of International Studies. To celebrate Peace Corps Week this year, the Peace Corps Community (PCC) scheduled events that "honored the work of the agency and its Volunteers of the past and present."
The week began with a kick-off movie night at the cyber café that featured "Cocalero: a Union of Bolivian farmers' response to the United States purging of cocoa plants." On Wednesday, the PCC held a semi-formal international dinner to bring the community?s Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) and Master's International (MI) students together and to raise money for a current volunteer in the field. The community decided to donate its proceeds to a current Master's International student, Garrett Schiche who is serving in Thailand. Garrett is working on projects that include market expansion for a women?s weaving group. He has also been making a Karen chili paste that uses mostly natural local ingredients with a local women's group. The money raised at the dinner will help fund more of his projects.
The semi-formal also provided the opportunity for Peace Corps Fellows to share their experiences with those MI students who are about to embark on their own Peace Corps journeys.
Emily Ruppel served as a volunteer in Kenya. She says, "Peace Corps awareness is when you continue to learn about different places and bring people together to share their stories. Coming back to Denver and being a part of the community, you see that a lot of people are motivated to make those connections."
The final event of the week brought Fabrice Kombo, the President of the Congolese Awareness Movement, to the school for an open discussion about Congo. Kombo spoke about saving people from war and devastation, rebuilding infrastructure, reeducating the population and empowering people in the process.
He says, "Africa is like a gun, and the trigger is Congo. Peace in the Congo is directly linked to the prosperity of people in the region."
Kombo looked to the students for support, "We are desperately in need of people to think outside of the box."
The week not only raised awareness about the Peace Corps at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, but it was a time dedicated to bringing students together to inspire and be inspired in return.