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Updated 5:00 PM October 25, 2005




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U-M, Peace Corps celebrate 45th anniversary of announcement

Forty-five years ago, John F. Kennedy delivered an impassioned speech on the steps of the Michigan Union outlining his vision for a new type of American volunteerism. That vision became the foundation of the Peace Corps when it was established following Kennedy's election to the White House.

(Photo courtesy Bentley Image Bank, BL000107, Bentley Historical Library)

On Oct. 27, University and Peace Corps leaders will commemorate Kennedy's announcement at the very place the former president made his remarks. At noon, U-M Vice President for Student Affairs E. Royster Harper will welcome attendees and address the history of the Peace Corps at the University.

"From its enthusiastic 2 a.m. reception in 1960 by University students to the program's current place as a cornerstone of the University's International Center, U-M student participation in the Peace Corps continues to reflect our campus community's commitment to serving the broader global community," Harper says. "We are proud of this presidential legacy that is so closely affiliated with the history of the Michigan Union and our institution."

Peace Corps Deputy Director Jody Olsen will deliver a keynote address on the present and future initiatives of the Peace Corps and will unveil a peace pole to commemorate the historic speech, with a reception to follow from 12:30-1:30 p.m. in the Anderson Room.

The event is open to the public, University faculty, staff and students, and past Peace Corps volunteers.

"The Peace Corps and the University of Michigan have developed a significant relationship over the years," Olsen says. "The University of Michigan has consistently been one of the top 10 producing schools in the nation of Peace Corps volunteers since the inception of the program. This reflects on the high caliber of students who attend the University."

The celebration will continue with an International Opportunities Fair from
2-6 p.m. in the Michigan Union Ballroom. Students can explore ways to work, intern, volunteer, teach, research and study abroad. An information session will be held 7-8:30 p.m. in the Michigan Union U-Club for students interested in applying to the Peace Corps in the Michigan Union U-Club.

A Peace Corps photo exhibit has been on display throughout October in the Michigan Union Art Lounge. It is a retrospective exhibit featuring the Peace Corps experiences of past U-M volunteers, and documentary photographs of Kennedy announcing the Peace Corps from the steps of the Union.

Since 1961, more than 178,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, information technology, business development, the environment, and agriculture.

Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens at least 18 years of age. The service requires a 27-month commitment.

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