National Peace Corps Week

26 Feb 2018

Each year, Peace Corps Week commemorates President Kennedy’s establishment of the Peace Corps on March 1, 1961. Dozens of returned Peace Corps volunteers work at the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs. This year, we asked some of them to share short stories about what they learned during their time abroad and how their service changed their personal and professional lives for the better.

Hannah Koenker

Gabon, 2001 – 2003

Hannah Koenker

In Ndende, Gabon, I sold condoms at the night market to logging truckers, high school students and even the mayor. I was a health volunteer, which primarily meant HIV/AIDS volunteer, working with students and teachers at our regional high school. Read more >

Lisa Cobb

Turkmenistan, 1997 – 1999


Most people learn a new language or find their true calling in Peace Corps. I may have done those things, but the most important thing I learned in Peace Corps was how to cook. Read more >

Eric Filemyr

Namibia, 2011 – 2013


One factor that made Namibia more vulnerable to HIV was the acceptance and commonness of having multiple concurrent sexual partners, so I worked to use communication to help people make healthier sexual choices. Read more >

Lindsey Leslie

Nicaragua, 2011 – 2013


One project in particular allowed me to pull together my personal and professional lives: an original street theater production aimed at raising awareness of HIV/ AIDS. Read more >

Hannah Mills

Senegal, 2013 – 2015

hannah and kids

During my first week as a health volunteer in rural Senegal, my host mom Fatou invited me to visit the local health center where she worked as a “matrone,” or birth attendant. Read more >

Liz Futrell

Morocco, 2002 – 2003


The fact that my life as a young American woman living in a Muslim country was sandwiched between 9/11 and the U.S. invasion of Iraq made the experience feel more vital — and more difficult. Read more >

Sara Berthe

Mali, 2006 – 2009


I never imagined that the life and death of my five-year-old host sister, Sita, would make such an impact on my future. Sita most likely died of malaria. Read more >

Jarret Cassaniti

Zambia, 2003 – 2005


I knew the issues were big in Zambia: poor sanitation, malaria, child nutrition, a lack of family planning. I also knew I wasn’t an expert in biology or even health but I was 24 and ready to do whatever I could to make a difference. Read more >

Sean Maloney

Ecuador, 2011 – 2013


When most people imagine life in the Peace Corps, they think of rural villages, far from civilization, with little running water or electricity. My experience was entirely different. Read more >

Danielle Piccinini

Niger, 2010 – 2011; South Africa, 2011 – 2013


Gratitude is something I strive to incorporate into my life, yet during my time in Peace Corps, gratitude was something that seemed to come so naturally. Read more >