Fifty years ago, President John F. Kennedy challenged Americans to "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." Two months later, the Peace Corps was born, ushering in a new era of national service and creating an army of volunteers committed to global improvement and cross-cultural exchange.
UCLA played a vital role in that effort from the beginning, training thousands of Peace Corps volunteers from around the country for service in Africa and Latin America and sending scores of Bruin alumni to volunteer throughout the world.
Now, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and units across campus are pleased to announce a three-day celebration of the anniversary of the inception of the Peace Corps, from March 2 to 5 at UCLA.
"Given the mutual dedication to improving quality of life for those around the world, it is only natural for UCLA to play a prominent role in celebrating the Peace Corps' 50th golden anniversary," Block said. "It is an opportunity for us to inspire our Bruin family to continue serving our local and global communities."
The Bruin community welcomes UCLA alumni, Peace Corps volunteers and all others interested in global service to the celebration, which will kick off Wednesday, March 2, with several key events, including an opening night panel discussion featuring Peace Corps director Aaron S. Williams, MSNBC "Hardball" host Chris Matthews, former Robert F. Kennedy press secretary Frank Mankiewicz and others. The panel, co-sponsored by UCLA's Burkle Center for International Relations and James S. Coleman African Studies Center, begins at 7 p.m. in UCLA's Royce Hall, with a dessert reception immediately following.
Also Wednesday evening, in Powell Library, the campus presents a preview of the exhibition "'No Greater Service': UCLA and the Peace Corps," which will transport visitors to Los Angeles during the 1960s, tracing the experiences of "Kennedy's Kids" — as the early Peace Corps volunteers were known — as they trained on campus and traveled to countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia to make a difference.
To date, more than 1,800 Bruins have served in the Peace Corps, and the campus now ranks eighth all-time among the nation's large universities in the number of graduates who have served. There are currently 92 active UCLA alumni volunteers — sixth most among large universities — serving in 46 of the 77 countries in which the Peace Corps operates.
"Service is one of UCLA's core values as a public university, and we are proud of our long-standing association with the Peace Corps," Block said.
"The Westwood campus was one of the first training sites in 1961 and continues to be a key contributor of Peace Corps volunteers, ranking in the top 10 among large universities in the nation," said Peace Corps director Aaron S. Williams, who will be on hand for the opening night events. "The Peace Corps and UCLA both share a commitment to creating a new generation of globally aware and service-minded individuals."
For more information on the Peace Corps' 50th anniversary events at UCLA, please visit the celebration's website at http://spotlight.ucla.edu/peace-corps-50th/events. Returned Peace Corps volunteers may also post their stories using the "Share Your Experience" feature on the website.
PEACE CORPS CELEBRATION EVENTS AT UCLA:
Wednesday, March 2
Opening night panel: 'Peace Corps: The Next 50 Years'
UCLA's Royce Hall
To attend the panel, please register at www.specialevents.ucla.edu/peacecorps. The event will be followed by a dessert reception at Royce Hall and a preview of the exhibition "'No Greater Service': UCLA and the Peace Corps" at UCLA's Powel Library. Panel participants will include:
Chris Matthews (moderator)
Host of MSNBC's "Hardball" and a television news anchor with a remarkable depth of experience, Matthews has distinguished himself as a broadcast journalist, newspaper bureau chief, presidential speechwriter and best-selling author. He also worked for two years as a trade development volunteer adviser with the Peace Corps in the southern African nation of Swaziland.
Aaron S. Williams
Williams was nominated by President Barack Obama to become the 18th director of the Peace Corps. Sworn in on Aug. 24, 2009, he is the fourth director in the Peace Corps' history to have served as a Peace Corps volunteer. Williams will also deliver the keynote address in June at the UCLA College of Letters and Science commencement ceremony.
Mankiewicz is vice chairman of Hill & Knowlton's Washington, D.C., office and a senior member of the firm's public affairs practice. Under his leadership as president of National Public Radio, the NPR audience increased from 2 million to 8 million for a network of approximately 300 non-commercial stations. In the mid-1960s, he served as regional director of the Peace Corps for Latin America. He was also Robert F. Kennedy's press secretary.
Orth is an award-winning journalist, a special correspondent for Vanity Fair magazine and the founder of the Marina Orth Foundation, which promotes advanced learning in computer technology, English and leadership at the Marina Orth School (Escuela Marina Orth) in Medellin, Colombia, as well as two other schools in and around the city. The program now serves more than 1,200 children. Orth first helped to build her namesake school in the 1960s as a Peace Corps volunteer.
Haskell Sears Ward
Ward has more than 40 years of experience in public and international affairs. He is currently leading a project at the communications technology company SEACOM to bring high-speed Internet access to Ethiopia — the country he served in as a Peace Corps volunteer.
Francoise (Fran) Castro
Castro graduated from UCLA in 2001 with a degree in linguistics and then worked for the U.S. State Department as a passport specialist. In 2004, she joined the Peace Corps. Serving in Mozambique as a communications agent, she helped an international non-governmental organization called Population Services International (PSI) educate communities about HIV/AIDS prevention. After her volunteer tour of service, she continued to work with the Peace Corps domestically.
Wednesday, March 2–Saturday, April 30
Exhibition: "'No Greater Service': UCLA and the Peace Corps"
UCLA's Powell Library Rotunda
This memorable exhibition transports visitors to Los Angeles in the 1960s and to countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia. Period maps, candid photographs, personal recollections, unique mementos and archival footage help trace the experiences of "Kennedy's Kids" — as the early Peace Corps volunteers were known — as they traveled the world to make a difference.
Wednesday, March 2
Opening night preview
Guests are invited to a guided preview of this exhibition following Wednesday evening's "Peace Corps: The Next 50 Years" panel.
Thursday, March 3
11 a.m.–2 p.m.
UCLA–Peace Corps International Festival
UCLA's Bruin Plaza
This festival of international food and music offers the UCLA community of students, staff and faculty the opportunity to learn about countries around the world from returned Peace Corps volunteers and international students.
Thursday, March 3
Screening of documentary "A Small Act"
By UCLA alumna and award-winning director Jennifer Arnold
UCLA's James Bridges Theater
"A Small Act" tells the inspiring story of Chris Mburu, a native of Kenya who became a successful Harvard-trained lawyer working on human rights issues for the United Nations, and his determination to find the anonymous woman who funded his elementary education in Kenya, changing his life. Tickets for the screening are free and are first come, first served.
Saturday, March 5
9 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
Beautification project at West Los Angeles Veterans Home
To celebrate the spirit of continuing volunteerism at UCLA, students, staff, faculty and alumni will join returned Peace Corps volunteers to beautify the newly opened West Los Angeles Veterans Home, which will house nearly 400 elderly and disabled veterans in the coming year. Volunteers will create a community garden, a horse shoe pit and a mural and will participate in several other projects. The project is being sponsored by Liberty Mutual and led by the UCLA Volunteer Center.
The Burkle Center for International Relations at UCLA provides analysis of 21st-century world affairs, bringing scholarship to UCLA and Los Angeles in the fields of international relations and foreign policy. Created in 1979, the center is UCLA's primary forum for, and a West Coast leader in, the interdisciplinary study of global affairs. A significant sponsor of research, teaching and out-reach on campus, the center engages faculty and students to explore and shape debate on global issues.
The James S. Coleman African Studies Center at UCLA is dedicated to the production and dissemination of knowledge about Africa, ranging from cutting-edge research in the social, human and natural sciences to K–12 outreach and pedagogical reform.
The UCLA Volunteer Center, established in 2009 by UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, is dedicated to creating innovative events and programs that inspire all members of the Bruin family to play an active part in their community.
UCLA is California's largest university, with an enrollment of more than 38,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The UCLA College of Letters and Science and the university's 11 professional schools feature renowned faculty and offer 328 degree programs and majors. UCLA is a national and international leader in the breadth and quality of its academic, research, health care, cultural, continuing education and athletic programs. Six alumni and five faculty have been awarded the Nobel Prize.