Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Peace Corps and More at African-American Festival

U.S. Peace Corps at 9th Annual African-American Festival, July 20-21, 2013. Tents, tables, and Toledoans come together. Annabel and me at Peace Corps table. Festival 2013 poster.
"So the Peace Corps is still going?!" The elderly gentleman smiled. "I remember when JFK set it up!"

Peace Corps came to Toledo over the weekend, at the African-American Festival on UT's Scott Park campus. It was sunny but not as hot as it was last week, and there was a light breeze.  The festival site was full of colorful tents, food stalls, rides, vendors, and music.

Annabel Khouri, Peace Corps recruiter for Ohio and the mid-western region, came from Cleveland bearing a suitcase of books, pamphlets and material, including photos of her own time in Kenya where she was a business development volunteer.  She set up the Peace Corps table under a large tent also offering information on mental health organizations and services, the Toledo Public Schools and charter schools, senior living and health issues. Annabel is knowledgeable, accessible, and able to answer all kinds of questions.

The man who remembered JFK and the early Peace Corps regaled us with stories of the good old days. A few young people came up and wondered what Peace Corps was. "Is it like joining the military?" one asked.

My main job seemed to be assuring older women that they could indeed be Peace Corps candidates.  "Too old," they would say.  And I would answer, "I just got back, and I turned 70 in Ukraine."  Annabel  assured young people, especially those in college or recent graduates, that Peace Corps service offered great opportunities for living and working abroad, gaining international experience and insight, getting jobs and applying for post-graduate studies after service.

Annabel confided: "I wish I could find more Toledo volunteers."  I wish the same.  She'll be back in the fall at the University of Toledo. I said I'd help.  Meanwhile, step up Toledo!  Look it up online and see if Peace Corps might be for you: www.peacecorps.gov or contact the Midwest regional office at 216-527-8170.  
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