Born of an idea first uttered in October 1960 at an impromptu speech by then Senator John F. Kennedy, the Peace Corps was officially established on 1 March 1961. In its first year Peace Corps volunteers served in just 5 countries. Six short years later 14,500 volunteers had served in 55 countries around the world. To date more than 240,000 volunteers have served in 142 host countries. Due to COVID-19, all of those volunteers have been recalled to the United States. But that doesn’t stop former volunteers from singing the praises of the program and its great works. A BETTER PEACE welcomes four volunteers of the Peace Corps organization “To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans” the third goal of the organization. Brad Arsenault, Steven Saum, Maricarmen Smith-Martinez, and Joby Taylor all join our podcast editor Ron Granieri in the studio to discuss their Peace Corps experiences. It is their hope to inspire the next generation to selfless service so that once the pandemic is managed, the Peace Corps can continue its mission “To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women” and “To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.”


My reasons for joining the Peace Corps were somewhat simplistic and somewhat idealistic. I knew that I wanted to live outside of the United States, and I knew that I wanted to help people.


Brad Arsenault was a Peace Corps volunteer in Gabon and is a Foreign Service Officer with USAID. He is a graduate of the AY20 Resident Class of the U.S. Army War College. Joby Taylor was a Peace Corps volunteer in Gabon and is the current Director of the Shriver Center Peaceworker Fellows Program. Steven Saum was a Peace Corps volunteer in Ukraine and is the Director of Strategic Communications/Editor, WorldView Magazine for the National Peace Corps Association. Maricarmen Smith-Martinez was a Peace Corps volunteer in Costa Rica and is a program manager at Bixal, a digital communications, design, and technology, company co-owned by an RPCV. She was elected to serve as Chair of the National Peace Corps Association Board of Directors in 2018. Ron Granieri is an Associate Professor of History at the U.S. Army War College and the Editor of A BETTER PEACE. The views expressed in this presentation are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Army War College, U.S. Army, or Department of Defense.

Photo Description: Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) keep serving throughout their lives. We provide resources to support returned Volunteers and to showcase the Third Goal of the Peace Corps mission – To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Peace Corps


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