This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the executive order that created the Peace Corps, one of the world's most respected development agencies. To honor the volunteers and their commitment to helping individuals build a better life for themselves, their children, and their communities, a series of events in celebration of the 50th anniversary are being held around the world. On February 28, 2011, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul honored not just Peace Corps volunteers who previously served in Afghanistan, but also those who have served around the world.
Although there is not a current Peace Corps program in Afghanistan, from 1962 through 1979, 1,652 Peace Corps volunteers served in Afghanistan in various sectors including agriculture, business, education, health, and youth and community development.
Afghanistan Peace Corps volunteers "have remained committed to that work by returning or working in U.S. Government agencies and non-governmental organizations in Afghanistan," Deputy Ambassador E. Anthony Wayne noted in his remarks at the event. He added that the Peace Corps program in Afghanistan "gave some Americans a life changing experience from which they and Afghanistan benefited."
The event featured a former Afghan student who worked with and learned English from Peace Corps volunteers who served in Afghanistan in the late 1960s. There was also a presentation on the "Afghan Children's Song Book Project," an initiative by Louise Pascale, an Afghan Peace Corps volunteer from the late 1960s who is currently distributing, with USAID's assistance, the book to elementary schools, orphanages, and women's centers throughout Afghanistan.
Since 1961, nearly 200,000 Americans in 139 host countries have stepped up to President John F. Kennedy's challenge to provide technical assistance to the world's populations most in need in villages, towns, and cities across the globe.