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March 24, 2011

Stanford alumni returning to campus to reminisce, talk about international service in the 21st century during Peace Corps 50th Anniversary Celebration

The two-day event will offer many opportunities – a reception, lunch and panel discussions – for current students to talk to former Peace Corps volunteers and others who have founded nonprofit organizations engaged in international service.

By Kathleen J. Sullivan

Peace Corps volunteers helped residents of six villages come together to build a health clinic in Aruliho, Solomon Islands. (Russ Bowman / Peace Corps)

More than 100 former Peace Corps volunteers – including alumni, current graduate students, faculty and staff – will help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps on April 15-16 at Stanford.

The event, which will feature a keynote address on today's Peace Corps by Carrie Hessler-Radelet, deputy director of the Peace Corps, also will include a panel discussion focusing on international service in the 21st century.

President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961. Since then, 1,339 Stanford graduates have served as Peace Corps volunteers all over the world.

Currently, 14 Stanford alumni are serving in the Peace Corps.

To design the celebration, the Haas Center for Public Service coordinated a team of sponsors from across the university to work with former Peace Corps volunteers from the area, as well as the regional office of the Peace Corps.

The Haas Center assists hundreds of students each year in identifying postgraduate public service opportunities - like the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps - and in doing so helps ensure that a Stanford education, as Jane Stanford intended, enables students to "become thereby of greater service to the public."

All of the Stanford events are free and open to the public. However, registration– for each event – is required. A complete schedule and directions will be sent to registrants the week before the celebration. Representatives of the Stanford Historical Society will collect oral histories from the former volunteers.

The celebration will begin at noon on Friday, April 15, with three dozen Stanford alumni talking about their Peace Corps experiences with current students in the Career Development Center. (The event is already full.)

The program will continue Friday at 5:30 p.m. with a reception at the Bechtel Conference Center. Carrie Hessler-Radelet, deputy director of the Peace Corps, will give a presentation on today's Peace Corps. She also will talk – via an Internet Skype call – with Marissa Klein, '08, a volunteer in China who is teaching English. Henry Der '68, MA '00, who served in Kenya, will moderate a discussion with Hessler-Radelet.

The celebration will continue Saturday, April 16, with a welcome from U.S. Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, who served as a Peace Corps volunteer in El Salvador.

At 10 a.m. Saturday, four former Peace Corps volunteers will take part in a panel discussion, "Reflections on the Peace Corps: Implications for 21st Century Service," moderated by Larry Diamond, director of the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford and Peter E. Haas Faculty Co-Director of the Haas Center. The panelists are:

  • Mike Hochleutner '01 MBA, executive director, Center for Leadership Development and Research, Stanford Graduate School of Business, who served in Slovakia.
  • Peter Laugharn '82, executive director, Firelight Foundation, a grant-making organization devoted to improving the well-being of children affected by HIV-AIDS and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, who served in Morocco.
  • Kristina Mundera, founder, Amigos de Bibliotecas Recreativas y Educativas Nicaragüenses (ABREN), Friends of Nicaraguan Libraries, which provides library services and school programs to rural communities, who served in Nicaragua.
  • Yiaway Yeh, assistant city auditor, Oakland, who served in Burkino Faso (West Africa).

At 11:45 a.m. Saturday, one current Stanford student and two alumni will discuss other models of international service. The panelists are:

  • Shadi Bushra '12, African Service Fellow 2010, Haas Center for Public Service.
  • Abigail Falik '01, MA '01, founder and CEO, Global Citizen Year, which creates opportunities for students to spend a year before college working as fellows in nongovernmental organizations in Asia, Africa and Latin America. 
  • Fatima Hassan '09, International Public Service Fellow 2009-10, Haas Center for Public Service and Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.

At 12:30 p.m., students who are embarking on international service trips this summer will join the visiting alumni for lunch, grouped into the various regions of the world. The event will close at 2 p.m.



Dan Stober, Stanford News Service: (650) 721-6965,


Megan Swezey Fogarty, Haas Center for Public Service: (650) 725-2870,

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