The University of Wisconsin–Madison’s International Division was proud to host former Peace Corps director Aaron Williams (MBA ’73) to deliver a keynote discussion Monday on his new book, “A Life Unimagined” to kick off International Education Week and celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Peace Corps.
The discussion was held online, with an in-person viewing session at Grainger Hall featuring a panel of retired Peace Corps volunteers. The event was also co-sponsored by the Wisconsin School of Business, the Peace Corps, the Morgridge Center for Public Service, the Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership, the Institute for Regional and International Studies, and the Peace Corps Advocates.
Williams was welcomed by vice provost and dean of the International Division Guido Podestá, Wisconsin School of Business professor Barry Gerhart, and Ambassador Rick Barton, current lecturer at Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs and former ambassador to the Economic and Social Council of the UN under President Barack Obama.
Barton and Williams explored various excerpts from “A Life Unimagined,” charting Williams’ journey from Chicago’s segregated southside in the 1950s to the Dominican Republic in the late 1960s and then to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), where Aaron Williams worked for 22 years as a foreign service officer and mission director to South Africa, working together with, at the time, newly elected President Nelson Mandela.
Throughout the event, Williams stressed the importance of resilience and meaningful relationships in the span of his career. He outlines themes such as his guiding principles of how to form a team, taking on challenges and risk in Washington D.C., and how the Peace Corps has prepared him and others for a global, wide-ranging cultural mindset.
Stories such as Aaron Williams’ highlight the importance of an internationally-minded education – one that the University of Wisconsin–Madison is honored to offer through dedication to the Wisconsin Idea. UW–Madison has been recently ranked as #4 among all US universities for study abroad participation and repeatedly as the #1 producer of Peace Corps volunteers.
The event was recorded and is available to watch below:
Get your copy of “A Life Unimagined”
University of Wisconsin–Madison’s International Division published “A Life Unimagined” in recognition of Peace Corps 60th anniversary and the longstanding partnership between UW and the agency. “A Life Unimagined” was written by Aaron Williams, with Deb Childs, an award-winning author, ghostwriter, and editor based in Richmond, Virginia.
Individuals who donate $100 or more to International Division funds at the Wisconsin Foundation & Alumni Association between International Education Week and Peace Corps Week (November 15, 2021 to March 1, 2022) will receive a signed copy of the work. If, however, you would like to be informed when the work is available for purchase to the general public, please complete this form.