[UW News] UW-Madison Celebrates 50 Years of Peace Corps and Wisconsin Idea With Events

UW- Madison News — March 15, 2011

Celebrating 50 years of the Peace Corps and the state of Wisconsin’s history of volunteerism and public service, the University of Wisconsin-Madison will host a variety of free and public programs featuring stories, film, poetry and some well-known former Peace Corps volunteers on Friday and Saturday, March 25-26, as part of “Peace Corps and Africa: 50 Years,” an event honoring and assessing a half-century of volunteer service.

On March 25, Ambassador Johnnie Carson, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs, will deliver a distinguished lecture on U.S. policy toward Africa. Before his successful career in the Foreign Service, Carson was a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania from 1965-68.

“Johnnie Carson’s visit is a unique opportunity to learn about American foreign policy toward Africa from one of the leading architects of that policy,” says UW-Madison Africa political scientist Scott Straus. Carson will speak at 6:30 p.m. at Mills Music Hall in the Mosse Humanities Building, 455 N. Park St.

At 4 p.m. on March 26, the public is invited to attend “Talking Peace Corps: Celebrating 50 years of the Peace Corps and the Wisconsin Idea Abroad” at State Street’s historic Orpheum Theater. The idea of “Talking Peace Corps” is to tell stories of Peace Corps though multiple genres and voices. Featured guests include:-

  • Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams, a UW-Madison alumnus and the fourth director in the Peace Corps’ history to have served as a Peace Corps volunteer (Dominican Republic)
  • Harold Scheub, UW-Madison scholar and renowned African storyteller
  • Sandra Meek, poet, former Peace Corps volunteer (Botswana) and recent recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts award
  • Susan Rich, award-winning poet and former Peace Corps volunteer (Niger)
  • Derek Burleson, poet and former Peace Corps volunteer (Rwanda)
  • Ann Neelon, award-winning poet and former Peace Corps volunteer (Senegal)
  • Kevin Gibbons, UW-Madison graduate student and former Peace Corps Volunteer (Philippines)

“Talking Peace Corps” will also include three film shorts by Emmy award-winning filmmaker Dan Banda. During the past year, Banda has conducted interviews with early founders of the Peace Corps and woven together archival and present-day footage to tell a story of Peace Corps’ early years and what might lay ahead.

“We are really excited to bring together a group of creative and passionate people,” says Catherine Reiland, African Studies Program assistant director. “Through story and artistic expressions we will engage the inspiring spirit of Peace Corps and the Wisconsin Idea.”

For more information on these public events, visit http://africa.wisc.edu/peacecorps.