El Salvador, Moldova,
“The Peace Corps is guilty of enthusiasm and a crusading spirit. But we’re not apologetic about it.”
–R. Sargent Shriver
Last week, the School of Nursing celebrated Peace Corps Week, a week-long celebration showcasing the Returned Peace Corps Fellows program and the 33 current students within the program. This event was especially significant because we were celebrating three different historic anniversaries: the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps, the 25th anniversary of the Peace Corps Fellows program, and the 20th anniversary of the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing Fellows program. Several of the volunteers created poster and artifact displays showcasing their respective countries of service, allowing the student body to journey to far off places including Peru, Mozambique, Cambodia, and China without ever leaving the city limits of Baltimore.
On Monday, we hosted an open-mic storytelling event in the Carpenter Room, where we regaled the audience with some of our mishaps, misfortunes, and melodramatic moments during our times overseas. We told stories about broken toilets, various critters we encountered, and the … interesting food choices we inevitably stumbled upon. Tuesday afternoon, Fiona Newton, Associate Dean of Development and Alumni Relations, and her husband led a Tai Qi demonstration during lunch, teaching students about the ancient Chinese art form and assisting them to relax and let their inner Qi flow.
Also on Tuesday, the Creative Alliance hosted an evening of community storytelling where Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) were invited to share stories with the community. This marquee event was a joint collaboration with the University of Maryland School of Social Work and the University of Maryland Baltimore County Shriver Peaceworker program. This wasn’t just a storytelling event, it was a Peace Corps Birthday party. We celebrated the legacy of Peace Corps and the historic signing of President Kennedy’s executive order, which created the Peace Corps. It was not only a celebration, but also a time to remember our first director, Sargent Shriver, and his idealism, passion, and philanthropic spirit.
The highlight of Peace Corps week was our keynote speaker, Dr. Sheila Davis. Dr. Davis is the Director of Global Nursing at Partners in Health, and she has traveled to places like Rwanda and Haiti to train and help support local nursing staff. She spoke about the changing paradigm in nursing and global nursing in particular, and she emphasized the importance of training the local populations to have self-sufficient, sustainable medical systems in place. Partnerships are essential when working in a global health capacity; working with local populations is essential, but teaching them so that they can be sustainable is just as important. She also addressed the fact that global nursing isn’t limited to traveling overseas … global nursing can happen within the United States.
The celebration of Peace Corps doesn’t end with Peace Corps week. Throughout the rest of the year, there will be numerous celebrations held across the country to commemorate this amazing institution and to celebrate the continued mission of Peace Corps. Later this year, the School of Nursing is planning to recognize Peace Corps Fellows alumni at the annual SON alumni gathering in the fall. It will truly be a celebration of 20 years of the SON Peace Corps Fellows and nearly 400 Fellows graduates.
It’s a great time to be a Fellow.