50+ Peace Corps Volunteers

Zoom panel about serving in the Peace Corps as an older volunteer.
Mini reunion, Nairobi Airport, 2018, on our way to Mount Kilimanjaro

Last week, I received an email asking me to be a last minute replacement on a Peace Corps panel about older volunteers. I, of course, said yes.

The Three Goals of Peace Corps.
My house, a 5k walk from Nunguni, 1987.

I served in Kenya, 1986/88, Armenia, 2017/19 and Ethiopia, 2019/2020. I was among the 7,000 Peace Corps volunteers, evacuated, due to the worldwide COVID pandemic, March 2020.

There’s more than just education.
Hanging with my host family near Masis, Armenia 2019

My area of service has always been the same, Education. When I first joined, I was sure that my prior enlistment in the United States Air Force would land me a spot in Ethiopia. The famine there was getting worse, in 1985. Peace Corps kindly reminded me of my undergrad and grad work, in English. They posted me in Kenya, as a high school English teacher.

During Pre Service Training, in Kenya, I said I would rejoin Peace Corps, after retirement. Thirty years later, I did.
The day I awoke to the sound of an Ox being killed outside of my bedroom door, Kotu, Ethiopia, 2020

When I retired, in 2017, I rejoined the Peace Corps. I was 60 years old. Today, about seven percent of Peace Corps volunteers are over the age of fifty. We are called 50+ volunteers. These volunteers serve in the same fashion as their younger cohort.

Both Pamela and I served in Armenia. This was the first time we met.
I packed my American Red Cross vest and ended up serving over the summer at an Armenian Society of Red Cross Soup Kitchen in Masis.

Both work experience and life experience equals extra bonus points for seniors. Many older volunteers are able to connect with host country nationals with stories about marriage, children, and grandkids. Plus, a strong American work ethic, goes a long way.

No one was surprised
Arriving in Washington DC, during the Peace Corps worldwide COVID Pandemic evacuation, March 2020

Over the hour and a half Zoom session, there were lots of questions about motivation. Quite a few people asked, “How did you know that Peace Corps was the right choice?” “Who, in their right mind, would leave a good paying job, store and/or give away their worldly belongings, and head into the unknown?”

I look like I’m heading somewhere! Detroit 1972

Either that sounds good to you or it doesn’t. For me, it was simple and when you name your blog GhettoGirlTravels, you sort of have to travel. And, so …. I did! —GGT

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