Making a Difference: Deaf Peace Corps Volunteers

The Gallaudet University Museum opened “Making a Difference: Deaf Peace Corps Volunteers" in the Weyerhaeuser Family Gallery and Exhibition Hall of the I. King Jordan Student Academic Center on Tuesday, October 25.

Deaf RPCVs with the Peace Corps Director
Deaf Returned Peace Corps Volunteers with Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams. Credit: Doug Slaunwhite

The exhibition features photographs and objects from deaf people, many of whom are Gallaudet alumni, who served the Peace Corps in Kenya, Ghana, the Philippines, St. Lucia, Malaysia, Sierra Leone, St. Vincent, Ecuador, Nepal, Benin, Zambia, and Guyana. Their experiences bring to light issues of access to education, perceptions of deaf people, and international relations.

Allen Neece 

Erikson Young '03, taught 6th grade English at
the Kichakamkwaju Unit for the Deaf in Kenya,
2005-2007. Credit: Erikson Young

Following the opening and reception, there was a "living exhibit" performance, directed by Tabitha Jacques, in the Black Box Theater. Returned Volunteers shared stories of their individual Peace Corps journeys. The living exhibit offered the audience a chance to witness personal perspectives on the meaning of Peace Corps service in a live performance.

Please join us in celebrating the service of deaf Peace Corp Volunteers. As we look back on the meaning of past contributions to world peace and the betterment of deaf people's lives, we also look forward to addressing enduring challenges.

Pauline Spanbauer
Pauline Spanbauer
in the Philippines
Credit: Pauline Spanbauer

The Peace Corps traces its roots and mission to 1960, when then Senator John F. Kennedy challenged students at the University of Michigan to serve their country in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries. From that inspiration grew an agency of the federal government devoted to world peace and friendship.

Since that time, 200,000+ Peace Corps Volunteers have served in 139 host countries to work on issues ranging from AIDS education to information technology and environmental preservation.

Julie Hochgesang
Julie Hochgesang's Class in Kenya. Credit: Julie Hochgesang

A panel discussion with eight Returned Peace Corps Volunteers was also held on opening day of the exhibition. Volunteers who served from 1978 – 2009 in Kenya, Ecuador, and the Philippines shared their experiences of teaching, language use and importation, and secondary projects such as HIV/AIDS awareness training.  They spoke of attitudes about the abilities of deaf people and how their work helped to enlighten the community and give hope to families with deaf children.

For more information on the history of the Peace Corps, check this out.

For information on the exhibit, please contact us at museum@gallaudet.edu.

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