While some Evanston residents celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps locally last month, others, including Evanston resident Tom Jager, travelled to Washington, D.C., Sept. 22-26 for the nationwide celebration. Mr. Jager joined the Peace Corps 49 years ago spending 1962-64 teaching in Peki, a secondary school in the Volta region of Ghana. To his delight, he said, Ghana is still open to Peace Corps volunteers – one of the few countries that have had a continuous relationship with the Peace Corps since its founding in 1961. For his part, Mr. Jager has also kept up with Ghana, staying in touch with former students and visiting the country in 1995 and again in 2006.
The Ghanaian embassy hosted a party for the Peace Corps volunteers, said Mr. Jager. At another gathering over that weekend, he said, “Speakers from other countries told of Peace Corps volunteers who had changed their lives.” And in many individual conversations, “everyone you talked to said the Peace Corps had changed their lives.” Near the end of the four-day celebration, about 1,000 Peace Corps veterans marched to the Lincoln Memorial, carrying flags of the countries where they had volunteered.
Although Mr. Jager and his wife, Judy, made the trip alone, during the celebration they encountered fellow Evanstonian and Peace Corps veteran volunteer Myra Janus.
Ms. Janus served in the Peace Corps from 1968-1970 at Swedru Secondary School in Agona-Swedru in the southern part of the central region of Ghana. The secondary school was host to six of the very first Peace Corp volunteers. Ms. Janus and her family returned to Ghana in 2006 for a visit.
David L. Easterbrook of Northwestern University also attended the 50th anniversary celebration. Mr. Easterbrook said he served in the Machakos district
of Kenya from 1969 to1971, where he taught English and history.