Coming full circle
Peace Corps volunteers reunite 50 years later in Warwick
This is image is from 1963.
Photo provided by Geoff Howard Geoff and Carole Howard hosted a reunion of former Peace Corps volunteers at their home in Warwick. It was the first time many had seen one another since they served together in the Peace Corps in the West African nation of Senegal a half century ago.
This weekend, at the home of Geoff and Carole Howard, a group of people now in their 70’s came to Warwick from all over the country to recall and celebrate the time when they were in their 20’s and served together in the Peace Corps in the West African nation of Senegal.
Most but not all are retired now from an interesting array of careers from education to social work, meat production to film-making.
But back then they were teachers, sports coaches, health workers, well-diggers and construction specialists.
“We were all very young, but so was the Peace Corps and Senegal, both only two years old at the time, and somehow it worked,” said Geoff Howard.
For the group, most of whom had not seen each other in the intervening half century, it turned out to be an extremely moving experience and one of the themes that emerged was the enduring power of the Peace Corps experience.
Stories were shared, half-forgotten memories revived, absent friends remembered.
One of the most deeply imprinted memories for everyone was where they were when the word arrived that President Kennedy was assassinated less than three months after our arrival in country.
Dealing with the shock and grief, often cut off from other Americans and without telephone, television, or, of course, the internet and email, was a challenge that many recalled vividly.
Many of the 50th reunion group stayed in area B&Bs, drove around the Warwick countryside, walked Main Street and got an extremely positive sense of the Warwick community.
“My Peace Corps project in the small village of Diembering was to start a community garden, and now 50 years later, I helped start the community garden right here in Warwick," Geoff Howard said. "I guess I’ve come full circle.”
One of the former volunteers summed it up best when she said, “We were together one more time in a very special place and it felt really good.”
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