On Thursday, June 21, 2012, filmmaker Allen Mondell premiers his latest project, WAGING PEACE: The Peace Corps Experience. The premier will be held at the Collins Center Crum Auditorium on the Southern Methodist University campus. Tickets for the premier include a reception, film screening and panel discussion. Tickets are $30 each and can be purchased online.
WAGING PEACE is a collection of letters, journals, blogs and emails that were written by Peace Corps volunteers in the field of their host country. The written material is weaved together with the profiles of four former volunteers who are still trying to make a difference in the world today. The materials range from 1961, when the Peace Corps started, all the way to present day.
“I want to convey what it was like to leave this country, whether it was in 1963 when I left, or it was 2012 when someone else might leave,” said Mondell.
People of all ages are still volunteering for the Peace Corps. The program is attracting more people who are over fifty. These volunteers are retiring and then volunteering to fill their time.
“It gives them a sense of self and pride,” said Mondell.
The Peace Corps Act
President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps through Executive Order 10924 on March 1, 1961. The Peace Corps was later authorized by Congress with the passage of the Peace Corps Act on September 22, 1961.
The Peace Corps Act declared the purpose of the program as follows:
To promote world peace and friendship through a Peace Corps, which shall make available to interested countries and areas men and women of the United States qualified for service abroad and willing to serve, under conditions of hardship if necessary, to help the peoples of such countries and areas in meeting their needs for trained manpower.
Since 1961, over 200,000 Americans have served in the Peace Corps in 139 countries.
WAGING PEACE intertwines written materials with the profiles of four former Peace Corps volunteers, who served in The Gambia, Congo, Paraguay and Iran. Their experiences range from the late 1960s to the present.
Brenda Jarra served in The Gambia from 1972-1979. Jarra married a Gambian and had a daughter in The Gambia. She now works for the Department of Corrections in North Carolina. Jarra helps women inmates prepare for leaving prison.
Mike Tidwell served in Congo from 1985-87. He is now an activist and accomplished writer in Takoma Park, Maryland.
Shannon Coe, who has been wheelchair bound since age three, served in Paraguay from 2004-06. Coe is a very strong willed woman. She completed her Peace Corps service, returned to earn a master’s degree and now works for a non-profit that deals with disabilities.
Tom Verner served in Iran from 1969-70 as a teacher. Verner founded Magicians without Borders. He and his wife travel to refugee camps around the world teaching magic to children.
WAGING PEACE also includes the filmmaker Allen Mondell, who served in Sierra Leone from 1963-65. Mondell was a teacher at a secondary school for boys. He taught English and African literature and African history.
“Those two years were really significant,” said Mondell. “Because they set me on a course that I followed for the rest of my life.”
The world premiere of WAGING PEACE: The Peace Corps Experience will be on Thursday, June 21, 2012, at the Collins Center Crum Auditorium on the Southern Methodist University campus. The event will include a wine, cheese and dessert reception at 6:15 p.m., film screening at 7 p.m. and a panel discussion, The Legacy … Ask what you can do for your country, following the film.
The premiere of WAGING PEACE is co-presented by The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, North Texas Peace Corps Association and Southern Methodist University’s Office of the Provost.
Tickets for the premiere are $30 each and can be purchased online. A portion of each ticket benefits Peace Corps Partnership projects around the world.