Maureen Orth and the Peace Corps


A close friend with whom I worked in Senator Jeff Bingaman‘s office in the 1990s, Wayne Propst, was forged into who he is today in part because of his experiences teaching people how to create fish ponds in Ghana.  And although he’s kind of tight on the number of words he uses in any given sentence, he’s a very cool policy guy. 

Another of my friends was a volunteer in Zambia — and there have been tens of thousands of others in the JFK-launched Peace Corps program who not only did important work and bridge-building abroad but also helped themselves become more informed and enlightened through these experiences.

maureen orth.jpgVanity Fair special correspondent Maureen Orth also was one of those who heeded Kennedy’s call and traipsed off to Medellin, Colombia to set up school houses.  She is enormously committed to education in Colombia and elsewhere in Latin America and has established and funded several schools. 

Every time I run into Maureen or hang out with her friends, I don’t hear about her living in the wake of of the death of her megastar journalist husband Tim Russert, or spending lots of time on political swirl in DC.  Rather, she is obsessively-compulsively devoted to the Peace Corps, telling the organization’s and her story, and getting people on board to help.

I have tremendous respect for her — and as a salute to Maureen and the Peace Corps on its 50th — and for keeping America engaged in real people’s lives abroad and not just engaged with arms buyers and oil sellers — I am posting Maureen Orth’s video Peace Corps postcard above and linking to a site that has others she has helped produce.

Below follows an email I got from her today about these new Peace Corps postcards:

Subject:  My cool new interactive website Peace Corps Postcards is live!

Today is a very exciting day for me and celebrates a labor of love, the
launch of a new interactive website:

Fifty years ago the Peace Corps was born, I became a volunteer in the
sixties, as most of you know, in Medellin,Colombia, and the experience
became one of the most important in my life.  I am still involved today
with three One Laptop per Child schools in Colombia @

To celebrate the Peace Corps 50th anniversary and to share the
stories of amazing volunteers of all ages and backgrounds at work across
the globe today, my friend, the award winning filmmaker, Susan Koch,
and I have produced a series of video postcards we hope you find
inspiring and moving. We also feature former volunteers like Chris Dodd
for whom the Peace Corps had a profound affect throughout his life.

We are very grateful to American Express and the Bank of America for
helping to fund us and we are very proud of our new website which allows
anyone in the Peace Corps community to post his or her story, picture
or blog which we also locate on a Google map.

We are not asking you to do anything but share these postcards widely if you like them, send them out on your lists and tweet them to your network. We will frequently
add new ones so visit us often.

Here’s even a sample tweet:

Check out these inspiring video postcards of amazing volunteers to
celebrate #Peace Corps 50th anniversary 


Well done Maureen — and thank you.

— Steve Clemons is Washington Editor at Large at The Atlantic, where this post first appeared. Clemons can be followed on Twitter at @SCClemons


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