Using Social Media to Share 50 Years of Peace Corps Stories

The Peace Corps will celebrate its 50th anniversary this fall, and in order to help generate awareness about the organization, the National Peace Corps Association has launched a YouTube contest.

Called "My Piece of the Peace Corps," the contest invites people to submit short videos about how the Peace Corps or a Peace Corps volunteer changed their lives. Entrants need not have been in the Peace Corps. They only need to have been affected by the Peace Corps or by a volunteer. The grand prize winner will receive $2500.

"We expect the videos to be as diverse as the people who serve in the Peace Corps," said Erica Burman, the director of communications for the National Peace Corps Association and former Peace Corps volunteer in Gambia. "A video could be about a high-school teacher whose stories from overseas inspired you, or a volunteer whose service taught you new skills, or maybe a returned volunteer who continues to be a community leader here at home."

Burman says the idea behind the contest is to help generate awareness about the Peace Corps’ upcoming anniversary as well the legacy of the program and the volunteers who've served. The contest will culminate just in time for the celebrations at the University of Michigan. It was there that the idea of the Peace Corps first began fifty years ago when then Senator John F. Kennedy challenged the students at the university to serve their country in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries.

Since the establishment of the federal program, nearly 200,000 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in 139 host countries, working on a variety of issues in support of international development, peace, and understanding..

Burman hopes the "My Piece of the Peace Corps” YouTube contest will inspire people to reflect on 50 years of contribution from the program, whether or not they’ve served in the Peace Corps.

"Like the Peace Corps, YouTube has brought the world closer together," said Burman. "It's only natural that we would use this new technology to showcase the ways that Peace Corps Volunteers and Returned Volunteers have affected tens of thousands of people around the world." Undeniably the Peace Corps has changed the lives of many people, and by utilizing YouTube and social media to gather the stories, the National Peace Corps Association hopes that these stories can be shared worldwide.