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Playlist: Amy Mayer's Portfolio

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Peace Corps Voices

From Amy Mayer | 59:02

A one-hour documentary special in honor of the Peace Corps' 50th anniversary, Peace Corps Voices uses historic recordings and contemporary interviews with former volunteers to explore the agency's legacy.


In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps in 2011, this one-hour radio documentary explores the impact of service on volunteers by combining audio recordings they made in various countries and contemporary interviews with them. From Ghana in the 1960s to Nepal in the 1990s to recent service in The Gambia, these recordings present voices of people the American volunteers met, lived with and, in one case, married. The show offers an aural tour and history of the Peace Corps with instrumental music, singing, and natural sounds from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the former Eastern Bloc.

Participants in the documentary include: a member of the very first Peace Corps cohort, sent to Ghana in 1961, who toted a portable reel-to-reel recorder; a woman who served in Sierra Leone and recorded children singing Kumbaya in 1969; a couple who married in Burkina Faso, she a Peace Corps volunteer and he a local resident; a man who trained teachers in Peru in 1970 and learned Spanish from AlejandroToledo—a past president of Peru; a current Wisconsin Public Radio employee who recorded scenes from village life in Nepal; and a farmer in Massachusetts who worked with children in Togo to produce PSAs condemning bush fires. The program also includes archive audio from the 1961 Rose Garden ceremony in which President Kennedy bid farewell to the very first volunteers.

Independent producer Amy Mayer has worked at two NPR affiliates (KUAC and WFCR) and volunteered at KPFA. She has earned awards for a public affairs program she hosted for four years and for her reporting and commentaries. She’s based in western Massachusetts and her work has aired nationally on NPR News programs such as Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition. She has also produced for Marketplace, Living on Earth, Only A Game and Justice Talking. Award-winning public radio journalist Tanya Ott, news director at WBHM in Birmingham, Alabama, is editing the documentary.