This piece is courtesy of Leia Alex of the National Peace Corps Association.
From Oct. 12-16, 2015, 26 of the remaining Colombia I (1961-1963) Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) reunited in Galveston, Texas to reconnect and honor their time together, more than 50 years after their first experience in Colombia.
Colombia I included 62 Volunteers who were assigned, along with local counterparts, to do community development work in rural Colombia. Primarily, they were instrumental in getting the Colombian government’s fledgling Acción Communal program up and running. According to CARE, the organization that administered the group even before Peace Corps was fully operational worldwide, Colombia I Volunteers played a role in the realization of the following local projects: 44 schools, 29 farm-to-market roads, 27 aqueducts, 4 health centers, 100 sports fields, 1000 latrines, and 26 cooperatives.
Two members of the Colombia I team, David Crozier and Larry Radley, were the first Peace Corps Volunteers to pass away during service, in a plane crash in the Colombian jungle on Easter Sunday, 1962. Peace Corps later named two training facilities in Puerto Rico, Camp Crozier and Camp Radley, in their honor.
In a time of doubt and uncertainty, the success of Colombia I helped secure the future of the Peace Corps, demonstrating the important impact of service abroad. Now, the remaining members of Colombia I still get together every few years, in addition to the national NPCA reunions that happen every five years in D.C.
Following their four days in Galveston, Colombia-I RPCV Darrel Young composed the following piece describing the reunion.
Oh Galveston, welcomed, with charms wide open, twenty-six of the remaining fifty members of Colombia I, along with twenty wives, including two widows, for a get-together age-appropriately entitled “The Older We Get, The Better We Were!”
Texas was perfect, not only the weather, but in Texas, exaggeration and embellishment are not only allowed, they’re admired! Days and nights, enhanced by succulent seafood and occasional sips of Aguardiente Cristal and/or Ron Viejo de Caldas, were spent sharing ourselves with one another and with the city at large. Everyone had their moment, recounting how Peace Corps made each of us more.
We heard by phone and text from those who couldn’t be there. We got updated on Peace Corps and NPCA. We walked the seawall; we swam; we took a boat tour into the twilight. We dined together and honored those no longer with us.
We reaffirmed how much we are still a part of one another.
We discovered once again that we are at our best when we are together.