U.S. Senator Kay Hagan, D-N.C., practiced her West African drumming skills Friday on a trip to Winston-Salem to promote the Peace Corps. She joined Peace Corps national director Aaron Williams as he travels around the country and world celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps. They led a panel discussion at Winston-Salem State University focused on recruiting minorities to the Peace Corps.
Hagan and Williams then visited Paisley IB Magnet School they met with students, teachers, and parents. They joined the school's West African Drum ensemble as the seventh graders performed the "Moribayassa" dance rhythm.
Williams said many minorities come from families where they are expected to contribute immediately upon graduation from college. Williams said the Peace Corps is working with more organizations to recruit more African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asians. Speaking of his own experience volunteering in the Dominican Republic, Williams called the Peace Corps a "tremendous investment" that will pay lifelong dividends.
Hagan, whose nephew was a member of the Peace Corp, said the experience is probably worth as much, if not more, than a college education.
“It really shows you what the real world is like in so many other places,” she said. “And we don’t live in a bubble. We have to have an understanding of our global peers.”
Nearly 250 North Carolinians are currently serving as Peace Corps volunteers. Since the Peace Corps was established in 1961, nearly 3,900 Americans from North Carolina have served as volunteers.
UNC Chapel Hill, which had 94 volunteers serving last year, is ranked third among large schools where volunteers have graduated before joining the Peace Corps.