Monday, February 24, 2014

A Glance at Deaf Peace Corps of America

In 1960, President John F. Kennedy challenged the students at the University of Michigan to create a world of peace and friendship. These students lead a movement that then inspired an entire federal agency devoted to their passion. Just one year later, the official Peace Corps were established. In 2011, Peace Corps director Aaron Williams praised the deaf volunteers that devote their time to providing a healthy, educated environment for young, deaf citizens of less fortunate countries. 

"Deaf volunteers in the early years of Peace Corps were pioneers and since then, many more have continued their legacy of service. (Deaf) volunteers have strengthened communities by building greenhouses and digging wells, promoting HIV awareness, and advocating for the rights of local deaf communities," said Williams 

Returned Deaf Peace Corp Volunteers pose at Gallaudet University Museum with Peace Corp Director Aaron Williams ( 

In 1992, a fairly large branch of the Corps agreed to provide all students with the same standard of education, regardless of the state of their hearing. In fact, deaf and hearing volunteers alike in countries such as Kenya, Bulgaria, Jamaica, and more are using sign language to conduct core classes for young hard-of-hearing and deaf students. 

"Speaking to teachers and the principal, I helped them realize that the only thing that deaf people cannot do is hear, and they are capable of doing everything a hearing individual can," said former freelance interpreter Megan Hicks who works on education in Jamaica. Hicks works diligently with 43 deaf students, and holds sign language classes for the general public. Generally, these children learn with the Picture Exchange Communication System. This system functions in a way that aids children in effectively conveying a message, and learning how to properly sign it in future reference.   

Deaf Student of Megan Hicks in Jamaica learns his alphabet in ASL (US Embassy)

It is now the third annual year of the Ghana School for the Deaf Leadership camp. This camp was originated in 2012 by deaf graduate of Colby College, Lauren Corke, who realized that despite the large population of deaf youth in Ghana, these individuals experienced intense stigmatization and isolation. "We hope to instill a sense of pride in the deaf in Ghana, which will motivate them to further pursue their goals and take a spotlight in their communities instead of being shunned," said Corke. 

Ghana School for The Deaf Students with founder and volunteer Lauren Corke  (

Since the Peace Corps were established just 53 years ago, global awareness has surfaced not only in the capabilities of these bright, deaf children - but also in the elitism of their determination and extensive willingness to learn. Deaf and hearing volunteers alike make it possible for these kids to communicate and excel. 


  1. Language is the only way to communicate to others in this world. Not only learning a language would help us, one must try to adhere to the ethics followed. Thanks for submitting a wonderful content in here. This was truely useful to me. Thanks :)

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