Feb. 13, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Members Cherish Experiences in Peace Corps

Courtesy Office of Rep. Sam Farr
Rep. Sam Farr poses with students whom he taught during his time volunteering with the Peace Corps in Colombia from 1964 to 1966.

Rep. John Garamendi
Ethiopia, 1966-68
Garamendi was a football player at the University of California, Berkeley, poised to play professionally. By the start of his senior year in 1965, teams such as the Oakland Raiders and the Dallas Cowboys were interested in drafting him.

But his course changed when he asked his girlfriend, Patti, to be his wife. Patti planned to join the Peace Corps and told him she didn’t think it work out between them.

“And I said, ‘Well, I’m heading for the Peace Corps, too,’” he said.

The two married in December 1965. By June 1966, they were off to Ethiopia, where they were stationed as teachers and helped with community development.

Even today, their relationship with the agency still hasn’t ended. Two daughters, one son and a daughter-in-law all served as Peace Corps volunteers. Patti was the associate director of the agency during the Clinton administration.

And because of his Peace Corps experience, Garamendi helped negotiate a treaty between Ethiopia and Eritrea when the countries were at war in the late 1990s.

He recalled that Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki had been taught by Peace Corps volunteers in high school. So had Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

“Those two heads of state were willing to meet with American Peace Corps volunteers when neither of them were willing to meet with the American government,” Garamendi said. “Our work stood on the shoulders of the volunteers who had been there before.”

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