”A Story of Volunteerism: Americans in Korea and Koreans in the World,” the vintage photography exhibit of Peace Corps volunteers in postwar South Korea, will be on display in the Russell Rotunda through Friday.
Former Peace Corps volunteers are reminding lawmakers of the program’s value this week with an exhibit in the Russell Senate Office Building’s Rotunda of vintage photographs they took while working in postwar South Korea.
Gerard A. Krzic and Stephen B. Wickman are members of Friends of Korea, a loose-knit association of former Peace Corps volunteers who served in South Korea at some point during the program’s operative years there, 1966 to 1981.
“It’s a program that costs almost no money that has huge benefits for us as well as for the countries that are recipients,” Wickman said. “Probably more for us, though, because as one person you can only do so much, but you’re touched by all these people.”
Wearing pins that read “Ask me why the Peace Corps matters,” Krzic and Wickman explained that the weeklong exhibit in the Russell Rotunda is intended to spur support and awareness for the Peace Corps 52 years after President John F. Kennedy created it by executive order.
“Like Steve said, the minimal investment the government put in him and put in other volunteers, and what we’ve done since that service, the country’s got back exponentially,” Krzic said, using Wickman as an example.
The exhibit, titled “A Story of Volunteerism: Americans in Korea and Koreans in the World,” is also sponsored by the Korea International Cooperation Agency, a South Korean program inspired by the American model of foreign volunteer service.
“That sort of became the theme of this exhibit: to talk about U.S. volunteers in Korea and the next stage, if you will, where Koreans themselves are sending out volunteers all over the world,” Friends of Korea President Nancy Kelly said.
Though the group is displaying the exhibit in a Senate office building, Friends of Korea isn’t lobbying, asking for or promoting anything, she said. The goal is to remind lawmakers of the effect the program has and of Americans’ deep affection for and friendship with the Koreans.
“There’s several layers of awareness this year,” Kelly said, citing anniversaries this year connected to the Korean War. The Defense Department is hosting an event in July, for instance, to honor and recognize all Korean War veterans.
The office of Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, helped secure the necessary permission to display the photographs in the Russell Rotunda.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.