Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Doyle visits campus, touts Peace Corps

doyle_MC_416Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle and his wife Jessica visited the University of Wisconsin Friday to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the Peace Corps — an organization they said changed their lives.

"What we gained was so much more than what we gave," Doyle said, while leading a discussion about the Peace Corps experience in Agriculture Hall.

UW has ranked number one nationally in sending Peace Corps volunteers abroad for 20 consecutive years.


The university has sent 2,714 people into service since the inauguration of the Peace Corps.

President John F. Kennedy founded the Peace Corps March 1, 1961 in an effort to promote world peace by providing aid to countries plagued with misfortune due to the plight of poverty, poor health care, inadequate education and other adverse circumstances.

The common experience of living in deprived countries for 27 months of their lives sparked an immediate bond between the Peace Corps volunteers who were otherwise strangers.

Volunteers were extremely excited to exchange stories with the governor and the first lady — a rare opportunity for most people.

Gregory Pepping, the UW Peace Corps representative, had a large role in organizing Doyle's visit and was one of the volunteers attending the discussion.

"You have something in common even if you don't know one another," Pepping said.

As Peace Corps volunteers, Jim and Jessica Doyle served as English teachers in Tunisia, a small country on the northern coast of Africa, from 1967 to 1969.

In its earliest stages, the Peace Corps sent young Americans abroad without lending any consideration to the skills and knowledge of the individual.

A college degree and the desire to help were the only requirements to working in any country that needed aid.

According to Jessica Doyle, serving in the Peace Corps was one of the most difficult, yet rewarding experiences of her and her husband's lives.

"Married couples got more remote assignments, and I'm so glad we did," she said. "After just a few days, we both realized that two young people from Wisconsin — even armed with all our good intentions — had a lot more to learn from these people [than] we had to teach."

Gov. Doyle echoed his wife's sentiment that the Peace Corps provided a life-changing experience.

"We will never take advantage of what we have in the United States today ever again," the governor said.

Currently, the Peace Corps has more structure than in the past. Destitute countries communicate with the United States and specify what kind of aid their country desires.

Peace Corps applicants are assigned to countries where their needs correlate with their individual skills.

These alterations have made American aid abroad more valuable and efficient for the underdeveloped nations, but they have not changed the passion for international outreach that the volunteers have.

Jake Vennie-Vollrath is a nominated applicant who attended the discussion Friday. He recently found out that he will be assigned to volunteer in western Africa and has been trying to learn as much as he can about the region since he found out.

Hearing the governor and the first lady, as well as other volunteers, reminisce about their experiences abroad made Vennie-Vollrath more anxious than he already was.

"Nobody ever has the same experience," Vennie-Vollrath said. "Even if there are hardships, [volunteers] are always happy when they come back."

Gov. Doyle said that he and his wife had a hard time understanding the purpose of teaching English in a country near the Sahara Desert. Years later, however, he said he learned that Tunisia has had a drastic increase in its literacy rate since 1967, when they were there.

In addition, the improvement of the quality of education in Tunisia translated into a larger and more capable workforce, which resulted in Tunisia having one of the largest economies in the region.

With a great sense of pride overcoming his expression, the governor said he was happy to be a part of that.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *