It's what many former Peace Corps volunteers daydream about: a trip back to the country where they served.
For a lucky group of former Korea volunteers, that daydream is a reality.
This past April, when Republic of Korea President Lee Myung Bak visited the United States, he invited various groups of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who served in Korea to make a return trip to Korea as official guests of the government.
In extending that invitation, President Lee stated: “Over nearly two decades, Peace Corps volunteers provided dedicated, selfless service to the development of democratic Korea. Their work has left in the minds of the Korean people deep, heartfelt trust of the United States and gratitude toward its high-spirited people. I invite the Peace Corps volunteers to return to Korea to see the transformation of their ally and to hear its people’s appreciation of the 2,000-plus Peace Corps volunteers who played a critical role in that national transformation.”
The first arranged visit is scheduled from October 5-11 in Seoul. The Korean government is providing accommodations and hosting a number of special events and receptions, as well as facilitating visits to cultural sites and opportunities for volunteers to return to their sites of service. Nearly forty former volunteers are returning as guests of the Korean government.
One of the participants, Frances Holliday Alford, is a former Rehabilitation/Special Education volunteer from 1978 to 1980. Frances is blogging her trip at Holliday's Holiday. Here's a sample:
The next time you meet a returned Peace Corps Volunteer, before your eyes roll back into your head, consider this. I never realized until today that I walk around every day of my life with a little chunk of my heart missing somewhere. It may be that we are all different, but if I were a betting woman, my money would be on a lot of missing chunks. Ed was excited, he had a wonderful day. Even our tour guide was excited. He said that he had never been hired to take somebody to a blind school before. Back in Seoul, the other members of our group met for dinner. There were many red eyes tonight. Men who freely admitted they had cried all day. The level of emotion that we felt was powerful, palpable and genuine.
And this news story appeared today in the Korea Times.