There’s a party in Washington, D.C. this week with a hundred ways to commemorate Peace Corps’ 50th. Whatever ways you choose, you’ll be sharing stories from the past and present with old friends and new.

A highlight will surely be Sunday’s March of Flags when a band of several thousand individuals stretches out from the National Cemetery toward The Mall -  beads of color on multiple strings. For most volunteers, the time in the Peace Corps was a time of isolation from fellow volunteers, other Americans, other Westerners. One bead or maybe two together in a community. That was an important part of it. Holidays, Peace Corps Office visits, and a few spontaneous meetings did bring volunteers into one another’s company, but more often volunteers worked, socialized, shopped, ate, and traveled with their neighbors and fellow community residents who became their friends.

Group XV Afghanistan was more a group experience.  For starters, we were all single and female. In training we were all focused on the same program and same role, smallpox vaccinator. No teachers, surveyors, accountants, secretaries, or others. After training, we were put into one of two groups, and each group established a home base, hotel or house, to live in when not out vaccinating. We were right under each other’s feet whether at the base waiting for work assignments or out in the field working and living together each day. After the first year, we truly knew each other’s stories, family members, strengths and foibles. It was no harder, no easier than other assignments, just different.

This fact made the creating of one story from many easier than it might have been. While a director/producer pair interveiwed each woman separately, later during editing of the interviews, they heard women finishng one another’s sentences.

The documentary is called, “Once in Afghanistan” (trailer at DirtRoadDocumentaries). It elicited sighs, laughter, tears and an impromptu second show in Fort Collins, CO, at a celebration there of Peace Corps founders from Colorado State in 2008.

Come see it at the 50th, Thursday September 22, at the beautiful McGowan Theater at The National Archives. Free screening at noon. It’s a wonderful way to begin sharing your stories.