“Fifty Years Fly By” by Ada Jo Mann (Chad)



Fifty Years Fly By

Ada Jo Mann (Chad 1967-69)


Am I still the girl in that photo

from Peace Corps training

in the Virgin Island of St. Croix

full of hope and promise

for a world without war

where no one goes hungry

and women rule from

beyond the kitchen

where skin color is admired

for the beauty of its hue

and good deeds trump

wealth and greed

where science is a weapon

against sickness and our past

crimes of ignorance?

Fifty years fly by and the girl

in that photo has become

a white-haired woman

with the same

hopes and dreams

but in this present photo

a tear glistens

on her cheek.


Ada Jo Mann  began her career in international development and social change as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Chad from 1967-69. As a partner in Innovation Partners International, she collaborates with clients on strength-based approaches to strategic planning; organization design; and whole system change and has advised and trained over 1500 leaders in more than 50 countries.

She was Director of The GEM Initiative, a multi-million dollar grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to improve the leadership and organizational capacity of non-governmental organizations in all regions of the world. She was the co-creator and first Director of the Small Project Assistance Program (SPA), a grant program for Peace Corps volunteers funded by USAID which began in 1983 and is still ongoing.

Ada Jo is a co-author of Positive Family Dynamics: Appreciative  Inquiry Questions to Bring Out the Best in Families (Taos Institute Tempo Series, 2008) 



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  • Chad was such a special place for so many of us. Your poem captures the wonder that we ever held such ideals, and then bludgeoned with the realities we faced, when we could have abandoned those ideals, we find them peaking through, lifting their heads above the debris to be counted once again as what is guiding us to hope.

  • Ada Jo, you are extraordinary! Such a beautiful poem. What else have you written that I should read? Have you written your own book yet? I’m working on mine and want to see yours!

  • Half a century – double the hope – inner joy. Thanks for the poetic remembrance! B2 (India 51,1967-69)

  • Beautiful poem Ada Jo. It just shows that our true purpose, hopes and dreams, last a lifetime. Even as our hair goes white, the girl inside lives on even when we become a little disillusioned. I read the poem, and then go onto read the lifetime of contributions, and I know you have made a progress in your dreams with all of the people you have touched in your life.

  • Nice, Ada Jo. You speak for many RPCVs who still hold their hopes and dreams in this cynical time where greed trumps altruism.

  • Ada Jo, your poem captures the feelings of those volunteers who understood the job, and understood the hopes that Pres JFK, Sargent Shriver, and Sen Hubert Humphrey had for us, following our PC service. Their hopes for the difference they wanted us to make.

    We have a sizeable Peace Corps Caucus in the Congress, of which my New Mexico congressman is a member. I think all of the Caucus members should read your poem, and I will send it to them. Thanks, John Turnbull Ghana-3 Geology and Nyasaland/Malawi -2 Geology Assignment 1963, -64, -65,

  • WOW! What a beautiful meaningful poem! Only a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer could write such expressive yet pointed thoughts that pertains to humankind. Per your poem there is no doubt the that you are still that beautiful young girl in the picture who still yearns for goodwill that improves the quality of life for people no matter their skin color, language, shape of their steeple, governmental leadership, education level, poor, rich, poorly dressed or unemployed. You devoted a portion of your life to calm mountains of strife around the world. I am proud of you for not giving up and still yearn for hope, promise, world without war, no hunger, women rule beyond the kitchen, admiration for skin color beauty, good deeds, science as a weapon and dreams. Ada Jo, your poem made me think, “If only Jack Kennedy knew what his goal for the Peace Corps has done for humankind around the world.” Congratulations for writing such a heartfelt poem. You are the greatest!

  • Thank you, Ada Jo. You have touched my heart…again. That yearning we shared is still alive. I believe those tears on our cheeks are watering our souls for the next round of hope and promise for our collective evolution.

  • I love it and I am not a poetry lover!
    You inspire me.. March 3 I turn 80. I am constructing my own 80. What are the new rules? So what is the story with narrower band width? For someone who never ran out of energy this discernment stuff is disconcerting.
    Keep on writing and I will too.

  • Lovely, as always. I think that tear glistens on all the cheeks of us who served and are now grey haired. Very moving.

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