Inaugural Recipient: Harris Wofford Joint Service Award

Inaugural Recipient: Harris Wofford Joint Service Award
Peace Corps and AmeriCorps!

Published by ghettogirltravels

Welcome to KJ Hunt, aka “GhettoGirlTravels,” was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. A former sergeant in the United States Air Force and Peace Corps Volunteer in East Africa, Armenia and Ethiopia GGT longs for the open road, a hot cup of tea, and free Internet service. Instagram @Ghettogirltravels TikTok @GhettoGirlTravels Facebook @GhettoGirlTravels 


Harris Wofford served as an advisor to Martin Luther King, Jr. Wofford also helped to launch the United States Peace Corps and served as its Associate Director. While a member of the US Senate, Harris led the effort to establish the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) which created the AmeriCorps program. The Harris Wofford award is given to individuals who have successfully completed full-time service in both AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps (including Peace Corps Response).

Training site, near Lake Naivasha, Kenya.

On Saturday, July 13, 1985, I sat in the basement of Thompson Markward Hall, a female residency, on Capital Hill, and watched the televised Live AID concert. The following Monday, I walked to the Peace Corps HQ office, during my lunch break, and filled out an application. Eight months later, I was offered a secondary English teacher position, in Kenya. My site was 100 kilometers south of Nairobi and the school was a 5k walk, up and down hill, from the nearest village. I was the only teacher living on the school’s compound. A security guard was hired, to keep me safe, at night.

Peace Corps with a touch of Red Cross (and yes, I packed my vest)!

I retired from Duke University, on February 28, 2017. Three weeks later, I arrived in Yerevan, Armenia. I was sixty years old. Like in Peace Corps Kenya, I taught high school English. My permanent site was just a short ten miles from Yerevan. During the summer, I held English language events, at both the local Youth Center and the Armenian Red Cross Society Soup Kitchen. I lived with a local host family during my entire service.

You can take a librarian out of the library but …

A month after my COS (Close of Service) from Armenia, I was on a flight to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. My training site was in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region. My permanent site, in the Amhara Region, was two hours north of Addis Ababa and 9265 feet above sea level. I taught ninth grade English. The following March, I received a text message to close my local bank account and make my way to headquarters, in Addis Ababa. By the week’s end, seven thousand volunteers, serving worldwide, were evacuated.

A short stop in Hawaii

All evacuated volunteers were asked to do a mandatory 14 day COVID-19 quarantine. I decided to do mine in Honolulu. I quickly changed my home of record back to Hawaii. I had an old PC Kenya friend living there who understood all the COVID-19 protocols. I remained there for three months. Early June, I applied for a Peace Corps Response assignment in Jamaica. When the start date was postponed, for the second time, I made other plans.

AmeriCorps Alaska to the rescue!

One of my Peace Corps Ethiopia friends told me about applying to AmeriCorps. I agreed with her about feeling that I was just not done serving and also applied. We were both assigned the School District in Sitka, Alaska. I worked with the Home School Program, housed at the Kindergarten-First grade school. I manned the COVID desk three hours a day and then cataloged library materials for the Homeschool, allowing parents to request items and have them delivered to their cars. After finishing my ten month contract, I was asked to do a second year.

A life of Service

Today, I am very honored to be an inaugural recipient of the Harris Wofford Joint Service Award. Service to my country began at age seventeen, when I had my mother sign me into the United States Air Force. Growing up in Detroit, I knew about John F. Kennedy’s campaign speech, on the steps of the Michigan Union, that launched the Peace Corps. I grew up knowing that one day I would join.

During my pre service training in Peace Corps Kenya, I told a friend that I would serve again, after I retired. As it turned out, I was fortunate enough to do exactly that and more.

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