Video: Reflecting on 55 Years of Peace Corps

A man stands next to a hand-painted sign that reads "Tumutumu School for the Deaf, Motto: Inability to hear is not inability to perform"
Allen stands at the entrance of Kenya’s TumuTumu School for the Deaf near Karatina, where he taught two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
Whether Deaf or hearing, "you always have something to contribute," as Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Allen Neece will tell you.

Fascinated with the overseas experiences of a friend who joined the Peace Corps, Allen Neece followed suit and discovered a new outlet for sharing his passion for education. Allen, who is Deaf, worked with Deaf communities in Kenya, Zambia, and Guyana (2007-2011) as a Peace Corps Volunteer. He was also a volunteer with Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) in Rwanda for two years, 2012-2013.

Those experiences led him to his current position at the Peace Corps headquarters in Washington, DC, where he works to expand Deaf-related programs abroad and improve opportunities for Deaf and hard of hearing applicants to serve. In honor of Peace Corps Week, Allen reflects on his experiences and shares his message to other Americans, and to Deaf and hard of hearing Americans in particular, about what they can offer and gain as volunteers.

Video Transcript

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[Voiced by interpreter] Hello, my name is Allen Neece - this is my name sign. I was born deaf here in Washington, DC. I was a Peace Corps volunteer in three countries: Kenya, Zambia, and Guyana. Over four years, I’ve traveled through all these countries, where I taught Deaf people in different communities. I empowered them through education and I also learned about their world and shared my experiences with people in America. Now I work in the office of the Peace Corps headquarters in Washington, DC. I advise how to improve placement of Deaf and hard of hearing applicants and I also work to advise posts overseas on how to improve Deaf-related programs.

I was a teacher in Los Angeles, California, where I taught English for several years. I started wondering about international experiences. A friend of mine served in Kenya with Peace Corps, and I was fascinated with her work. I wanted to go and interact and share my knowledge as an English teacher. So I went and traveled through three countries over four years and through my travels, I not only taught them, but they taught me as well. When I returned to America, I shared my experience. All of this supported my goal to share information between communities here and there, to relationships and understanding between Americans and other countries to promote peace.

People often ask me, “Why should I serve as a Volunteer?” I tell them, you always have something to contribute as a person. We live in America. We’re lucky people. We live in the most powerful country in the world. Why not share what you have? Other people can benefit from you. I always tell Deaf Americans that many of our brothers and sisters who live overseas are hungry to learn. Serving gives you the opportunity to travel, to see the world, and to share and empower new communities. Maybe you can learn from them and share it back in America. Life is short; grab the opportunity!

Hello! Happy Peace Corps Week! 55 years - wow! Here’s to 55 more years going forward! Thanks.

Visual Description

Allen Neece is filmed in an office with beige walls and blue panels. He signs in American Sign Language for the duration of the video, and the camera views him from different angles while maintaining a visual on Allen’s hands. Title text reads: Allen Neece, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Peace Corps Staff." At times the screen splits so that as Allen signs, we can also view photos from his past travels as a Peace Corps volunteer, including: Allen standing with arms crossed in front of a large sign that reads “Peace Corps Kenya” with the Peace Corps logo; Allen amid a group of boys outdoors on a grass field, his hands placed atop the heads of two boys; and Allen looks over his shoulder where a chameleon is perched as boys observe. Video concludes with title slide of MIUSA logo.

Author: 

Ashley Holben