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Courtesy Chicago Intl. Film Festival

A Towering Task: The Story of the Peace Corps

Narrated by Annette Bening, in 1961, President John F. Kennedy gave young Americans the opportunity to serve their country in a new way by forming the Peace Corps. Since then, more than 200,000 of them have traveled to more than 140 countries to carry out the organization’s mission of international cooperation. Nearly 60 years later, Americans – young and old alike – still want to serve their country and understand their place in the world; current volunteers work at the forefront of some of the most pressing issues facing the global community. Yet the agency has struggled to remain relevant amid sociopolitical change. More than once it had to fight for its very existence, and now – between COVID-19, a rise in nationalist sentiment, and deep cuts to governmental-agency budgets – the Peace Corps is again confronting a crisis of identity: What role should it play around the world and in the lives of engaged citizens?

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