They said us down in the dining hall and there were chopsticks on the table and no knives and forks and it was like, well folks you are going to have to learn how to use these or you are going to starve. — , Malaysia Trainee (1965)
Hawaii’s Peace Corps ExperienceThe film traces Hawaiiâ€™s role in the development of the iconic, but often neglected American institution—the US Peace Corps. It is the untold story of thousands of American volunteers who lived and trained in Hawaii prior to Peace Corps service, and who often settled there after their life changing overseas experiences. The film tells the story of a unique training program developed from 1962-1972, during a decade of protest and social change. During this time more than 7500, primarily young men and women came to Hilo, Hawaii for months of pre-departure training for Peace Corps service in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. Volunteers were trained in language and culture, primarily by immigrants from the host countries in which they would serve, in several remote locations throughout Hawaii that resembled rural village life of the Philippines, Malaysia, and Thailand. The training sites included Waipio Valley on the Big Island and the more remote island of Molokai. The film is a fitting tribute to the contributions of Hawaii residents as the Peace Corps marks its 50th Anniversary and continues to expand in the 21st century.