From the Filmmakers

On October 14, 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy stopped along the Presidential campaign trail to speak to students at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He challenged them to live and work in developing countries around the world, thus dedicating themselves to the cause of peace and development. Soon after, the Peace Corp was born and the news soon reached the shores of the Hawaiian Islands.

By 1962 hundreds of volunteers, the so called idealistic “Kennedy Kids”, has responded to the call to service and found their way to the remote Polynesian shores of Hilo, Hawaii to take part in a bold new social initiative that shaped a generation and dared thousands of young Americans to live out their ideals. Soon waves of young college graduates were traveling to the most isolated grouping of islands on earth—the Hawaiian Islands—to take part in an global social experiment that would attempt to change the world, and possibly their lives, forever.

Sending Aloha Abroad is a 30-minute documentary film that traces Hawaii’s role in this iconic, but often forgotten American volunteer institution. It is the untold story of thousands of American volunteers living and training in Hawaii, and often settling there after their Peace Corps experience.

Our documentary film utilized more than 50 hours of first-person interviews and research with many of the former Peace Corps trainees, staff, program educators, and residents of Hawaii. The film also incorporates archival footage obtained from the US National Archives, donated personal photos, and documents from the 1960s and 70s. Original photos and personal interviews reveal a diverse community that embraced this idealistic vision of changing our world.

Sending Aloha Abroad is a tribute to the past contributions of Hawaii residents originally conceived as the Peace Corps celebrated more than 50 years of service and to our future as the more than 2000 resident returned volunteers continue to promote world peace, friendship, a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans and continue to have a positive impact on Hawaii, the United States and the host countries in which they served.

Sean Aronson,
Michael B. Thomas


  1. I was inspired by John F Kennedy. So I initiated the idea of a Peace Corp site in Hawaii. It ended up with me heading up a delegation to Washington DC to pitch the idea. As the Chairman and CEO of the Mary Pickford Foundation and our partnership with the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and our involvement in film production, my hat is off to you for producing this documentary and bringing back to me a fond memory.

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