February 6, 2017||Big Island: History and Culture


Peace Corps Training on Hawaii Island – A Chapter in Peace Corps History

Between 1962 and 1971, over 7,000 young American Peace Corps volunteers spent time on the Big Island, which had been chosen as the training ground for volunteers assigned to Asia and the Pacific Islands. A heart-warming film about their experiences has recently been completed after 5 years in the making.

peace corps poster Rev 2.cdr

The film was recently shown at the University of Hawaii Hilo library to returned Peace Corps volunteers who trained in Hawaii, other RPCVs who currently live on the island, and Hawaii Islanders who staffed the programs. Most of the training took place in Hilo, but other sites included Waipi’o Valley and villages along the Hamakua Coast.

Donkeys carrying supplies

The brave young people who went through the program faced many challenges, including learning unfamiliar languages, crossing Waipi’o River on foot, living in huts with no electricity or plumbing, and climbing Mauna Kea. A recurring theme in the film is the trainees’ appreciation of the hospitality and generosity of the people of Hawaii, some of whom were their teachers or staff members or local residents who gave them a lift or invited them to their homes.

Grass house

Waipio training center sign

The film will be shown at the Honoka’a Heritage Center on February 11, from noon to 2 p.m. Be ready to laugh and cry!

  • Post by: Karen B. Clarkson, RPCV, Marshall Islands 1970-1972.
  • Photos by: Bill Sakovich, RPCV, Indonesia and Morrocco ’64-’66.
  • Film by: Bill Sakovich, RPCV Indonesia and Morrocco, 64-66, and Jim Carr, RPCV Samoa ’73-74 / Solomon Islands ’75-76.

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