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Posted on Thu, Oct 14, 2010 : 10:46 a.m.

University of Michigan's celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps: on the Union steps at 2 a.m.

By Trisha Paul


A crowd gathered outside of the Union at 2 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 14 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps.

Thinking about how the Peace Corps started made me think about just how revolutionary its concept was at that time. 

It’s hard for me to imagine a world where dedication to global service was hardly considered. But it's exciting to think about just how much that organization has grown, and just how much the momentum behind global service in itself has increased.

By around 1 a.m., a diverse group of people including University of Michigan students, faculty and other residents of the community had gathered on the steps outside the Michigan Union. We stood at the back so that we would actually be able to see everything instead of having to peer in between heads.

Our good view, however, didn’t mean much when we couldn’t hear the U-M Educational Theater Co. Their performance was done entirely without microphones, which meant that no one on the road or across the street from the union could hear a word of what they were saying.

The amazing thing was, despite the inaudibility of the short theater performance, no one left.

Instead, it just meant that everyone was that much quieter, trying to catch whatever faint fragments of the performance that they could. With a crowd of what I think was close to 300 people, I don’t think I’ve ever heard that kind of silence. It just showed how much everyone who was there cared. I mean, they had come out at 2 a.m. to be a part of it.

I guess my favorite part was really just the atmosphere. Just being out in the drizzling night and standing in the bright street lights outside of the union was not something that happens everyday, or every year, for that matter. The ceremony and other events have been going on for the past few weeks to commemorate a single moment in time that has changed so many lives. And to think that it all started on the steps of the union is pretty exciting.

When you stop to think about what it really means, it’s pretty amazing: to think that the U-M was, has been, and is, so involved with the Peace Corps and everything that it stands for. To realize that such life-changing events have happened here and revolutionary ideas have arisen from here. To know that people at the U-M are really trying to change the world. And for the most part, we’re succeeding.

It just makes me really glad to be here and to be able to be a part of it all.

Trisha Paul is a freshman at the University of Michigan who writes about her first year at college. She is a former editor of The Emery, Huron High School's student newspaper.