"Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country." President John F. Kennedy's inaugural statement inspired Americans to serve their country for the cause of peace by living and working in the developing world. His vision created the Peace Corps in 1961, and the first volunteers arrived in Liberia in 1962. Sixty years later, in 2022, we celebrate this anniversary with our anthology, Never the Same Again: Life, Service, and Friendship in Liberia.
Storytelling has a long tradition throughout Africa. Elders have used stories to share their wisdom and knowledge through the generations, passing along their history, traditions, and lessons. Our anthology continues this tradition through stories about relationships that provide a cross-cultural awareness we can learn from and share with others. We offer a window into everyday village life: work in the classroom or the clinic; living among the people; relationships that were formed and lost; and the trials and tribulations of civil unrest and epidemics.
About the Writers
Our writers belong to Friends of Liberia (FOL), a nonprofit organization. We are former Peace Corps Volunteers, Liberians, missionaries, medical relief workers, and contractors. Our service to Liberia mattered. Our footsteps left footprints - a human connection that has endured through a lifetime of service. This connection continues through FOL's mission to support Liberia by funding educational, social, economic, and humanitarian programs. Visit FOL.org.
Now, more than ever, is the time to share our stories. Countries, communities, and even families are divided over our varying beliefs and values, whether it be religion, race, politics, pandemics, or climate change. How can we better understand and accept one another within these divisions? Many of the personal accounts in this anthology describe a culture that is unfamiliar to those who have not lived in Liberia. Our book provides a glimpse into the Liberian way of life, showing first hand, how living among its people fosters understanding and acceptance. The many people of Liberia who have survived the hardships of poverty, high morbidity and mortality, civil wars, and Ebola have something vitally important to show us about determination, resilience, survival, and hope. The relationships we developed with the people of Liberia instilled valuable lessons...ones that changed us forever.
How to Use this Book
This collection of stories and poems is rich with takeaways to inform and inspire you about the power of human connection. You will learn more about the vital importance of being a global citizen and how you can help through FOL. We also encourage you to use this book as teaching tools in your schools, faith-based communities, nonprofit or government agencies, publications, and social media. In the appendix you will find resources that help place these stories into context. You will also find information on a Speaker's Match Program where former Peace Corps Volunteers who served in Liberia are available to share their experiences with you and your audience.