During this season of giving, a new documentary by an East Dallas filmmaker recounts the experiences of volunteers who gave years of their lives to make a difference in the world through the Peace Corps.
“Waging Peace: The Peace Corps Experience” will air at 10 p.m. Nov. 28 on PBS affiliate KERA.
The documentary by Allen Mondell is told almost entirely through letters, journals, emails and blogs of former volunteers.
“I’ve recounted stories that capture the seemingly insurmountable challenges of ordinary Americans who were willing to endure vast cultural isolation, poverty, suspicion and, at times, antagonism — all in the hopes of making a small difference,” he said.
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy asked Americans to volunteer to help people in underdeveloped countries build better lives for themselves and their children.
Mondell was one of the first Peace Corps volunteers, working as a teacher in Sierra Leone from 1963-1965. When he returned to the United States, he started working as a journalist and eventually became a filmmaker and producer.
“We wanted to make a difference and change the world, and the world changed us,” Mondell said.
In “Waging Peace” Mondell tries to understand why volunteers were so deeply affected by their Peace Corps experience and why that experience continues to affect their lives today. The film also aims to inspire other Americans to cross cultural lines to achieve lasting peace.
For more than 40 years, Mondell and his wife, Cynthia Salzman Mondell, have used their nonprofit Media Projects Inc. to make award-winning documentaries that explore Jewish issues, women’s issues, substance abuse, mental health and more.
Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.