Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams presented a lecture at Campbell Hall yesterday for an ongoing celebration of the organization’s bicentennial.

The Corps, which attracts 8,500 Americans annually and works with 77 countries worldwide, allows many college graduates to actively engage in international service. Yesterday’s event discussed the future of global volunteer opportunities while commemorating the organization’s sustained involvement in international development.

Williams said the association is an important institution for those hoping to delay their entry into the workforce.

“The Peace Corps continues to offer unique opportunities for college graduates,” Williams said. “We give recent college graduates an opportunity to have a very special, very tailored leadership experience that he or she might not be able to access in other vehicles.”

UCSB alumna Ann Rowe Church, who spent two years in Honduras from 1988 to 1990, said her experience abroad was highly enriching.

“I worked on youth development in the second-largest city,” said Church, “I served my country as a political volunteer. It was a great thing to do, a good career move.”

Additionally, Williams said the Peace Corps’ distinction from other government organizations has contributed to its success.

“One of the unique things about the Peace Corps is that we only go to countries where we’re invited,” Williams said. “We work on a very grassroots level.”

Williams said the Peace Corps acts as a bridge between diverse societies.

“The Peace Corps gives you an opportunity to learn another culture, another language and to make a difference helping people try to solve their problems,” Williams said. “In the 21st century, now more than ever before, Americans need to be engaged.”

Church said her time at UCSB shaped her interest in international service and prepared her for her two-year term in the Corps.

“I was very involved in campus and local politics,” Church said. “I felt I had an impact on local elections and campus life.”

To watch a video interview with Williams, visit