San Carlos residents Linda and Gordon Gidlund recently traveled to South Korea as guests of the Korea Foundation, an organization that fosters global understanding.
Linda and Gordon were Peace Corps volunteers in South Korea who taught English in middle schools and trained Korean English teachers from 1977 to 1979. They were invited back by the foundation out of appreciation for the role they and other volunteers played in the dramatic development of the formerly impoverished and authoritarian country into one that now boasts the world’s 11th largest economy (just after Canada) and enjoys a vibrant democracy.
From 1966 to 1981, more than 2,000 Americans served as Peace Corps volunteers in South Korea, primarily as teachers and health workers. The Gidlunds’ weeklong stay included visits to museums, schools, historical sites, and, most rewardingly, the headquarters of the Korea Overseas International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), which serves as the equivalent of the Peace Corps in annually sending thousands of Korean aid workers to 56 developing countries, such as Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Ghana, and Rwanda.
South Korea is the only country that received Peace Corps assistance and that has advanced to the level of itself sending out volunteers in imitation of John F. Kennedy’s ideal.