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Students paint Peace Corps Mural
Students paint Peace Corps Mural
North Quincy student's art centerpiece of Peace Corps mural
Jul 22, 2004
Patriot Ledger Quincy, Ma
by Sara Perkins
The Patriot Ledger
In September, visitors to the New England Regional Office of the Peace Corps in Boston will be greeted by none other the late President John F. Kennedy.
An image of a black-robed, grinning Kennedy bearing a flaming torch is the centerpiece of a new world map mural painted for the corps by North Quincy High School sophomore Jimmy Tran.
Tran, 14, encouraged by North Quincy art teacher Angela Miller, responded to the corps' call for adolescent artists and impressed them with his preliminary drawings.
"He was the one that really sat down and put something together," said James Arena-DeRosa, director of the regional office. "We chose him on the strength of that."
Making a first foray into acrylic paint, Tran, who was born in Vietnam and moved to Quincy at the age of 2 with his family, worked after school for weeks to complete the mural.
"He had not experienced a lot of painting before he started the 4- by-6-foot canvas and had never worked that large before," Miller said. "By the end of this mural, Jimmy seems to paint with as much ease as he uses colored pencils and other art materials."
He researched the history and mission of the Peace Corps to complete the mural.
Kennedy earned central placement in the painting because in 1961 he conceived and championed the Peace Corps program. Forty-two years later, the corps has more than 7,000 volunteers serving 27-month stints in about 70 countries.
"We thought we'd like to have a world map that would incorporate the history of the Peace Corps and the cultures around the world where we serve," Arena-DeRosa said. The project was inspired by "this big blank wall spot" left after office renovations, he said.
The map has vignettes representing the five areas in which corps volunteers work: health, education, environment, business and agriculture. Tran also researched regions to find ways to illustrate each continent.
"One of the things that we're trying to do in this ... is get more young people to the point where they have a better understanding of what Peace Corps is," Arena-DeRosa said. "He learned a lot."
"We tried not to change too much so that it would be through the eyes of a young person," he said.
The mural will be unveiled and hung in September in a celebration of the first generation of Peace Corps volunteers, some of whom live in the area. The first group of 51 shipped out in September 1961, only six months after Kennedy signed an executive order creating the program.
Tran is in Florida and could not be reached for comment.
Sara Perkins may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When this story was prepared, here was the front page of PCOL magazine:
This Month's Issue: August 2004
Teresa Heinz Kerry celebrates the Peace Corps Volunteer as one of the best faces America has ever projected in a speech to the Democratic Convention. The National Review disagreed and said that Heinz's celebration of the PCV was "truly offensive." What's your opinion and who can come up with the funniest caption for our Current Events Funny?
Exclusive: Director Vasquez speaks out in an op-ed published exclusively on the web by Peace Corps Online saying the Dayton Daily News' portrayal of Peace Corps "doesn't jibe with facts."
In other news, the NPCA makes the case for improving governance and explains the challenges facing the organization, RPCV Bob Shaconis says Peace Corps has been a "sacred cow", RPCV Shaun McNally picks up support for his Aug 10 primary and has a plan to win in Connecticut, and the movie "Open Water" based on the negligent deaths of two RPCVs in Australia opens August 6. Op-ed's by RPCVs: Cops of the World is not a good goal and Peace Corps must emphasize community development.
Read the stories and leave your comments.