After Impressive Career, Parkersburg Resident Begins Peace Corps Service in the Eastern Caribbean
WASHINGTON, June 9, 2015 – David Kurtz, 57, of Parkersburg, W.Va., has been accepted into the Peace Corps and will depart June 11 for the Eastern Caribbean to begin training as an English teacher. Kurtz will live and work in a community to support primary school English teachers, organize reading groups for young readers and develop school libraries.
David Kurtz Peace Corps Eastern Caribbean“I want to help others. I want to demonstrate that real Americans aren’t like what foreigners may see on TV,” Kurtz said.
Kurtz is the son of Harry and Joan Kurtz, of Parkersburg, and the father of Halley Kurtz, of Morgantown, W.Va.. He is a graduate of Parkersburg High School and attended the University of Charleston, in Charleston, W.Va., where he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1980. Kurtz then went to West Virginia University, in Morgantown, where he earned both a JD and a Master of Public Administration degree.
In May, Kurtz retired after a 30-year career in the federal government. From 1985 to 1987, he worked at NASA headquarters, in Washington, D.C., and then transferred to the Department of Treasury in his hometown of Parkersburg. Kurtz served as a member of the Wood County School Board from 1992 to 2000 and also worked as an adjunct professor of political science at West Virginia University at Parkersburg.
“I’ve always had a strong sense of patriotism and public service,” said Kurtz of his desire to join the Peace Corps. “I love my country and I realize how lucky I was to have been born here. I made sure my students at WVU Parkersburg understood how lucky they were to be born here too. I always gave them a practice test on their first night of class based on real questions from the U.S. citizenship test.”
“My secret plan if I had dropped out of law school was to join the Peace Corps,” continued Kurtz. “Fortunately, I made it through law school, but I always appreciated that the Peace Corps ‘had my back’ if I had needed it. Now that I am retiring, I can finally ‘pay them back.’ More retirees should consider service in the Peace Corps.”
During the first three months of his service, Kurtz will live with a host family in Eastern Caribbean to become fully immersed in the country’s language and culture. After acquiring the necessary skills to assist his community, Kurtz will be sworn into service and assigned to a community in Eastern Caribbean, where he will live and work for two years with the local people.
“I had the chance to meet with Peace Corps volunteers working in the Caribbean during a stop on a cruise. They, like everyone I’ve ever met who has served in the Peace Corps, treasured their service. I’m sure this will be a life-altering experience for me,” Kurtz concluded.
Kurtz joins the 14 West Virginia residents currently serving in the Peace Corps and more than 656 West Virginia residents who have served in the Peace Corps since 1961.
Peace Corps volunteers reflect the rich diversity of America, and about seven percent of currently serving volunteers are age 50 or over. They bring a wealth of experience to their assignments, meeting the critical needs of people in communities around the world. There is no upper age limit to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer, and the oldest volunteer today is age 79.
About Peace Corps/Eastern Caribbean: There are 58 volunteers in the Eastern Caribbean working with their communities on projects in education and youth and community development. During their service in the Eastern Caribbean, volunteers learn to speak local languages, including Vincentian/Grenadian dialect and French Creole, also known as Kweyol. More than 3,875 Peace Corps volunteers have served in the Eastern Caribbean since the program was established in 1961.
About the Peace Corps: The Peace Corps sends the best and brightest Americans abroad on behalf of the United States to tackle the most pressing needs of people around the world. Volunteers work at the grassroots level to develop sustainable solutions that address challenges in education, health, economic development, agriculture, environment and youth development. Through their service, volunteers gain a unique cultural understanding and a life-long commitment to service that positions them to succeed in today’s global economy. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, nearly 220,000 Americans of all ages have served in 140 countries worldwide. For more information, visit www.peacecorps.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.