Volunteers Who Found Love in the Peace Corps and Settled in Hamakua to be Honored at Peace Day Parade

Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCV’s) make up a very special demographic along the Big Island’s Hamakua Coast.  A recent Sunday afternoon “photo op” brought together seven couples from the area, all of whom met and married during, or as a result of, their service in Peace Corps.  They, along with numerous other RPCV’s, will be special honorees in Honokaa’s Peace Day Parade on Sunday, September 18, in celebration of Peace Day and the Peace Corps’ 50th Anniversary this year.

Peace Corps Volunteers

Pictured, L to R. Front row: Joe and Karen Clarkson (Pa`auilo Mauka); Patricia Andrade Stout and Andrew Stout (Ahualoa). Second Row: Jodean and Romel DelaCruz (Ahualoa). Third row: Steve and Jacinta Hanks (Pa`auilo Mauka), Gloria and David Myklebust (Pa'auilo Mauka). Fourth row: Bill Lichter (Kapulena). Not shown, Jane Lichter and Walter Mosch & Janet Goh Mosch (Pa'auilo Mauka). Photo by Sarah Anderson

Romel Delacruz, retired Executive Director of Hale Ho’ola and Jodean Delacruz, former principal of Honokaa High School, met on assignment in the Philippines in the 1960’s.

About the same time, David and Gloria Myklebust, both educators, met in New York City before their service in Cameroon, on Africa’s central western coast.  They’ve been told they are the first couple to be given permission to marry while serving in the Peace Corps.

Walter Mosch met future wife Janet Goh in graduate school in international studies at Columbia University, not long after Walter’s service in Cameroon, 20 years after the Myklebust’s (who coincidentally live next door).

Steve and Jacinta Hanks fell in love in Papua New Guinea during Steve’s service in the 1990’s.  They both teach at Honokaa High School, and have devoted countless hours to helping the people of Jacinta’s homeland, the Carteret Islands.

Other Hamakua residents with ties to the Peace Corps include Bill and Jane Lichter (Saipan), Joe and Karen Clarkson (Marshall Islands), Andrew and Patricia Andrade Stout (Ecuador), Theresa Lee and Stephen Oldfather.

What makes Hamakua such a “peace-full” community?  Hard to say.  The rural lifestyle of the former sugar cane plantation town is a factor; the island’s tolerance for families of mixed races may be another, as well as work opportunity at Honokaa High School, good weather for growing things, and a strong sense of place.

Romel Delacruz estimates that of the 200,000 RPCV’s since the Peace Corps’ inception in 1961, 200 live in Hawaii.  Some RPCV’s trained in Waipio Valley, where a full-scale hamlet was constructed to replicate a Southeast Asian village.

In celebration of the Peace Corps 50th Anniversary, an island-wide reunion is planned for November 14-21, with events in Kona, Hilo and Waipio Valley.  For more information, visit www.rpcvhi.org.

The 5th Annual Parade & Festival for the United Nations International Day of Peace steps off at 11 a.m. from Honokaa High School, and proceeds down Mamane Street.  With Taiko drums, marching bands, Bon Dance, belly dancers, jazz, rock & roll, hula and more, the Peace Day Parade is a “moving stage” of music, dance and entertainment with a message.  Concurrently, a Peace Day Festival takes place at the Honokaa Sports Complex from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with great local and ethnic foods, artists and crafters, live entertainment and a large community Bon Dance for everyone to join.

The 5th Annual Parade & Festival for the United Nations International Day of Peace are presented by the Peace Committee of the Honokaa Hongwanji Buddhist Temple in cooperation with the United Nations and numerous community organizations. Major financial support has been provided by the County of Hawaii Department of Research and Development (Tourism Division) CPEP and the Social Concerns Committee of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii.

For more information visit www.PeaceDayParade.org or email info@peacedayparade.org

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