Next month, the Peace Corps will celebrate its 50th anniversary.

Back in 1961, the Peace Corps was little more than an idealistic blueprint for America's young people, the ambitious brainchild of youthful, newly elected President John F. Kennedy.

Over time, thousands of inspired Americans flocked to communities all around the globe to build infrastructure projects with sweat, peace and hope.

The late Sargent Shriver, a graduate of Canterbury School in New Milford and a brother-in-law of the president, was the agency's first director. Like Shriver, many local people embraced the opportunity to try to help improve the lives of people around the world.

We have talked with some local Peace Corps alumni -- and some local folks currently serving in the Peace Corps -- and we have asked them why they joined and what they learned. How did this experience change their lives -- and the lives of those they helped?

For the answers to these and other questions, be sure to read our Peace Corps coverage Feb. 20, exclusively in the print edition of The News-Times.