After graduating from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Kolbe joined the Peace Corps instead of going into a career in medical technology.
He taught English to 57 students in a school with only a thatched roof and cracked stone floors. He was on a deserted island with no electricity or running water and said he had several encounters with sharks and barracudas. During his time in the Peace Corps he visited Pitcairn Island, where "Mutiny on the Bounty" is said to have taken place.
Kolbe resigned and was sent to El Salvador, where he taught at the National School of Agriculture. He was in the central American country during the devastating earthquake in 1986.
Joan Canterbury had travel in mind when she joined the Peace Corps in 1963.
"I was sold when I got a telegram telling me I was going to train in Hawaii for 10 weeks," Canterbury said. "Even if I didn't make it, I would never get to go to Hawaii for 10 weeks again."
She taught English for three years in the Philippines.
"It was an eye opening experience of living in another culture," said Canterbury, who teaches English as a second language at the Seton Asian Center in Lawrence.
Jerusha Ryan of West Newbury taught English in the Marshall Islands, a Micronesian nation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, from 1966 to 1968.
"I was looking for a different experience. It was pretty idyllic," Ryan said.
Serving across the globe inspired her to travel, which she has done to more than 40 countries and for the past 10 years to open her home to exchange students who come to Merrimack College to study.
"I would do it again because I developed relationships with people instead of just traveling," she said.
George Koehler of North Andover, who volunteered in Ghana from 1963 to 1965 was inspired by President John F. Kennedy.