Archive - June 22, 2010

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Keep Cool
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JFK'S Cow Palace Speech: What Did Kennedy Say?
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Writers From the Peace Corps: The Lost Generation, Part Twelve

Keep Cool

by Jennifer B-C Seaver (Iran 1966–68) This essay was first published December 6, 2005 on the blog of PeaceCorpsWriters.org • DURING THE TWO YEARS THAT I SERVED in Iran as an English teacher in the 1960s, travel was strenuous, most routes, unpaved, and communications, almost impossible. People often showed up — or didn’t, even when they had written ahead to say they were coming. So, in September 1966, when Tom Dawson and David Osterberg failed to arrive in Rasht, Gilan, as planned, I was not particularly concerned. Tom had written that they planned to spend a night in Ardabil, then catch another bus down the scenic Astara road, which drops thousands of feet to the shores of the Caspian Sea and, if all went well, they’d arrive in Rasht by nightfall. The next day, we’d go on to our workshop in Isfahan. I had traveled that road earlier in the . . .

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JFK'S Cow Palace Speech: What Did Kennedy Say?

In a comment on the site the other day, my good friend Dick Irish wrote about the goals of the Peace Corps, saying, rightly, ” In 1961, the Cold War war was a freakin’ obsession in America. To push PC legislation through Congress, it was necessary to integrate intensive training of new recruits in the Theory and Practice, dare I write it[?], of Marxism-Leninism. In my PC training group we absorbed three hours per week on the subject. Thus could Shriver and Moyers go to the Hill and intimate that Volunteers – once in place overseas – would be personal bulwarks against the Red Menace.” Not being an scholar, but hanging around them, I thought it might be best to go back to what academics are fond of calling, ‘original sources’ so I dug up JFK’s Cow Palace Speech. This was a speech given a week before the election in the . . .

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Writers From the Peace Corps: The Lost Generation, Part Twelve

Expatriates and exiles Peace Corps writers are, at least for a while, expatriates and exiles from their culture, and from that experience they gain a new perspective, even a new vocabulary, as Richard Wiley recalls from living in Korea. “As I started to learn Korean I began to see that language skewed actual reality around, and as I got better at it I began to understand that it was possible to see everything differently. Reality is a product of language and culture, that’s what I learned.”      The experience is also intensely educational. The late novelist Maria Thomas said of her time in Ethiopia, “it was a great period of discovery. There was the discovery of an ancient world, an ancient culture, in which culture is so deep in people that it becomes a richness.” For all these writers, their Peace Corps years were a time to learn the rules . . .

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