Archive - February 5, 2016

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The Cold Hand of History, Part 5
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Cold Hand of History, The Peace Corps 4

The Cold Hand of History, Part 5

The Volunteers arrived in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa,” Gary May continues, “on September 7. (They had finished Training on August 20, 1962, when 278 were inducted into the Peace Corps. Training had started with 340 eight weeks earlier. While some had left Training on their own, most others were De-Selected in the final days.) As the PCVs arrived in Addis they were greeted by a gathering of American USAID and Embassy types. They disembarked, carrying musical instruments, cameras, and piles of luggage, and the sun appeared-“most unusual in this period of heavy Ethiopian rain,” one official remarked, as May quotes a cable from Addis to the Secretary of State, “conspired to make their arrival a festive occasion.” The volunteer passed quickly through customs. May quotes from John Coyne’s Ethiopia novel A Cool Breeze For Evening on how the new PCVS spoke to every Ethiopian that moved. “We were all trying . . .

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Cold Hand of History, The Peace Corps 4

The following week The New Yorker would quote Wofford’s line to the Trainees that they as PCVs in Ethiopia were the new frontier, and on July 9, 1962, the Washington Evening Star, in an article entitled, “Peace Corpsmen Trek West” APCD Bascom Story, as detailed by Gary May, explained the educational situation in Ethiopia to the Trainees where only 5 % of the children attended school, and “it was a tremendous responsibility when you consider that one half of all secondary school education will be carried on by Americans within four or five years.” The Peace Corps Staff expected that with the Volunteers the number of students enrolled in Ethiopia’s secondary schools would double. Getting ready to teach in Ethiopia, and double the number of students, the Trainees got up the next morning at 5:45 at Georgetown University and did forty minutes of physical training: push-ups, jogging, bending, turning, leaping…etc. . . .

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