We all know L. P. Hartley’s famous line from his novel, The Go-Between, “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” Yes, they did, and there is a comment by “Joey” on the site today which reminds me that I should pay more attention to just ‘what they did’ back then, in that other country.
I admit I have collected stories from those early years of the agency that paint an interesting time and want, for reasons of my own nostalgic self, to remember the best of times. Joey, however, lived through the worst of times, and she rightly remembers them, as she writes in her comment: “I love reading about the early romantic days of the Peace Corps. That is the Peace Corps I wanted so much to join. The Peace Corps I served in was very different. I try to be as accurate as I can about what I did, what I did not to, what I learned. I think that we all owe that to each other.”
We do owe the truth to each other, and to the future PCVs who haven’t yet seen the Peace Corps on their horizons. So I’ll tell some tales of the times (and people) who didn’t quite live up to the high hopes of the agency. As Frank Mankiewicz said years ago, not evey “red-blooded young American” did make a difference. Meanwhile, thank you, Joey, for polishing my rose-colored glasses. We owe you. I owe you.