Kathleen Kanne, a senior in the American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota, is doing a research project on the “deselection” process in the early days of Peace Corps training (primarily through the 1960s and 70s). She is looking to interview RPCVs from this era who had colleagues who were deselected or who were deselected themselves.
I wrote her about her study (one of my hopes is that we can get more and more academic studies done about the Peace Corps at the college and university levels) and Kathy wrote back, “My project is in its early stages, but it is tentatively focused on PCVs as representatives of American culture abroad and specifically the role deselection played in creating that image in the early days of the movement.
“Because it seems to be more prevalent in the 60s and early 70s, that is the time frame I have been focusing on, though I am always interested to hear about later deselection situations.
“I grew up attending my aunt’s Peace Corps reunions at her training site in New Mexico (she was on a medical team in Korea in ‘67) and I was always fascinated by the deselection stories. As I got older and started to write them down I discovered how little information on deselection is truly available, so I am also using this project as an opportunity to collect as many accounts of deselection as I can. The questions I have been asking those who witnessed deselection (and feel free to answer them) are as follows:
-What made you decide to join the Peace Corps? How did your selection process work? Where did you train and serve?
-What do you remember about the deselection process? Many PCVs describe being observed by psychologists and report the overall unsettling feeling that everyone was on thin ice. Were you concerned that you would be deselected?
-Do you remember what reasons volunteers were given for their deselection? Why do you think the Peace Corps found it necessary to deselect volunteers during training?
-What was the timeline- how much of your training was already completed when they started to deselect volunteers?
- In your opinion, was deselection ever a result of discrimination (gender, sexual orientation, race, history of mental illness, etc)?
-Did most of your fellow volunteers complete their entire 2 years of service?
“If you would be willing to share I would greatly appreciate it! Feel free to contact me by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).