DURING MY SECOND YEAR in Colombia, South America, I worked with the Peace Corps and Laubach Literacy Foundation’s campaign for adult literacy. Perhaps more than any other, one item stands out from the thousands of recollections stored in my bank of memories. That is a letter I received just prior to my returning home. I treasure the letter which reads in part,
Estimado Senor Kaltreider,
This is the first letter that I write in my life. I send it to you to thank you for your help in teaching me to read and to write. I am 65 years old and never think that I would be able to do what I am doing now. God bless you with good health and in your work for peace.
Dear Mom and Dad,
I’m enclosing a letter I received just this week from a man who I worked with in our adult literary program. Please keep it for me until I get home. It’s the first letter he’s ever written in his life . . . and he wrote it to me!
Sometimes its very difficult to understand whether we’re really making any progress or not. But then, along comes someone like Guillermo Calderon who lights that little light that I’ve mentioned in previous letters (and in one of the folk songs I’ve written), the light of the torch passed on by President Kennedy to us.
It’s been two years since I’ve seen you, and I’m most anxious to return to you, our family, and friends back home. But I still feel a need to do more. I guess in a way, our job will never be done until all the Guillermo Calderons in the world have the chance to read by that very special light. So I’ve made a decision to continue my work with the Peace Corps. After I return home, I’ll be going to Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, to become one of the Field Coordinators for the training program there. Perhaps my hope for the success of our program will come as a result of the effort of volunteers that I help train.
See you in a few weeks.