Archive - 2021

1
Living on the Edge: Paul Theroux (Malawi)
2
Peace Corps Response Volunteers Begin Work With FEMA
3
Student of Former PC Director Mark Gearan Joins Peace Corps–Her Story (Lesotho)
4
The Non-Matrixed Wife (Venezuela)
5
When the Right Hand Washes the Left (Nigeria)
6
May 26th Deadline To Apply For The Virtual Service Pilot Project In RPCVs’ Country of Service
7
The Fabulous Peace Corps Booklocker
8
Peace Corps Has Developed a Virtual Service Pilot Program
9
The Peace Corps Test
10
The Man Who Named the Peace Corps

Living on the Edge: Paul Theroux (Malawi)

He went — in the way the Peace Corps rolls the dice of our lives — to Africa as a teacher. “My schoolroom is on the Great Rift, and in this schoolroom there is a line of children, heads shaved liked prisoners, muscles showing through their rags,” he wrote home in 1964. “These children appear in the morning out of the slowly drifting hoops of fog-wisp. It is chilly, almost cold. There is no visibility at six in the morning; only a fierce white-out where earth is the patch of dirt under their bare feet, a platform, and the sky is everything else.” How many of us stood in front of similar classrooms and saw those young faces arriving with the dawn? How many of us could have written the same sentiments — though not the same sentences — home? And how many of us wanted to be the writer . . .

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Peace Corps Response Volunteers Begin Work With FEMA

From Peace Corps “May 20, 2021 • 158 Peace Corps Response volunteers to begin service in five states, marking the second time in the agency’s history that volunteers will serve domestically DALLAS, TX – On Wednesday, 158 Peace Corps Response volunteers took the oath of office to assist the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in their vaccine distribution efforts. Following a week of training in Dallas, the volunteers have departed to begin their mission assignments with FEMA in Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey and Oregon. “COVID-19 has exposed gaping divides in privilege, access and opportunity – not only in the countries where the Peace Corps serves, but also in the U.S.” said Peace Corps Acting Director Carol Spahn. “Our Volunteers will use the skills, grit and passion for service they honed overseas to help reach underserved populations here at home. We are proud to partner with FEMA on this critical . . .

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Student of Former PC Director Mark Gearan Joins Peace Corps–Her Story (Lesotho)

  Shanelle France (H-WS ’11) Reflects on Peace Corps Service By Mary Warner ’21 on May 19th, 2021   In conjunction with the 60th anniversary of the Peace Corps, Shanelle France ’11 reflects on her service in Lesotho and her journey to becoming a teacher.     Even as a high school student, Shanelle France ’11 was interested in joining the Peace Corps. At Hobart and William Smith, she found a community dedicated to civic engagement, opportunities to become a civic leader, and support as she pursued her goal of global citizenship and service. France says her HWS mentors were instrumental in helping her prepare for the Peace Corps.  Surrounded by “a wealth of knowledge, experience and support” as a student at the Colleges, France says, she is grateful for the advice of President Emeritus and Former Director of the Peace Corps Mark D. Gearan L.H.D. ’17, P’21, Professor of Africana Studies Thelma . . .

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The Non-Matrixed Wife (Venezuela)

    When Joseph Blatchford was appointed director of the Peace Corps in May of 1969 he brought with him a set of “New Directions” to improve the agency. Whether these directors were new or not is endlessly argued, but what was clear was this: Blatchford wanted skilled Volunteers, i.e. “blue-collar workers, experienced teachers, businessman and farmers.” While the Peace Corps has always found it difficult to recruit large numbers of such “skilled” Volunteers, Blatchford and his staff came up with the novel idea of recruiting married couples with children. One of the couple would be a Volunteer and the other (usually the wife) would be — in Peace Corps jargon — the “non-matrixed” spouse. The kids would just be kids. It would be in this way, Blatchford thought, that the Peace Corps could recruit older, more mature, experienced, and skilled PCVs. And the Peace Corps would stop being just . . .

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When the Right Hand Washes the Left (Nigeria)

   David G. Schickele first presented his retrospective view of Volunteer service in a speech given at Swarthmore College in 1963 that was printed in the Swarthmore College Bulletin. At the time, there was great interest on college campuses about the Peace Corps and early RPCVs were frequently asked to write or speak on their college campuses about their experiences. A 1958 graduate of Swarthmore, Schickele worked as a freelance professional violinist before joining the Peace Corps in 1961. After his tour, he would, with Roger Landrum make a documentary film on the Peace Corps in Nigeria called “Give Me A Riddle” that was intended for Peace Corps recruitment, but was never really used by the agency. The film was perhaps too honest a representation of Peace Corps Volunteers life overseas and the agency couldn’t handle it. However, the Peace Corps did pick up Schickele’s essay from the Swarthmore College Bulletin and reprinted . . .

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May 26th Deadline To Apply For The Virtual Service Pilot Project In RPCVs’ Country of Service

Peace Corps is expanding the Virtual Service Pilot Project to include 25 countries.  The Virtual Service Pilot team reports it sent emails, with information specific to the host country, to RPCVS who served in each of these countries.   From the Virtual Service Pilot Project team: “As this is a pilot initiative, information is limited. We do have FAQs that provide some information. RPCVs from participating countries, of which there are 25, who have current/updated information in the Peace Corps database were sent the opportunities directly to their email addresses.  If you would like to encourage RPCVs to engage in virtual service please ask them to check their emails for virtual service opportunities.    If RPCVs are unsure if their information is current in the Peace Corps databased, please encourage them to update their contact information here.” The team also reported: “There are only a limited number of positions for virtual service available, and not all who . . .

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The Fabulous Peace Corps Booklocker

For a short period of time in the very first years of the Peace Corps all Volunteers were given booklockers by the agency. The lockers were meant to provide leisure reading for the PCVs and then to be left behind in schools, villages, and towns where they served. There is some mystery as to who first thought of the lockers and one rumor has it that the idea came from Sarge Shriver’s wife, Eunice. It is believed that the books were selected for the first locker by a young Foreign Service officer. A second selection was done in 1964, and that same year Jack Prebis (Ethiopia 1962-64) was made responsible for the 3rd edition of the locker that was assembled in the fall and winter of 1965. Here is the late Jack Prebis’ account of creating the locker for all PCVs at that time.   DEVELOPING THE Peace Corps booklocker . . .

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Peace Corps Has Developed a Virtual Service Pilot Program

These three announcemnts describe Peace Corps’ Virtual Service Pilot Program. It is hoped that a more comprehensive description will be published soon. “December 18, 2020 WASHINGTON – Peace Corps Director Jody K. Olsen announced the completion of the first phase of the agency’s new Virtual Service Pilot program, which connected host country communities with returned volunteers who were evacuated due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nine posts participated in the first phase of an 11-week pilot. A total of 45 returned volunteers donated their time voluntarily serving as private citizens to conduct virtual engagements with our host country partners and, were selected based on a match between their skills and host country partner needs. “Feedback from everyone involved has been overwhelmingly positive, and we have learned a great deal about how we can continue to be of service to our host countries from thousands of miles away,” said Director Olsen. “I . . .

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The Peace Corps Test

    In the early days of the Peace Corps there was a Placement Test given to all applicants. Actually it was two tests. A 30-minute General Aptitude Test and a 30-minute Modern Language Aptitude Test. The areas of testing were in Verbal Aptitude, Agriculture, English, Health Sciences, Mechanical Skills, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, World History, Literature, United States History and Institutions, and Modern Language Aptitude. One-hour achievement tests in French and Spanish were also offered during the second hour. The instruction pamphlet that accompanied the tests said that the results would be used “to help find the most appropriate assignment for each applicant.” For those who missed the opportunity to take the tests, which were given — as best I can remember — from 1961 until around 1967, I am including a few of the questions. Lets see if you could still get into the Peace Corps.1. Verbal Aptitude . . .

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The Man Who Named the Peace Corps

    THOSE OF US WHO follow the history of the Peace Corps agency know the term “peace corps” came to public attention during the 1960 presidential election. In one of JFK’s last major speeches before the November election, he called for the creation of a “Peace Corps” to send volunteers to work at the grassroots level in the developing world. However, the question remains: who said (or wrote) “peace corps” for the very first time? Was it Kennedy? Was it his famous speechwriter Ted Sorensen? Or Sarge himself? But — as in most situations — the famous term came about because of some young kid, usually a writer, working quietly away in a back office that dreams up the language. In this case the kid was a graduate student between degrees who was working for the late senator Hubert Horatio Humphrey. Today, sixty years after the establishment of the . . .

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