Author - John Coyne

1
An open letter to all Ethiopia RPCVs from the Peace Corps
2
Living on the Edge: Paul Theroux (Malawi)
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
The Fabulous Peace Corps Booklocker
7
The Peace Corps Test
8
The Man Who Named the Peace Corps
9
Being First: A Memoir of Ghana I — Robert Klein
10
Establishing the Peace Corps

An open letter to all Ethiopia RPCVs from the Peace Corps

  Peace Corps is excited to inform you of an opportunity to engage in virtual service. For the past six months, Peace Corps has been testing the feasibility of virtual service with great success.  To date, 100 Virtual Service Pilot Participants (VSPPs) have engaged in virtual service in 20 countries.  Participants and their Host Country Partners report high levels of accomplishment and satisfaction which has prompted Peace Corps to create more opportunities. The Virtual Service Pilot (VSP) is a distinct opportunity.  Participants in the VSP are not PCVs or PCRVs; rather participants are private citizens who donate their time by engaging virtually to contribute to the mission of the Peace Corps as private citizens while maintaining other commitments such as work or school. As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) or Returned Peace Corps Response Volunteer (RPCRV) from Ethiopia you are eligible to be considered for the opportunity to engage remotely . . .

Read More

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 . . .

Read More

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 . . .

Read More

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 . . .

Read More

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 . . .

Read More

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 . . .

Read More

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 . . .

Read More

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 . . .

Read More

Being First: A Memoir of Ghana I — Robert Klein

  by Robert Klein (Ghana 1962–63) Maiatico Mafia On March 2, 1961, the Peace Corps staff, like determined squatters, took over the offices formerly occupied by the International Cooperative Agency. Shriver took more than desks and offices from ICA. Led by Warren Wiggins, a group of ICA officers had joined Peace Corps staff. Some of the early participants gave descriptions of the chaotic character of the beginning and Shriver’s role as ringmaster. Harris Wofford, Kennedy’s special assistant on civil rights, as well as an advisor to Shriver on the establishment of the Peace Corps, recalled early discussions on the establishment of the agency, that the Peace Corps not do any projects directly but that they be contracted out to universities and other agencies. “There was not much chance of that with Shriver running an agency. Sargent Shriver clearly tended toward a fast-moving, hard-hitting, core, central organization. He put enormous weight . . .

Read More

Establishing the Peace Corps

  I Let me start with a quote from Gerard T. Rice’s book, The Bold Experiment: JFK’s Peace Corps: In 1961 John F. Kennedy took two risky and conflicting initiatives in the Third World. One was to send five hundred additional military advisers into South Vietnam; by 1963 there would be seventeen thousand such advisers. The other was to send five hundred young Americans to teach in the schools and work in the fields of eight developing countries. These were Peace Corps Volunteers. By 1963 there would be seven thousand of them in forty-four countries. Vietnam scarred the American psyche, leaving memories of pain and defeat. But Kennedy’s other initiative inspired and continued to inspire, hope and understanding among Americans and the rest of the world. In that sense, the Peace Corps was his most affirmative and enduring legacy. Historical Framework Gerry Rice, in The Bold Experiment: JFK’s Peace Corps, . . .

Read More

Copyright © 2019. Peace Corps Worldwide.