Author - John Coyne

1
Establishing the Peace Corps, Part 2
2
The Peace Corps: Executive Order 10924
3
Who Wanted The First PCVs?
4
May Your Daughter Marry A Copy Editor
5
When You're Feeling Bad About The Peace Corps
6
A Thousand Words To Create One Sentence
7
President Obama, Listen to Concetta
8
Rajeev Goyal Rallys The Corps!
9
Four Remaining Peace Corps Projects
10
What Where Those First Peace Corps Projects?

Establishing the Peace Corps, Part 2

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.      Gerry Rice, in The Bold Experiment: JFK’s Peace Corps, points out that the . . .

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The Peace Corps: Executive Order 10924

Over the next few months I’m going to post accounts of some of the significant moments in early Peace Corps history for anyone curious about how the agency was established, as I’m always surprised as how little current PCVs know about the history of the agency. Here to begin is the document that launched the Peace Corps. In future blogs I’ll tell you how this Executive Order 10924 came about, and what happened at the Mayflower Hotel in the winter of 1961. ESTABLISHMENT AND ADMINISTRATION OF THE PEACE CORPS IN THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE      By virtue of the authority vested in me by the Mutual Security Act of 1954, 68 Stat. 832, as amended (22 U.S.C. 1750 et seq.), and as President of the United States, it is hereby ordered as follows:      SECTION 1. Establishment of the Peace Corps. The Secretary of State shall establish an agency in the Department of State which . . .

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Who Wanted The First PCVs?

Everyone wants to be first! We know Ghana One were the first PCVs to step onto the tarmac in Accra on September 1, 1961. Those in training joked, “Here today, Ghana tomorrow.” But what nation made the first request to JFK for his Peace Corps Volunteers? Well, in late April 1961, Ghana also was the first country to ask for PCVs, and they got the first Volunteers. Tanganyika One (now Tanzania) started and finished their training earlier, but Ghana arrived in West Africa a few days before the Tanganyika Vols reached Dar es Salaam. Going to Africa in 1961, it took the Ghana group 21 hours in  a propeller-driven DC-7. When the 50 Volunteers arrived in Accra, Ken Baer, who had his B.A. from  Yale and his M.A. in history  from Berkeley, spoke for the group. He addressed the press and host country officials in Twi, saying in part, “We have come to learn as well as to teach.” That greeting has become for the Peace Corps the way generations of new  Volunteers . . .

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May Your Daughter Marry A Copy Editor

The curse in publishing is: “May your daughter marry a copy editor.” Copy editors are the last in line, certainly the least paid, (and with the smallest office) but perhaps the most important person for a writer who needs ‘fresh eyes’ on his or her prose to pick up the mistakes everyone else has missed. For example, her eyes were hazel on page 56 and then written as green on 213. That sort of editing. Copy editors are like blood hounds; they focus in on the kill, or in this case, the change in eye color. The world at large lumps all editors as one, but editors break down into several categories. Someone asked what an Acquisition Editor does. Well, they buy books to publish! They are the key people for a writer. They might also ‘edit’ if they are not too busy going to lunch with literary agents. They are . . .

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When You're Feeling Bad About The Peace Corps

Good friend Dennis Grubb (Colombia 1961-63) writes to remind me what the great historian Arnold Toynbee once said about all of us: “In the Peace Corps Volunteer, non-Westerners are getting an example of Western man at his best.” So, have a beer and tell your kids (and perhaps grandkids) another of your Peace Corps tales and feel good about yourself and know for sure: You’re better than Bush and Cheney and all the rest of that ilk.

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A Thousand Words To Create One Sentence

They tell a story of when the novelist Thomas Wolfe  lived in New York on First Avenue. Late one night the writer Nancy Hale, who lived on East 49th Street near Third Avenue, heard a kind of chant, which grew louder. She got up and looked out of the window at two or three in the morning and there was the great figure of Thomas Wolfe, advancing in his long countryman’s stride, with his swaying black raincoat, and what he was chanting was, “I wrote ten thousand words today – I wrote ten thousand words today.” Well, wait until his editor Maxwell Perkins got hold of it! Maxwell Perkins would arrive at Wolfe’s Village apartment, where Wolfe wrote standing up, using the top of the refrigerator as his desk, and Perkins would take boxes of handwritten prose away, saying, “you’re done now.” Perkins would then shape the material in a novel, much . . .

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President Obama, Listen to Concetta

When I was the Manager of the New York Recruitment Office, back in the mid-90s, I worked for Concetta Bencivenga (Thailand 1992-94). Well, actually I was her boss, but all of us in the office seem to end up working  for Concetta! After her tour as a Recruiter, she won a full scholarship to Texas (given to RPCVs by the University, another benefit of being a PCV) and got her masters degree. She now is a hotshot VP at the Please Touch Museum in Philly. This is a letter that she wrote the President recently asking for an increase in funding for the agency. (A word to the wise…If I were you, President Obama, I’d listen to Concetta) Dear President Obama: I am saddened by your decision to overlook a funding increase for the Peace Corps.  I served as a volunteer in Thailand from 1992 – 1994 and as a Recruiter . . .

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Rajeev Goyal Rallys The Corps!

Rajeev Goyal (Nepal 2001-03) is the Coordinator of the MorePeaceCorps Campaign. Actually he is the only person working full time on this project. He works out of New York City, and is being funding by an RPCV, but the NPCA takes credit for his work. Don’t believe those folks in D.C. Rajeev is beating the bushes  for RPCVs to rally around an increase in funding for the Peace Corps. The President has a bill now to provide $450 million to the Peace Corps in 2010 in his early April budget from OMB. The $450 million mark is what is laid out in the recently introduced “Peace Corps Expansion Act 2009” (HR 1066) The reason for the necessary increase in funding is because if there is no new funding the Peace Corps will shrink. It has already been downsized by 500 volunteers in 2009, dipping below 3,500 Volunteers, this is at a time when the White House pledged 16,000 . . .

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Four Remaining Peace Corps Projects

Four remaining projects that Bill Moyers listed in his early memorandum started Training in the summer of ’61. Come fall, the number of new Training groups rapidly increased on the campuses of the U.S. and at the Peace Corps Training Site in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. The Peace Corps was in full swing. I’ll stop listing them now, before I run out of space. Pakistan (East and West): Two pilot projects in agriculture, education, and community development are being undertaken–one in West, the other in East Pakistan. Peace Corps Volunteers will serve as junior instructors in Pakistan colleges; teach new farming methods and maintenance of improved farming implements; organize youth clubs; and work in hospitals. In West Pakistan, Volunteers stationed in Lahore and Lyallpur will work on hospital staffs, on college faculties and staffs, and as members of agricultural extension teams. Volunteers to East Pakistan will be assigned to government ministries, a village development . . .

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What Where Those First Peace Corps Projects?

[I received a comment from Leo Cecchini asking what where Those First Projects. Here’s are 5 of the first 9 PC Training programs. PCVs from those early groups might want to respond with personal stories from these groups.] Chile: Peace Corps Volunteers will assist in programs of community development and rural education as members of development teams of Chile’s Instituto de Educacion Rural. 45 Volunteers, men and women, were requested. Training was four months, two in this country and two in Chile. The U.S. Training took place at the University of Notre Dame, from July 20–September 11, 1961.It was directed by Dr. Walter Langford, Professor of Romance Languages at the University of Notre Dame. Colombia: Increasing farm productivity, improving village health and eduction, raising rural living standards, and helping Colombia achieve economic and social stability in its rural areas are the goals of this Peace Corps project. 57 Peace Corps . . .

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