The Peace Corps at 60

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Uzbek Zero by Bea Hogan (Uzbekistan)
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Tacoma-to-Liberia Peace Corps Journey — Kathleen Corey
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The Peace Corps and Us (Ethiopia)
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Changes in the 60 Years of the Peace Corps
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A Writer Writes: Letter from Pamplin by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay)
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Peace Corps at 60: “Service changed lives of midstate volunteers”
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Gifts Peace Corps Gave Me (Turkey)
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A Happy American Birthday — Jamie Kirkpatrick (Tunisia)
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“From Faux Pas To Total Forgiveness” — Marc Van Hala (India)
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In a post-pandemic world, the U.S. Peace Corps will be more important than ever (South Africa)

Uzbek Zero by Bea Hogan (Uzbekistan)

  Uzbek Zero by Bea Hogan (Uzbekistan 1992-94) • “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” It’s Peace Corps gospel, which had served the agency well as it spread throughout the developing world. But what happens when a country doesn’t want your help, and you’re sent there anyway? I found out, when the Peace Corps sent me to Uzbekistan in 1992. The Cold War had ended, and the Peace Corps was expanding into the former Communist countries of the Eastern Bloc. When the Soviet Union collapsed, in December 1991, James Baker, then secretary of state under George H.W. Bush, said he wanted to see 250 Peace Corps Volunteers on the ground within a year. Volunteers, he said, would provide “human capital” to help these countries transition to market economies, Baker said, and advance U.S. . . .

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Tacoma-to-Liberia Peace Corps Journey — Kathleen Corey

    My Tacoma-to-Liberia Peace Corps journey proved to me I could tackle anything anywhere By Kathleen M. Corey (Liberia 1975–79) March 26, 2021   “I got a C?! I’ve never gotten a C in my life!” It was 1969. I was a senior at the University of Washington, preparing to become a high school English teacher. “You have an A+ for subject matter knowledge,” said my mentor teacher, Roy Feldstadt, “but a C in classroom management.” Depressed that I’d chosen a career for which I was clearly unsuited, I decided to go skiing in Sun Valley. After five fun but somewhat meaningless years, I decided to try teaching again and applied to the Peace Corps. Assigned to Liberia in Western Africa, I called my old mentor and told him the news. “Liberia!” he said. “I was in Group 2 in Liberia! Ask for Zorzor Central High — you’ll get . . .

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The Peace Corps and Us (Ethiopia)

    Wayne and Laurie Kessler (Ethiopia 1964-66) • We first learned what impact we had on students when we made a quick unannounced return visit in 1969 to the Eritrean village where we taught three years prior as Peace Corps teachers.   On our way to the  “Peace Corps house” we surprised a small group of students who started to run away. They thought we were ghosts.  After our Tigrinya greetings settled them down, we asked them what they remembered about our teaching. To our surprise and dismay, they remembered how we dealt with small clouds of flies buzzing around our heads in stuffy classrooms stuffed with 40 to 60 students. They demonstrated how Mrs. Laurie blew at them out of the side of her month and Mr. Wayne waved his hand like a car window wiper.  Laughingly, we asked, “Is that all you remember?”  No, they said in . . .

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Changes in the 60 Years of the Peace Corps

    Established by President John F. Kennedy on March 1, 1961, via Executive Order, the concept for the public service agency was first introduced months prior in an impromptu presidential campaign speech delivered to college students. “How many of you who are going to be doctors, are willing to spend your days in Ghana? Technicians or engineers, how many of you are willing to work in the Foreign Service and spend your lives traveling around the world?” then-Senator Kennedy asked the students. “I think Americans are willing to contribute. But the effort must be far greater than we have ever made in the past.” The response was swift and enthusiastic. Since the Peace Corps’ founding, more than 240,000 Americans have served in 142 host countries. Here’s a look back at some of the agency’s major accomplishments and milestones: 1961: President Kennedy hosts a ceremony in the White House Rose . . .

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A Writer Writes: Letter from Pamplin by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay)

  It’s a fact of Peace Corps life that a volunteer must learn to get by in a world not his own, not her own. It’s never a perfect adjustment, not a completely comfortable fit. Often you make mistakes, some of which can be serious. Others are hilarious. (Once, at the dinner table with our training family in Asunción, as we were learning Spanish, my wife, Anne, commented that she had been taking notes in her diarrhea, which completely cracked people up and may still rank near the top in their hall of conversational fame.) In our case, our Peace Corps experience of feeling our way, doing our best to understand what was going on, turned out to be good practice for the foreign service, which we joined a few years after returning from Paraguay. Our Peace Corps country was nothing like Bolivia, or Honduras, or Spain, despite the common . . .

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Peace Corps at 60: “Service changed lives of midstate volunteers”

    “I joined Peace Corps in 1988 to immerse in meaningful work providing basic needs at the village level, as well as an opportunity for an out-of-the-box experience and time to reevaluate my life.” By Rick Dandes/The Sunbury PA Daily March 6, 2021 | 1:29 PM • At a time when the Peace Corps has suspended all operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic and recalled 7,300 volunteers from 60 countries — a first for the six-decade-old program — six former volunteers with Central Pennsylvania connections recall the value of their “life-changing” experiences and praised the virtues of the far-off locations where they served. Whether assigned to primitive villages in Africa in the 1980s, emerging democracies in Eastern Europe in the 1990s, or more recently to South America, they all joined the Peace Corps out of a desire to serve their country and to help people in need, using skills . . .

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Gifts Peace Corps Gave Me (Turkey)

    by Stephen Franklin (Turkey 1968-70)   I entered the world literally in Peace Corps in the 1960s. Suzanne and I lived in a small, somewhat isolated village in the middle of  Turkey, a place at the end of a long dry plain and a muddy road up a mountain. We had running water one day a week, and sometimes electricity, and the village was closed to the world in the winter when the snow brought the wolves down from the higher places, and if a bus tried to get to the next biggest city, it rode over the fields because they were easier to maneuver than the roads. Later we moved to Istanbul and ran an orphanage for 40 boys by ourselves. We learned about kindness, humanity and compassion for others. We learned about the tremendous power of hope and the great downward pressure of poverty and the cruelty . . .

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A Happy American Birthday — Jamie Kirkpatrick (Tunisia)

  by Jamie Kirkpatrick (Tunisia 1970-72) “How many of you who are going to be doctors are willing to spend your days in Ghana? Technicians or engineers, how many of you are willing to work in the Foreign Service and spend your lives traveling around the world? On your willingness to do that, not merely to serve one year or two years in the service, but on your willingness to contribute part of your life to this country, I think will depend the answer whether a free society can compete. I think it can! And I think Americans are willing to contribute. But the effort must be far greater than we have ever made in the past.”  — John F. Kennedy   A few days ago, a good friend of mine quietly celebrated its 58th birthday. I know the possessive pronoun in that sentence sounds a bit strange, but I . . .

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“From Faux Pas To Total Forgiveness” — Marc Van Hala (India)

  by Marc Van Hala (India 1965-68)   When my decision to join the Peace Corps started to become reality, I had the feeling of swimming in a river, then suddenly being swept out to sea. Everything happened so quickly, even three months of training stateside, followed by a two-month delay brought about by a threat of war with a neighboring country, and I found myself struggling to keep my head above water. The Peace Corps recruited me to join a project called “Poultry / Rural Community Action.” They said I would be teaching farmers in India how to raise chickens and learn to build an income based on the sale of eggs. My project would not be the first, but the 16th to work in the country, and all 15 previous projects had shown great success. Purely by chance, the site I was assigned to had been developed as . . .

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In a post-pandemic world, the U.S. Peace Corps will be more important than ever (South Africa)

    By Jeff Walsh (South Africa 2016–18) “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela • March 1st, 1961 marks the 60 year anniversary of the United States Peace Corps. Over two generations ago, U.S. President John F. Kennedy asked idealistic young Americans to “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.” On that historic day in March, Kennedy signed Executive Order 10924, sending 750 volunteers on a historic journey to 13 countries. Ghana and the African Continent were the very first to receive U.S. volunteers. Northwestern has certainly done its part as one of the top volunteer-producing universities in the U.S.. Since the Peace Corps’ inception, Northwestern has sent nearly 1,000 volunteers to serve overseas in the Peace Corps. I was sworn into the Peace Corps with my cohort of 37 in . . .

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