The Peace Corps

Agency history, current news and stories of the people who are/were both on staff and Volunteers.

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“Americans Helped My Family Emigrate From Iran. That Kindness Is What Makes This Country Great”
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The group Decolonizing Peace Corps has started a petiton on the website Change. org
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“6 Reasons We Need to Reform the Peace Corps” by Tyler Anne Donohue (Tanzania)
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Memories of serving as last Peace Corps/Korea Director
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Nixon’s Peace Corps Director, Joe Blatchford, dies
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Washington Post — “Peace Corps turns 60 amid pandemic, looks to an uncertain future”
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Volunteers may return to the Eastern Caribbean in January
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60 Years Ago Today — October 14, 1960 — THE UNKNOWN STORY OF THE PEACE CORPS SPEECH
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An Update to an Unofficial Guide to Some Resources of Peace Corps History
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“Peace Corps R.I.P.” by Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras)

“Americans Helped My Family Emigrate From Iran. That Kindness Is What Makes This Country Great”

  by Behrooz Alexander Moghaddam Hartford Courtant October 26, 2020 My first taste of American greatness was peanut butter. It was in 1965 or so, in Urmia, my hometown in northwest Iran. I was around 3 years old. The peanut butter was a gift from Penny and Richard, two of a handful of Peace Corps volunteers who worked in Urmia in the 1960s. Since President Donald Trump was elected, I have thought a lot about that gift of peanut butter and our president’s slogan, “Make America Great Again.” Had Trump’s policies existed when I was a child, I would not be who or what I am. My immigrant family would have failed our president’s admission test on all possible counts. We were poor, only one of us spoke passable English when we arrived in the U.S., and we were from a Muslim country. Thankfully, in 1969, and at least until . . .

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The group Decolonizing Peace Corps has started a petiton on the website Change. org

  The RPCVs Advocates who created this movement have named the petition, “Abolish the Peace Corps.”  But, in reading the petition, I note they offer many suggestions to “reform” the Peace Corps, not to abolish it.  In this regard, they may be surprised to realize they join other  RPCVs  from earlier eras, who also wanted to improve the Peace Corps. I think it would be worthwhile to read the petition and its proposed changes, because I think it would generate  discussion.  Here is the link to the petition.  Its content has been copied and follows. Abolish Peace Corps: A Movement Toward Ending Neocolonialism in International Development The Peace Corps prides itself on being fundamentally apolitical and consistently providing humanitarian efforts around the world. This is a facade in that the Peace Corps, like all U.S. government agencies, is subjected to change due to rotations in administration, which can greatly affect . . .

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“6 Reasons We Need to Reform the Peace Corps” by Tyler Anne Donohue (Tanzania)

    The Peace Corps is a form of systematic racism, for those it claims to serve and for those who serve. The words, “systematic racism,” seem to be everywhere these days. However, it is crucial that we acknowledge that the words, “systematic racism,” do not refer to a system filled with racists. Instead, these words, refer to a system that would uphold racism and disproportionately harm and subjugate people of certain races even if no racists were present. Those leading the effort to decolonize Peace Corps, @decolonizingpc discussed systematic racism, saying that, “Even after adding more volunteers of color, more anti-racism trainings, more reforms (including the ones [they] have proposed on [their] page), Peace Corps will still be a neocolonialist organization because of the imperialistic goals of U.S. foreign policy. Which brings us to Number 2 — Soft power imperialism, such as providing financial aid or human resources for development, functions best under the pretense . . .

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Memories of serving as last Peace Corps/Korea Director

    by James Mayer (Korea 1978-81) The Korea Times Friends of Korea   No one likes to be last. But I had that distinction as the Peace Corps Korea country director, and I am forever grateful that it happened. In early 1981, Peace Corps Headquarters made the difficult decision that the Peace Corps program in Korea had to be closed due to projected budget reductions to its worldwide programs. When the Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) were told that their service in Korea would be cut short, I truly didn’t know what to expect. I told them there were two basic choices: they could choose to get angry or go out with heads held high. Frankly, I wouldn’t have blamed them for choosing either option. Nonetheless, I was truly delighted by their response. Some PCVs chose to continue their service in other countries where Peace Corps had programs. Others immediately . . .

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Nixon’s Peace Corps Director, Joe Blatchford, dies

  In Memoriam: Former Peace Corps Director Joseph Blatchford by Steven Boyd Saum (Ukraine 1994-96) • The Peace Corps community mourns the loss of Joseph H. Blatchford, third director of the Peace Corps. He took on that role at a time that heralded, he said, a “new world and a different America from 1961” when the Peace Corps was launched. Joseph Blatchford was appointed to lead the Peace Corps by President Richard Nixon in May 1969 — and he headed the agency during turbulent times of Nixon’s first administration. Tapped for the post at 34 years old, he came with nearly a decade’s experience of organizing international volunteers: In 1961, he had launched the organization Accion to send U.S. volunteers to work in Latin America. Some of the initial luster was already off Peace Corps when Blatchford took on the director’s role. That was true in the U.S. — deeply . . .

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Washington Post — “Peace Corps turns 60 amid pandemic, looks to an uncertain future”

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Barry  Hillenbrand  (Ethiopia 1963-65)   Nina Boe, shown at a wedding, has been living in New York since her work as a Peace Corps volunteer was put on hold and she was ordered to evacuate North Macedonia because of the coronavirus pandemic. • by Carol Morello Washington Post Oct. 15, 2020 NINA BOE’S LIFE is as much in limbo now as it was the day in March when her work as a Peace Corps volunteer was put on hold and she was ordered to evacuate North Macedonia. She has been living in New York ever since, interviewing for jobs that have not materialized. She misses her friends in Skopje, North Macedonia’s capital, who became like family, and cries after they call to keep in touch. But she has been advised it could be mid-2021 before she is recalled, and she does not know if . . .

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Volunteers may return to the Eastern Caribbean in January

  October 14, 2020 WASHINGTON – Peace Corps Director Jody K. Olsen announced Volunteers will begin returning to service in January. Speaking to staff today during a town hall meeting launching the agency’s yearlong 60th anniversary celebration, Director Olsen said public health conditions permit the return of Volunteers to the Eastern Caribbean. The agency suspended global operations in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “I am thrilled to share this good news as we commemorate our founding moment, when then candidate John F. Kennedy planted the seed for what would become the Peace Corps during an early morning speech October 14, 1960 at the University of Michigan,” said Director Olsen. “Our decision to return to the field follows months of extensive preparations and review, and I am extremely grateful to the many staff and host country partners who contributed to this effort. I also salute the evacuated volunteers who . . .

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60 Years Ago Today — October 14, 1960 — THE UNKNOWN STORY OF THE PEACE CORPS SPEECH

    JFK AT THE UNION By James Tobin   Well after midnight on October 14, 1960, presidential candidate John F. Kennedy arrived at the steps of the Michigan Union. Legend has it that he first proposed the idea of the Peace Corps here. The truth is a little more complex, but far more interesting.   Senator John F. Kennedy’s motorcade rolled into Ann Arbor very early on the morning of Friday, October 14, 1960. The election was three and a half weeks away. The Democratic nominee for president and his staff had just flown into Willow Run Airport. A few hours earlier, in New York, Kennedy had fought Vice President Richard Nixon, the Republican nominee, in the third of their four nationally televised debates. The race was extremely close, and Michigan was up for grabs. Kennedy’s schedule called for a few hours of sleep, then a one-day whistle-stop train . . .

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An Update to an Unofficial Guide to Some Resources of Peace Corps History

  Here is the current list of unofficial Resources describing the history of the Peace Corps.  It is unofficial and incomplete. The public  documents are available but not necessarily easily accessible. Few are  digitalized. Most are the property of the institutional archives, public, private and certainly university. For example, the training documents for Colombia I, the first Peace Corps group to enter training in June of 1961, are archived at Rutgers University.  RPCVs may visit the university and review the materials, a privilege otherwise reserved for students and faculty of the university.   RESOURCES An unofficial guide to the locations of resources describing the Peace Corps, and its history.    This list is a cooperative effort with RPCV Alana deJoseph, producer of the documentary A Towering Task, her team and the many archivists and librarians at the places cited. Thank you to all .   This is the latest information we have. Please . . .

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“Peace Corps R.I.P.” by Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras)

  Between 1961 and 2018, about 230,000 American men and women representing all fifty states served in 140 countries around the world. We all learned a new language before unloading a duffle bag or a trunk, rolled up our sleeves and asked a local in his own native tongue, “How can I help?” Some of us dug latrines and wells. Others fished, built fish farms, planted crops, taught in schools. My group helped to build roads and schools. You might have comforted the sick in hospitals and clinics or helped to set up cooperatives and even businesses. Some of my buddies helped manage forests, museums and new national parks. Others advised about how to set up a touristic hot-spot. We did whatever we were asked for next to nothing which is why we were called volunteers. We trudged home after struggling to learn an alien tongue, adjusting to strange customs, . . .

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