The Peace Corps

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

1
A Writer Writes: Twice in the Life of Prudence Ingerman–Bolivia & Ecuador
2
Sargent  Shriver’s Original Memo on Selection
3
“Remembering the Peace Corps — 60 Years Later” Marnie Mueller (Ecuador)
4
To Preserve and to Learn: “Doing the Blitz-Peace Corps Recruitment in the 60s”
5
A Towering Task–The PCV Story
6
Peter Hessler Writes:The Peace Corps Breaks Ties with China
7
Third Goal Project for Ethiopia RPCVs
8
Talking with Paul Theroux (Malawi)
9
Paul Theroux to Speak Saturday, March 7, at DC Travel Adventure Show (Malawi)
10
COVID-19 update from Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen

A Writer Writes: Twice in the Life of Prudence Ingerman–Bolivia & Ecuador

  In January 1961, I had been kicked out of Jefferson Nursing School in Philadelphia for “unprofessional behavior” (Singing in coffee shops with folksingers was not approved of. After I calmed down I became a volunteer teacher’s aide at the little Quaker school I had attended so that’s where I was on May 1st. All during high school, I had participated in many weekend workcamps led by David Ritchie in south Philadelphia, working with families there to paint a room in their homes. I really liked meeting people outside my Quaker world who were different and interesting so I figured that the Peace Corps experience would be like a two -year weekend workcamp adventure, and I was not disappointed. I do know that my Peace Corps application number was # 103. My brother in California applied at the end of that week and his application number was more than 1,000. . . .

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Sargent  Shriver’s Original Memo on Selection

Pease note:  This was posted last April, here on Peace Corps Worldwide.  I am posting it again as the subject of Selection is once again appearing in the comments.   “The University of New Mexico was the training site for Peace CorpsTrainees bound for South America, from 1962 to approximately 1967.  Selection was an important part of the training process. Trainees were observed at all times and subject to psychological testing and evaluation in addition to the elaborate background checks.  The University of New Mexico has archived important documents from Peace Corps Training.   Thank you to the Archivists at the University of New Mexico’ s Center for Southwest Research.  The archivist emailed me a digitial copy of the memo. I had to reformate it in order to post it here.  The text was not changed. Here is the citation: Box 1 in the Selections 1962-1963 folder of UNMA 150, . . .

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“Remembering the Peace Corps — 60 Years Later” Marnie Mueller (Ecuador)

    Remembering the Peace Corps — 60 Years Later Marnie Elberson Mueller, Ecuador 1963-65 • I was in my dormitory at Case Western Reserve University on March 1, 1961.  I was a sophomore. I have this image of being in the downstairs parlor of a 19th Century building, looking toward the entryway, and for some reason thinking, “I want to do that,” meaning join the Peace Corps.  I don’t know how I received the news.  Was it from the radio or a newspaper or a letter from my parents? I’ll claim the latter because it’s the sort of information my parents would have loved: The adventure, the commitment to doing good, the concept of helping people to help themselves. My father was an economist turned community organizer and my mother, a teacher with a commitment to underprivileged children.  They married in 1938 and spent their honeymoon in a dirt-floored . . .

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To Preserve and to Learn: “Doing the Blitz-Peace Corps Recruitment in the 60s”

  Doing the Blitz Peace Corps Recruitment in the ’60s by Hal Fleming (Staff: PC/W 1966–68; CD Cote d’Ivoire 1968–72) • IN 1966, I CAME DOWN TO WASHINGTON from New York. It was a time in our country when the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War divided the nation. I had been tapped to work as a staff member in the Public Affairs and Recruiting office for the Peace Corps. On my very first workday in Peace Corps/Washington, I was told to join Warren Wiggins, the Deputy Director of the Agency, in his government car for a one-hour ride to a conference for new campus recruiters at Tidewater Inn in Easton, Maryland. Wiggins, preoccupied with his opening speech to the conclave, said very little to me except to read out a phrase or two of buzz-word laden prose, mostly unintelligible to me as the new guy, and ask for . . .

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A Towering Task–The PCV Story

  The Peace Corps Story, A Towering Task How can you tell the Peace Corps story in a one hour-and-forty seven minutes film? Tell the story of more than 240,000 volunteers spanning 60 years of service? (You know how long people talk just about their two-week European vacation.) Somehow Director Alana DeJoseph  (Mali 1992-94) has managed to tell the story of all of our experiences. It takes an RPCV to get the job done. The Peace Corps began by President Kennedy in 1961 when he sent young Americans into the developing world not with a rifle, but with a handshake, and that, as we say, has made all the difference. This film– A Towering Task–tells the stories of these Americans who went from innocent to worldly, from ignorant to enlightened, from strangers to adopted members of their host country families in 141 foreign countries. Director Alana DeJoseph captured in a . . .

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Peter Hessler Writes:The Peace Corps Breaks Ties with China

The Peace Corps Breaks Ties with China The agency has always been viewed as removed from political spats. But the timing of the U.S.’s decision seems suspicious. By Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) March 9, 2020 The author, lower left, with other China 3 volunteers in front of the Forbidden City, in Beijing, in 1996.Photograph courtesy the author On the morning of January 17th, shortly before I was scheduled to meet with a hundred and forty Peace Corps volunteers in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, there was an unexpected announcement that the China program was ending. The Peace Corps had first come to the country in 1993, and as a volunteer from the early years I had been asked to speak at an in-service training that the organization was holding in a hotel near where I live. But by the time I arrived nobody was in the mood for nostalgia. The . . .

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Third Goal Project for Ethiopia RPCVs

    In keeping with the original three goals of the Peace Corps Act, a pilot program to upgrade the level of English learning and teaching in Ethiopia is seeking RPCV’s who have taught English in Ethiopia. We’re developing some new digital materials for Ethiopian grade school students and would like to have them reviewed by teachers with experience in Ethiopian English classes, preferably in upper elementary and middle schools. We are particularly interested in recent returnees who used the series, English for Ethiopia in their classes. This is a not-for-profit venture and participation is on a voluntary basis. We are excited about the potential of this work to solve an urgent challenge facing Ethiopian education, particularly in rural areas. If you would like to learn more or to volunteer, contact Andy Martin (Ethiopia, 1965-68) or Michael McCaskey (Ethiopia, 1965-67) at jcoyneone@gmail.com

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Talking with Paul Theroux (Malawi)

Talking with Paul Theroux . . . an interview by John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962–64)This is an interview I did with Paul around 2002. Since he is speaking in Washington this Saturday, March 7th, I thought I would republish it to fill in everyone about his early years in the Peace Corps.PAUL THEROUX (Malawi 1963-65) has produced some of the most wicked, funny, sad, bitter, readable, knowledgeable, rude, contemptuous, ruthless, arrogant, moving, brilliant and quotable books ever written. In doing so, he has been in all regards the most successful literary and commercial writer to come out of the Peace Corps.For those not familiar with Theroux’s life, he was born in Medford, Massachusetts in 1941, one of seven children, and studied premed at the University of Maine before transferring to the University of Massachusetts and taking his first creative writing class from the poet Joseph Langland. He graduated in 1963 from . . .

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Paul Theroux to Speak Saturday, March 7, at DC Travel Adventure Show (Malawi)

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Steve Kaffen (Russia 1994-96) Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-65) Saturday, March 7 12:15 pm – 1:15 pm Travel Theater Paul Theroux, Bestselling Author, Novelist, Travel Writer My travels began in 1963 when I joined the Peace Corps and became a teacher in Central Africa. At last, I had something to write about, something that mattered, something inspired by travel. I traveled throughout Africa for the next six years and published four works of fiction. After three years in Singapore and travels in South East Asia, I published Saint Jack which became a movie. Resident in Britain, I was stumped for an idea, but decided that travel had always served me well: so I set off on the trip that became The Great Railway Bazaar, a book that led to ten other long trips, and ten more books – some of the trips risky, but all of them fruitful, in . . .

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COVID-19 update from Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen

March 4, 2020 WASHINGTON – The following is an open letter to Peace Corps volunteers from Director Jody Olsen. Dear Volunteers: As you are aware, the number of countries that are reporting confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus continues to grow. We currently have 11 Peace Corps countries with reported cases and the expectation is that the list will grow. There is a lot of media attention being given to the virus and how countries across the globe are responding to it. These variations in responses have had a direct impact on many of you. And I want to thank you for your patience as we continue to implement measures that we believe will help keep Volunteers and staff safe. It is in this spirit that I want to share with you some of the steps that the Peace Corps has taken over the past 8 weeks to prepare for, . . .

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