The Peace Corps

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

1
Discussion on “How the US Government sold the Peace Corps to the American Public”
2
The Pandemic, Or How People Are Like Butterflies
3
Will Newman (Nepal) remembers how Shriver made the Peace Corps happen
4
Interview with Aaron Williams, former Director of the Peace Corps
5
John Coyne (Ethiopia) — “The Big Bad Brown Swiss”
6
How the US government sold the Peace Corps to the American public
7
Many British volunteers were able to remain in their assignments
8
Bill Moyers (As Always) Has the Last & Final Word of Truth
9
“Exceptionalism Redux” by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay)
10
Sarge, Tell Us What To Do!

Discussion on “How the US Government sold the Peace Corps to the American Public”

    Bill Josephson Responds to Wendy Melillo’s “How the US Government Sold the Peace Corps to the American Public.”   I have tried to make sure that what I have received is the complete document that she published in Conversation.  I’m not sure that I have succeeded. I disagree with Ms. Melillo’s statement that “Peace Corps advertising emphasize myths about heroes, adventure . . . But fighting communism was among the agency’s original foreign policy purposes, according to Peace Corps historians and other scholars.”  Ms. Melillo cites virtually no authority for that statement. The origins of the Peace Corps include the bills sponsored by then Senator Hubert H. Humphrey for a point four youth corps, Representative Henry Reuss and others, particularly Congressmen who had had missionary experience. Point four, of course, was President Harry S Truman’s proposal for technical assistance worldwide. “Fighting communism” was not a theme of the University of . . .

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The Pandemic, Or How People Are Like Butterflies

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Steven Saum (Ukraine 1994-96) GUEST ESSAY Northern Express Traverse City JUNE 13, 2020   THE PANDEMIC, OR HOW PEOPLE ARE LIKE BUTTERFLIES by Kathleen Stocking (Thailand & Romania) When did I become more interested in reading about the plague than daily dealings with it? The internet mediates all information. The telephone is part of every conversation. I have not seen a friend face-to-face in so long I can’t remember what it’s like. I am sick and tired of my hot and germ-infested blue-green surgical mask, dangling from one ear when I’m not wearing it, and the pervasive smell of hand sanitizer. Please God, when I die, let me not smell like hand sanitizer. It’s early June in the year 2020 on the northern shores of Lake Michigan. The stores are starting to open again, but there will be no National Cherry Festival in Traverse . . .

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Will Newman (Nepal) remembers how Shriver made the Peace Corps happen

  After 5 years on staff in Nepal and PC/W, I was hired on a short-term personal services contract to form and lead a team to revise the entire Peace Corps Operations Manual.  Don Romine (Ethiopia APCD 1965-67) was with Administration & Finance at the time, and I asked him to join me. Shriver,  Wofford, Wiggins, Josephson and a half dozen others created the Peace Corps in two rooms of the Mayflower Hotel in thirty days in the immediate days after the election. Then Kennedy signed an Executive Order to create the new agency. The next job was selling Congress. Don Romine told how he had been an intern during those days and worked with the task force to sell Congress on the idea of a Peace Corps. Several days a week the task force would invite state congressional delegations to breakfast or lunch at the Capitol.  Shriver would make . . .

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Interview with Aaron Williams, former Director of the Peace Corps

  Aaron S. Williams, former Director of the Peace Corps, joined Nat Chediak, Coral Gables Art Cinema’s Director of Programming, for a virtual engagement Q&A in conjunction with the documentary A Towering Task: The Story of the Peace Corps.  Watch the June 11th  40-minute interview here: https://youtu.be/iKMF2yfaQXo

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John Coyne (Ethiopia) — “The Big Bad Brown Swiss”

A Writer Writes The Big Bad Brown Swiss By John Coyne I was seven or eight years old when I got so drunk at a family party that I ran out of our farmhouse, down to the barn, and attacked our big brown Swiss cow with a broom. I don’t remember this act of animal cruelty, but the next morning, when I woke from a stupor, my mother—as well as my brothers and sisters—told me in detail how I had impishly sipped booze left in cans and glasses on the dining room table until I was so intoxicated my suppressed rage at one of our milking cows exploded into violence. I was quite a sight, I was told, reeling away from the summer afternoon gathering on our farmhouse front porch and running yelling down the driveway with my brothers and sisters and all the relatives in pursuit, amused by my . . .

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How the US government sold the Peace Corps to the American public

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Dan Campbell (El Salvador 1974-77)   Academic rigor, journalistic flair by Wendy Melillo, Associate Professor, American University School of Communications         The Peace Corps, a service organization run by the U.S. government that dispatches volunteers to foreign countries, is on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic. For the first time in its nearly 60-year history, none of its volunteers is stationed anywhere. To many Americans, the Peace Corps represents the best of American generosity abroad. That’s in line with its stated mission to promote world peace and friendship. But having researched the Peace Corps’ backstory while studying the messages in its early advertising, I see this pause as a chance to learn more about how it came to symbolize U.S. goodwill abroad in many Americans’ minds. I’ve learned how American perceptions of the agency were shaped by ads promising heroic adventures to the volunteers who signed up. In 1968, . . .

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Many British volunteers were able to remain in their assignments

  Thank you to RPCV Alana deJoseph for this announcement from the British Volunteer Service.  Here is the statement of intent from the Volunteer Service Overseas in which British Volunteers work. • “Where it is safe to do so, and in line with national government rules, we will continue to work directly with communities. Volunteers who are already based in communities are key to delivering this approach: our volunteers form deep relationships, built on trust, with the people with whom they work. It’s through these strong relationships that we’re working to tackle the crisis together – ensuring that our response plans are driven by the needs of the people we serve, and using our existing networks to share essential messages. Most of our community and national volunteers have been able to continue their work since the crisis began. Almost half of our international volunteers have continued with their placements; in . . .

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Bill Moyers (As Always) Has the Last & Final Word of Truth

We Hold This Truth to Be Self-Evident: It’s Happening Before Our Very Eyes BY BILL MOYERS | JUNE 5, 2020 At 98, historian Bernard Weisberger has seen it all. Born in 1922, he grew up watching newsreels of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler as they rose to power in Europe. He vividly remembers Mussolini posturing to crowds from his balcony in Rome, chin outthrust, right arm extended. Nor has he forgotten Der Fuehrer’s raspy voice on radio, interrupted by cheers of “Heil Hitler,” full of menace even without pictures. Fascist bullies and threats anger Bernie, and when America went to war to confront them, he interrupted his study of history to help make history by joining the army. He yearned to be an aviator but his eyesight was too poor. So he took a special course in Japanese at Columbia University and was sent as a translator to the China-Burma-India theater where . . .

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“Exceptionalism Redux” by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay)

  by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay 1978–80) Evergreen Review   Sue McNally – Maroon Bells, CO (2014)   O, let America be America again — The land that never has been yet — And yet must be — the land where every man is free. — Langston Hughes from “Let America Be America Again”   In 1990, in the run-up to the first Gulf War, I did a long string of media interviews. I was working as embassy spokesman in Tegucigalpa, and interest in hearing the US case for intervention in Iraq was high. The State Department was regularly sending out updated talking points by cable to be used by people like me. I memorized those points, made them my own in Spanish, then went to the newspapers, the radio, and TV stations ready to be grilled. I was aware, of course, of anti-intervention sentiment in the US and did not dismiss the . . .

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Sarge, Tell Us What To Do!

In these sad days of the virus, Donald Trump, and demonstrations and riots on our streets, I thought I might publish the speech given by Sarge Shriver at the second national conference of RPCVs held at Howard University. Thanks to Geri Gritchley (Senegal 1971-73) who had Sarge’s address to the packed auditorium, I am able to share his words of wisdom, hope, and common sense at this moment when our elected leaders appear to have few ideas of their own. Read what Sarge had to tell us that long-ago afternoon in D.C. when we listened to him and realized how fortunate JFK and the New Frontier had him to create the agency that changed all of our lives for the better. — JC Note. •     HONORABLE SARGENT SHRIVER SECOND NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF FORMER PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEERS AND STAFF SATURDAY, JUNE 20, 1981 HOWARD UNIVERSITY WASHINGTON, D.C.   It’s a . . .

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