Let’s greet 2019 with what was said about the Peace Corps’ First Year, 1961
“They (the Volunteers) have done a very good job, mixing with the people and encouraging self-help measures. We hope to get more of them.” –Prime Minister Rashidi Kawawa of Tanganyika.
“The Peace Corps I think is a wonderful idea. I think it is terrific. There is no better way to show the world what we are than to have our young people, acting just as themselves, going throughout these under developed countries.”—News commentator Richard C. Hottelet
“Just a year ago many people were holding their fingers crossed. ….We know, a year later, that these bright and dedicated Peace Corpsmen of ours stood the test.” –Farmers Union Herald
“I hope that when they come back, many of them will decide to make the Foreign Service their life work. If they do, we will have a better chance for survival.”–Max Lerner New York Post.
“I have had an opportunity to meet many Peace Corps Volunteers and find them remarkable. They are carrying out a project that will be a continuing benefit in the countries in which they serve and to the United States.”—Eleanor Roosevelt
“It’s possible that one day the history books will detail the 1960 era as the time when America’s best salesmen—its young citizens—were taken off the drugstore stools and sent out into the world.”–Oneonta (N.Y) Star
“Platform No. 10 of the New Delhi Main Station witnessed an unusual scene late this evening. Twenty-six Americans came out of a train from Calcutta and left the porters spellbound by insisting on themselves carrying their baggage.”– Indian Express (Bombay)
“I think the Peace Corps is beginning to remove the doubts from the doubters’ minds. I have been impressed with the quality of the young men and women who are going into it. At first I thought it would advance work for a group of beatniks, but this is not so…I’ll back it all the way.” —Senator Barry Goldwater (Rep.-Ariz.)
“The arrival in Thailand of an American Peace Corps unit, composed of 45 Volunteers, has caused great excitement to the Thai people. This is because there are many things the Thai people never expected to see in farangs (Westerners), such as to hear them speak Thai fluently and to see them coming to live here like any ordinary Thai.”—Siam Nikorn
“As the Peace Corps enters its second year, it becomes evident that service to mankind without thought of personal gain is still one of man’s noblest endeavors.”—Senator Stephen M. Young
“More than 20,000 Americans have volunteered to serve, a convincing demonstration that we have in this country an immense reservoir of dedicated man and women willing to express, by their actions and convictions, the highest values of our society.”–President Kennedy in his message to Congress of February 2, 1962
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It was a privilege and my great fortune to serve in the Peace Corps in 1961 and it’s encouraging to know the same constructive comments made about the Peace Corps back then applies to the current group of women and men dedicating two years of their lives in service to others. While the Peace Corps is 58 years old now, it remains young because it is renewed and redefined with every new volunteer taking up service in their village.
Sue Hoyt Aiken , Ethiopia 1
As a few hundred volunteers descended into Addis Ababa and spread out into the country side nothing was quite the same both for our students and for us. Not because we were so great but because we were so warmly welcomed. Our respective world views were forever changed.
Each day another chapter unfolded usually with unforeseen outcomes. Who knew our students could not understand our American accents! Or that Ethiopians are so beautiful both in body and soul! Pretty sure our experiences transformed many a career goal!
I always will remember those Friday paydays when my geology crew would celebrate another couple weeks of work, and assemble at the village bar for beer, and rolicking conversation about everything from politics to getting along with women (always a popular subject). Village children would peer over the window sills to watch.
Off the job, authority and position were carefully set aside, there was equality, and everybody could be heard. Some of the crew had some trouble initially with the change of rules, where the boss was no longer the boss, and to be deferred to. But they caught on, and I think learned what authority is, or should be, about. And it wasn’t just “them and me”. I had seven languagees spoken by crew members, so they were learning also what other Africans were all about.
I felt guilty with my crew members insisting on buying my beer, from their wages. I think it was a sign of respect, and appreciation for the unusual equality for everybody, regardless of status on the job. Buying me a beer gave them a new status, i think, in a very significant way.
It was very much a man’s world on Friday paydays. But come Saturday night, it was the women’s world, with all of the stuff that happens socially on Saturday around the world. What memories !
John Turnbull Ghana-3 Geology and Nyasaland/Malawi-2 Geology Assignment