1
Establishing The Peace Corps: America Responds, Post 20
2
Margaret Mead Weights In
3
Josephson and His Executive Order, Post 19
4
REVIEW: Avoid Mosquitoes and Other Impossibilities
5
Who is Bill Josephson And What Does He Have To Say About "The Midnight Ride of Warren Wiggins"? Post 18
6
Dumb Things I Did in the Peace Corps
7
Not an April Fool's Joke!
8
Establishing The Peace Corps: 7 Basic Differences, Post 17
9
More On So Damn Much Money
10
Establishing The Peace Corps: LBJ Saves The Agency, Post 16
11
Good Books Written by Good PCVs
12
Establishing The Peace Corps: Anybody Want Some PCVs?, Post 15
13
So Damn Much Money
14
Are PCVs Dead Aid?
15
Establishing the Peace Corps: Launching The Idea, Post 13

Establishing The Peace Corps: America Responds, Post 20

The question now was would anyone apply to the Peace Corps? Could the United States produce enough Americans of high quality and character to make the Peace Corps successful?      Between March 1 and June 1, 1961, after the Peace Corps preliminary policies were set, approximately 10,000 Americans filled out and mailed in Peace Corps applications. From June to December 31, 1961, Americans volunteered at the rate of 1,000 per month.      In those early months, the Peace Corps made little effort to attract Volunteers, preferring to wait until it had a clear mandate from the Congress both in terms of authorization and appropriation. That mandate came on September 22, 1961. With bipartisan national endorsement, the Peace Corps took the initiative in explaining its program and the opportunities for Peace Corps service. October and November 1961 were taken up in preparing an adequate public information and public affairs program for . . .

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Margaret Mead Weights In

One of the seminal books on the Peace Corps was published in 1966 and entitled Cultural Frontiers of the Peace Corps. It is a collection of fifteen essays by social scientists who visit Peace Corps projects to observe and write about Peace Corps activities. It was edited by Robert B. Textor, who was then an anthropologist at Stanford and a consultant to the Peace Corps. Textor is important in Peace Corps history and mythology if only for drafting the original memorandum that detailed the “In, Up & Out” personnel policy of the new agency. I’ll discuss that in a later blog, but now I just want to reprint a quote from the Foreword  written by Margaret Mead who at the time was in Aghios Nikolaos, Crete. This was July 1965, very early in the life of the Peace Corps. Mead writes in summing up her views of the Peace Corps: “…the Peace Corps . . .

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Josephson and His Executive Order, Post 19

Shriver created the Peace Corps in twenty-one days (from February 7, 1961–the day after he got The Towering Task– to March 1, 1961, when the Executive Order was signed by President Kennedy.) According to Wiggins, “That’s a record for a government agency. Something like a year or two is usually the case. But he got it together that fast; he created its laws, its principles, and he staffed it up.”      “Staffing up” meant appropriating three rooms on the sixth floor of 806 Connecticut Avenue, the Maiatico Building, [the first Peace Corps Office, now replaced by a slick building housing law firms, I’m sure] where Wiggins and Josephson already worked at ICA. Both of them soon would be working full time for the Peace Corps, Wiggins doing planning, and Josephson figuring out how to make the agency become a government agency. Josephson found the way in a little used President’s . . .

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REVIEW: Avoid Mosquitoes and Other Impossibilities

Avoid Mosquitoes and Other Impossibilities by Nancy Sellin iUniverse 2009 Reviewed by Leita Kaldi Davis (Senegal 1993-96) Nancy Sellin’s Avoid Mosquitoes and Other Impossibilities is a memoir of her Peace Corps service in Liberia in the 1960s and her life in general, with vivid insights into what it meant to be a young woman of that era.  Being of “a certain age” myself I was painfully reminded of the pressures put upon young women by a male-dominated white society, the experimental phase of contraceptives when we all got fat and grouchy, the naïvete of sexual encounters that were either wanton or wanting, and the secret longing for adventure and liberation. Nancy’s husband, Dale, convinces her to leave Alaska with him to join Peace Corps shortly after their marriage. They both have teaching assignments and while Dale is fulfilled in his structured high school, Nancy struggles with sporadic elementary classes where . . .

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Who is Bill Josephson And What Does He Have To Say About "The Midnight Ride of Warren Wiggins"? Post 18

Among the large cast of characters who created the Peace Corps Administration in the very early days of the agency was Bill Josephson who came to the agency as the Deputy General Counsel when he was 26 or 27. Josephson is most important in these early days as he worked with Warren Wiggins in the drafting of The Towering Task. Here’s a little of Josephson’s background.      In September, 1958, he went to England to write a doctoral dissertation in history at St. Antony’s College, one of the two graduate colleges at Oxford University. He dissertation was on what the other Americans, other than President Wilson and Colonel House, were doing at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. The thesis never got written as Josephson met and married a young lawyer from London.      Josephson was from South Orange, New Jersey, and with the help of a scholarship, went through the . . .

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Dumb Things I Did in the Peace Corps

This is a piece by Dick Lipez  who after his Peace Corps tour (Ethiopia 1962-64) worked in the famed Charlie Peters Evaluation Division of the Peace Corps. He then went on to become a successful novelist and editorial writer at the Berkshire Eagle and author of gay detective novels. • • • Attention Peace Corps authors: Here’s a good idea for an anthology.  I don’t have the time to edit it — I have two other books I keep telling people I’m writing—but I’m a prime candidate to contribute to the collection.  It would be called Dumb Things I Did in the Peace Corps. We all have lists.  I get chills when I run down mine.  Some of these blunders are amusing, but others are so excruciatingly dumb that no one else should ever be allowed to know about them.  Unless, of course, other volunteers were there at the time, and maybe even participated in the . . .

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Not an April Fool's Joke!

This is not an April Fool’s Joke. We are looking for a few good bloggers, RPCVs who have a special background, experience and knowledge that they want to share with the Peace Corps Community. We want to add to our collection of bloggers who now are sharing their experience with PCVs, the families of PCVs, and RPCVs.      We began this site: www.peacecorpsworldwide.org, a project of the non-profit Peace Corps Fund, to provide a community of resources for RPCVs, PCVs and their family, and others as they make their home in the world.  We are writing to see if you want to join our group of experts.      In the coming weeks we will add three more bloggers, one is an RPCV who will write a travel column for women traveling alone overseas; a former Peace Corps Recruiter who will give advice on how new applicants can handle the recruitment . . .

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Establishing The Peace Corps: 7 Basic Differences, Post 17

What strikes anyone reading about the creating of the Peace Corps was 1) how creatively it was organized; and 2) how fast it was put into operation. The reason was that the ‘founding fathers’ (and they were only fathers) took chances. Wofford remarks in Of Kennedys & Kings how a management consultant said to him one evening, “You guys had a good day today. You broke fourteen laws.” Then the consultant promised to straighten out the paper work and urged then all on, saying, “Keep it up, we’re making progress.”      Wiggins in his interview with me listed 7 reasons why the Peace Corps was so successful in those early days of the Kennedy administration.      1)  Bill Josephson and Warren Wiggins kept the idea of a “Peace Corps” simple. At first, the PCVs were only to teach English. As Wiggins told me, “Our cardinal rule in crafting ‘A Towering . . .

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More On So Damn Much Money

A footnote on yesterday’s long blog about, So Damn Much Money: The Triumph of Lobbying and the Corrosion of American Government by Robert G. Kaiser. In his book, Kaiser points out that 283 former Clinton administration officials have become lobbyists, along with 310 Bush appointees. They do it, of course, for the money and to stay in D.C. For example, a member of Congress can go from making $162,500, and a staff person’s $95,000, to a salary of $300,000 or more on K Street almost overnight. As Dylon said long ago, “money doesn’t talk, it brags.”      President Obama on is first full day in office issued an executive order saying they can’t participate for two years in any matter they worked on in prior employment in the government. They can’t lobby Congress for two years upon leaving the administration, and they can’t lobby the Obama administration ever.      One . . .

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Establishing The Peace Corps: LBJ Saves The Agency, Post 16

The signs that the special role for the Peace Corps in foreign aid was in trouble were all over Washington. Wofford ran into Ralph Dungan in the White House mess (Wofford was then a Special Assistant to the President on Civil Rights) and Dungan told him the Peace Corps would be a subdivision of the new AID. “Not if Sarge has anything to say about it,” Wofford tossed off, half joking, but also firmly believing Shriver walked on water. The truth was that all these “new guys” Shriver brought in to work for the Peace Corps believed Sarge could get anything he wanted from the White House. But Shriver was scheduled to leave D.C. and the U.S. Who would carry the fight that was developing in D.C.? Before leaving for his ’round the world trip to secure placements for PCVs, Shriver lobbied Sorensen, Dungan, and Labouisse, trying to persuade them . . .

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Good Books Written by Good PCVs

If the Peace Corps did anything, it turned us into readers and we are better for it. But being a reader doesn’t make us writers. That’s the rub. Having a great (or not so great) Peace Corps experience doesn’t make us writers either, though it might help when it comes to telling stories late at night in some bar. Being an English major doesn’t make one a writer, and it can even hurt a PCV writer, having read (and then trying to write like) one of those great writers from lit classes. Then there is the problem of too many books being published. In 2008, there were 45,000 novels published, up 17% from 2007. Altogether, there were 311,000 new titles and editions published in 2007. Add that number to all those POD books (print-on-demand) books that anyone can get published for a few hundred dollars and who has dreams of being an . . .

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Establishing The Peace Corps: Anybody Want Some PCVs?, Post 15

Warren Wiggins would tell me in an interview I did with him in January 1997 (published in RPCV Writers & Readers) that the greatest weakness of the original idea of the Peace Corps was that it didn’t have a constituency beyond “the youth of America.” The Peace Corps, Warren said, “was not an outgrowth of development experience. It didn’t have a constituency in the Congress, the press, or other leadership institutions in the U.S. nor did it have a constituency abroad.”      This proved to be an immediate and immense problem. Kennedy had created a Peace Corps and no one wanted it! There were 25,000 potential PCVs waiting to go do something for America, but no Third World country asked for them.      Getting requests for PCVs was a major problem. “Shriver almost terminated me in those early months,” Warren recalled in his interview. “He would never admit that, and . . .

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So Damn Much Money

Over the weekend I read a great review of So Damn Much Money: The Triumph of Lobbying and the Corrosion of American Government by Robert G. Kaiser [Knopf 2009]. (Kaiser is The Washington Post associate editor and senior correspondent.) The review was written by Michael Tomasky, the editor-at-large for The Guardian, and appears in the April 9, 2009 issue of The New York Review of Books. You should take a look at it for no other reason than to see why it is so important that Obama is able to clean out the lobbyists on K Street in Washington, D.C. Michael Tomasky writes in his review: “A central aspect of Obama’s entire approach to governance has focused on the reducing the power and influence of these lobbies.” What is key is what Obama said at the end of February in a radio-video address about his plans for his new administration: . . .

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Are PCVs Dead Aid?

You have mostlikely heard about, or read about, Dambisa Moyo and her new book: Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa that was published this month by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Dambisa Moyo was born and raised in Zambia. She completed a PhD in Economics at Oxford University and holds a Masters from Harvard University. She worked at the World Bank in D.C., then at Goldman Sachs for 8 years in the debt capital markets, hedge fund coverage and in global macroeconomics teams. Her new book says that foreign aid is preventing Africa from becoming self-reliant. She proposes that within the decade, all foreign aid to Africa be cut off. To make her point about ‘dead aid’ she has gone after Bono and other celebrities who flock to Africa to get babies and give aid. She has earned herself the title, Anti-Bono. Her . . .

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Establishing the Peace Corps: Launching The Idea, Post 13

The Mayflower Hotel Gang outlined “seven steps” to form the Peace Corps in a February 22, 1961 memorandum to Kennedy. This memo is interesting for several reasons. The first point Shriver made was that the Peace Corps should be established by an Executive Order within the Mutual Security Program. William Josephson, then the only lawyer in the ‘new’ Peace Corps was the principal author of the President’s Executive Order. [This is not entirely true for Shriver was a lawyers, as was Wofford, among others, but Josephson had come in with Wiggins with their Towering Task Memo, and was a government employee, as was Warren Wiggins who was made Director ad interim. And, therefore, the FIRST DIRECTOR of the agency.] Shriver was appointed by Kennedy on March 4, but subject to Senate confirmation. It was May 21 before Shriver made his appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and his appointment was confirmed. . . .

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