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Establishing the Peace Corps: Kennedy's Involvement, Post 6
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Peace Corps: The Fountain of Youth
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Establishing the Peace Corps: The Ugly American, Part 5
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The Peace Corps Book Locker
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Ann Neelon reviews Attack of the Claw
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Establishing the Peace Corps: A New Frontier, Part 4
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Establishing The Peace Corps:Naming the Movement,Part 3
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Afghanistan In….Peace Corps Out
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Hessler Speaking in Santa Fe

Establishing the Peace Corps: Kennedy's Involvement, Post 6

JFK’s first direct association with the Peace Corps came on February 21, 1960. He was on a college television show called “College News Conference” and someone asked about the “Point Four Youth Corps.” Kennedy said he didn’t know what the legislative proposal was. Afterwards, he told aide Richard Goodwin to research the idea. Goodwin, who was the Kennedy link with the “brain trust” at Harvard, wrote to Archibald Cox at the university’s law school about the idea.     Then in April and May of 1960, when Kennedy was running against Humphrey for the nomination, the idea was discussed further. Humphrey introduced his bill for a “Peace Corps” in the Senate in June, but after Kennedy won the nomination in July, Humphrey transferred all his research files to Kennedy’s office. The Cow Palace speech made by Kennedy right before the election, which revealed his growing commitment to the “Peace Corps” concept, owed . . .

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Peace Corps: The Fountain of Youth

An RPCV writer who has published many, many successful books is writing one now on people who never seem to get sick. He is looking to interview them and he asked me if there is anyone in the community who while overseas discovered ways or herbs or methods that have kept them healthy. If you know of anyone let me know. Thanks.

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Establishing the Peace Corps: The Ugly American, Part 5

One of the most important books of the late 1950s was the novel, The Ugly American,by William J. Lederer and Eugene Burdick. The book’s hero was Homer Atkins, a skilled technician committed to helping at a grassroots level by building water pumps, digging roads, and building bridges. He was called the “ugly American” only because of his grotesque physical appearance. He lived and worked with the local people and, by the end of the novel, was beloved and admired by them. The bitter message of the novel, however, was that American diplomats were, by and large, neither competent nor effective; and the implication was that the more the United States relied on them, the more its influence would wane. The book was published in July 1958. It was Book-of-the-Month Club selection in October; by November it had gone through twenty printings. It was so influential that in later paperback editions its . . .

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The Peace Corps Book Locker

In the early years of the Peace Corps, the agency provided each household of Volunteers with a book locker. The books were meant to provide leisure reading for the PCVs, and then to be left behind in schools, villages, and towns where the Volunteers served. There is some mystery as to who had the idea for the book lockers; one rumor has it that it came from first Peace Corps Director Sargent Shriver’s wife, Eunice. Surely those books were a wonderful resource to any of the PCVs who thought of writing about the incomparable life they were living. Since 1961 PCVs and Peace Corps Staff have been writing the story of their lives in the developing world, as well as writing about the world beyond the Peace Corps. Among the more than 1000 writers  who have served in the Peace Corps have written and published their books. Many of the books . . .

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Ann Neelon reviews Attack of the Claw

BOOK REVIEW Larry Lihosit discovered the Peace Corps Writers site a couple years back and has been sending his book our way for reviews and comments. Larry is ‘outside’ the main current of literature and commercial publishing and has successful published his own books of poetry and travel. He is proof that you do not need an agent, a big name, or connections to find your way into print. It is for that reason that we have him writing a column on this site. Here is a review of one of his books of poetry to prove that like all good writers, he can take criticism as well as give it. Attack of the Claw and Other Poems about Teaching by Lawrence F. Lihosit ( Honduras 1975–77) A Book Company 2008 (Purchase book from publisher) Reviewed by Ann Neelon (Senegal 1978-79) For several years running, my sons have participated in the . . .

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Establishing the Peace Corps: A New Frontier, Part 4

There was also, as there has always been, a search for a new frontier. That feeling was loose in America. The historian Frederick Jackson Turner has written about how America has continued to grow because of this search for another frontier. The Peace Corps gave all these young people a New Frontier. A new generation The Baby Boom had struck. 50 percent of the population was under 25 in 1960. For the first time a college education was within the grasp of the majority of young people. Unprecedented material wealth freed this new generation to heed their consciences and pursue their ideals. This spirit of generosity and participation had been sorely missed under Eisenhower. As one Peace Corps administrator puts it in Gerry Rice’s book: “The 1950s made ancient mariners of us all – becalmed, waiting and a little parched in the throat. Then we picked up momentum on the . . .

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Establishing The Peace Corps:Naming the Movement,Part 3

Those of us who follow the history of the Peace Corps agency know the term “peace corps” came to public attention during the 1960 presidential election. In one of JFK’s last major speeches before the November election he called for the creation of a “Peace Corps” to send volunteers to work at the grass roots level in the developing world.      However, the question remains: who said (or wrote) “peace corps” for the very first time? Was it Kennedy? Was it his famous speech writer Ted Sorensen? Or Sarge himself? But – as in most situations – the famous term came about because of some young kid, usually a writer, working quietly away in some back office that dreams up the language. In this case the kid was a graduate student between degrees who was working for the late senator Hubert Horatio Humphrey.      Today, forty-five plus years after the . . .

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Afghanistan In….Peace Corps Out

The breaking news this afternoon is that the U.S. is planning to send hundreds of additional diplomats and civilian officials to Afghanistan…all part of the new post-Bush “civil-military” regional strategy that President Obama security advisers have scripted and now waits the president’s signature. Okay, where are the “hundreds, if not thousands” of additional Peace Corps Volunteers that Candidate Obama promised to send overseas as soon as he got elected? Remember, President Obama, you said you would double the number of PCVs to 16,000. Well, if the current cuts to the agency hold, based on the Omnibus Bill for 2009, the Peace Corps will eliminate 500 positions, dropping the number of new PCVs below 3,500. This is at a time when 22 + nations–including Indonesia, Sierra Leone, and Colombia–are asking for Volunteers.   President Obama, the Peace Corps isn’t just a scribbled name in the margin of some paper on regional strategy . . .

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Hessler Speaking in Santa Fe

Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) author of River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze, and a writer for The New Yorker, will be talking about “Writing in China” on Friday, March 20, at an anthropology conference in Santa Fe.  He will be speaking at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center. Peter is scheduled for a session that begins at noon on Friday in the Sweeney Room of the Center. The session is open to the public. When you get to the Convention Center ask directions at the Registration Desk in the Lobby.  And try and hang around and say hello to Peter, tell him you’re also an RPCV.

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