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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
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Establishing the Peace Corps, Part 2
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The Peace Corps: Executive Order 10924
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Who Wanted The First PCVs?
10
May Your Daughter Marry A Copy Editor

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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Establishing the Peace Corps, Part 2

Let me start with a quote from Gerard T. Rice’s book, The Bold Experiment: JFK’s Peace Corps:  “In 1961 John F. Kennedy took two risky and conflicting initiatives in the Third World. One was to send five hundred additional military advisers into South Vietnam; by 1963 there would be seventeen thousand such advisers. The other was to send five hundred young Americans to teach in the schools and work in the fields of eight developing countries. These were Peace Corps Volunteers. By 1963 there would be seven thousand of them in forty-four countries.”      Vietnam scarred the American psyche, leaving memories of pain and defeat. But Kennedy’s other initiative inspired, and continued to inspire, hope and understanding among Americans and the rest of the world. In that sense, the Peace Corps was his most affirmative and enduring legacy.      Gerry Rice, in The Bold Experiment: JFK’s Peace Corps, points out that the . . .

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The Peace Corps: Executive Order 10924

Over the next few months I’m going to post accounts of some of the significant moments in early Peace Corps history for anyone curious about how the agency was established, as I’m always surprised as how little current PCVs know about the history of the agency. Here to begin is the document that launched the Peace Corps. In future blogs I’ll tell you how this Executive Order 10924 came about, and what happened at the Mayflower Hotel in the winter of 1961. ESTABLISHMENT AND ADMINISTRATION OF THE PEACE CORPS IN THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE      By virtue of the authority vested in me by the Mutual Security Act of 1954, 68 Stat. 832, as amended (22 U.S.C. 1750 et seq.), and as President of the United States, it is hereby ordered as follows:      SECTION 1. Establishment of the Peace Corps. The Secretary of State shall establish an agency in the Department of State which . . .

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Who Wanted The First PCVs?

Everyone wants to be first! We know Ghana One were the first PCVs to step onto the tarmac in Accra on September 1, 1961. Those in training joked, “Here today, Ghana tomorrow.” But what nation made the first request to JFK for his Peace Corps Volunteers? Well, in late April 1961, Ghana also was the first country to ask for PCVs, and they got the first Volunteers. Tanganyika One (now Tanzania) started and finished their training earlier, but Ghana arrived in West Africa a few days before the Tanganyika Vols reached Dar es Salaam. Going to Africa in 1961, it took the Ghana group 21 hours in  a propeller-driven DC-7. When the 50 Volunteers arrived in Accra, Ken Baer, who had his B.A. from  Yale and his M.A. in history  from Berkeley, spoke for the group. He addressed the press and host country officials in Twi, saying in part, “We have come to learn as well as to teach.” That greeting has become for the Peace Corps the way generations of new  Volunteers . . .

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May Your Daughter Marry A Copy Editor

The curse in publishing is: “May your daughter marry a copy editor.” Copy editors are the last in line, certainly the least paid, (and with the smallest office) but perhaps the most important person for a writer who needs ‘fresh eyes’ on his or her prose to pick up the mistakes everyone else has missed. For example, her eyes were hazel on page 56 and then written as green on 213. That sort of editing. Copy editors are like blood hounds; they focus in on the kill, or in this case, the change in eye color. The world at large lumps all editors as one, but editors break down into several categories. Someone asked what an Acquisition Editor does. Well, they buy books to publish! They are the key people for a writer. They might also ‘edit’ if they are not too busy going to lunch with literary agents. They are . . .

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