Tell Your Peace Corps Story

 

As we approach the 60th Anniversary of the agency — which was officially born on March 1, 1961—Peace Corps Worldwide wants to capture for history the stories of as many Volunteers as possible. Your experiences need to be preserved because, thanks to your service, the Peace Corps has become the most significant and successful cross-cultural venture ever undertaken by the United States. And in today’s nationalistic world, the example of Peace Corps Volunteers is more important than ever.

The Peace Corps is about service, but it is also about friendship. For 60 years, Volunteers have lived with host-country families, shared their lives and experiences, and showed our hosts that we were more like them than we were different. We were younger than many of our hosts, often less experienced in life, and sometimes needing their help to navigate their culture. But we went, and we were ready to work, ready to learn, and ready to be friends.

You have told these stories. You’ve told of that moment when you realized you were at home in another country. You’ve talked about when you knew you’d been accepted in your host country. When you saw that what you were doing proved your worth as a Volunteer, and showed that you cared about the people you were helping. Now we’re asking you to put those stories down on paper so we can publish them. You don’t have to be a professional writer to do this. You just need to speak from your memory, and from your heart.

Tell your story for the sake of history. Tell your story to inspire the next generation of PCVs. Help them understand that, just as the Peace Corps changes lives overseas, it also changes the lives of its Volunteers — 245,000 of them in 60 years. Tell your story because, in an age of nationalism and America First, the Peace Corps has a more important role than ever.

The Peace Corps is your story. Write it down. It is your history. The life you lived as a PCV needs to be remembered, cherished, and shared with future Volunteers and other Americans, and shared, too, with host families and friends from your Peace Corps days.

The Peace Corps is not just a government agency. Not just an Act of Congress or the brainchild of a U.S. president.

The Peace Corps is you. You left your country and went to another, not with a Bible, not with a rifle, not just to have an adventure. You went with a smile and a handshake and kind words of greeting.

Tell your story on our website. The third goal of the Peace Corps is to strengthen Volunteers’ understanding of the world and its peoples, and then to bring what we learn back home. That’s what you can do here — tell of the knowledge and wisdom and friendships you gained in the developing world so that people back home can learn. Through you, all Americans can learn about the worlds you encountered — and the people that they will never have the honor to know.

Marian Haley Beil (Ethiopia 1962-64)
John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962-64)

 

Length: 1000 words or less

Include your country & years of service, short bio

Send to: jcoyneone@gmail.com

 

7 Comments

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  • PCVs may also submit shorter vignettes to the Museum of the Peace Corps Experience (museumofthepeacecorpsexperience.org). On this website, you’ll find 44 micro-memoirs (most are related to an object donated to the Museum) as well as a detailed guide for writing your story. Feel free to submit to both sites. The more people hear our stories, the stronger the Peace Corps legacy will become.

  • RE “museumofthepeacecorpssexperience.com.” I’m not big into anagrams, crosswords or Scrabble, but one inviting, raw ingredient in this otherwise decorous Internet domain name really leaps out from the stew — perhaps to trigger some RPCV mass nostalgia? Or is it just me?

  • Marian and John, thank you much for encouraging all of us to write about our experiences as part of the the 60th Peace Corps anniversary. I have such happy memories of reading all four books in your series, John, of “Tales of Peace Corps Service.” Maybe Peace Corps could publish the stories sent in to you and have this wonderful series published again.

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