Category Archives: Correspondence

Adventure in “a Great Big World”

Alan Crew used letters to describe experiences in Benin City, Nigeria to his family in the United States.  Included in his donation to the PCCA, a memoir—compiled years after his experience—contains typed copies of the letters he wrote home, as well as transcriptions of audio tapes and photos.  His letters capture the excitement and hard work of serving in the Peace Corps.

Working as a teacher at the Edo Boys’ School, Crew taught literature, English grammar, and French.  The Boys’ School, surrounded by an old rubber plantation, appeared to be a difficult assignment.  In a January 19, 1965 letter home, Crew wrote “The school has real problems and as Sam Selkow, our regional representative (administrator in charge of the Midwest Peace Corps volunteers) says, –it’s the most challenging assignment he’s ever given anyone.”  Despite the challenges that lay ahead, Crew eagerly admitted,

The veteran Peace Corps volunteers are really exciting, and as independent as anything I’ve ever seen or imagined.  I guess that the living alone does it to you, but man are they self sufficient.  I get the feeling that they’d be right at home on the moon! The next two years look to be tough, challenging and intense.  I think I’ll like it.

Based on his letters, Crew’s possession of a motorcycle enhanced the overall experience in the Peace Corps.  On January 22, 1965, Crew informed his family about the new mode of transportation.  “My school has just provided me with a rather large motorcycle for transportation, and, as you can imagine, I’m having a ball with it.  As the Peace Corps supplies us all with crash helmets, the danger of serious injury is lessened, so you needn’t worry.”

This isn’t the only time he mentions his motorcycle in letters home.  As Crew adjusted to living in Nigeria, he also got used to traveling by motorcycle.  On January 27, 1965 Crew wrote,

My motorcycle is running beautifully, although it still isn’t completely broken in.  I can understand the almost reverent feeling the old volunteers have for their machines, as they afford one the only means of mobility available…There are 104 of us within 125 miles of each other so that we can all get together on weekends if we like.  Therefore, the mobility of the motorcycle takes on a new dimension of importance.

By reading Crew’s letters, it is easy to get a sense of what’s important.  They also possess insight into the volunteer’s  thoughts about their experiences, how they dealt with the challenges that arose (being in a new country, work, living conditions, illness, etc.), as well as what they did for fun.  Peace Corps volunteers’ letters, like Crew’s, also convey their attitudes and feelings towards a range of topics.  Crew claimed in a letter on March 10, 1965:

Whoever said that P.C. life was dull and frustrating must have had his head in the ground.  I’ve got so much to do now that I don’t know when I’m ever going to find time to feel bored.  And you talk about excited! Why, man, there’s a great big world outside of the states that I didn’t even know existed until I left.  It’s really a sin more people don’t see it.

Peggy Gleeson Wyllie in Colombia

Peggy Gleeson Wyllie

Country of Service: Colombia
Place of Service: Fusagasuga and Guapi
Service Type: Nursing and Nursing Education
Dates in Service: 1963-1965
Keywords: Education, Health, Nursing

Accession Date: February 2011; Friends of Colombia Archive
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 3 folders

Document Types

  • Correspondence
  • Photographs
  • Publications
  • Slides

David Wessel in Colombia

David Wessel

Country of Service: Colombia
Place of Service: Rivere, Huila and Antioguia
Service Project Title: CARE Program
Dates in Service: 1962-1964
Keywords: Education, Health, Nutrition, Sanitation

Accession Date: July 2000; Friends of Colombia Archive
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 0.75 linear feet

Document Types

  • Correspondence
  • Photographs
  • Publications

Terry Kennedy in Colombia

Terry Kennedy

Country of Service: Colombia
Place of Service: Tangua, Narino
Service Project Title: Educational TV Project (ETV)
Dates in Service: 1964-1966
Keywords: Education, Information Technology, Youth

Accession Date: June 1999; Friends of Colombia Archive
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 1 linear foot

Document Types

  • Correspondence
  • Notebooks
  • Photographs
  • Publications
  • Slides

Christine Hager in Colombia

Christine Hager

Country of Service: Colombia
Place of Service: Dagua, Valle
Service Type: Nutrition Education; Integrated Plan for Applied Nutrition (PINA)
Dates in Service: 1968-1970
Keywords: Education, Health

Accession Date: January 2006; Friends of Colombia Archive
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 1 linear foot

Document Types

  • Correspondence
  • Photographs
  • Publications
  • Slides

Nancy Ann McClintock in Colombia

Nancy Ann McClintock

Country of Service: Colombia
Place of Service: Pereira and Bogota
Service Type: Education and Conservation
Dates in Service: 1972-1974
Keywords: Agriculture, Education, Environment, Youth

Accession Date: July 2001; Friends of Colombia Archive
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 3 folders

Document Types

  • Correspondence
  • Publications
  • Sound

James Kolb in Colombia

James Kolb

Country of Service: Colombia
Place of Service: Cajica
Service Project Title: Educational Television, Colombian Ministry of Education
Dates in Service: 1963-1965
Keywords: Education, Technology, Youth

Accession Date: November 2004, March 2012, January 2013; Friends of Colombia Archive
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 1 folder

Document Types

  • Correspondence
  • Photographs
  • Publications

Digital Surrogates

  • Correspondence and Educational TV documents (disc)

Jennifer Frum in Colombia

Jennifer Belt Frum

Country of Service: Colombia
Place of Service: Quibdo, Choco
Service Project Title: CARE Project
Dates in Service: 1965-1967
Keywords: Community Development, Education, Environment, Health

Accession Date: March 2008; Friends of Colombia Archive
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 0.25 linear feet

Document Types

  • Correspondence
  • Reports
  • Publications

Willie Gaither in Nigeria

Willie Gaither

Country of Service: Nigeria
Place of Service: Eastern Nigeria
Service Type: Education
Dates in Service: 1963-1965
Keywords: Education, Youth

Accession Date: April 8, 2011; Friends of Nigeria Archive
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 0.25 linear feet

Document Types

  • Correspondence
  • Photographs
  • Publications