Tag Archives: Education

RPCV Memoirs: Accomplishing the Third Goal

The Barrios of Manta

Memoirs capture an individual’s life.  For many RPCVs, writing about their life and work in another country provides the best way to educate others.

Rhoda and Earle Brooks, who served in Ecuador from 1962-1964, published the first Peace Corps memoir titled The Barrios of Manta: A Personal Account of the Peace Corps in Ecuador in 1965.  Shortly after, Arnold Zeitlin (1961-1963) published To the Peace Corps with Love—a memoir about his service in Ghana.   The Barrios of Manta and To the Peace Corps with Love established a precedent for future Peace Corps volunteers.

To the Peace Corps with Love edited

 

 

Upon completing their service abroad, Peace Corps challenges returned volunteers to carry out the organization’s Third Goal.  The goal aims to inform Americans about people and cultures around the world.  Through education about other nations and their people, the Peace Corps seeks to foster understanding and world peace.

Memoirs provide a platform for sharing one’s experiences and knowledge of their host country with the rest of the US.  For more information and an extensive bibliography of published works on the Peace Corps, visit Peace Corps Worldwide.

Going Above and Beyond: Community Partnerships

In a statement issued March 1, 1961, President Kennedy acknowledged that Peace Corps Volunteers would never make a fortune from their service abroad.  Most made enough to subsist. Nevertheless, volunteers often went above and beyond—taking on additional projects to satisfy the community’s needs.  Projects included recruiting volunteer labor and additional funding for renovating and construction projects.

During his service in Paraguay, Robert Meade oversaw a school partnership project to build an elementary school.  A school in Bethesda, Maryland partnered with the Paraguay community and raised $700 for the construction.  Meade documented the efforts of local volunteers, as well as the entire building process, through photography.  The partnerships created during the school project represent the essence of the Peace Corps.  Robert Meade created the captions below.

 

Paraguayan workers on the building of Maria Auxiliadora Elementary School.  Bricks were made nearby and all labor on the school was voluntary.

“Paraguayan workers on the building of Maria Auxiliadora Elementary School. Bricks were made nearby and all labor on the school was voluntary.”

"Putting on the roof of Maria Auxiliadora."

“Putting on the roof of Maria Auxiliadora.”

"Oxcart delivering bricks for the school project."

“Oxcart delivering bricks for the school project.”

To learn more about Peace Corps Volunteers in Paraguay, visit the Peace Corps Community Archive at American University.

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.

Strengthening Communities: Non-formal Education

The Peace Corps not only educated students in school classrooms, but used the wider community as a platform for spreading information to local citizens.  Although many volunteers worked in formal education, others were assigned to community development projects.   Non-formal education sought to establish community programming and workshops based on areas of need.  While some focused on a specifically on health care or sanitation, others were encouraged to assess the local community’s greatest needs before developing projects on-site.  Community outreach included youth and business development, in addition to environmental and health education.

In Colombia, Christine Hager sought to educate young girls and women about cooking and sewing.  Serving in Dagua Valle, Colombia (1968-1970), Hager organized clubs for mothers and young girls to provide support.  The community development also included experiential learning on raising chickens, planting seed beds, and gardening.

Brian Adler and Cynthia Elliot also worked with non-formal rural community education in Marshall Creek, Suriname.  Instead of formally teaching students in a classroom, Brian and Cynthia organized community libraries, after-school programs for youth, and workshops to teach English to adults in the community.

The collections documenting the variety of community development reinforce the Peace Corps’ commitment to educating communities and improving people’s lives.

Peace Corps Philippines IX

Country of Service: Philippines
Service Type: Education
Dates in Service: 1962-1964
Keywords: Education

Accession Date: October 1, 2013
Access: No restrictions other than copyright
Collection Size: 1 item

Document Types

  • Publication- Memories and Reflections (includes photographs, interviews, and excerpts from diaries and letters)

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

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)