Author Archives: jh4712a

Returned Peace Corps Volunteers in Hawaii

In 2009, The Hawaii Returned Peace Corps Volunteers began a weekly series of volunteer interviews. They interviewed a little over 70 volunteers who served in countries from Bolivia to Poland, and from Ghana to to the Philippines. Volunteers talked about their time in service, what work they did, and discussed their overall experience in the Peace Corps.

Listen to their stories here: RPCVHI Youtube Channel

After the Peace Corps

Once a volunteer’s service has ended, they have to decide what to do after the Peace Corps. Some volunteers extend their service, some go on to graduate school, and some simply come home to the states and resettle into daily life.

The following are stories of what some volunteers did after their service.

When Alanna Randall was preparing to leave Belize in 2003 she was deciding between graduate school and joining Americorps, a Peace Corps-type program in the U.S. To help with her decision, Alanna used a chart that her local PCV magazine published.

Alanna Randall, Belize, 2001-2003. This chart is from the PC Belize Magazine “Toucan Times” Oct/Nov/Dec 2001

She eventually decided to join Americorps and served in Tuscon, Arizona as a Team Leader for Youth Volunteers. She then went on to pursue a Masters Degree in Teaching Spanish at the School for International Training in Vermont.

 

Tina Singleton started her service in Benin in 1992 and extended it two years to 1996. Even though her family encouraged her to serve another year, Tina decided she was ready to leave. However, she was debating between finding a job, taking courses in Community Based Rehabilitation, or applying to graduate schools. She eventually decided on graduate school in London.

Tina Singleton, Benin, 1992-1996. This postcard was sent to her parents from England while she was preparing to start graduate school.

Tina sent this postcard to her parents in March of 1997 and told them: “I managed to get through exams …!! I’m pretty sure I passed . . . now i can sit back (for a few minutes, anyway) and drink tea . . .”

 

Once Lynda Smith-Nehr completed her service in the Philippines in 1964 she traveled the world before heading home. Lynda visited Japan, India, Egypt, Palestine, Italy, Switzerland, England, DC, and New York.

Lynda Smith-Nehr,Philippines, 1962-1964. This was taken on her travels to Egypt after her service ended.

Lynda Smith-Nehr, Philippines, 1962-1964. This was taken on her travels to Greece after her service ended.

As evident from these examples, volunteers have a lot of paths to choose from when their service is over. And their two years in the Peace Corps gives them a lot of experiences to build their new lives with.

Odd Jobs in the Peace Corps

Most Peace Corps Volunteers spend their service as educators, working in community development, or in public health.

But some volunteers spend their two years serving in very different jobs. For example, Avram Primack worked with marine fisheries in the Philippines from 1987-1989 and Terry Kennedy and James Kolb worked on the Peace Corps Educational TV Project in Colombia from 1964-1966 and 1963-1965, respectively.

Take a look at three more odd jobs we have in the collection.

 

While serving in Colombia from 1964-1966 Howard Ellegant worked as an architect. Ellegant drew out plans for multiple schools, a house, and a church.

Howard Ellegant, Colombia, 1964-1966. “Iglesia de Troncocito” October 5, 1965 (Truncated Church)

 

Meghan Keith-Hynes (Haiti, 1986) and Richard Burns (Dominican Republic, 1962-1964) both worked in Forestry. Burns notes that his group was trained in fire suppression and aiding the Dominican Republic government to establish their own forest service. Meghan worked on starting a community nursery independent of the government.

Meghan Keith-Hynes, Haiti, 1986

Richard Burns, Dominican Republic, 1962-1964, “Planting trees”

 

Steven Bossi served in India from 1966-1968 and worked on the Andhra Pradesh Science Workshop, which worked with local science teachers. The workshop focused on two things: aspects of science teaching that are crucial for a firm understanding of the principles of high school science and aspects that can easily be implemented in the classroom.

Steven Bossi, India, 1966-1968, “Demonstrating folding microscope”

 

While most volunteers work in the same three types of jobs, there are a few out of the ordinary jobs volunteers do around the world.

Gail Wadsworth in Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania

Country of Service: Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania
Service Type: Secondary Education, Librarian
Dates in Service: 1970-1972, 1973-1976, 1980-1982
Keywords: Education, Libraries

Accession Date: March 9, 2018
Access: No restrictions.
Collection Size: 4.0 linear feet

Document Types

Uganda
Photographs
Correspondence
Sound
Official Paperwork
Training Materials
Assignment
Articles
Travel brochures, maps, postcards

Kenya
Photographs
Correspondence
Official Paperwork
Assignment
Travel brochures, postcards

Tanzania
Photographs
Correspondence
Official Paperwork
Assignment
Travel postcards

Records We Collect; Records That Tell Stories

Throughout the blog, you have probably noticed the various records we use to tell the stories of Peace Corps Volunteers. This post highlights some of the more common types of records that volunteers donate and record their experiences with.

The most common type of record that PCVs donate that tell their story is letters. Volunteers send correspondence back and forth with their family and friends for two years in which they express their accomplishments, frustrations, and describe their everyday life. A letter like the one below, air mail, was a familiar sight for families as it was the fastest and most common way volunteers sent letters.

Joyce Emery Johnston served in the Philippines in Education from 1965-1967.

Similar to correspondence is volunteers’ journals or diaries. These are where volunteers write more in depth about their daily activities and daily thoughts. Diaries are used to preserve memories, and some volunteers even start keeping diaries in the language of their host country as seen below.

David Day served in Kenya and India in Agriculture from 1965-1967.

David Day served in Kenya and India in Agriculture from 1965-1967.

A way that volunteers formally share their experiences is through memoirs. Alan Crew compiled his memoir as a gift to his son upon his graduation from college. In it he details his life in Nigeria and includes pictures of where he worked.

Alan Crew served in Nigeria in Education from 1965-1966.

Along with writing, volunteers also take many photos during their service to show their friends and families where they work and live. While most volunteers take regular digital photos, many early volunteers also used slides.

Patricia Kay served in Kenya in Education from 1966-1968.

Patricia Kay served in Kenya in Education from 1966-1968.

Volunteers also send home postcards when they travel or want to share more photos of their host country.

Tina Singleton served in Benin in Health Education from 1992-1996.

Along with these records, some volunteers also take videos of their service experience. The video below was taken by Brian Adler who served in Suriname with his wife Cindy from 2002-2004. In this clip he gives a tour of where he and Cindy lived, and the video goes on to show a village party, soccer game, and conversations with the villagers.

Bryan and Cynthia Adler in Marchall Kreek 

For volunteers who either could not write home or found this method easier, they recorded audio tapes. This audio clip is from Richard Holmquist to his fiance Ann. In the full recording, he discusses his work as a professor at UMBC, how he met Ann, and what he did in Nigeria from 1966-1968. In this clip he discusses a need in Nigeria for lifeguards.                                           (play button is on the far left).

 

Along with these personal records, Peace Corps Volunteers also donate some of their official Peace Corps paperwork. These include certificates of training and service completion, letters of service acceptance, and volunteer ID cards like Debby Prigal’s below.

Debby Prigal served in Ghana in Education from 1981-1983.

The Peace Corps Community Archives holds many other different types of records such as architectural drawings, posters, newspapers, training materials, correspondence from the Peace Corps and various governments, and much more. But the handful of records highlighted here are the main forms of learning about what a Peace Corps Volunteer experienced while abroad.

 

Peace Corps Week

On March 1, 1961 President Kennedy signed an executive order establishing the Peace Corps. He asked Americans how many of them would be willing to serve their country and the cause of peace by living and working in the developing world. Thousands answered the call in 1961 and 750 were chosen to serve in 13 nations.

Throughout the summer of 1961 volunteers took tests for selection and were trained for service.

By the end of the summer groups had already begun serving, the first groups went to Ghana and Colombia, or were preparing to leave.

As volunteers were preparing to leave they were given travel itineraries, packing tips, and even guidelines for dealing with the press. Along with formal congratulation letters from Governors and Senators, volunteers were also featured in local newspapers.

Once training was over and all the packing was done, volunteers were sent on to their designated countries. The first groups served from 1961 to 1963.

Maureen Carroll served in the Philippines from 1961-1963 in Education.

After two years of service, they were all welcomed home.

 

While some things have changed since 1961, the life of a volunteer is still very much the same with training and living abroad. 58 years later the Peace Corps is still meeting Kennedy’s challenge of serving the U.S. and the cause of peace.

 

Every year, to celebrate this anniversary, the Peace Corps holds Peace Corp Week which “celebrates all the ways that Peace Corps makes a difference at home and abroad and renews its commitment to service.”

This year, Peace Corps Week is February 25 – March 3 and the theme is “Highlighting Home: What does home, family, and community look like in your Peace Corps country?” You can attend a Peace Corps event near you or vote for the best video in the Video Challenge.

 

Married While Serving: Couples in the Peace Corps

In a previous post, Love and Marriage in the Peace Corps, we looked at couples who met and married while serving abroad. But what about couples already married? As of 2017, only 2% of volunteers are married. Serving in the Peace Corps is a large commitment, yet many married couples were willing to carry on their life together while volunteering in a new country.

Brian Adler and Cynthia (Cindy) Elliot were boyfriend and girlfriend when they applied for service in February 2001. They were accepted for service in Suriname in March 2002, got married in May, and left in June. While helping their village build a school house and teaching the local villagers, Brian and Cindy set up a normal married life. They lived together, which not many couples serving get to do, spent time with friends, and battled bugs together. Brian and Cindy live in D.C. now with their daughter.

Brian and Cindy in the hammock

 

Delwyn and Claire Ziegler had already been married five years when they moved with their children (Colette, 4 and Andre, 2) to Colombia in 1970. For two years they maintained a normal family life of sending the kids to school, making friends, and celebrating anniversaries.
The Ziegler’s anniversary is February 13th and they celebrated it twice in Colombia. For their 6th they saw a spy movie, babysat for a friend, and drank some wine. And for their 7th they went to the nearest nice restaurant, Carreta, for dinner and later played rummy. While they enjoyed their time in Colombia, they were excited to come home in 1972. Colette and Andre ran into their grandmother’s arms.

Ziegler 6th Anniversary Celebration 1/2

Ziegler 6th Anniversary Celebration 2/2

Ziegler 7th Anniversary Celebration

We have 7 couples in the Peace Corps Community Archives, and each one is a unique story about two people who decided to serve in another country together.