Author Archives: Sarah Lepianka

Creating their Stamp Around the World: Postal Stamps of the PCCA

Stamps often feature flora, fauna, or an interesting image related to the country or region it’s created for. Also, Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) had the lucky chance to live and serve in countries all over the world. As a happy consequence, the two come together when PCVs send their mail home via exciting and new stamps from the countries they served. The Peace Corps Community Archive (PCCA) houses collections of correspondence between PCVs and their family and friends. These correspondences oftentimes include the envelopes each letter was sent in, which means the stamps are often intact. Much can be learned from these stamps, including, illustrations of native inhabitants, local flora and fauna, important technological advances, and much more. Not only do these stamps help carry connections back home for PCVs, but the stamps also share an insight into the exciting communities they served.

Charlotte Daigle-Berney served in Uganda from 1966-1968. On a postcard dated February 1967, she included these three stamps, which feature the local fauna of Uganda. The set of these stamps were released on October 9th, 1965. The stamps feature, from left to right, the Black Bee-Eater, the Narina Trogon, and the Ruwenzori Turaco. All three are native species to Uganda and represent the environmental climate of the country. These stamps offer insight into the vibrant fauna of the country in order to excite both visitors and locals to the nature around them.

 

In addition, Albert and Anne Briggs served in Malaysia from 1964-1966. Anne wrote a letter to her parents on January 5, 1967 and included these stamps. The stamp was released on November 15, 1965 and features the local flora of Malaysia, the Rhynchostylis retusa, also called the Foxtail Orchid. Below, it reads the name “Sarawak,” a Malaysian state on the island of Borneo. By “reading” this stamp, one can connect the beautiful flora with a specific location in Malaysia and thereby gather important information about the stamp’s place of origin.

 

Lastly, Bobbe Seibert served in Honduras in the year 2000. Some of her communication with back home was through email, however, Seibert did send a multitude of letters. The first stamp features a nurse tending to a patient and the words, “Correos de Honduras” or “Post of Honduras.” The stamp celebrates Red Cross nurses and the care they have for their patients. The design for the stamp has gone through numerous designs but this stamp was released in 1999.

Another stamp features Ramón Valle, a Honduran olympian from the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. Valle went to the Olympics in 1996 to represent Honduras in men’s swimming. “Translating” these stamps allows us insight into the perception of Honduras. First, the country values its medical care to those in need. Next, a successful Olympian is a symbol of Honduras and represents their country abroad and at home. Since Valle did not represent Honduras in 2000, but rather, represented the country in 1996, the stamp was possibly produced to encourage the country’s interest and support in the Olympic games. This is supported by the fact the stamp was produced on September 13, 2000 and the Olympic opening ceremony was on September 15, 2000.

All of these stamps share insight into the countries and regions they represent. While some PCVs didn’t notice which stamp they sent their mail home with, other stamp collectors reveal at the significance each stamp offers.

 

For more information, please visit the Peace Corps Community Archive website. To use the collections or make a donation, please contact the AU Archives at archives [at] american.edu.

Elizabeth Krakauer: Determined Peace Corps Librarian

A selection of newspaper headlines from articles detailing Elizabeth Krakauer’s work in the Peace Corps.

Elizabeth Krakauer spent her retirement as a Peace Corps volunteer in South America with the Peace Corps. Krakauer completed three two-year enlistments, for a total of six years, starting in 1975. She spent five years in Colombia and one year in El Salvador. Krakauer’s Peace Corps service was non-traditional in both length of service and focus. After retiring as head librarian at Goddard College in Vermont, Krakauer utilized her skills in library science to organize and preserve rare book collections.

For the bulk of her service, Krakauer served as a Library Science Consultant organizing a rare book collection for the University of Los Andes in Bogota, Colombia. She identified, cataloged, and gathered all rare books in the University’s library. She also made recommendations on the conservation and preservation of these books. Following this, she worked with the Colombo-American Institute (Bi-Cultural Center USICA) and the University to organize the first rare books exhibit in the country.

Krakauer’s exhibit was so successful that several libraries and agencies requested her assistance to compile a national inventory of rare books in private and public Colombian collections. Krakauer worked with a number of organizations including the Anthropological Museum, UNICEF, San Buenaventura University, Seminario Mayor de Bogota, and the University of Cauca in Popayan. She organized training programs for employees of these institutions.

With the support of the Colombo-American Institute (Bi-Cultural Center USICA), Krakauer organized a second exhibit of rare books featuring the collections of other Colombian Universities.  She joined the Colombian Library Association and worked as a library consultant. She subsequently published two catalogs about the rare book exhibits, wrote several articles, and made two videos on the preservation of rare books.

In 1976, the Secretary of Education of the Republic of El Salvador invited Krakauer to organize a National Library. She also attended the World Congress of Information Scientists in Mexico City in 1976.

Throughout her Peace Corps service, Elizabeth Krakauer helped build and preserve institutional holdings of rare books as well as assisted other Peace Corps Volunteers in constructing small libraries within their own communities.

 

For more information, please visit the Peace Corps Community Archive website. To use the collections or make a donation, please contact the AU Archives at archives [at] american.edu.

Experiencing a New Culture through Food

In the collection of Alan Crew, who served in Nigeria from 1965-1966, is a copy of “The West African Gourmet” by Bill and Bee Welmers in which they advised, “As any shrink can tell you, the sine qua non of relating to a strange diet is flexibility, sensitivity, happy anticipation.” Peace Corps Volunteers had to adjust to various diets and delicacies during their time abroad. PCVs learned and adapted many local recipes and resources to fit their American taste-buds.

Holly Reed served in Senegal from 1979-1982. Like all PCVs, she could sometimes find familiar foods, but she also had to adjust to new ones.

The Welmers compiled a list of tips and tricks for anyone visiting or staying in Western Africa. Their humorous anecdotes shed light on the differences in food selection and preparation. From mangoes to mushrooms, the Welmers detail all types of food available for consumption. For example, there are three different types of Guavas, each tasting like strawberry, peach, or pear. They also offer tips and tricks to keeping and storing food. Upon finding ants in one’s food, the Welmers advise, “Putting the food, dish and all, on a warm stove will give the ants a hotfoot; but don’t overheat or you’ll have fried ants.”

Many PCVs would taste authentic meals prepared by the locals they worked alongside. Picture by Holly Reed.

Peace Corps Volunteers newsletters could include native recipes for PCVs to try. Alanna Randall served in Belize from 2001-2003 and received the Toucan Times, the Peace Corps Belize newsletter, during her service. The Toucan Times contained everything from crosswords to articles. Jill Hepp, a fellow PCV, created four recipes to share in the Toucan Times‘ Winter 2001 edition. Hepp’s recipes range from “The-You-May-Nevah-Go-Back-To-Salsa-Casera-Salsa” to “Fresh Ginger Muffins.” All of her recipes feature local ingredients. The recipe for Polenta includes adjustments to turn it into a pizza.

PCVs could also learn new ways to prep and serve food. Pictured here, local women use mortars and pestles to grind ingredients. Picture by Holly Reed.

Even after PCVs finish their service, the food they consumed leaves a lasting impression. BarbaraLee Toneatti Purcell served in Nigeria from 1962-1964 and included a recipe for Groundnut Stew in her memoir. She made adjustments to the list of ingredients to replicate the methods her local cook used.  Both immediately after serving and many years later, PCVs can look back at the meals they ate and remember the different tastes of culture they experienced.

 

For more information, please visit the Peace Corps Community Archive website. To use the collections or make a donation, please contact the AU Archives at archives [at] american.edu.

Developing a Community Abroad: Kim Herman’s Peace Corps Work in the Dominican Republic

Kim Herman served as a Peace Corps Volunteer working in Community Development in the Dominican Republic from 1967 to 1969. A large part of his work in the Dominican Republic consisted of building schools, roads, and other projects for many of the communities he encountered. Herman saved documents, project reports, and slides from his work, which helps us look back on what role PCVs had in the communities they served.

Herman assisted a small community named Cano Prieto in Boca de Yuma, Dominican Republic. In 1968, the community was about 2 1/2 kilometers outside of Yuma, with a total of 35 families. Many of the families relied on farming as their source of income, with cane sugar becoming more and more important. Herman created project reports for his work in the community. These reports, paired with his slide collection, offer valuable information about his work in the Peace Corps. The “Cano Prieto One Room Block School” and the “Los Naranjos Road Project” are two examples of his work projects.

The beginnings of the foundations for the Cano Prieto school project.

Herman created the Cano Prieto school through the help of locals, after gathering supplies from local businesses. “We began the construction and organized the community according to work days corresponding to the separate members of the committee,” writes Herman, “Each committee member was responsible for a section of the community and also for his day of work on the project. He was to find workers for the project from his section of the community and have them at the work site on the day appointed to him by the committee.”  The school was inaugurated on September 28th, 1969. The members of the community, the mayor and city council of Yuma, and other locals welcomed the new school into the community with a short ceremony with the passing of the keys.

The inauguration of the Cano Prieto school, attended by the community and local officials.

 

The Los Naranjos road before the start of the road project.

Following the Cano Prieto school project, Herman saw community value in a road development project for the Los Naranjos road. Since the community relied on farming, a road to transport their product was essential. The road passes through 3 barrios, or neighborhoods, which would help a large number of communities, but also created difficulties for Herman because he was dealing with multiple groups. The project required cooperation from local land owners to widen the road onto their land. While Herman encountered difficulties to persuade land owners to part with their land, he ultimately found compromises.

The 1904 steamroller used on the Los Naranjos road.

The finished Los Naranjos road, which allowed access to many remote communities.

After many issues with the construction, Herman was able to successfully complete the Los Naranjos road project following months of work. He also used a lot of the skills and knowledge gained from the Los Naranjos road project for future projects. The road helped open up communities that otherwise were difficult or impossible to enter during the rainy months.

Through his various projects, Kim Herman was able to learn how to work with the communities he hoped to help and in the end created viable resources for many generations to come.

 

For more information, please visit the Peace Corps Community Archive website. To use the collections or make a donation, please contact the AU Archives at archives [at] american.edu.

Traveling Light: What to Bring on a Peace Corps Trip

Packing for a trip is overwhelming work. For Peace Corps Volunteers, packing for a two year service trip is even more difficult. PCVs were often traveling to remote locations in far off countries. They had to consider climate, type of work, and culture when they selected what to bring with them. The Peace Corps not only sent detailed lists of what to pack ahead of each PCVs’ trip, they also provided kits of their own to ensure each Volunteer had what they required.

 

Pictured here, Meghan Keith-Hynes is ready and packed for her trip to Haiti, where she volunteered in Agroforestry in 1986.

 

Steve and Janet Kann served in the Eastern Caribbean in Practical Education Development in 1980-1982. On their packing list, they are instructed to bring as much washable and cotton clothing as possible due to the warm and humid weather they would encounter. They were also not expected to bring a lot of formal clothing.  The list includes a number of items which might be hard to find on the islands they traveled to.

 

Tom Hebert served in Nigeria from 1962-1964 as a teacher and as the Tour Manager for University of Ibadan’s Shakespeare Traveling Theatre. Hebert received this list of items of household items that the Peace Corps would provide him. In addition to kitchen supplies and bed linen, it includes a clock, flashlight, and lock.

PCVs had a limited number of possessions during their service, many of which they brought with them from the start. These lists helped narrow down the essentials for PCVs to pack.

 

For more information, please visit the Peace Corps Community Archive website. To use the collections or make a donation, please contact the AU Archives at archives [at] american.edu.

Wish You Were Here: Postcards from Peace Corps Travels

 

For Peace Corps Volunteers, postcards were an easy way to communicate with their loved ones and show them the sights they witnessed on their travels. Postcards shed a variety of insights into PCVs and the types of experiences they had during their service. For many PCVs, postcards allowed them to take the image on the front and detail their environments, such as weather and natural beauty.  Postcards are a great way to see what PCVs thought important enough to share with family and friends.

 

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Claire Pettengill sent this postcard at the beginning of her service in Morocco before her training, where she stayed from 1978-1980. In her card, she mentions the camel on the front picture and notes she hasn’t seen any yet. She also mentions her love of the city she’s staying in but also comments on how intimidated she is by her surroundings.

 

Anne Briggs served from 1964-1966 in Malaysia with her husband, Albert and sent this postcard from Hawaii where she trained. Briggs chooses to focus on describing her surroundings in her card home. She notes the beauty of the island and the mild weather. She also expresses her excitement to sight see.

 

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David Day served in Kenya and India from 1965-1967. Day wrote in Swahili on one card and translated to English on another. It is interesting that Day wanted to share both languages with his family back home. He also writes about how expensive postage for postcards was in Nairobi and how he likely will not send another postcard.

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Steve and Janet Kann sent this postcard from Saint Lucia, while they were serving in the East Caribbean from 1980-1982. Their short description paints the picture of a lively marketplace with shouting and pushing. The image on the postcard paired with the description brings an image to life, where anyone who reads the card can get a taste of what the Kanns experienced.

 

For more information, please visit the Peace Corps Community Archive website. To use the collections or make a donation, please contact the AU Archives at archives [at] american.edu.

Sending Season’s Greetings: Holiday Cards from Abroad

There’s no place like home for the holidays but for Peace Corps Volunteers, it was difficult to return stateside at any point during their service, much less during any holiday. Peace Corps Volunteers reconnected with family and friends during the holidays through the mail. Holiday cards have been popular all over the world as a holiday tradition and PCVs found unique cards to send during their service abroad.

 

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Winifred Boge served in India from 1965-1967 and sent the card featured above home. While the written message inside sends warm wishes, the images of the card are clearly Indian. In another letter from Boge on December 9th, 1966, Boge writes, “[I] had thought to make ‘Christmas Cards’ but I don’t think I have time to be messing.” Instead, Boge must have sent this card home as substitute.

 

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Ed and Karen DeAntoni served in Turkey from 1964-1966 and sent many holiday cards to the states. One features a winter scene of the Parthenon in Athens with snow adorning its ruins. The other two holiday cards feature woodblock-esque prints with different holiday scenes. Inside as with the example below, there are holiday greetings in both Turkish and English and in some cases handwritten notes.

 

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No matter where they were, PCVs celebrated the holidays when they served abroad. Holiday cards were one way to send well wishes to their friends and family. Many found these cards in their respective locations, but most of these cards had a cultural twist depending on where they originated. Whether it be a different language or a different type of image on the card, many of the holiday cards PCVs sent were unique while still honoring the tradition of sending cards for the holidays.

 

For more information, please visit the Peace Corps Community Archive website. To use the collections or make a donation, please contact the AU Archives at archives [at] american.edu.

Howard Ellegant in Colombia

Country of Service: Colombia
Service Type: Community Development/Architect
Dates in Service: 1964-1966
Keywords: Friends of Colombia, Architectural Drawings, Architect, Schools, Community Centers

Accession Date: December 9, 2016
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 55 Drawings and 3 linear inches of other materials

Document Types

  • Architectural Drawings
    • Escuela a de Clima Caliente, March 1965
    • Una Escuela del Campo para las Tierras Frias, March 17, 1965
    • Escuela Primaria y Centro Comunal, April 20, 1965
    • Escuela de Ninos Bello Antioquia, May 18, 1965
    • Antiproyectol–Casa Tipica, July 7, 1965
    • Teatro al Aire Libre, July 12, 1965
    • Escuela para Santa Rosa, September 14, 1965
    • Igelsia de Troncocito, October 5, 1965
    • Escuela Nancy Farr, January 17, 1966
  • Publications
  • Correspondence
  • Paperwork
  • Reports

Photographing the Firsts: Maureen Carroll in the Philippines

 

Maureen Carroll served in the first group of Peace Corps Volunteers to the Philippines from 1961-1963. Carroll served as an English Teacher in Castilla, Philippines. Carroll previously worked for AT&T, who paid H.A. Figueras of Black Star Photography to come to her town in the Philippines and follow her around for a day to capture every angle of her life there.  The photos show her housing, her transportation, in the classroom, in the market, at church, at the beach, and around town.

 

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Carroll lived in Castilla with three other PCV roommates in the home pictured above on the left. The home had a tin roof and was raised on poles above the ground. There were three rooms, a sala or living room with a kitchen, a bedroom, and a bathroom.

 

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Pictured here is the community library Carroll and her roommates fashioned out of the former store attached to their home.

 

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Carroll and other Volunteers regularly used the local bus which also transported neighbors and their animals. Pictured here, Carroll and another PCV wait for the bus to arrive.

 

pcca_carroll_0004Maureen Carroll lived with three other roommates, Gloria Paulik, Hope Gould, and Anne Wilson. Here, Carroll and her roommates enjoy lunch in their living room.

 

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Pictured here, Carroll prepares her English lessons for her students. She co-taught with local teachers across multiple classrooms at Milagrosa Elementary School.

 

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Carroll and her fellow PCVs taught local Filipino students both English and Science.

 

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Peace Corps Volunteers in the Philippines purchased provisions from the local businesses. Carroll purchased rice from the market and canned corned beef, candles, soap, salt, and other small sundries from the sari-sari stores.

 

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Like other PCVs, Carroll’s connection to family and friends back in the United States came in the form of mail. Pictured here, Carroll checks with the local mailman for her letters.

 

For more information on Maureen Carroll’s service, read her article “Not For Girls like You: A Jersey Girl’s Journey,” in Answering Kennedy’s Call: Pioneering the Peace Corps in the Philippines.

 

For more information, please visit the Peace Corps Community Archive website. To use the collections or make a donation, please contact the AU Archives at archives [at] american.edu.

Timing their Training: Scheduling Peace Corps Volunteers’ Training

Before leaving for a foreign country, Peace Corps Volunteers in the 1960s were required to complete intensive training to help prepare them for their experiences abroad. This training occurred at universities all over the United States. They learned a variety of tasks ranging from agriculture and livestock care to language studies. Each PCVs’ training varied by where they attended training, their service type, and other factors.

Peace Corps Volunteers all received informational packets on their training, much like this one from Karen Keefer who trained at Columbia University for her service in education in Nigeria.

Peace Corps Volunteers all received informational packets on their training, much like this one from Karen Keefer who trained at Columbia University for her service in education in Nigeria.

 

One of the earlier PCVs is Thomas Hebert, who trained at University of California, Los Angeles in June of 1962. Herbert served in Nigeria from 1962 to 1964 educating youth and managing the University of Ibadan’s Shakespeare Traveling Theatre program. Hebert spent a total of 419 hours training for his service in Africa. The bulk of his training program was an orientation on Africa and Nigeria, totaling 92 hours, where he learned how to effectively communicate and understand the culture he would be serving in. Interestingly enough, Hebert also had a total of 81 hours of training in American Civilization and Institutions, which would “[enable] the volunteers to see political events more perceptively, to view the interchange of political interests more realistically, and to articulate democratic values more convincingly,” according to the training informational packet.

Hebert also spent 60 hours learning educational practices for Nigeria, in order to understand how to effectively reach his students abroad. He also had 55 hours of training in the languages of Hausa, Ibo, and Yoruba, the three major indigenous languages of Nigeria. In addition to his practical training, Hebert also spent 43 hours on health training and 56 hours in physical education. The Peace Corps emphasized the importance of each PCV’s health during their service. Lastly, he also spent 32 hours on “Special Features,” which ranged from lectures to documentaries.

Winifred Boge attended training at University of California, Davis from February to May 1965. The program totaled 720 hours of work over a 12-week period, resulting in an average of 60 hours per week. Boge served on the Health Nutrition Project in India, but her training also covered a variety of topics to assist with her transition into life in a different country.

 

As part of her training at UC Davis, Winifred Boge learned agricultural techniques.

As part of her training at UC Davis, Winifred Boge learned agricultural techniques.

 

For Boge, the most time was spent on language training, with a total of 300 hours on learning Telugu. Next, she focused on technical studies on health and nutrition, for a total of 200 hours. Following this, she also learned area studies and world affairs for 105 hours in order to understand the history and culture of her place of service. Also required for training was physical education as well as health and hygiene to ensure the health of every PCV.

One of the more interesting areas of study is the topic of Communism for 15 hours total. While each area of study in the information packet includes a description and list of teachers, Communism lacks this information. Even though the Red Scare of the 1950s had passed, the Peace Corps probably wanted to prepare their PCVs for different types of government in the world.

 

Many Volunteers enjoyed their training because it gave them a chance to get to know fellow PCVs. Pictured here by Boge, PCVs interact during their training at UC Davis.

Many Volunteers enjoyed their training because it gave them a chance to get to know fellow PCVs. Pictured here by Boge, PCVs interact during their training at UC Davis.

 

Peggy Gleeson Wyllie trained at Brooklyn College from 1963-1964 for her time as a nurse in Colombia. She spent most of her time–a total of 360 hours–in intensive language studies in Spanish. Not surprisingly, the second highest element of training at 106 hours was technical studies, along with 30 hours of health education. Technical studies included techniques in Nursing as well as the prevention and treatment of diseases found in Colombia. Wyllie also spent 72 hours learning the history and culture of Colombia, as well as 60 hours studying American studies, world affairs, and Communism. Like Boge, Wyllie learned “critical appraisal of the developing concepts and organizational challenges of the Communist world.” Lastly, she attended classes in physical training for 72 hours and a general “Peace Corps Orientation” for 20 hours.

 

After completion of their training, many PCVs received a certificate like this one. Steve Bossi completed his training in conducting Science Workshops in India from University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

After completion of their training, many PCVs received a certificate like this one. Steve Bossi completed his training in conducting Science Workshops in India from University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

 

Each training session, no matter how different in terms of location of training, location of service, or service type, served to best prepare each PCV for the challenges and successes they experienced during their service. Training takes into account the culture and society each PCV is entering in order to provide guidance for the most effective approaches to help both the Volunteer and community alike.