Category Archives: Afghanistan

Leonard J. Oppenheim in Afghanistan

Leonard J. Oppenheim

Country of Service: Afghanistan
Dates in Service: 1964-1966
Keywords: Afghanistan, RPCV reunions, Peace Corps Training

Accession Date: February 23, 2015
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 1 DVD

Document Types

  • Video produced for 2010 reunion by Leonard Oppenheim- features remarks by volunteers and photos from their service in Afghanistan. The volunteers speak about their Peace Corps experience including their reasons for joining the Peace Corps, memories of the training program, their work and life in Afghanistan, and, in retrospect, what their Peace Corps service meant to them.

Peace Corps through Images: The People

Below are images of local citizens taken by Peace Corps volunteers.  Each photograph captures local culture and customs through the nation’s people — as artisans, students, families, and participants in celebrations.

“Paraguayan artisan making ‘nanduti’ (spider-web lace) in her home shop in Itagua, the center of the nanduti artistry.” Caption written by Robert Meade.


“Students husking–polishing the floor with a coconut husk. At 7:00 AM–before school duties.” Caption written by Joyce Emery Johnston


“Campesino home and family.” Caption written by Robert Meade.


PC Boge- Snake Charmer edit

Snake Charmer


Celebration. Captured by Norm and Janet Heise while working for Walt Sangree, professor of anthropology. circa 1963-1965.


Sharing Experiences With the World: Memoirs of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers

Whether sharing tales of overcoming the challenges, adjusting to a new culture, or the humor found in daily adventures, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers each possess invaluable stories about the places they lived and worked.  Adventure, challenge, and personal connections built across cultural boundaries provide the basis of volunteers’ memoirs and narratives.  Regardless of where they served, each story serves as a way to educate Americans about the rest of the world.

In addition to what’s available in the Peace Corps Community Archive, check out the library’s growing collection of Peace Corps memoirs.  This list is far from exhaustive, but includes some of the best memoirs on the shelf.  Browse the shelves for other great reads.


Beyond SiberiaBeyond Siberia: Two Years in a Forgotten Place by Sharon Dirlam
Based on a collection of journals written during their time abroad, Sharon Dirlam presents the story of her and her husband’s work as Peace Corps Volunteers in Birobidjan.  Serving in a Jewish Autonomous Region of Russia, removed from most foreigners, the volunteers learned about native Russians and their culture in a unique way.



From Microsoft to MalawiFrom Microsoft to Malawi: Learning on the Front Lines as a Peace Corps Volunteer by Michael L. Buckler
Buckler’s memoir, inspired by his journals, depicts his yearning to serve after divorcing and completely changing career paths.  The narrative recounts the fruitful collaboration between volunteers and locals in order to make significant changes within the community.



South of the FronteraSouth of the Frontera: A Peace Corps Memoir by Lawrence F. Lihosit
Lihosit narrates a story about joining the Peace Corps after losing his job, which led him to meet the woman he would eventually marry.  In addition to providing a sense of adventure, he presents the professional and personal challenges of living, working, and traveling throughout Mexico and Honduras during the 1970s.



TThe Unheardhe Unheard: A Memoir of Deafness and Africa by Josh Swiller
The Unheard presents a different perspective on the Peace Corps experience.  Josh Swiller attempted to act normal and fit in despite being deaf.  He joined the Peace Corps to experience a new opportunity.  His memoir recounts the daily events, as well as his work at a local health clinic.  This story provides insight into the challenges and rewards of serving in the Peace Corps with a disability.


Going Up CountryOther books in the library’s possession include collections of stories from Returned Peace Corps Volunteers.  Varying from region of the world and type of work, the stories reflect on past experiences abroad.  Going Up Country includes writers who return to the country of service to document the nation’s growth, change, and what any visitor should know about the place.  Tales from Colombia presents the perspectives of the earliest Peace Corps volunteers to Colombia called to action by President Kennedy’s charge.  Humor evades the stories, ranging from around the world, included in The Funniest Job You’ll Ever Love.


Additional Suggestions:

  • A Land Without Time: A Peace Corps Volunteer in Afghanistan, by John Sumser
  • Even the Smallest Crab Has Teeth: 50 Years of Amazing Peace Corps Stories, edited by Jane Albritton
  • Going Up Country: Travel Essays by Peace Corps Writers, edited by John Coyne
  • Power Lines: Two Years on South Africa’s Borders, by Jason Carter
  • Tales from Colombia: The Deeds and Misdeeds of 41 Peace Corps Volunteers Who Answered President Kennedy’s Call to Serve, by Gary Dean Peterson
  • Tarnished Ivory: Reflections on Peace Corps and Beyond, by Peter Bourque
  • The Funniest Job You’ll Ever Love: An Anthology of Peace Corps Humor, edited by Lelah Conrad

Through the Lens of a Camera

Dizon Relief

The Wait. Copyright for image is held by Ron Dizon.

Ronald Dizon served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Afghanistan from 1971-1973.  During his time abroad, he worked with Operation Help—a joint project between the US Peace Corps and USAID.  The project fed the Afghan people who suffered from starvation, disease, and destitution worsened by a severe two-year drought.

Dizon created a photo essay about the project for the Afghan Government.  The images capture the effects of drought on the lives of people.   Not only informative, the images are simply fascinating.

Dizon Transport

Food Transport to Darzak Valley. Copyright for image is held by Ron Dizon.

Additional images from the project are located in the collection.  The collection also includes a letter from the Afghan Government noting the importance of Dizon’s contribution to Operation Help in Afghanistan.

Dizon Wrestling

Village Wrestling Match. Copyright for image is held by Ron Dizon.

Ron Dizon in Afghanistan

Ron Dizon

Country of Service: Afghanistan
Place of Service: Kabul
Service Type: Operation Help (Food for Work Program)
Dates in Service: 1971-1973
Keywords: Community Development, Middle East

Accession Date: May 6, 2013
Access: No Restrictions
Collection Size: 12 items, 2 CDs and an e-book

Document Types

Book on Operation Help is available for free download here.