Category Archives: Africa

John McGinn in Ghana

Country of Service: Ghana
Dates in Service: 1961-1963
Keywords: Community Development, Education, Literacy

Accession Date: August 9, 2021
Access: no restrictions
Collection Size: 0.01 linear feet

Document Types

  • Correspondence
  • Newspapers
  • Photographs

Lawrence K. Young in Gabon & India

Country of Service: Gabon & India
Dates in Service: 1967-1969
Keywords: Community Development

Accession Date: May 7, 2021
Access: no restrictions
Collection Size: .01 linear feet

Document Types

  • Correspondence
  • Photographs

John S. Jacoby in Nepal & South Africa

Country of Service: Nepal; South Africa
Place of Service: Bastipur (Nepal)
Service Type: Teacher at Bastipur High School in English (grades 6 & 7), Science (grade 6-8), & Math (grade 6); Peace Corps Country Director for South Africa
Dates in Service: 1970-1972; 2011-2014
Keywords: Agriculture, Architecture, Business, Community Development, Education, Environment, Health, HIV/AIDS, Information Technology, Libraries, Literacy, Sports, Urban Planning, Youth

Accession Date: April 4, 2021
Access: no restrictions
Collection Size: .5 linear feet

Document Types

  • Correspondence
  • Photographs
  • Reports
  • Publications

Courtney & David Arnold in Ethiopia

Country of Service: Ethiopia
Place of Service: Asbe Teferi
Service Type: 8th-10th grade English, social studies, and math teacher (David Arnold); 7th & 8th grade English, 9th & 10th grade geography teacher (Courtney Arnold)
Dates in Service: 1964-1966
Keywords: Community Development, Education, Environment, Health, Information Technology, Libraries, Literacy, Youth

Accession Date: March 24, 2021
Access: no restrictions
Collection Size: .25 linear feet

Document Types

  • Correspondence
  • Publications
  • Film/Video

Digital Surrogates

Jacqueline Coolidge in Botswana

Country of Service: Botswana
Place of Service: Mahalapye
Service Project: Middle School Teacher, Developmental & Social Studies
Dates in Service: 1980-1982
Keywords: Community Development, Education, Health, HIV/AIDS, Literacy, Youth

Accession Date: March 24, 2021
Access: no restrictions
Collection Size: .25 linear feet

Document Types

  • Correspondence
  • Photographs

Digital Files

  • Letters Home from Peace Corps (or, What I did NOT tell my parents)
    • Chapter 1: Introduction, Training, and Village Live-In
    • Ten digitized pictures associated with Chapter 1
    • Chapter 2:  Mahalapye–Moving in and Starting Work (Third Semester 1980)
    • Five digitized pictures associated with Chapter 2
    • Chapter 3: Christmas Break 1980
    • Chapter 4: 1981 First Semester
    • Chapter 5: Vacation in Zimbabwe
    • Chapter 6: 1981 Second Semester
    • Chapter 7: August Break 1981
    • Chapter 8: Third Semester 1981
    • Chapter 9: 1982 First Semester
    • Chapter 10: Safari through Kalahari, Okavango and Zimbabwe
    • Chapter 11: Second Semester, 1982
    • Chapter 12: Vacation July 1982 and Epilogue

Patricia (Penny) Jessop in Niger

Country of Service: Niger
Service Type: Public Health Educator, Maternal & Child Health
Dates in Service: 1970-1973
Keywords: Community Development, Education, Health, HIV/AIDS, Literacy, Youth

Accession Date: March 2, 2021
Access: no restrictions
Collection Size: 3 linear feet

Document Types

  • Correspondence
  • Photographs
  • Reports
  • Publications
  • Sound
  • Training Materials

Karen Proffitt in Nigeria

Country of Service: Nigeria
Place of Service: Abiriba
Service Type: Secondary School Teacher, Enuda High School
Dates in Service: 1965-1967
Keywords: Community Development, Education, Information Technology, Libraries, Literacy, Youth

Accession Date: February 16, 2021
Access: no restrictions
Collection Size: .25 linear feet

Document Types

  • Correspondence

Christopher A. Lindberg in Burkina Faso

Country of Service: Burkina Faso (Also: USAID work in The Gambia; Peace Corps Technical Training in Texas, Alabama, South Carolina, Senegal, Mali, Tunisia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Kenya, Niger, and Chad)
Service Project Title(s): Agroforestry Specialist, Peace Corps African Food Systems Initiative Design, Peace Corps Agroforestry Feasibility Study
Dates in Service: 1978-1981
Keywords: Agriculture, Community Development, Education, Environment, Health, Information Technology, Urban Planning, Youth

Accession Date: February 3, 2021
Access: no restrictions
Collection Size: .1 linear feet

Document Types

  • Slides
  • Photographs

Digital Surrogates

  • Digital scans of slides

Richard Cutter in Peru & Morocco

Country of Service: Peru & Morocco
Service Type: Urban UCD/Architect
Dates in Service: 1966-1968 (Peru), 1968-1969 (Morocco)
Keywords: Architecture, Business, Community Development, Education, Urban Planning

Accession Date: November 10, 2020
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 1 linear foot

Document Types:

  • Correspondence
  • Photographs
  • Publications
  • Reports

Don’t Forget Your Helmet! Motorcycles and the Peace Corps

Since March 16, 2020, American University and Peace Corps Community Archives staff moved their tasks online to wait out the impact of COVID-19. While this bars access to our physical collections, the PCCA’s digital archives has a number of interesting journals, memoirs, and photographs available to explore.

As I flipped through the pages of a guestbook from the Volunteer Rest House in Kambia, Sierra Leone–donated by Jim Hiiter–one photo stuck out to me more than the rest.

A young woman perched on the seat of a motorbike, with the caption, “Posing with my ‘death machine’ and my controversial ‘to be a woman is not easy’ helmet. (Before the accident.)

Thankfully, Bernadette Chaloupka only injured her ankle after an accident on her motorbike; however, the Peace Corps still flew her back to Washington, D.C. to recover—cutting short her time in Sierra Leone. She writes about travelling back to the U.S. afer a local doctor called for surgery:

I’m a living example of why the Peace Corps has decided to ban motorcycles…Even though an operation was unnecessary, I tell Peace Corps plenti plenti tenki for that wonderful holiday!”

Chaloupka’s experience with motorcycles is just one of many. As I dug through Peace Corps policies, volunteer memoirs and letters home, I found that Chaloupka’s brief recovery period was a minor consequence compared with the many stories of motorcycle accidents.

Between 1961 and 2003, the Peace Corps reported that 89 volunteers died in motor vehicle accidents—21 of them involved a motorcycle. An article in the 1985 Peace Corps Times advised volunteers on motorcycle safety, reporting that in 1983, fourteen volunteers were evacuated to the United States due to motorcycle injuries.

That said, reliable transportation is an important piece of volunteer service, when distances between villages and cities could be several hundred miles away. For some, motorbikes were a beneficial way to get around during their assignments, connecting volunteers to important resources in other regions.

Alan Crew, a PCV in Nigeria 1965- 1966, mentions that as the only form of transportation available to him, his motorbike was important for travelling the long distances from his village to meet other volunteers or go into bigger cities. He wrote to his family in 1965,

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.

In the case of Jane Wertz, her motorcycle may have been the only thing that helped her safely leave Zaire during military-led riots in 1991. Wertz was featured in a Peace Corps News article following the event, relaying her journey from her host village to Kikwit, the closest city with a Peace Corps office. “Usually it’s about a 3 ½ hour trip, but it took me about six hours because I had too much stuff on my bike…It was dark. I had fallen about six times. The bike was really, really heavy. There were times when I thought I wouldn’t be able to pick it up.” Wertz’s motorcycle, as heavy as it was, was the only thing that could have gotten her to the office for evacuation.

Today, the Peace Corps allows volunteers to use motorbikes only on a project-by-project basis. Many of these exceptions are for volunteers in rural areas, only after comprehensive safety training. And, at the heart of the manual? Wear your helmet!

Sources:

Office of the Chief of Staff, “MS 523 Motorcycles and Bicycles” January 7, 2013. https://files.peacecorps.gov/documents/MS-523-Policy.pdf

Adventure in a Great Big World,” by Alan Crew, Peace Corps Community Archives, https://blogs.library.american.edu/pcca/adventure-in-a-great-big-world/

Angene Wilson and Jack Wilson, Voices from the Peace Corps: Fifty Years of Kentucky Volunteers (University Press of Kentucky, 2011).

Susan Trebbe and James C. Flanigan, “Exit from Zaire,” Peace Corps Times, Fall 1991. https://dra.american.edu/islandora/object/peacecorps%3A2500?solr_nav%5Bid%5D=680d78e377b816da1f3b&solr_nav%5Bpage%5D=0&solr_nav%5Boffset%5D=8

Pat Seaman, “Peace Corps and the Art of Motorcycle Safety,” Peace Corps Times, January-February 1985, 8-9. https://dra.american.edu/islandora/object/peacecorps%3A2463/datastream/PDF/view