Category Archives: Friends of Colombia

Michael Gainor in Colombia

Name: Michael Gainor

Country of Service: Columbia

Place of Service: Pasoul Bravo

Service Type OR Service Project Title: Education

Dates in Service: 1963-1965

Keywords: Education, Youth

Accession Date: January 7, 2019

Access: Unrestricted

Collection Size: 21 inches

Document Types

  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks
  • Reports
  • Publications

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.

John Greven & Cliff Witt in Colombia

John Greven & Cliff Witt

Country of Service: Colombia
Service Type: Community Development
Dates in Service: 1966-1968
Keywords: Friends of Colombia, Documentary

Accession Date: October 12, 2017
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: two linear feet

Document Types

Documentary videos (digital)

  • Film for Action: Construyamos una escuela
  • Film for Action: Piedras como esta
  • Film for Action: Tendremos mas que puentes
  • Film for Action: Un canto a mi tierra
  • Publication

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.

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.

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

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.  

From AU’s Collections: Friends of Colombia

If you’re interested in learning about Peace Corps experiences in South America, the Friends of Colombia Archive is a great place to start.

As a member group, Friends of Colombia is an organization of returned Peace Corps volunteers who served in Colombia.  The organization’s mission is to unite and provide a community for returned volunteers and staff, as well as actively supporting community-based activities in Colombia.

Initiated by Tom Bauder, the organization gathered for the first time at the Peace Corps’ 25th anniversary conference held in Washington, DC.  After Colombia RPCVs in the Washington, DC area met, the group formed the Board and elected Bob Colombo as the first president.  The group created by-laws and became incorporated as Friends of Colombia, a non-profit organization, in Maryland in 1990.

American University Archives is the home of the Friends of Colombia Archives, established by the organization, as a means for documenting the lives of members during and after their Peace Corps service.  The archives include organizational records, biographies of Peace Corps volunteers, correspondence, and newsletters.  Individual members’ donations include interviews, photos, letters, publications, and training materials.

Many of the collections included in the Peace Corps Community Archives are from the Friends of Colombia Archive.  Be sure to browse the Catalog for specific collections containing materials from volunteers’ training and service in Colombia.

Sources:
About FOC,” Friends of Colombia, (2007)
FriendsPresent,” Friends of Colombia, (2007)
Special Collections,” AU Library, (2014)

Improving the Health of a Community

Peace Corps volunteers educated local citizens about topics other than math, English, and science.  Health care and wellness provided an opportunity for volunteers to share basic information with citizens, while working to improve the community’s overall well-being.  Assignments included educating local citizens about the importance of clean water and sanitation, in addition to other issues of public health.  However, in order to educate local citizens, volunteers not only had to understand another language, but also needed to speak proficiently.  Knowledge of the country or region’s native language ensured volunteers’ ability to communicate essential information to local citizens.

Dahl Trainees 1963

Peace Corps Trainees at Presbyterian Clinic, Penasco, New Mexico, Oct. 1963

The image shows the Peace Corps trainees, of the Rural Community Action and Health Program, at the Presbyterian Clinic in 1963.  While they were not nurses, volunteers provided essential instruction to locals regarding hygiene, nutrition, child care, and health practices for expectant mothers.

Dahl Sweeping 1964

Dana Dahl, Piojo Health Center, June 1964

Volunteer Dana Dahl Seaton, learned Spanish in college before joining the Peace Corps.  Her knowledge paid off because she delivered a speech to the people of Piojó, Colombia shortly after arriving in-country to work as a health educator.  She explained to community members what the volunteers would be doing.  Her handwritten speech is in the collection.

In addition to the initiatives for community development and health education, the Peace Corps began sending professionally trained nurses to Colombia in the 1960s.  Peggy Gleeson Wyllie, one of eighteen who volunteered, served in the Peace Corps’ first group of nurses sent to Colombia.  Training took place at Brooklyn College, where nurses were paired together and prepared for working in urban locations.  Sent to Fusagasuga, Colombia, Wyllie trained in local hospitals before she taught practical nursing classes, in Spanish, to local students.

Such stories show the diversity of educational projects carried out by Peace Corps volunteers.  Many experiences highlight the importance and value of understanding and speaking the country’s native language.