Category Archives: India

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.

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.

 

What We Collected in 2017

The Peace Corp Community Archive accepts many types of records of volunteers from every decade, every country of service, and every type of service job. Though we did not accept donations for part of 2017, we added 6 unique collections to the archives that include a wide range of Peace Corps experiences. We featured some of these collections in previous posts but here you can learn about them in detail.

 

Phillip L. Scholl

Phillip served in India from 1965-1967 in Health Education. India faced many health crises in the 1960s and its government requested help from the Peace Corps. Philip’s group, India 20A, received training in public health and assisted India’s Primary Health Centers, which provided health care services throughout the country. Phillip donated a video about his travels through India.

You can watch the video here: India 20A Video
Visit the groups website here: India 20A Website
And see a previous highlight post about this collection here: India 20A Post

 

Jan and Leslie Czechowski

Jan and Leslie decided to volunteer after they retired at the age of 64 and are two of the oldest volunteers in the collection. They donated a booklet that contains, in chronological order, their blog posts and emails from their service. The couple served in Moldova in 2012 in Community Development. Leslie’s main job was helping with the Global Libraries project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They enjoyed their time in Moldova immensely but had to cut their service short because Leslie became ill. A number of Peace Corps Volunteers end their service early for a variety of reasons.

Jan and Leslie – June 22, 2012

Friday, August 3rd, 2012 – Sworn in as Peace Corps Volunteers

 

Delwyn and Claire Ziegler

Delwyn and Claire, with their two daughters, were among the first Peace Corps Volunteer Families. They served in Colombia from 1970-1972 in Community Development and Education. They donated a manual entitled, “Guide to Small Business Consultation,” which was compiled by Delwyn, and a 500+ page diary consisting of correspondence, notes, daily updates, and other writings from their service. The Ziegler’s were one of only two families that stayed the full two years and said “it was the best two years of our lives.” The Peace Corps discontinued the families program after a few years.

You can find their diary here: Diary of the Zieglers in Colombia

 

Lynda Smith-Nehr

Lynda served in the Philippines from 1962-1964 in Education. Her collection consists of the many slides she took during her service. The slides show pictures of the villages she worked in, the people she worked with, and the places she traveled. Lynda experienced a lot during her service.

April 1963 – My Junior Class – Mt. Apo

Davao Mt. Apo School – April 1963

 

Thomas J. Hassett

Thomas served in Nepal from 1965-1966 in Community Development. His fellow volunteers described him as easy to get along with and perfect for the Peace Corps. However, Thomas’s time in the Peace Corps was cut short by an unfortunate fall on his way to visit a friend. At the age of 22 Thomas passed away and was buried in Nepal. Included in his collection are letters to and from his family and friends, condolence letters to his parents, and photos of his work and burial service. Tom’s parents paid for a memorial for him and visited his grave in 1966.

“Thomas J. Hassett, Russian novelist phase – June 1966”

“L to R: ?? Sam Myqatt (partially hidden) by another in front of Bill Hanson. Blond is Cail Hoshicka. Father Moran, Minister.”

Tina Singleton

Tina served in the Central African Republic and Benin from 1992-1996. She worked in Health Education with a focus on Benin’s disabled community. She traveled to the first African Special Olympics in 1992. Tina enjoyed her time so much she stayed twice as long as a normal service tour. Tina’s collection itself consists of numerous letters to her family and many (many) photos that illustrate her time in Africa.

Tina’s school class, she is second from the left.

1992 – First African Special Olympics

 

As you can see from just this small group of collections, a Peace Corps Volunteer’s experience can vary greatly. Every year new collections are donated to the Peace Corps Community Archive that add to these stories.

Peace Corps Celebrates Halloween and Local Festivals

While Americans celebrate Halloween with crazy costumes, haunted houses, and trick-or-treating, people all over the world have been observing a variety of festivals. Peace Corps Volunteers, as temporary residents of various nations around the world, experience these celebrations.

Volunteers have one of three experiences:

1) They don’t celebrate at all.
Halloween is sometimes an easy holiday to overlook so either the volunteer forgets, they are too busy to celebrate, or there are just no celebrations. Bobbe Seibert, who served in Honduras, notes that she just carried on with her day.

Bobbe Seibert, Honduras, 2000. “Tuesday Oct 31 Halloween – not that anyone noticed here. I think tomorrow is day of the dead here too but am not sure. Up at 6:30 – swept & washed up 7:30 at the corredor.

2) They celebrate local festivals.
Claire Pettengill notes in a letter home that she was given a holiday to celebrate the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, the “sheep-killing” holiday, which honors the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son at God’s command. She also had some time off for a Moroccan national holiday.

Claire Pettengill, Morocco, ’78-’80. “We get a long vacation for the sheep-killing holiday — 7 days beginning Oct. 30. I’m going to Berkane to see my adopted family for one day, then probably will head south to Marrakech with Amy. Haven’t had much time to travel.”

Claire Pettengill, Morocco, ’78-’80. “We have Monday off because of a national holiday (La Marche Verte–when Spain, in cooperation with Algeria, returned the Spanish Sahara to Moroccan control, in 1970-something, there was a huge peaceful march to that area, which is one of the biggest patriotic holidays each year) and Amy has gone to Taza, a Moroccan town.”

Both Winifred Boge in India and Al & Anne Briggs in Malaysia celebrated the Hindu Festival of Deepavali (Diwali). Also called the Festival of Lights it “spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair,” where people light and place candles all over their home, as Winifred mentions in her letter.

Winifred Boge, India, ’65’67. “Speaking of Christmas – Halloween passed with nary our indication of such – but week before we had Deepavali with candles outside.”

Al & Anne Briggs, Malaysia, ’64’66. “Today we had a holiday for the Hindu festival of Deepavali, but of much more importance to us, of course, are the elections at home. You will be voting while we are asleep.”

3) They celebrate American traditions.
Even though volunteers are far away from home, they are still able to share American customs with their communities.
Margaret Fiedler had a party with her students in Guatemala where she served from 1985-87. She introduced them to bobbing for apples.

That’s Chavez in the tree – in the other end of the rope is another boy – they jerk the rope so the kids can’t break the pinata right away. Notice the girl blindfolded with the big stick – it really gets exciting – the kids can’t wait to pounce on the candy as it spills out.

Lynda Smith-Nehr and fellow volunteers dressed up in costumes while they were in the Philippines.

Lynda Smith-Nehr, Philippines, 1962-1964. “Halloween, Lorrie & me.”

Lynda Smith-Nehr, Philippines, 1962-1964. “Halloween, Mrs. Pamplona.”

Halloween may not be an international holiday, but there are many different ways that people all over the world celebrate this time of year.

 

 

India 20A Group

Peace Corps Volunteers are trained and sent abroad in groups. They often visit each other while in country and remain in contact for decades after their service. One such group is India 20A, which has hosted many reunions in the past fifty years and have a website that details their service.

India 20A trained in public health at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. After three months, August to November, the original group of 65 was reduced to 37 and sent to India. They spent 1965-1967 serving the country.

Mrs. Lady Bird Johnson walks past India 20A trainees standing in a presentation line. Visible are trainees Steve Sloane, Julie Revilla, and Phil Scholl.

 

PCTs Normal Bell, David Johnson, Werner Hollstein, and Richard Smith starting work on an outhouse constructed as part of our two-week experience on the Stockbridge-Munsee Indian Reservation in Wisconsin. October 1965.

At the time, India was experiencing extensive health issues. The people were at the mercy of tuberculosis, malaria, cholera, smallpox, and plague, so the government asked for Peace Corps assistance.

Cheyl Axtell, Gerry Hysashida, Penny Pendleton, and Marilyn Martiny at their site in Trichur, Kerala.

Essie Jackson, Richard Smith, Dave Johnson at home in Puthenthope, Kerala. Newly arrived in December 1965.

Once in India, volunteers worked with the Public Health Center “to extend its preventative and promotional health work into the villages.” They had 3 goals:

  1. To instill in the minds of the villagers by action and word a desire to lead more healthy lives.
  2. To activate key community organizations (the school, the village council) to take up health programs.
  3. To give active leadership to village efforts to improve health education, school health, diet, maternal and child health services, control of communicable diseases, production of nutritious foods, and environmental sanitation.

Their “priority was on provision of safe water supply, healthy housing, and sanitary disposal of human excreta.”

Dick, Diane, Karen at the Erumpathy, Kerala Public Health Center

Richard Smith bathing in the Ganges River at dawn 1967.

While in India, volunteers not only helped promote better health, they also experienced Indian culture in many different ways.

Diane Dickerson, Karen Thornbury with their friends Lily, DeVagi, Padma, and Nalini.

 

Caravan

Throughout the years, the group has kept in contact through reunions and return trips to India.

Rochester, New York – 1988.

Lake Tahoe – 2003.

 

To find out more information about the group India 20A, check out their website here: www.india20a.org which details their training process, how they corresponded with family and friends, their experiences in India, and many more photos of their service.

A video of volunteer Phil Scholl’s experience can be found here: Peace Corps Group “India 20A” in India 1965-1967, it details his travels through India, various village markets, the domestic life of villagers, and a large festival.

—-

Other volunteer groups have created group websites as well, such as the Friends of Brazil. Their website chronicles the history of volunteer groups that served in Brazil. It shows the different states people served in, where people trained, who served, and where they served. The website is a comprehensive look at the Brazil Peace Corps program during its existence from 1962-1980.

Find the website here: Peace Corps Brazil

 

 

*All pictures and information are courtesy of the India 20A website.

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.

 

pcca_boge_0014

 

pcca_boge_0015

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.

 

pcca_deantoni_0009_crop

 

pcca_deantoni_0011_crop

 

pcca_deantoni_0013_crop

 

 

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.

 

pcca_deantoni_0014_crop

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.

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.  

You’ve Got Mail: Aerograms and Peace Corps Volunteers

Letters to Peace Corps Volunteers are important connections to home. While they’re away, it’s typically difficult for family and friends to get ahold of their PCVs, even with the convenience of telephones. There are many letters within the collection of the Peace Corps Community Archive, which detail the lives of both the Volunteers and their correspondents. From the happiness of a marriage announcement, to the sadness of a relative’s illness, these letters take a simple piece of paper and turn it into a window into PCVs’ lives.

While the contents of the letters allow a glimpse into the experiences and struggles of PCVs, the paper the letters are written on can also offer a different perspective. Many times, early PCVs utilized the service of Airmail. From Ethiopia to Antigua, the Peace Corps Community Archive houses various examples of Airmail from around the world.

The first official Airmail route in the world began on May 15, 1918 between New York and Washington, D.C., with a spot in Philadelphia. Peace Corps Volunteers did well to utilize Airmail to send their letters home. Airmail was typically faster than “surface mail,” and reasonably priced given its light weight. Therefore, nothing other than the letter itself could be sent since enclosed objects or paper would effect the weight. Airmail was sent on specific paper created to fold and glue into an envelope for easier transport, called an Aerogram. Nearly all examples of Airmail in the Archive are of this type of Aerogram.

Each Aerogram letter has a different, interesting design. Ranging from a simple red and blue border to a detailed design of a zebra, each Aerogram is distinctive to its country of origin.

 

The iconic airmail border is seen here on a letter from Winifred Boge in India to her parents in the 1960s.

 

The iconic red and blue stripes of Airmail are seen all over Aerograms. Winifred Boge sent this letter and many like it from her time in India to her parents in the 1960s. Since the 1960s, the Airmail border has been used everywhere, such as fashion accessories and travel documents.

 

David Day sent this letter to his parents from Ethiopia. The stamps feature Ethiopia's regent from 1930-1974, Haile Selassie I.

David Day sent this Aerogram to his parents when he visited Ethiopia in the 1960s. The stamps all feature Ethiopia’s regent, Haile Selassie I, who reigned from 1930 to 1974. While some Aerograms had pre-paid stamps, some required the purchase of postage. The Aerograms in the collection feature a range of stamps from different countries.

 

Day also sent Airmail he received in East Africa but sent by postage in India.

Day also sent this Airmail to his parents in 1966. Interestingly enough, he acquired this Aerogram from his time in East Africa, when he served in Kenya. However, once he was transferred to serve in India, he sent this letter with Indian postage.

 

Kann, Airlmail 1a

Janet and Steve Kann served in the East Caribbean and sent this Airmail from Barbados. The illustration features the Barbados Parliament Buildings in Bridgetown.

 

Janet and Steve Kann sent this letter from Barbados in 1981 as they served in the East Caribbean. This letter highlights the Barbados Parliament Buildings in Bridgetown, Barbados. While this Aerogram was sent in the 1980s, Aerograms cannot be used today without the purchase of extra postage, they were used throughout the late 21st century.

 

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.