Category Archives: National Peace Corps Association

Exhibits on Display: The Peace Corps and its Volunteers

 

Alongside the annual conference of the National Peace Corps Association held in Washington, D.C. in September 2016, AU Archives and Special Collections is debuting two exhibits highlighting its Peace Corps Community Archive. One exhibit will be a physical exhibit on campus and the other online.

The Peace Corps through the Lens of its Volunteers will be on display through the end of the semester on the third floor of the Bender Library.

PCCA Exhibit Screenshot

The Peace Corps and Its Volunteers, the online companion exhibit, will go live this Friday August 26.

Both exhibits draw from the Peace Corps Community Archive and showcase the experiences of Peace Corp Volunteers through journals, letters, and photographs from the 1960s to the present.

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.

Strengthening Female Education Worldwide

Earlier this month, the Peace Corps announced it would partner with Michelle Obama to expand educational opportunities for women around the world. This partnership plans to accomplish this goal through specialized community training, raising public awareness and support for international partnership programs, and recruiting and training hundreds of new Peace Corps Volunteers working to serve as advocates for female education.

The Peace Corps Community Archive’s holdings reflect the Peace Corps’ continuing commitment to promote female education. From 1968-1970, Christine Hager served in Colombia working as a community developer. Part of her duties included educating women about self-sustainable work such as cooking and sewing. Winifred Boge worked on the Health Nutrition Project from 1965-1967, which educated men and women in India about healthy daily practices. The more recently announced initiative by Michelle Obama and the Peace Corps will build upon the already impressive work of the Peace Corps in addressing the need for increased female educational opportunities throughout the world.

Winifred Boge with female students in India

Winifred Boge with female students in India. PCCA

American University Celebrates Peace Corps Week

In celebration of Peace Corps Week, on Tuesday, March 2, American University hosted Peace Corps recruiter Chuck Cascio and more than 10 Returned Peace Corps volunteers, many of them American University students and alumni. Along with the opportunity to talk with Peace Corps volunteers, the event included displays of photos and objects related each RPCV’s service. These RPCVs shared their Peace Corps experiences, demonstrating how they each made a difference in their respective communities.

Last month, the Peace Corps ranked American University as one of the top medium-sized colleges and universities producing Peace Corps volunteers. As shown by Tuesday’s event, American University will continue its already strong relationship with Peace Corps service.

RPCV Lauren Kovach (Zambia, 2012-2014) and Rachel Teter (Panama, 2011-2013) inform American University students about the merits of Peace Corps service.

RPCV Lauren Kovach (Zambia, 2012-2014); left, and Rachel Teter (Panama, 2011-2013) ; right. inform American University students about the merits of Peace Corps service.

Happy Birthday, Peace Corps!

On March 1, 1961, President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps. 54 years later, the Peace Corps still reflects its original mission to “promote world peace and friendship.”

This year’s celebration of Peace Corps Week includes the video challenge, “Host Country Heroes: Who do you wish Americans knew from your Peace Corps country?”, digital “video chats” with Peace Corps Volunteers serving around the world, and multiple Peace Corps “festivals” and information sessions taking place throughout the country.

The Peace Corps Community Archive reflects the variety of contributions and experiences of 54 years of Peace Corps service. From training materials and community development reports, to photographs and correspondence, our collection helps document the 54 years of continued international service of the Peace Corps.

The photos from our collection below, feature Peace Corps volunteers in action.

PC Boge- Rose Ann Crimmins edit

Winifred Boge served in India from 1965-1967.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

22. This is our boat that will take us up the river on our spray mission. These boats are flat-bottomed, with automobile engines mounted on long propeller shafts.

Jonathan Green served in Thailand from 1973-1975.

 

 

Randall Children 2002

Alanna Randall served in Belize from 2001-2003.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peace Corps Director Visits the Peace Corps Community Archive

Left to right; RPCV Pat Wand, University Archivist Susan McElrath, and Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Raadelet.

Left to right; RPCV (Colombia, 1963-1965) and Emerita University Librarian Patricia Wand, University Archivist Susan McElrath, and Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Raadelet.

On January 13, Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet spoke at American University’s School of International Service. Her conversation focused on the merits of Peace Corps service. Before her talk, Hessler-Radelet visited the Peace Corps Community Archive.

Hessler-Radelet is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer herself. She served in Western Samoa from 1981-1983. During her visit, Hessler-Radelet viewed highlights and representative items of our collection. Our display included materials from the 1960s-2000s.  This included letters, photographs, newspapers, training materials, and reports. Items from South America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East showed the geographical variety of our collection.

University Archivist Susan McElrath shows Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet items from the Peace Corps Community Archive.

University Archivist Susan McElrath shows Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet items from the Peace Corps Community Archive.

Besides her own Peace Corps service, Hessler-Radelet’s aunt, Ginny Kirkwood, served with individuals represented in our collection. Kirkwood served with Ed and Karen De Antoni in Turkey (1964-1966). She took pictures of their materials on display for her aunt.

Click here to listen to Hessler-Radelet’s conversation with James Goldeier, Dean of American University’s School of International Service.

Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet recognizes Karen and Ed De Antoni, two PCVs who served with her aunt in Turkey during the 1960s.

Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet recognizes Karen and Ed De Antoni, two PCVs who served with her aunt in Turkey during the 1960s.

Charlotte Daigle-Berney in Uganda

Charlotte Daigle-Berney

Country of Service: Uganda
Place of Service: Masaka, Mbale
Service Type: Education
Dates in Service: 1966-1968
Keywords: Masaka, Mbale, Sebei College

Accession Date: December 22, 2014
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 0.25 linear feet

Document Types

  • Correspondence
  • Photographs
  • Publications
  • Collection of African superstitions
  • Training materials
  • CD of photographs from RPCVs submitted to the New Mexico Peace Corps Association commemorating the Peace Corps 50th Anniversary

“The Comrade Corps”

During a speech at San Francisco’s Cow Palace on November 2, 1960, soon to be President Kennedy spoke of the need for Americans to take action to ensure friendly relations abroad. He told the audience, “Out of Moscow and Peiping and Czechoslovakia and Eastern Germany are hundreds of men and women, scientists, physicists, teachers, engineers, doctors, nurses, studying in those institutes, prepared to spend their lives abroad in the service of world communism… being prepared to live their lives in Africa as missionaries for world communism.” Kennedy therefore proposed, that the U.S. create “a peace corps of talented young men and women, willing and able to serve their country in this fashion for 3 years as an alternative or as a supplement to peacetime selective service.” Even before the election, Kennedy had already a foundation for what would become the Peace Corps.

While serving in Africa, several Peace Corps volunteers worked alongside what one American termed “the Comrade Corps.” This organization consisted of teachers and volunteers the Soviet Union sent to developing countries, the same men and women Kennedy spoke of in his speech at the Cow Palace.

In 1965, Ray Silverstein, a Peace Corps volunteer, wrote to the Tilley Lamp, a Nigerian Peace Corps Volunteer newsletter, chronicling his encounter with these Russian volunteers. He told readers, “One has to seek them out. Once this is done, many of them will open up, eager to socialize and talk English with someone “who can correct” them…One girl that I met acknowledged the West’s superiority in twist music and rock n’roll, and mentioned that the Charleston is the rage in Russia now.”

Elizabeth Cobb Hoffman discusses Russian volunteers and PCV relations in Ghana in her 1998 work All You Need is Love: The Peace Corps and the Spirit of the 1960s, “The volunteers’ attempts to be friendly towards the Russian youth would…prove the intention of the United States to wage the Cold War peacefully…The Peace Corps teachers, who shared accommodations with volunteers from other countries, reported that the Russians returned their sociability (Hoffman, 162).”

Despite Cold War tensions, Russian and American youth workers shared cultural experiences and perspectives with each other during their respective service across the world.

The Kennedy Legacy Abroad

Last week, the Peace Corps Community Archive blog featured a post on Sargent Shriver, the first director of the Peace Corps. This week, we are focusing on Shriver’s brother-in-law, President John F. Kennedy, who established the Peace Corps in 1961. While campaigning the previous year, Kennedy gave an impromptu speech to a number of students at the University of Michigan. He asked the assembled students, “I think in many ways it is the most important campaign since 1933, mostly because of the problems which press upon the United States, and the opportunities which will be presented to us in the 1960s. The opportunity must be seized, through the judgment of the President, and the vigor of the executive, and the cooperation of the Congress.” Inspired by the spirit of volunteerism Kennedy encountered among young voters during the 1960 campaign, he issued an executive order in 1961 establishing the Peace Corps as “responsible for the training and service abroad of men and women of the United States in new programs of assistance to nations and areas of the world, and in conjunction with or in support of existing economic assistance programs of the United States and of the United Nations and other international organizations.” 

Child, Jack. Tribute to John F. Kennedy, 14 April 1964. Jack Child Stamp Collection. American University Library. Archives and Special Collections.

Tribute to John F. Kennedy, 14 April 1964. Jack Child Stamp Collection. American University Library. Archives and Special Collections.

Many Peace Corps volunteers serving in the 1960s were likewise inspired by the legacy of John F. Kennedy’s presidency. Peace Corps volunteer Terry Kennedy (Colombia 1964-66, no relation), wrote to his parents less than one year after JFK’s assassination about the reverence the Colombians had for President Kennedy. Terry wrote home,  “How do you like the Kennedy Stamps? The Americans that the people down here admire are JFK and Lincoln and Washington.” This and other letters from Terry Kennedy during his time in the Peace Corps are available to research in the Peace Corps Community Archive at American University.

Colombia issued these stamps in memory of John F. Kennedy. These stamps demonstrate the respect other countries had for the recently assassinated President. Colombia was not the only South American country to honor President Kennedy. Argentina also created their own version of a Kennedy Stamp, one of which (pictured, right) is found in the Jack Child Collection at the American University Archive and Special Collections.

 

Sargent Shriver: First Director of the Peace Corps

Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr. was born on November 9, 1915 and served as the first Director of the Peace Corps during the 1960s. In 1961, Shriver participated in an eight nation tour with the goal of creating more Peace Corps programs throughout Africa and Asia. His leadership expanded the influence of the Peace Corps and set the foundation for the legacy of service the organization provides to the world.

At the Peace Corps’s 25th Anniversary commemoration, Shriver told the audience, “Care for those who are sick. Serve your families. Serve your neighbors. Serve your cities. Serve the poor. Join others who serve. Serve, serve, serve! That’s the challenge. For in the end, it will be servants who save us all.”[1]

More than 50 years after the creation of the Peace Corps, we remember Sargent Shriver and the lasting vision and mission he created for the Peace Corps.

[1] “Service”, Sargent Shriver Peace Institute, http://www.sargentshriver.org/sarges-legacy/politics-of-service (retrieved November 6, 2014).

Photograph, Sargent Shriver, Ma Khin Khin Hla, and U Soe Tin in Burma

Photograph, Sargent Shriver, Ma Khin Khin Hla, and U Soe Tin in Burma, United States Information Service. R. Sargent Shriver Personal Papers. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

 

 

Visualizing Our Collections

From a quick look at our Peace Corps catalog, it becomes apparent that many of our collections are of those who served during the 1960s. To what extent however, are the other decades in which people served represented? The graph below presents our collections in a visual format, indicating trends in Peace Corps activity expressed through our holdings. (Note: Each year corresponds to each Peace Corps volunteer’s year of entry into the two-year program)

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