Category Archives: Peace Corps History

Peace Corps Week

On March 1, 1961 President Kennedy signed an executive order establishing the Peace Corps. He asked Americans how many of them would be willing to serve their country and the cause of peace by living and working in the developing world. Thousands answered the call in 1961 and 750 were chosen to serve in 13 nations.

Throughout the summer of 1961 volunteers took tests for selection and were trained for service.

By the end of the summer groups had already begun serving, the first groups went to Ghana and Colombia, or were preparing to leave.

As volunteers were preparing to leave they were given travel itineraries, packing tips, and even guidelines for dealing with the press. Along with formal congratulation letters from Governors and Senators, volunteers were also featured in local newspapers.

Once training was over and all the packing was done, volunteers were sent on to their designated countries. The first groups served from 1961 to 1963.

Maureen Carroll served in the Philippines from 1961-1963 in Education.

After two years of service, they were all welcomed home.

 

While some things have changed since 1961, the life of a volunteer is still very much the same with training and living abroad. 58 years later the Peace Corps is still meeting Kennedy’s challenge of serving the U.S. and the cause of peace.

 

Every year, to celebrate this anniversary, the Peace Corps holds Peace Corp Week which “celebrates all the ways that Peace Corps makes a difference at home and abroad and renews its commitment to service.”

This year, Peace Corps Week is February 25 – March 3 and the theme is “Highlighting Home: What does home, family, and community look like in your Peace Corps country?” You can attend a Peace Corps event near you or vote for the best video in the Video Challenge.

 

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.  

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.

“The PC Nepal Photo Project 1962-1975”

Many Returned Peace Corp Volunteers recognize the value in preserving their experiences. Currently, the Peace Corps Community Archive has over 50 donors, but other volunteers, like Doug and Kate Hall, have created their own related collections.

Doug and Kate served in the Peace Corps from 1968 – 1969  and were stationed in Kathmandu, Nepal. They met during their Peace Corps training and were married in 1972, after their Peace Corps service. In the last few years, they have pushed for a collective effort from Nepal’s volunteers to digitize and catalog photographs taken between the years 1962 – 1975. Titled the PC Nepal Photo Project 1962-1975, the collection currently has over 90 contributors and 12,500 photographs.

According to Doug, the project does not emphasize the Peace Corps experience, but rather focuses on life in Nepal from 1962 – 1975. Specially, the images highlight Nepali life outside the Kathmandu Valley.

While libraries and archives in Kathmandu have photos from the 1930s, these are almost exclusively from the Kathmandu Valley. Peace Corps volunteers were mostly posted in towns and villages where no Nepali had a camera. Thus, these early photos are among the first ever taken in many regions of the country.

The photograph’s being collected represent a range of Nepali life. They span regions and lifestyles, from agriculture and rural schools to coronations and urban architecture.

In addition to the online collection which uses Adobe Lightroom, Hall has created a Facebook page that highlights the images by theme. Both are fantastic resources for researchers. Hall reports that once the project is complete he will share copies with 3 national libraries and archives in Nepal.

To donate to the PC Nepal Photo Project 1962-1975 please contact Doug Hall, doughalln [at] comcast.net.

Date: 1971 Location: Shani-Arjun, Jhapa Description: A rural scene in Parakhopi. The man is an Indian sadhu.

John Hughes submission
Date: 1971
Location: Shani-Arjun, Jhapa
Description: A rural scene in Parakhopi. The man is an Indian sadhu.

Date: 1967 Location: Gulmi Description: A wedding party. The sounds of the band echo across the valleys and can be heard for miles.

Carl Hosticka submission
Date: 1967
Location: Gulmi
Description: A wedding party. The sounds of the band echo across the valleys and can be heard for miles.

Date: 1966-07-14 Location: Majhuwa, Gulmi Description: One of a series of pictures depicting rice cultivation. The field is partially flooded and the plowing is continued.

Carl Hosticka submission
Date: 1966-07-14
Location: Majhuwa, Gulmi
Description: One of a series of pictures depicting rice cultivation.The field is partially flooded and the plowing is continued.

Date: 1964-1965 Location: Baglung, Baglung Description: Women wash themselves and clothing in the sacred waters of the Kali Gandak as part of the Dashain festival.

David Carlson submission
Date: 1964-1965
Location: Baglung, Baglung
Description: Women wash themselves and clothing in the sacred waters of the Kali Gandak as part of the Dashain festival.

Date: 1964 Location: Kathmandu, Kathmandu Description: Tibetans hand-weaving rugs.

Diane Wishinski submission
Date: 1964
Location: Kathmandu, Kathmandu
Description: Tibetans hand-weaving rugs.

7

Bill Hacker submission
Date, Location, and Description unknown

Date: 1968 Location: Baglung, Baglung Description: Women cross a crude suspension bridge across the Kali Gandaki River, near Baglung, with heavy loads of firewood.

Hank Lacy submission
Date: 1968
Location: Baglung, Baglung
Description: Women cross a crude suspension bridge across the Kali Gandaki River, near Baglung, with heavy loads of firewood.

Date: 1972 Location: Kathmandu, Kathmandu Description: Gaun Panchayat banner at a holiday event

Bob Nichols submission
Date: 1972
Location: Kathmandu, Kathmandu
Description: Gaun Panchayat banner at a holiday event

Date: 1968-04 Location: Solukhumbu Description: Girl in field. Picture may be at the Lukla airstrip. Rock fence row in the background.

Bob Nichols submission
Date: 1968-04
Location: Solukhumbu
Description: Girl in field. Picture may be at the Lukla airstrip. Rock fence row in the background.

Date: 1973 Location: Bhaktapur, Bhaktapur Description: Red peppers spread out to dry on mats in a street

Jim Coleman submission
Date: 1973
Location: Bhaktapur, Bhaktapur
Description: Red peppers spread out to dry on mats in a street

Date: 1964-01 Location: Pokhara, Kaski Description: Residents of Pokhara and nearby villages coming to the Seti Gandaki at Ram Ghat for ritual bathing during the Magh Mela. This view is from the east side looking west at the point where the Seti Gandaki emerges from a deep gorge and widens out (Ram Ghat).

Stu Ullmann submission
Date: 1964-01
Location: Pokhara, Kaski
Description: Residents of Pokhara and nearby villages coming to the Seti Gandaki at Ram Ghat for ritual bathing during the Magh Mela. This view is from the east side looking west at the point where the Seti Gandaki emerges from a deep gorge and widens out (Ram Ghat).

Date: 1978-12 Location: Sindhuli Description: Porters carrying empty kerosene cans in the riverbed of the Sun Koshi.

Mike Gill and Barbara Butterworth submission
Date: 1978-12
Location: Sindhuli
Description: Porters carrying empty kerosene cans in the riverbed of the Sun Koshi.

Date: 1969-1971 Location: Siraha Description: Group of women pressing and flattening marijuana (ganja). Ganja was the most important cash crop in the district. The price of finished ganja was 12 rupees per kilo in the local market. By the time it hit Europe, it was $120/kilo and had been cut.

Gerard Oicles submission
Date: 1969-1971
Location: Siraha
Description: Group of women pressing and flattening marijuana (ganja). Ganja was the most important cash crop in the district. The price of finished ganja was 12 rupees per kilo in the local market. By the time it hit Europe, it was $120/kilo and had been cut.

Date: 1975-02 Location: Kathmandu, Kathmandu Description: Preparations for the coronation of King Birendra.

Rick Pfau submission
Date: 1975-02
Location: Kathmandu, Kathmandu
Description: Preparations for the coronation of King Birendra.

Date: 1964-05 Location: Bhojpur, Bhojpur Description: Gold and silversmiths sell gold ear and noserings, silver wrist and anklets. Clearly, paper money was much used at this time, though notice the necklace of old Indian rupees that was still a staple of women's clothing, showing off to the community women's value.

Larry Daloz submission
Date: 1964-05
Location: Bhojpur, Bhojpur
Description: Gold and silversmiths sell gold ear and noserings, silver wrist and anklets. Clearly, paper money was much used at this time, though notice the necklace of old Indian rupees that was still a staple of women’s clothing, showing off to the community women’s value.

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

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Karen (Thode) DeAntoni

Last week, the Peace Corps Community Archive featured an interview with Robert Meade, a RPCV who served in Paraguay. This week we asked RPCV Karen (Thode) DeAntoni about her expereinces in Turkey. While serving in Turkey Karen met her future husband, Ed DeAntoni. Last year, we featured a post about their engagement and marriage in Turkey. Both Karen and Ed DeAntoni’s Peace Corps materials are located in the Peace Corps Community Archive.

Karen DeAntoni's Turkey IV biographical sketches booklet photograph. PCCA

Karen (Thode) DeAntoni’s Turkey IV biographical sketches booklet photograph. PCCA.

Q: What inspired you to enter the Peace Corps?

A: I had been considering joining the PC. I was just beginning my third year of teaching 9th grade English and French…and feeling restless. Then President Kennedy was assassinated, and that did it. I was so eager to do something more “worthwhile” than just teaching in a suburban school. I ordered forms immediately and by spring of 1964, I had been accepted. I requested Turkey and got my first choice.

Q: What surprised you most about your first few weeks outside the United States?

A: We had already had a month of training in Putney, VT, with the last 2 months to be in Istanbul. So I had had the culture and language training, pretty much 24/7 and “de-selection” had occurred. I knew what to expect. I think the food was the hardest part in those early weeks. I was shocked to go to breakfast at Robert College and have tea, plain yogurt, black olives, and bread waiting to start the day. I don’t think I had ever eaten lamb or eggplant or a lot of (olive) oil in my food. I had real trouble eating the early meals. (I was born/raised in South Dakota and hadn’t ventured into foreign foods.)

Karen (Thode) DeAntoni and Helen Evans in Istanbul, 1964, PCCA.

Karen (Thode) DeAntoni and Helen Evans in Istanbul, 1964, PCCA.

Q: What projects did you work on during your Peace Corps service and what challenges did you face during their completion?

A: I was assigned to teach English at Middle East Technical University, then an English-language university outside of Ankara. I was initially very disappointed because I had expected a “hardship site.” Because I had taught school before joining the PC, somehow they thought I was better equipped to teach these young (mostly) men than my peers who were fresh out of college. These METU students were not proficient in English. Most of my work was getting their grammar and written essays up to par, so they could perform better in their engineering classes. My students came from all over the Middle East–Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and of course, Turkey.

In the end, it was a great assignment. I loved teaching those kids and working with fellow Turkish teachers (all women) who were fluent in English, had spent time in the US or Britain, and accepted me as one of them. They also admired me because I lived “on the economy” and countered the “ugly American” stereotype. My roommate had a similar assignment at a medical school. Our apartment became a haven for volunteers in the field who needed some time in a city, an American toilet, a real shower, and some home-cooked food (Helen and I had mastered the market/shopping/ cooking routine by then). This was a good news/bad news experience. Turkish culture at that time believed if a single man and woman were in an apartment without a chaperone, they must be romantically involved. Helen and I promised our landlord that nothing of the sort ever went on (it didn’t), but I’m not sure he believed us. Our neighbors for sure did not.

There were two major challenges at work: First, the anti-American mood hit Turkey in the summer of 1965. I was traveling in Greece with friends (including my Volunteer husband-to-be) and helping with another PC training program in Istanbul during the 3 months. When I returned to METU, I was shocked at the militancy of my former students. The main issue was, of course, Vietnam, and I had really no explanation for why the US continued its deep involvement. It was not easy to defend. When back in the States, I would become heavily involved in the anti-war movement. It was easy to see the worldwide effect of U.S. foreign policy.

Secondly, the Turkish head of the English Dept. at METU was an extremely difficult man. He had been educated at Oxford and had an annoying air of arrogance about him. He was all about meetings where he pretended to listen to input from the teachers (both PCV’s and Turks), but then did things his own way. I don’t believe he had ever taught in a classroom and was completely ignorant of what planning went on, what needed changing, what we needed from the budget, etc. He was dismissive of Peace Corps teachers. It was even more distressful because the Turkish natives in the Dept. completely agreed with us. They were embarrassed at how we were treated, but could do nothing about it because their jobs were in jeopardy.  I became engaged to my current PC husband and we were married in January, 1966. My Turkish friends helped arrange our wedding (in the Italian Embassy chapel) and hosted our reception at a local “tennis club.” They were wonderful, and we remained friends via letters for several years!

Karen (Thode) DeAntoni, June 1965, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey. PCCA.

Karen (Thode) DeAntoni, June 1965, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey. PCCA.

Q: How has your Peace Corps service influenced you in your post-Peace Corps work?

A: I went on to continue teaching English for a total of 34 years.  My experiences in Turkey were never far from my duty at hand. I learned how to TEACH writing (something no college prepares prospective teachers how to do). I also learned how to run a department, how to listen, how to guide, and how to help my colleagues and interns evaluate and construct curriculum. I also coached a girls’ dance line, girls’ tennis, and cross country. Clearly, teaching–in the broadest sense of the word–was in my blood. I loved it.

Karen (Thode) DeAntoni with freinds' children, Turkey, Christmas 1964, PCCA.

Karen (Thode) DeAntoni with friends’ children, Turkey, Christmas 1964, PCCA.

Q: What advice would you give current and future Peace Corps volunteers?

A: Absorb all you can from your host country! Be patient. Laugh a lot. Try not to let negative experiences color your total experience. Master the language, if you can. If you can’t, do your best to become a part of your country and its inhabitants. If you don’t “love” them, let them love you. Don’t let your American ways be the only ways to do things. Defend what you believe about America. Don’t be afraid to agree with SOME criticisms of American foreign policy, including the military and its presence, if there is one. Stay “grounded”; make close friends with other PCV’s, for support, but don’t behave foolishly. It could come back to haunt you. And remember: this could be the most significant experience of your life!

That’s about it. I want to say that Ed and I still have a deep love for Turkey. We have been back twice, once to take our son and his wife so they could see why we loved it. We continue to cook Turkish food, use Turkish expressions in our daily conversations, and read anything we can about what is going on there. Our being wedded there and sharing the experience have been a great boon to our marriage (Note: we are coming up on our 50th wedding anniversary! We would love to celebrate it there, but January weather and expenses will keep us here with our sons, their wives, and grandchildren.)

And finally…the mailman just delivered a letter from a former student from 25 years ago who wants to reconnect. (Of course, I will!) And thanks me for being such “a wonderful teacher of life and literature.”

You can’t beat that for continual rewards…

 

 

 

 

Interview with Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Robert Meade

The following post features an interview with Returned Peace Corps Robert Meade. Meade served in Paraguay from 1968-1969, and remained active in training future PCVs. In 2013, Robert Meade donated many of his Peace Corps materials to the Peace Corps Community Archive, including his correspondence, 35mm slides, training materials, reminiscences, and additional publications from his time in Paraguay.  We thank Robert Meade for his time in answering our questions.

 

"Volunteer Robert Meade on the patio of the Hotel Terraza in Asuncion. The hotel was the unofficial Peace Corps home-away-from-home for Paraguay PCVs when they came to Asuncion from their posts." PCCA

“Volunteer Robert Meade on the patio of the Hotel Terraza in Asuncion. The hotel was the unofficial Peace Corps home-away-from-home for Paraguay PCVs when they came to Asuncion from their posts.” PCCA

Q: What inspired you to enter the Peace Corps?

A:  I was in high school when John F. Kennedy proposed and established the Peace Corps. The idea struck me as something I might want to do once I got through college.  Like many people of that era, I was motivated by the idea of service to my country. I had an idealistic streak, too.  My older brother was encouraging. He was close to people in the Kennedy administration and a backer of the Peace Corps from its beginning.

 

"Paraguay II PCV Vince Francia (far left) and PCV Bob Meade (center) at the health center in General Artigas with U.S. YMCA representatives and Paraguayan nurses and student nurses." PCCA

“Paraguay II PCV Vince Francia (far left) and PCV Bob Meade (center) at the health center in General Artigas with U.S. YMCA representatives and Paraguayan nurses and student nurses.” PCCA

Q: What surprised you most about your first few weeks outside the United States?

A: I think I was surprised by how little I really knew about the work I was supposed to do. My service involved work in rural public health and sanitation. I asked myself, “how I could play a useful role during my time in Paraguay?”

It all seemed a bit overwhelming at first. Even though the people I worked with were very friendly, they didn’t quite know how to deal with the whole notion of a “volunteer” who left behind a “rich” life in the US to live with them and help them improve their lives.  Such altruism was very foreign to the Paraguayans.

 

"PCA Bob Meade and PCV Bpb Caruso (P-III) play soccer with the shoeshine boys who frequented the area around the Peace Corps office in Asuncion. The volunteers "adopted" these boys and took them on excursions to parks, professional soccer matches, picnics, etc." PCCA

“PCA Bob Meade and PCV Bob Caruso (P-III) play soccer with the shoeshine boys who frequented the area around the Peace Corps office in Asuncion. The volunteers “adopted” these boys and took them on excursions to parks, professional soccer matches, picnics, etc.” PCCA

Q: What projects did you work on during your Peace Corps service and what challenges did you face during their completion?

A: The principal focus of my work was public sanitation, especially the effort to control the parasitic hookworm among the general population in rural Paraguay.  This involved projects aimed at providing clean water and the use of sanitary latrines (outhouses). I also educated people in basic hygiene such as washing hands, wearing shoes, and constructing latrines at their houses and schools. Fortunately, I had a Paraguayan counterpart who had a pretty good idea of how to attack these problems.  One of the challenges we faced were the lack of financial and physical resources to carry-out our work. We also had to confront the basic ignorance of the population about preventing an endemic disease that was just part of life for many of them. Explaining the life cycle of the hookworm, an intestinal parasite, to a mainly illiterate population was no easy task.

We also had to confront the fairly ubiquitous presence of “curanderos” (witchdoctors) in rural areas who, because they sometimes prescribed an efficacious herbal remedy, had some credibility in the local population. Another challenge was transportation. We had to use my counterpart’s motorbike to get around or take public transportation and walk to many of the sites we had to get to.  The problem of hauling equipment such as pumps and piping for wells had to be arranged. We had no budget for this purpose, nor did we have money to buy cement, bricks, wood, etc. to build latrines.  This money problem was a constant struggle and, often, I used my PC living allowance to purchase supplies.

 

"PCV Bob Meade working in the garden at Kilometro 5." PCCA

“PCV Bob Meade working in the garden at Kilometro 5.” PCCA

Q: How has your Peace Corps service influenced you in your post-Peace Corps work?

A: Despite the difficulties of Peace Corps service, my two years in Paraguay made me decide to pursue a career focused on Latin America and in public service of some sort.  Immediately after Paraguay, I completed a Master’s Degree in Latin American studies at the University of Texas at Austin. I also worked for 15 months as a trainer for the Peace Corps in California and Puerto Rico.

In 1973, after having passed the written and oral exams, I joined the U.S. Foreign Service as a commissioned officer with the U.S. Information Agency (now part of the State Department).  In this role, I worked for 23 years overseas and in Washington.  I had assignments working in cultural and educational affairs in Panama, Ecuador, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Spain, with domestic tours for eight of those years.

My Peace Corps experience continued to serve me throughout my professional life. My experience gave me excellent command of the Spanish and Portuguese languages. I also gained an ability to work in foreign countries and develop meaningful relationships with people of different cultures while serving my country at the same time.

 

Q: What advice would you give current and future Peace Corps volunteers?

A: The Peace Corps experience is a very personal one, and how a volunteer reacts to an assignment and “fits in” varies greatly from person to person. I would recommend that you enter into service with an open mind. Do not have too many preconceived ideas about how things should be done.  Remember that you are only “passing through” your place of service.  In all probability, you will get a lot more out of the experience than you will leave behind. You will be a better person for having been a PCV. Lastly, bring back your new-found knowledge and perspectives to your fellow citizens.

 

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