Category Archives: Photographs

Adjusting to New Worlds

When browsing the collections of the Peace Corps Community Archive it is difficult to miss material that demonstrates excitement, fatigue, curiosity, or frustration surrounding issues of adjustment to life in a foreign country.

Often, volunteers expressed these sentiments through letters, diary entries, and artwork. In some cases, notation of adjustment can even be found in the official Peace Corps paperwork.

In this post, we’ll explore the materials of three new collections to illustrate how volunteers adapted: Gabe Skinner (Chile, 1964 – 1966), Susan Shepler (Sierra Leone, 1987 – 1989), and Bobbe Seibert (Honduras, 2000).

Gabe Skinner, an anthropologist by training, joined the Peace Corps in 1964. As one of the first groups of Peace Corps volunteers, Skinner used his time in Chile to teach Mapuche Indians the practice of beekeeping. But he was unaccustomed to the long hours spent traveling by foot around rural Chile, so Skinner inquired about horses for sale in nearby towns.


Sunday, February 14, 1964, Skinner wrote about walking four hours “back into the hills” to see a horse “offered for sale.” PCCA.

Skinner purchased a horse in late April 1964. To document the event, he glued this picture drawn by his little brother Greg into his journal.


This drawing by Greg of Skinner’s horse appears in Skinner’s personal journal. PCCA.

In an earlier entry, dated January 13th, 1964, Skinner journals about how difficult it could be for volunteers to acclimate to their housing. As seen on the page below, he bemoans the uncomfortable living conditions in his first home in Chile:

“There are chickens and cats in the kitchen. They are flea-ridden. They defecate on the floors. There are flies in the kitchen.”


Wednesday, January 13th, 1964, Skinner described his housing situation in rural Chile.  PCCA.

Susan Shepler, who taught mathematics in Sierra Leone in the late 1980s, offers little in her notes about discomfort. In fact, a survey she filled out in the April 1989 issue of Di News De, a local newsletter produced by the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone, reveals Shepler’s openness to the new cuisine and customs.


This is the second page of a “Volunteer Survey” filled in by Susan Shepler from the April 1989 issue of Di News De. PCCA.

In this same issue of Di News De, however, researchers will encounter comics, short stories, and other creative expressions that indicate some of the challenges many volunteers faced. Two examples include a bus ride gone awry and a recipe to recreate familiar food.









April 1989 issue of Di News De. Susan Shepler collection. PCCA.


April 1989 issue of Di News De. Susan Shepler collection. PCCA.

Unlike Shepler, Bobbe Seibert described distaste for some local foods and created her own recipes abroad. Seibert, who joined the Peace Corps later in her adult life, detailed her cooking practices in a letter to her father and stepmother, Jean.

On October 17, 2000, Seibert wrote to her parents to explain how she used corn to make a “wonderfully hot, smooth, and comforting” cream soup because she was “not particularly fond of” the homemade tortillas.


Letter from Seibert to her father and stepmother on October 17, 2000. PCCA.

In the same letter, Seibert  enclosed a photograph of her house. On the back of the image she cautions her parents about visiting, noting “Honduras is not a comfortable country.


Photograph from a letter to Seibert’s father and stepmother dated October 17, 2000. PCCA.

Seibert served on an agricultural team in Honduras in 2000 until a family emergency brought her back home to Alaska. Yet, her time as a volunteer is well chronicled in her journals, artwork, and correspondence.

In a letter to her husband John, for example, Seibert expresses excitement regarding her new host family and housing:

“My family is perfect.”

“Dona Marlen is a housekeer – not a maid, and they have two wonderful kids, Marleny – she’s eight years old and we go everywhere together and Edward who is two years old and mostly just smiles all the time.”

“The roof is corrugated but of very good quality it sounds wonderful when it rains as it did last night – quite hard.”


This letter from Seibert to John on February 6, 2000, offers a positive reaction to a new housing arrangement. PCCA.

Celebrating or overcoming adjustments is part of the Peace Corps volunteer experience. By carefully studying the collections in the Peace Corps Community Archive, researchers can build an enriched understanding of a volunteer’s daily life, including the joys and struggles associated with adjusting to a new world.

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]


Bobbe Siebert in Honduras

Bobbe Siebert

Country of Service: Honduras
Service Project Title: Hillside Farming Extension
Dates in Service: 2000
Keywords: Agriculture, Business, Community Development

Accession Date: July 29, 2015
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 0.5 linear feet

Document Types

    • Correspondence
    • Photographs
    • Reports
    • Diaries
    • Training Materials
    • Artwork
    • Memorabilia

Every Picture Tells a Story

Steven Orr served in the Peace Corps in Panama from 1964 to 1966. While in the city of Santiago de Veraguas, Orr worked with Emilio Jose Batista Castillo, the director of the Instituto Vocacional de Veraguas, a small vocational school.

With funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development, Orr, additional PCVs, and Emilio transformed the small institute (consisting originally of essentially an empty shed) into a three building campus. Orr worked with Emilio to create the school’s curriculum. The school later became the Central Provinces Branch of the University of Panama and grew to include close to 20 buildings and classrooms. Emilio would later work in deep-water port management, working internationally in places such as Odessa, London, San Francisco, and Tokyo.

The photo below, taken in 1965 in Santiago, shows local Panamanian youths, students of the vocational school, and Peace Corps volunteers. This photograph showcases how collective efforts of various groups can make lasting changes throughout the world.


Panamanian Youths, students, and PCVs in Santiago de Veraguas, 1965. (extreme left, back row: Steven D. Orr; fifth from left, back row: Pauline Malone (PCV) ; ninth from left, back row: Louise Foy (PCV) ; eleventh from left, back row: Merrill Mazza (PCV) ; extreme right: Peace Corps Regional Director Emory Tomor.



Peace Corps through Images: The People

Below are images of local citizens taken by Peace Corps volunteers.  Each photograph captures local culture and customs through the nation’s people — as artisans, students, families, and participants in celebrations.

“Paraguayan artisan making ‘nanduti’ (spider-web lace) in her home shop in Itagua, the center of the nanduti artistry.” Caption written by Robert Meade.


“Students husking–polishing the floor with a coconut husk. At 7:00 AM–before school duties.” Caption written by Joyce Emery Johnston


“Campesino home and family.” Caption written by Robert Meade.


PC Boge- Snake Charmer edit

Snake Charmer


Celebration. Captured by Norm and Janet Heise while working for Walt Sangree, professor of anthropology. circa 1963-1965.


Worth A Thousand Words

Images offer a chance to peak inside someone else’s world.  Often, they provide the best means for understanding an event in the past, or an experience beyond our own comprehension.  This is especially true when it comes to the many exciting and exotic opportunities encountered by Peace Corps volunteers.

Reading about these experiences, or hearing RPCVs recall stories from the past, doesn’t convey the same understanding as seeing it with your own eyes–even if that means through a photograph.  While they may have faced difficult challenges and unpleasant moments, Peace Corps volunteers also witnessed beautiful landscapes, sampled local cuisine, and embraced traditional cultures and customs.

From ordinary to the unusual, images in the PCCA depict the wide variety of Peace Corps volunteers’ experiences.  Enjoy a few of the images found in the collection.

Miango Village near Jos. Home of the Irigwe people studied by Walt Sangree, professor of anthropology at Rochester University. circa 1963-1965.


Pearl Diver

A Peace Corps volunteer followed by a crowd of children. Winifred Boge remembered, “she always got a big ‘following’–she was smiling and friendly to all.”


Peace Corps volunteer on top of a termite mound in Concepcion, Paraguay.




Love and Marriage in the Peace Corps

Not only did the Peace Corps experience provide opportunities to travel and develop skills, but also led to the development of romantic relationships between volunteers.  Norm Heise noted the Peace Corps’ reputation for “being the best ‘unofficial matrimonial agency’ going at the time.”  The PCCA collection includes several stories of volunteers’ dating escapades, but there are also two instances where volunteers married during their service.

August 18, 1963, St. Paul’s Chapel, Columbia University

Norm and Janet served as teachers at Toro Teaching Training College, in Northern Nigeria, from 1963-1965.  After meeting in training at Columbia University, Norm Heise proposed to Janet Driggs.  The two had known each other for less than a week.  The couple married in August before departing in September for their assignments in Nigeria.  As a result of their marriage, Peace Corps altered their placements to ensure the couple traveled, lived, and shared the experience together.  Their collection includes photos and stories of their work in Nigeria.

Norm and Janet Heise in Toro, Nigeria, 1963

The DeAntoni’s story is a bit different.  Both members of Turkey IV, Ed and Karen met during training and maintained contact while working in separate towns.  The two friends began a romantic relationship, in the midst of their service, after connecting at a party.  Karen wrote her parents on August 12, 1965, “I’m afraid this will come as an awful surprise, but then it’s more fun that way—last night I got engaged!”  Because of the distance and the realization her parents did not know Ed, Karen anxiously awaited their response.  Ed informed his parents by writing, “Before you start reading this, sit down, get composed, light a cigarette…In a word, it’s too good to be true.  Karen and I became engaged last night, and I’m so happy I could cry.”  Their collection of letters uniquely presents their same experiences from different points of view.

Karen’s letter to her parents announcing her engagement to Ed DeAntoni, August 12, 1965

PC Karen DeAntoni Letter 002

Karen’s letter (pg. 2), August 12, 1965

PC Karen DeAntoni Letter 003

Karen’s letter (pg. 3), August 12, 1965

Although Ed and Karen initially planned to return to the US to marry, they quickly decided to hold a wedding in Ankara, Turkey.  Their desire to travel together, avoid inconveniencing roommates, and being in love seemed sufficient enough.  The approaching marriage influenced many of the couple’s letters home—especially Karen’s—discuss wedding plans, financial needs, and concerns about family planning.

The DeAntoni’s wedding invitation, 1966

It is not surprising that living closely with other volunteers and sharing life-changing experiences established lasting bonds—both friendly and romantic.  In a letter to his parents, Ed explained, “This common experience has given us a tremendous basis for learning about each other, a common feeling for so many things, and the ground for our love to grow and flourish.”  For many volunteers, this experience of surviving a new place, establishing relationships, and sharing similar goals fostered the development of many romantic relationships.

New Arrivals: Peace Corps Orientation in Paraguay

As Paraguay III arrived in December 1969, Peace Corps staff greeted and educated new volunteers about the place they would call home for the next two years.

“Arrival of Paraguay III volunteers, Asuncion International Airport, December 1969.”


“Assistant Director Tony Bellotti addressing newly-arrived Paraguay III volunteers in Peace Corps office, Asuncion.”

The previous images, as well as the ones that follow, are part of the Robert Meade collection.  As a member of Paraguay II from 1968-1969, Meade travelled throughout Paraguay documenting his experiences.  Those images enabled Meade to create a slide show to educate new trainees, as well as others, about Paraguay.  Included in his slide show are images of eastern Paraguay, historic sites, Peace Corps activities, and the capital city Asuncion.  Meade’s orientation slide show presents unique images of the country and people, and ultimately provides volunteers with an idea of the places and work they might experience.  After completing his two-year commitment, Meade continued working as a trainer in Peace Corps training centers located in Escondido, California and Ponce, Puerto Rico. [Note: All image captions were written by Robert Meade.]

“Itinerant vegetable vendor, Asuncion.”

“‘Campo’ about 50 miles east of Asuncion along the main road.”

“Paraguayan girls selling ‘chipa,’ a chewy cheese bread found throughout the country, Eusebio Ayala.”

“Near Colonia Sroessner, far east Paraguay.”


“The Church of San Roque in Caazapa. Caazapa was founded in 1607 as a Franciscan mission. The town’s name means ‘after the forest’ or ‘in the clearing’ in Guarani.”


“Curing yerba mate over a mud over. Mate, an herbal tea, is the favored drink in the Paraguayan countryside.”

To see more images from Paraguay, visit the AU Archives and browse the Robert Meade Collection.

Ed and Karen DeAntoni in Turkey

Ed and Karen Thode DeAntoni

Country of Service: Turkey IV
Place of Service: Unye and Ankara
Service Type: Education
Dates in Service: 1964-1966
Keywords: Education

Accession Date: March 6, 2014; May 15, 2014
Access: Authors must be credited in subsequent uses
Collection Size: 1.75 linear feet

Document Types

  • Correspondence
  • Biographical sketches of Turkey 4-A
  • Peace Corps training materials including Turkish language manuals and notes
  • Peace Corps publications relating to serving and living overseas
  • Turkish Tourism Materials
  • Training materials of Turkey 12, Summer 1966 at Occidental College, CA
  • Map of Ed and Karen Thode DeAntoni’s travels in Turkey, 1965-1966, for slide presentations at Occidental
  • CD of photographs from training at the School for International Living in Putney, VT

Combatting Malaria in Thailand

During the 1907s, Jonathan Green worked with a malaria control program in South Central Thailand’s Control Zone 3.  Accompanied by a crew, Green ventured into the jungle to spray local villagers’ homes with DDT.  If individuals suspected they might have malaria, the organization administered a blood test and provided medication for those who tested positive.

Here, Green wears his khaki uniform, like other Thai civil servant officials. According to Green, his boss suggested this type of uniform because villagers would be more trusting and recognize him as an official.

Green’s work took him into the jungle to visit local villages.

Green traveling by boat. Rain often made traveling on dirt roads impossible.

Members of the spray team walk along the trail carrying their equipment. Jonathan Green wrote, “Each sprayman carries a canvas bag containing several plastic bags of powdered DDT, his sprayer, and a bucket in which to mix the DDT with water. Powdered DDT is not soluble in water, so it is hard to mix. But then the whole idea is to spray a suspension on the interior walls of homes, so the water will evaporate and leave the powder adhering to the walls to kill mosquitoes who like to rest there.”

Spraying DDT underneath a dwelling’s eaves.

“Mr. Winai, the malaria control sector chief for Tongphum and Snagkhlaburi districts, examining a blood sample under the microscope.”

Jonathan Green’s collection is the only one currently in the Peace Corps Community Archive documenting a volunteer’s experience in Thailand.  Green wrote detailed captions explaining each image and elaborating on his Peace Corps service.

To view more photos, visit Jonathan Green’s Facebook page.

Agricultural Extension Work in Paraguay

Peace Corps work in Paraguay began in January 1968.  The majority of volunteers in Paraguay I worked as agricultural extension agents.  It was their job to help local farmers improve the efficiency and output of small, rural farms.

“P-I Volunteer Rich Stockton and interim PC Paraguay Director Mike Doyle.”

In addition to assisting farmers, PCVs helped to establish and promote the 4-C clubs—an equivalent of 4-H in the US—among Paraguay’s youth.

“P-I PCV Rick Mines with ag. extension agent Ojeda doing grafting demonstration with a 4-C club in Pedro Juan Caballero.”


“4-C garden in Cheiro-Cue.”

Peace Corps Volunteer Robert Meade served in multiple locations throughout Paraguay promoting public health and agriculture.  According to Meade, PCVs played an instrumental role in encouraging local farmers to plant new crops and experiment with diverse agricultural projects visible in the images below.     

“Two Paraguayan farmers (“campesinos”) showing off melons grown in their gardens. PCVs were instrumental in getting farmers to try new crops for the market. Eusebio Ayala.”


“An ag. Extension agent with a local farmer with a tank to grow tilapia, another project started by Peace Corps Paraguay, Eusebio Ayala.”


“Raising rabbits for food and fur, another 4-C program backed by Peace Corps.”

All image captions above were written by Robert Meade.

These are only a few of the fascinating images documenting the work and experiences of PCVs in Paraguay.  To view more images, visit the Archives and Special Collections.