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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leonard J. Oppenheim in Afghanistan

Leonard J. Oppenheim

Country of Service: Afghanistan
Dates in Service: 1964-1966
Keywords: Afghanistan, RPCV reunions, Peace Corps Training

Accession Date: February 23, 2015
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 1 DVD

Document Types

  • Video produced for 2010 reunion by Leonard Oppenheim- features remarks by volunteers and photos from their service in Afghanistan. The volunteers speak about their Peace Corps experience including their reasons for joining the Peace Corps, memories of the training program, their work and life in Afghanistan, and, in retrospect, what their Peace Corps service meant to them.

Peter Cooey in Honduras

Peter Cooey

Country of Service: Honduras
Service Type: Community Development
Place in Service: Orocuina
Dates in Service: 1966-1968
Keywords: Orocuina, CARE, Community Development

Accession Date: February 10, 2015
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 1 linear inch

Document Types

  • Biographical Information on Peter Cooey (resume, articles)
  • Photographs
  • Maps
  • Correspondence
  • Notebooks
  • Newspaper articles

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.

 

Robert Starr in Jamaica

Robert Starr

Country of Service: Jamaica
Service Type: Vocational Education
Dates in Service: 1964-1966
Keywords: Community Development, Vocational Training, Experiment in International Living, Camp Kennedy, Cobbla

Accession Date: January 7, 2015
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 1 linear inch

Document Types

  • Telegram from Sargent Shriver
  • Digital photographs
  • Publications
  • Training Materials

Brienne Thomson in Paraguay

Brienne Thomson

Country of Service: Paraguay
Place of Service: San Estanislao
Service Type: Community Economic Development
Dates in Service: 2013-2015
Keywords:Paraguay, San Estanislao, Community Development, Economic Development

Accession Date: November 17, 2014
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 9 items

Document Types

  • web blog (community interviews)

https://wayback.archive-it.org/1435/20141020140854/http://brienne.yolasite.com/b-blog/an-update-on-perspectives-n-plans-in-paraguay-peace-corps-volunteer-reporting-form/

https://wayback.archive-it.org/1435/20141020140848/http://brienne.yolasite.com/b-blog/the-peace-corps-asked-i-indulged/

https://wayback.archive-it.org/1435/20141020140857/http://brienne.yolasite.com/estudio-de-la-comunidad-san-estanislao.php

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.