Tag Archives: Peace Corps Third Goal

RPCV Memoirs: Accomplishing the Third Goal

The Barrios of Manta

Memoirs capture an individual’s life.  For many RPCVs, writing about their life and work in another country provides the best way to educate others.

Rhoda and Earle Brooks, who served in Ecuador from 1962-1964, published the first Peace Corps memoir titled The Barrios of Manta: A Personal Account of the Peace Corps in Ecuador in 1965.  Shortly after, Arnold Zeitlin (1961-1963) published To the Peace Corps with Love—a memoir about his service in Ghana.   The Barrios of Manta and To the Peace Corps with Love established a precedent for future Peace Corps volunteers.

To the Peace Corps with Love edited



Upon completing their service abroad, Peace Corps challenges returned volunteers to carry out the organization’s Third Goal.  The goal aims to inform Americans about people and cultures around the world.  Through education about other nations and their people, the Peace Corps seeks to foster understanding and world peace.

Memoirs provide a platform for sharing one’s experiences and knowledge of their host country with the rest of the US.  For more information and an extensive bibliography of published works on the Peace Corps, visit Peace Corps Worldwide.

Spotlight on the National Peace Corps Association

On March 1, 2014, AU Archives hosted an open house for board members of the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA).  Visitors had an opportunity to view materials documenting the organization’s history—annual reports, newsletters, photographs, by-laws, and educational projects.

AU Archives serves as the home for the records of National Peace Corps Association (NPCA), a non-profit organization whose goal is to connect and celebrate the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers.  The collection includes materials documenting the development and evolution of the organization from its founding in the late 1970s to the present.

The National Peace Corps Association originated in the late 1970s as a result of several midwestern conferences of global educators.  The conferences brought together Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who began meeting to share ideas about fulfilling the Peace Corps’ third goal—returning to the US to teach about cultures around the world.  The National Council of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers developed after communities of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) united their efforts to establish a national organization.  In 1979, the organization coordinated a convention, wrote a charter, and elected their first president.  In 1993, the organization changed its name to National Peace Corps Association.

Today, the NPCA’s vision reflects the Peace Corps’ goals and seeks to promote cross-cultural understanding.  However, they also provide a network and resources for the Peace Corps community, develop service and education opportunities for NPCA members, and advocate for the values and issues relevant to the Peace Corps.  This organization currently includes more than 50,000 individual members and 140 member groups throughout the United States, which makes NPCA a viable means for connecting with returned volunteers interested in donating.

The event provided an excellent opportunity to inform NPCA board members about the existence and purpose of the Peace Corps Community Archive.  If you are interested in finding a home for your collection of Peace Corps materials, please contact us by email at archives@american.edu or by phone (202) 885-3256.

About Us,” National Peace Corps Association (2014)


Peace Corps Week 2014

This week marks the Peace Corps’ 53rd birthday.  The annual event commemorates the organization’s accomplishments at home and abroad, while also encouraging Peace Corps community members to renew their commitment to service.  

Whether returned or currently serving, the Peace Corps charges volunteers to increase cultural awareness by sharing their personal experiences and first-hand knowledge with other Americans.  This mission is fulfills the Peace Corps’ Third Goal, which seeks to promote peace through awareness and understanding of the diverse cultures around the world.

You can find more information about events in Peace Corps history by exploring the Interactive Timeline.

Sharing Experiences With the World: Memoirs of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers

Whether sharing tales of overcoming the challenges, adjusting to a new culture, or the humor found in daily adventures, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers each possess invaluable stories about the places they lived and worked.  Adventure, challenge, and personal connections built across cultural boundaries provide the basis of volunteers’ memoirs and narratives.  Regardless of where they served, each story serves as a way to educate Americans about the rest of the world.

In addition to what’s available in the Peace Corps Community Archive, check out the library’s growing collection of Peace Corps memoirs.  This list is far from exhaustive, but includes some of the best memoirs on the shelf.  Browse the shelves for other great reads.


Beyond SiberiaBeyond Siberia: Two Years in a Forgotten Place by Sharon Dirlam
Based on a collection of journals written during their time abroad, Sharon Dirlam presents the story of her and her husband’s work as Peace Corps Volunteers in Birobidjan.  Serving in a Jewish Autonomous Region of Russia, removed from most foreigners, the volunteers learned about native Russians and their culture in a unique way.



From Microsoft to MalawiFrom Microsoft to Malawi: Learning on the Front Lines as a Peace Corps Volunteer by Michael L. Buckler
Buckler’s memoir, inspired by his journals, depicts his yearning to serve after divorcing and completely changing career paths.  The narrative recounts the fruitful collaboration between volunteers and locals in order to make significant changes within the community.



South of the FronteraSouth of the Frontera: A Peace Corps Memoir by Lawrence F. Lihosit
Lihosit narrates a story about joining the Peace Corps after losing his job, which led him to meet the woman he would eventually marry.  In addition to providing a sense of adventure, he presents the professional and personal challenges of living, working, and traveling throughout Mexico and Honduras during the 1970s.



TThe Unheardhe Unheard: A Memoir of Deafness and Africa by Josh Swiller
The Unheard presents a different perspective on the Peace Corps experience.  Josh Swiller attempted to act normal and fit in despite being deaf.  He joined the Peace Corps to experience a new opportunity.  His memoir recounts the daily events, as well as his work at a local health clinic.  This story provides insight into the challenges and rewards of serving in the Peace Corps with a disability.


Going Up CountryOther books in the library’s possession include collections of stories from Returned Peace Corps Volunteers.  Varying from region of the world and type of work, the stories reflect on past experiences abroad.  Going Up Country includes writers who return to the country of service to document the nation’s growth, change, and what any visitor should know about the place.  Tales from Colombia presents the perspectives of the earliest Peace Corps volunteers to Colombia called to action by President Kennedy’s charge.  Humor evades the stories, ranging from around the world, included in The Funniest Job You’ll Ever Love.


Additional Suggestions:

  • A Land Without Time: A Peace Corps Volunteer in Afghanistan, by John Sumser
  • Even the Smallest Crab Has Teeth: 50 Years of Amazing Peace Corps Stories, edited by Jane Albritton
  • Going Up Country: Travel Essays by Peace Corps Writers, edited by John Coyne
  • Power Lines: Two Years on South Africa’s Borders, by Jason Carter
  • Tales from Colombia: The Deeds and Misdeeds of 41 Peace Corps Volunteers Who Answered President Kennedy’s Call to Serve, by Gary Dean Peterson
  • Tarnished Ivory: Reflections on Peace Corps and Beyond, by Peter Bourque
  • The Funniest Job You’ll Ever Love: An Anthology of Peace Corps Humor, edited by Lelah Conrad