“Marine Fisheries Trainees Doing Artificial Reef Construction,” Avram Primack, Peace Corps Community Archive
Avram Primack served his time in the Peace Corps (1987-1989) in the Philippines working with marine fisheries. One of the goals of the Peace Corps is to “to help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.” For many Filipinos, fishing is a major source of both nourishment and trade.Coastal Resources Management Volunteers continue to support the Filipino communities by creating eco-friendly environments that provide food and revenue for local fishermen.
One of the methods employed by Peace Corps volunteers is the construction of artificial reefs. The practice of artificial reef construction is thousands of years old. Recently, such reefs have been used to create semi-permanent habitats for fish as well as preventing erosion of crucial shorelines. These reefs give local communities the environmental support they need for economic development, which is especially crucial in the islands of the Philippines.
Between 1973 and 1975, Jonathan Green served in the Kanchanaburi Province of Thailand assisting with malaria control. While in Thailand, Green observed how communities use rivers to transport goods and materials. During the rainy season, roads become impassable quagmires. Rivers are thus the primary means of transportation and communication when there are no asphalt roads in the area.
Service in the Peace Corps gives volunteers the opportunity not only to assist local development, but to gain new appreciation for the environment and how other cultures live side by side with various environmental concerns.
“People are loading bamboo in barges, presumably to take down the river to sell in the big cities”, Jonathan Green, American University Peace Corps Community Archive. In other countries such as Thailand, Peace Corps volunteers observe how crucial waterways are in the economy of local communities.
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.
Celebration. Captured by Norm and Janet Heise while working for Walt Sangree, professor of anthropology. circa 1963-1965.
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.
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.