Two Returned Peace Corps Books Win IPPY Peacemaker Awards
By Sarah Kana on Sunday, June 3rd, 2012
In honor of last year’s 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps, Parker Borg and Maureen Carroll (Philippines 1), Patricia MacDermot Kasdan (Philippines 2), and Stephen Wells (Philippines 3) brought together the voices of nearly 100 fellow former Volunteers who arrived in country in 1961 to recall why they joined, what they experienced, and how their service in the Philippines affected their lives. Also in their book, Answering Kennedy’s Call: Pioneering the Peace Corps in the Philippines, half dozen members of the Peace Corps staff in the Philippines and a similar number of Filipinos have contributed their recollections from the period. The book includes photos of individuals from both the 1960s and more recently, as well as maps showing communities of service.
“We joined Peace Corps in its first year when key aspects of “a good program” were severely underdeveloped. We weathered mainly irrelevant training, no real jobs, and uneven or absent staff support (too many volunteers, too few staff.) All of us found our niche, however, and with the aid of good intentions, good humor, each other and the hospitality of the Philippines people we had memorable experiences that bonded us,” writes Maureen Carroll.
The Peace Corps program in the Philippines was the first in Asia. In addition, three factors set it apart. First, it was the largest program in the world, absorbing 25% of all volunteers at the beginning. Second, all volunteers in the first years were assigned to be “teacher’s aides,” a position that was never clearly defined and that the Country Director later admitted was a “non-job.” And third, the Philippine program occurred in a nation that only fifteen years earlier had become independent from the U.S. This history gave the Philippine program a distinctly different political and social dynamic from other early Peace Corps countries.
The Independent Publisher Book Awards (the “IPPYs”) are intended to bring increased recognition to the thousands of exemplary independent, university, and self-published titles published each year.
Also winning an IPPY Peacemaker Award, another work by Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs), A Small Key Opens Big Doors. 50 Years of Amazing Peace Corps Stories, Volume Three: The Heart of Eurasia.
A Small Key Opens Big Doors, tells the story of how the ending of the Cold War in 1991, opened a world of fresh opportunities for the Peace Corps. The fact that Peace Corps Volunteers could move seamlessly into a constellation of states that once comprised the USSR is a testament to the flexibility and durability of the organization. “All Peace Corps needs is an invitation. Volunteers are always ready to step up, learn a new language, learn some new skills, and then go to work in unfamiliar lands.” Of the 40 stories in this volume, some reach back to early Peace Corps years in Iran and Turkey. Others engage with the newness of democratic freedoms, drawing back the curtain on old suspicions.
These two books, written by RPCVs, were selected as two out of ten outstanding books from over 4,000 entries. According to the Association, “the top books are chosen from regular entries for having ‘the courage and creativity necessary to take chances, break new ground, and bring about change, not only to the world of publishing, but to our society.’ These are the book projects our judges found the most heartfelt, unique, outspoken and experimental among our 4,000 entries.” This year’s entry totals were the biggest ever, with 4,813 print book entries, 390 e-book entries, and an average category size of 50. IPPY medals go to entrants from 44 U.S. states plus D.C., 7 Canadian provinces, and 10 countries overseas.
An awards ceremony to honor the medalists will take place on June 4th in New York, on the eve of the Book Expo America convention.