Orrin Luc posted an articleSixty Years of Peace Corps see more
Letters, emails, LinkedIn and Instagram comments, Facebook posts, tweets, and other missives: Readers respond to the stories in words and images in the Spring 2021 edition of WorldView. We’re happy to continue the conversation here and on all those nifty social media platforms. One way to write us: email@example.com
Sixty Years of Peace Corps
Thanks for another great issue! Glad you included “If I had three minutes to talk to President Biden about the Peace Corps…,” which we heard in March, and then lots of other good stories such as “Once More, with Feeling” in Moldova and “Triage, Respite, and Isolation” at the Lord Baltimore Hotel. Glad, too, to be able to read on paper! Hoping for some in-person meetings in D.C. in September.
While we’re not able to gather for Peace Corps Connect in person in September, some affiliate groups representing individual countries of service are holding their own reunions. And a wreath-laying ceremony will take place in person at the John F. Kennedy Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. More info, including a schedule for the conference and registration: bit.ly/peace-corps-connect-2021 —Ed.
Much thanks to NPCA for drawing our attention to the current effort to reauthorize the Peace Corps Act (H.R. 1456). This important legislation has been introduced by John Garamendi (D-CA; Ethiopia 1966–68) and co-sponsored by Garret Graves (R-LA). It has been decades since the Peace Corps’ organic legislation was last comprehensively reviewed and updated in 1999. The world has changed a lot since then, and the Peace Corps Act needs to be updated to keep up with those changes.
Between the two of us (father and daughter) we have extensive Peace Corps experience, including two tours as Volunteers, five years of work in Peace Corps Recruitment, Peace Corps Employee Union work, and currently one of us is a Peace Corps Response candidate. Our work with the Peace Corps has given us insight into the deficiencies of the current law governing the Peace Corps. We desperately need an airing of any systemic problems so that reasonable solutions can be implemented. This effort will make the program more efficient and effective in the 21st century.
So … consider the baton passed! NPCA has alerted the Peace Corps community to the reauthorization effort. It is now incumbent upon us to contact our congressional representatives and encourage its passage. If you are reading this letter, stop now and go do it! What are you waiting for?
I served in Ghana in the mid-’70s and have followed President Biden in his COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan. He was asked if he would consider sending the vaccine overseas once we got the virus under control and we accumulated a surplus. The president’s response was quick in the affirmative, since we are aware that it is a global pandemic. I would like to suggest that the priority list for countries receiving our surplus should be countries that currently host Peace Corps Volunteers. It would be beneficial to both the host countries and the Volunteers.
As a side note, my daughter was also a Volunteer. She served in Botswana 2008–10.
I’d say: 1) We know you support Peace Corps; thank you. 2) Please double the budget. 3) Lead retooling, re-entry, and re-engagement into host nations with public health efforts at the forefront.
What is the cost of public benefit/value and global net welfare gain via supranational peace in the long run? That’s just one reason I’m proud not only to have served in the Peace Corps, but to be an American. Many nations make allies to go to war. The U.S. decidedly makes allies to not go to war, while also promoting friendship across borders.
If I had three minutes I would tell the president to definitely not expand the Peace Corps. Typical of government and organizations: If it’s working, let’s just expand it until it’s dysfunctional. Rather, put more young and old people to work in this country and keep the international portion selective and efficient.
Peace Corps Connect to the Future
I read through your whole Winter 2021 publication and do want to tell you how much I appreciated it. I don’t necessarily feel comfortable with all of your proposals for the future of Peace Corps; there is definitely a generation gap.
I am now 95 years old (and was obviously an “older” Volunteer), yet I still feel very much in tune with the concept and the actual organization. I served in the Dominican Republic 1987–89 in rural development, and before the electronic age. Yet, as I read the stories of the various recent Volunteers, their experiences don’t seem so different from mine.
Thank you for keeping us returned Volunteers informed.
Dominican Republic 1987–89
Thank you for amplifying the discussion of diversity in the Peace Corps community. That spurred our minimally-diverse TCP Global team to look beyond the ranks of RPCVs. Not too surprising, adding two Kenyan Americans and one representative each from Uganda, Nigeria, Niger, and Nepal helps all of us to better address the different challenges and opportunities in different regions. Their presence on the team serves as a welcome sign for site administrators to offer their own suggestions for improving service, much as Colombia Project administrators helped to perfect our model over the first seven years in Colombia. We are still a work in progress and are fortunate to have natives of five countries we serve helping us chart the course ahead.
Co-Executive Director, TCP Global
Colombia 1968–70, Slovak Republic 1997–99
Corrections: Politics, and that would be March 2021
Our Spring 2021 roundup of returned Volunteers serving in state government (page 47 in print) should have included one who recently made the move from the hospital to the capitol in Wisconsin: Sara Rodriguez was elected to the state legislature in 2020. She served with the Peace Corps in Samoa 1997–99, as a health education Volunteer focused on HIV/AIDS and reproductive health. She has worked as a nurse, in epidemiology with the CDC, and as a healthcare executive.
In print, “What Lies Ahead for the Peace Corps” (page 15) contained a slip of the year in the intro: Carol Spahn’s remarks were given at the Shriver Leadership Summit in March 2021, not 2020.
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Communications Intern 2 posted an articleRPCVs bring forward their rewarding experiences following Worldview see more
Letters, emails, LinkedIn and Instagram comments, Facebook posts, tweets, and other missives: Readers respond to the stories in words and images in the winter 2021 edition of WorldView. We’re happy to continue the conversation here and on all those nifty social media platforms. One way to write us: email@example.com
Retool, then reengage
The pandemic offers a unique opportunity for Peace Corps to critically evaluate programs. It’s tempting to just send back returned Volunteers to previous assignments—and probably easiest from utilizing appropriated funding. But I hope there will be a pause, and a rethinking about how best to use the skills and idealism of some of America’s best.
WorldView is spectacular! I just received the winter issue. Wow! I get a lot of magazines, but WorldView is just head and shoulders above all of them.
Country Director, Liberia 1976–77
Important connections — the NPCA email newsletter, WorldView. Connections make a difference! My Peace Corps experience 55 years ago has strengthened in my perspectives and actions over the years. Always learning, always valuable.
After perusing the latest WorldView, I was wondering if you had considered a letter to the editor campaign in which returned PCVs would highlight Peace Corps’ 60th anniversary and explain the current status of the program and plans to return Volunteers to the field.
In addition, have you considered contacting current and past presidents and their spouses, inviting them to become patrons of the Peace Corps and advocates of its work, while requesting their support with Congress and the public at large? Many thanks for your great efforts in keeping alive and well the ideals of the Peace Corps that inspired me and so many others to serve.
Dominican Republic (1962–64)
“Ask not…” Annotating JFK’s Inaugural address
I watched and heard the words while working as a nurse aide in January ’62. In April I sent an inquiry, sent in the application, trained that summer, and was in country by fall. Still the best thing I ever did. Would do it again, but I’m 77!
I am dumbfounded why you did not include this paragraph from the inaugural in your article:
To those people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required — not because the communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.
Within an inaugural address that people would parse as if it were the Gettysburg address, it would be difficult not to read Kennedy’s pledge as a statement to the world of why he would be creating a “Peace Corps” … which he did by executive order about 45 days later. Within the confines of two sentences, Kennedy spoke directly to what many then called the “Third World” and set out the principles of the pledge he was making and what would govern a Peace Corps: We would come not as “helpers” but as equals, “to help them help themselves,” not limited by an arbitrary time requirement, but “for whatever period is required”… and most important we come not out of some self-interest but out of the moral responsibility that comes from being a citizen of the world … because it is right.
Malawi 1968–70; Training program director, Western Samoa 1979
Excellent point and taken. Check out the full address here, along with more annotations by Gordon Radley, Editor Emeritus David Arnold, and others. —Ed.
How Peace Corps inspired Linda Thomas-Greenfield
Love her: She swore in our L4 group in Peace Corps Response Liberia! She will be a fantastic U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., bringing compassion, intelligence, experience, down-to-earth warmth, talent, and a diverse perspective.
Staff and consultant; associate director in Nicaragua 2014–19
I served in Somalia 9. We did our initial training at Leland College in Baker, Louisiana — probably when Linda was a little girl. I’d like to think we might have left an impression on her about Peace Corps.
She was Chief of Mission in Liberia when I was there serving as director of management and operations for Peace Corps reopening the post. She is an extraordinary person and I am glad she is in the position she is in now.
Darren D. Defendeifer
Peace Corps HQ Staff
I worked for her at State and she is one of the most incredible human beings I’ve ever met.
Anne Rimoin: “A matter of life and death”
Thank you, Anne, for your informative and thoughtful article. Thank you for articulating so eloquently not only the significance of learning to listen to our community, but also how the Peace Corps experience teaches us that vital lesson.
Peace Corps Connect to the Future
After reading the section of the report focused on “Reexamining the Peace Corps’ Second and Third Goals,” I find myself in complete and enthusiastic agreement. I’ve served three complete 27-month tours as a PCV. Being an educator by profession and assigned to the education sector, the First Goal was for me pretty much routine. I loved it — but the real excitement and life-changing experiences were reflected in the Second and Third Goals, which profoundly reflect the humanitarian values of our society.
I have an everlasting love for the language, the culture, and the people of Colombia. Why? The Second and Third Goals of the Peace Corps and the friendships I made. My two-plus years in Morocco gave me an even deeper awareness of our human commonalities. And living in Quito, Ecuador, opened up new perspectives for me on what it means to be human, thanks to lasting friendships with many Ecuadorian Indigenous people, organic farmers, and vegan restaurant owners.
I can’t emphasize enough the immense value of the Peace Corps as a human endeavor, especially in light of the technological dehumanization which we all are having to deal with.
At the present time, I’m waiting and hoping for a clearance from the Office of Medical Services and another assignment. I know we’re all in a sort of limbo until COVID subsides.
Colombia 1966–68; Morocco 2000–02; Ecuador 2017–19
These comments appear in the spring 2021 edition of WorldView magazine. Sign up for a print subscription by joining National Peace Corps Association. You can also download the WorldView App for free here: worldviewmagazine.org
Steven Saum posted an articleLetters Winter 2021: Readers write see more
Letters, emails, Facebook posts, tweets, Instagram comments: Readers respond to the stories in words and images in our fall 2020 edition. We’re happy to continue the conversation.Write us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Renew, retool, return?
I suspect the Peace Corps will see a renewal following the Biden administration. Service to our country and promoting peace, prosperity, and democracy will take on new importance. It should be a promising future for the Peace Corps.
I struggle to see how it is ethical to send PCVs into different countries considering that America has no control over the virus right now, a huge number of Americans have the virus, and Volunteers will likely be sent to areas that may not have the best health facilities. My concern is for the host countries and people living in the communities where the PCVs will be stationed.
“How many of you…?” JFK at the Union (and the Cow Palace)
I used to pass by a plaque in the University of Michigan Student Union steps marking this spot twice a day. One day there was a sign taped to it announcing a Peace Corps recruiting session in the International Center. There were RPCVs in attendance to share their personal experiences ... and four awesome years later I was back in the same room, doing the same.
Assuming the Peace Corps survives, as I approach retirement I’m considering going back for another round.
I’ve heard about this speech for years. This is the first time I’ve actually heard it. Entertaining and inspiring!
I was working in the oil fields of eastern Venezuela when Jack Kennedy was killed. It made a deep impression on me; especially moving was the reaction of the Venezuelan people who considered him as one of their own. I subsequently resigned my job, went to Washington, walked into Peace Corps and was hired on the spot to become desk officer for Venezuela. Later I was sent to Brazil as associate director. Years later I ended up as Peace Country Director in Tunisia. The Peace Corps years were rich in experience and without doubt were the most challenging and rewarding years of my life.
Associate Country Director, Brazil 1966–68; Country Director, Tunisia 1981–83
I was inspired by that very speech and 20 years later served as a Volunteer in the Philippines. Over the years since then, I’ve given many presentations in schools on my Peace Corps experience and promoted Peace Corps service.
The Philippines 1981
I always liked Kennedy’s sense of humor … like when he said “I graduated from Harvard … the Michigan of the East” and “This is the longest short speech I ever gave.”
South Africa 2016–18
I am grateful for the Peace Corps services rendered to my birth country, Malaysia. I benefited much academically and personally. Diane was my maths teacher then at Penang Technical Institute in 1968. Thank you and God bless America.
Allen Ong via Facebook
I taught for two years in a beautiful country that was full of hope and progress. The people in Charikar made me feel like their daughter, their sister, their friend.
Without doubt the establishment of the Peace Corps and the Fulbright Program are the most important public and international policy in the history of the United States.
Sami Jamil Jadallah
Founder and Executive Director at New Initiatives Foundation
Today I was asked by a vendor wanting to find me a discount whether I served in the military. I responded as I usually do to that question, “No, but I served my country in the Peace Corps.” I think for the first time I heard from a vendor, “Thank you for your service.”
I joined because I thought I could make the world a better place. I came back a better person.
When I served in Guatemala in the 1980s it was dangerous to even teach indigenous people to read, let alone foster democratic involvement and economic and environmental justice. Well done, Mateo Paneitz.
Long Way Home is a great organization. Congratulations, Mateo!
In Memoriam: John Lewis
John Lewis: When I first met John Lewis, it was in the late 1970s, when I worked at ACTION, Nixon’s attempt to hide JFK’s agency called Peace Corps, which under ACTION became International Operations, with VISTA and other volunteer programs under Domestic Operations. He was associate director when I met him. He and his work have made the world a better place. We will miss him!
Nigeria 1966–68, Liberia 1968
May his soul rest in perfect peace.
In Memoriam: Joseph Blatchford
He was director when I was the training center director in Puerto Rico in 1970–72. Also a very good tennis player. Sad news that he has left us.
K. Richard Pyle
He was a good man who helped Peace Corps survive during a politically difficult period. Rest in peace.
Staff, Belize 1974–76; Country Director, Honduras 1976–79
Communications Intern posted an articleUnprecedented Times. Powerful stuff. Stories that brought tears. see more
I’m writing to congratulate and thank you for the current issue of WorldView. It’s the most powerful thing in print I’ve seen from Peace Corps since I received my acceptance letter in 1969. Congrats to everyone involved on a mammoth job so very well done.
Most remarkable WorldView ever, both the quality of the product and the effort it took to gather and edit the stories. What we may have is the substance for a book, proceeds from which would fund NPCA services and support to returning Volunteers. Two quotes (both from the stories from China): “A lot of my students had never seen or interacted with a foreigner. For them, the experience is transformational” and, “To assume that the Chinese government and people are the same is a fallacy.”
I wept my way through reading WorldView. The evacuation stories both broke my heart and raised my spirit. I could not help but imagine myself being torn away from my community, friends, counterparts, programs, and much more, had I had to leave Paraguay (where I served) within 24 hours. Unbearable thought for me and yet excruciatingly real for 6,892 Volunteers. Their stories were beautiful and so painful. I was buoyed up with an affirmation that Peace Corps is still making its unique contributions worldwide. Not just in the countries where Volunteers serve, but also in the Volunteers themselves. Peace Corps must survive this global pandemic. We need it now more than ever.
Congratulations on the rapid launching of your Global Reentry program. NPCA has risen to the challenges of today in so many fabulous ways. Thank you for your leadership.
Engaging, thoughtful, and truly remarkable — I’ve read it in print cover to cover, and will read it again online. This one’s a keeper.
Peter de Groot
PCV Benin 1980–82
Peace Corps Trainer, Africa, 1983–92
Amazing with the stories from the country directors closing their sites. These stories bring a world of hurt thinking about what each had to go through to plan their departures, and the Volunteers having to say “goodbye.”
On behalf of our RPCV Gulf Coast Florida group: We were touched to read the heartrending stories of so many evacuated PCVs, and especially Missi Smith’s eloquent lament, “I’m Tired.”
For our signature project, we have dedicated ourselves to fundraising for and assisting the African American community in the heart of Sarasota called Newtown, through its grassroots organization, Newtown Alive. African American residents played a major role in the development of Sarasota. Black labor cleared snake-infested land for real estate developers, laid railroad ties, harvested celery, helped plant golf courses, and labored in the homes of Sarasota’s power brokers — cooking, cleaning, and rearing children. The men and women fought for equal rights, triumphed over Jim Crow segregation, KKK intimidation, and vigilante violence. Today, a diverse group of historians, community scholars, and others have united to present the dramatic history of strivers who refused to give up. More: rpcvgcf.peacecorpsconnect.org
Leita Kaldi Davis
Lillian Carter Award Recipient 2017
We need to find ways to make the Peace Corps in its current form “bigger, better, bolder” and give the Third Goal more explicit attention.
Terrific — packed with timely, important news that helps put unprecedented issues impacting the Peace Corps into perspective. I hope all past and future Volunteers and staff will go through the magazine cover-to-cover. I especially like“Our Unprecedented Times,” tracing momentous events and decisions which have changed not only Peace Corps but also our nation and the entire world. And Lex Rieffel’s “The Peace Corps in the Post-Pandemic World,” while controversial, is worth pondering. I disagree with proposals to convert the Peace Corps into something other than an independent federal agency, but I agree we need to find ways to make the Peace Corps in its current form “bigger, better, bolder” and give the Third Goal more explicit attention. We must have more conversations about the ideals, relevance, and mission of the Peace Corps in a rapidly-changing world and make sure the Peace Corps truly reflects America’s diversity and has the resources it needs to get Volunteers back into the field as soon as it is safe to do so.
Michael H. Anderson
Board Member, Friends of Malaysia
Well written and edited — a pleasure to read, though my eyes fill with tears as I learn Volunteers’ stories of their emergency evacuations. That many returned Volunteers can continue to communicate with their colleagues and friends living in remote places is one benefit not afforded earlier Volunteers. Nevertheless, the bonds are immutable; after 40 years, I and a fellow RPCV returned to the sites where we trained and supervised healthcare providers and located many of them because of their long, successful careers. We only had to ask a few strangers who recognized faces in old photos. (See WorldView Spring 2018.)
I hope evacuated Volunteers are able to return to their work, if they so choose.
You managed to convey the urgency of the moment and the vast disappointment of so many.
As a longtime journalist, allow me to say that you’ve done a great job. The coverage of the withdrawal of Peace Corps from its posts was absolutely terrific. The text cover, a brilliant graphic touch, was only the beginning of a fascinating issue. You managed to convey the urgency of the moment and the vast disappointment of so many. These are terribly difficult times for us all, particularly painful for Peace Corps and the many new, reluctantly-made, RPCVs.
Fabulous edition! I’m sending my copy off to my granddaughter, who was considering joining. Here’s hoping she has the chance!!
Greetings from the Solomons. I am missing my WorldView mags due to no mail from the States for months. Glad to know there is an online edition. COVID19 has held up the reopening of the Peace Corps office for the Solomons this year and the bringing in of new PCVs in 2021.
Solomon Islands 1974–78
Reading stories of the evacuated Volunteers brought back memories of my service 50 years ago in the Philippines. The agricultural school where I was assigned is now a full-fledged university. Some current students are likely to be the grandchildren of students I taught while there. Best wishes for continuing Peace Corps ideals in the future.
Philippines Group 36
Some time ago, my daughter was notified that she is on a list for training for Guinea. She is diligently working on French. I hope this pandemic can be brought under control before many more months pass; she doesn’t want to miss this opportunity.
The issue of WorldView that tells the stores of the PCVs being recalled was absolutely fabulous.
Costa Rica 1964–66
What a work by dedicated individuals! I served in the first group to go to Nyasaland (Malawi) in 1963. Thank you to those who shared, captured the info, and created this issue.
Truly wonderful issue. Thanks for your hard work in writing and putting it together.
Fantastic! Thought provoking and meaningful, from the global evacuation to the pandemic to Black Lives Matter and the very future of the Peace Corps.
Powerful and well-written, this article by Missi Smith challenges us to take action, giving us a clear list of things we can actually do to move our society toward racial equality.
Ecuador 1970–74, Nicaragua 1974–75
It is fabulous, and I would like to share among family and friends, to encourage some to join the Peace Corps and others to take action. Missi Smith’s essay, “I’m Tired,” is powerful. The statements from the PCVs who were evacuated testify to the incredible importance of the Peace Corps around the world, especially as global ambassadors. I have just now made contribution to the NPCA and will add it to my annual giving list. Keep up the good work! The return of Peace Corps to the wider world is in my prayers.
It is fabulous, and I would like to share among family and friends, to encourage some to join the Peace Corps and others to take action.
I got my edition and immediately called my brother, the father of an evacuated 25-year-old volunteer from Botswana. I told him I would keep this edition as a keepsake for my nephew, saying it was historical and powerful and moving! If one can order second copies please let us know. We continue to support and pray for these Volunteers and communities!
Indeed, we’re happy to send more! Support from NPCA members and donors makes it possible for us to tell stories that matter.
A few questions: What kind of a journal has no place for readers’ responses — and simply takes current headlines and applies them to something entirely different? Do you really think there is systematic racism in this country and the Peace Corps is part of it?
James Eric Lane
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