Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Peace Corps: 50 Years of America's Best

Today is the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Peace Corps.  With all the wars in the world, especially the escalating violence in Libya, that doesn't sound like much.  And, with some 200,000 PCVs over 50 years, that's certainly close to nothing--especially when compared to the millions who have served the United States in other ways over that period.

But it is something.  Returned Peace Corps Volunteers have been a strong force in keeping us from growing too closed, as a nation, too grasping, too self-centered.  They have insisted to their fellow Americans that the world is a large and intricate place, with room for attitudes that, though foreign to American ways of thought, can be just as legitimate, just as positive.

Editing the Africa volume of the series commemorating the anniversary, I've learned much more about Peace Corps, about Americans, and about people than I thought I ever could through that type of work.  The book, which is available for pre-order at Amazon.com (it should ship within the next two weeks), developed into a single narrative though it is made up of more than sixty essays by RPCVs.  Called One Hand Does Not Catch a Buffalo: 50 Years of Amazing Peace Corps Stories, it is a project I am extremely proud to be associated with.

The is the first of four volumes, all of which will be available in the next few months.  Even if you were not yourself a PCV, and never even met one, the books will entrance you.  They show America at its best, but without hiding the problems and failures that always accompany success.

Here's the cover:


Order the book!  You won't be disappointed.

And here, just as a small part of the 50th anniversary celebration, are a few of the pictures I have posted over the years, pictures taken with my camera when I was a PCV in Togo, 1988 to 1990 (that's me, plowing, in the third one):



 





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