September 14, 2004: Headlines: Museums: Third Goal: Portland Tribune: Peace Corps Museum in works

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Library: Peace Corps: Museums : Museums: September 14, 2004: Headlines: Museums: Third Goal: Portland Tribune: Peace Corps Museum in works

By Admin1 (admin) ( on Saturday, October 02, 2004 - 1:49 pm: Edit Post

Peace Corps Museum in works

Peace Corps Museum in works

Peace Corps Museum in works

Peace Corps museum in works

Ex-volunteer works toward showcasing people, places agency has supported

By BEN JACKLET Issue date: Tue, Sep 14, 2004

The Tribune The last time Martin Kaplan visited Somalia, he was impressed to learn that “the words ‘Peace Corps’ were still like magic.”

Never mind that the Peace Corps was thrown out of the country more than 30 years ago, by a military dictator.

To Kaplan, the lasting enthusiasm shows the power of the Peace Corps experience. Kaplan was one of the nation’s original Peace Corps volunteers, serving in Somalia from 1962 to 1964. Now he is trying to establish the first Peace Corps museum, in Portland.

Kaplan was a 24-year-old chemist working for Richfield Oil Corp. in Southern California when he decided to heed the call of President John F. Kennedy and become one of the newly formed agency’s “good will ambassadors.”

When he learned he was to be sent to Somalia, he wondered, “Where in South America is that?”

The East African nation had just gained its independence from Italian and British colonial rule. The majority of its people were nomads. There was exactly one academic in the United States who had researched Somalia, and he lived in New York City.

So Kaplan and his new colleagues went to Greenwich Village to learn more about where they were going and what they were going to do. Before long he was living in the highlands near the border of Ethiopia and Somalia, teaching English, science and math to prospective teachers.

From there he was transferred to the desert. The topography — brown sand and thorn trees — and a diet of sheep’s meat and the occasional camel burger were not the stuff of postcards. But Kaplan says he gained experiences and made friendships in Somalia that he’ll value the rest of his life.

When he gets together with other returned Peace Corps volunteers, he says, “there are no years that separate us once we start talking.”

Kaplan, a semiretired chemist and attorney who lives in West Linn with his wife, Francis, and teaches part time at Portland Community College, is president of the Committee for a Museum of the Peace Corps Experience. He says a museum would help fulfill one of Kennedy’s original goals for the agency: to promote a better understanding of other people and cultures. With the agency’s more than 165,000 returned volunteers, he argues, there are plenty of artifacts, photographs and stories to form compelling exhibits. And Portland would be the obvious location, since the city boasts the largest concentration of returned Peace Corps volunteers in the United States, according to Kaplan.

The committee was incorporated as a tax-exempt nonprofit in 2000 and has won several small grants, but nothing substantial enough to secure a building. Kaplan says the group’s next goal is to raise enough money to hire a museum expert to put together a detailed, professional plan.

In the meantime, Kaplan is looking forward to an upcoming reunion in Hawaii. It will be the sixth reunion he’s attended with fellow returned Peace Corps volunteers.

When this story was posted in October 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Director Gaddi Vasquez:  The PCOL Interview Director Gaddi Vasquez: The PCOL Interview
PCOL sits down for an extended interview with Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez. Read the entire interview from start to finish and we promise you will learn something about the Peace Corps you didn't know before.

Plus the debate continues over Safety and Security.
Schwarzenegger praises PC at Convention Schwarzenegger praises PC at Convention
Governor Schwarzenegger praised the Peace Corps at the Republican National Convention: "We're the America that sends out Peace Corps volunteers to teach village children." Schwarzenegger has previously acknowledged his debt to his father-in-law, Peace Corps Founding Director Sargent Shriver, for teaching him "the joy of public service" and Arnold is encouraging volunteerism by creating California Service Corps and tapping his wife, Maria Shriver, to lead it. Leave your comments and who can come up with the best Current Events Funny?
 Peace Corps: One of the Best Faces of America Peace Corps: One of the Best Faces of America
Teresa Heinz Kerry celebrates the Peace Corps Volunteer as one of the best faces America has ever projected in a speech to the Democratic Convention. The National Review disagreed and said that Heinz's celebration of the PCV was "truly offensive." What's your opinion and can you come up with a Political Funny?

Read the stories and leave your comments.

Story Source: Portland Tribune

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Museums; Third Goal



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