2011.02.20: February 20, 2011: Robert Textor Writes: The Five Year Rule: How It All Happened

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Robert Textor Writes: The Five Year Rule: How It All Happened

Robert Textor Writes: The Five Year Rule: How It All Happened

In connection with the celebration of the Peace Corps' golden anniversary, I have been asked to supply a detailed, documented history of the original "In- Up-Out" memo of December 11, 1961. This is the memo that first systematically envisioned what ultimately became the official Peace Corps "In-Up-Out" personnel policy -- a policy which has survived to this day, and is now often referred to as the "Five Year Rule." I am writing as the sole author of that original memo, which I wrote toward the end of my seven- month stint as the first full-time cultural anthropological consultant to Peace Corps/ Washington, in 1961-62.

Robert Textor Writes: The Five Year Rule: How It All Happened



Dear Reader:

This essay is being made available to the general public under a Creative Commons license arrangement of the type called "Attribution- NonCommercial-NoDerivatives."

* "Attribution" means that anyone who quotes from this essay must attribute the essay to me, as the author.

* "NonCommercial" means that no one may use the essay for any commercial purpose, without first getting express written permission from me.

* "NoDerivatives" means that no one may use the essay to produce any derivative product -- i.e., people may use it as is, but may not change it.

Note that there are four Creative Commons icons at the bottom of each page of text. The left-most "CC" icon indicates simply that use of the essay is governed by a Creative Commons arrangement. Following this icon are three smaller ones, providing the above-stated specifics of the arrangement: Attribution, NonCommercial, and NoDerivatives. To sum up: this three-element license allows people to download this work, and to share it with others as long as they credit me, but they can't change it in any way, and can't use it commercially without first obtaining my written permission. However, once I know that such an intended commercial usage is legitimate, I anticipate readily granting that permission. I hope you find the essay interesting and useful.

Yours sincerely,

Robert B. Textor


February 20, 2011


Robert B. Textor

Professor of Anthropology, Emeritus

Stanford University



Dear fellow Peace Corps veterans:

In connection with the celebration of the Peace Corps' golden anniversary, I have been asked to supply a detailed, documented history of the original "In- Up-Out" memo of December 11, 1961. This is the memo that first systematically envisioned what ultimately became the official Peace Corps "In-Up-Out" personnel policy -- a policy which has survived to this day, and is now often referred to as the "Five Year Rule." I am writing as the sole author of that original memo, which I wrote toward the end of my seven- month stint as the first full-time cultural anthropological consultant to Peace Corps/ Washington, in 1961-62.

To provide necessary context for the various principles I outline in this essay, I will make frequent reference to the "Thailand One" training program, which took place at the University of Michigan in 1961-62, and which, as you will see, is interwoven with my general narrative. This program soon came to be widely seen as a model for high training standards and effective training methods that were applicable, with adaptations, to many other Peace Corps training programs. (At that time virtually all such programs were conducted stateside, mostly at universities.)

However, even if the above were not the case, it would still make sense for this essay to include reference to the University of Michigan, which is seen by many as the "birthplace" of the Peace Corps, because, at 2:00 AM on October 14, 1960, Senator John Fitzgerald Kennedy gave his historic speech – really a colloquy with hundreds of Michigan students -- on the steps of the Michigan Union. (A plaque now memorializes precisely where he stood.) And at 2:00 AM on October 14, 2010 the university re-enacted that storied event – exactly fifty years later, to the hour. This was part of a gala four- day celebration of the Peace Corps, and of Michigan's proud role in the creation and success of this new and improbable organization.


On November 2, 1960, nineteen days after his Michigan Union speech, and six days before one of the closest elections in American history, Senator Kennedy gave a major address at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, promising that if elected he would change the shape and spirit of the American presence

overseas: "I come here tonight and I ask your support in picking this country up and moving it forward…. Our successful policy abroad will depend on the men and women [who] conduct that policy." He then delivered a litany of complaints: "[Last year] seventy percent of all new Foreign Service officers had no language skill at all….We cannot understand what is in the minds of other people if we cannot even speak to them. That is why we are given tongues." The young senator laid out a vision, proposing: "a peace corps of talented young men and women, willing and able to serve their country for three years, … well qualified through rigorous standards, well trained in the languages, skills, and customs they will need to know."

In his inaugural address on January 20, 1961 the new President further rallied the nation: "Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country." Within days thereafter, he began pushing for the creation of the Peace Corps, appointing his brother-in-law, the indefatigable Robert Sargent "Sarge" Shriver, Jr., to take charge. Unwilling to wait for Congressional action, on March 1, 1961 the new President established the Peace Corps by executive order, financed by discretionary funds. By early summer the PC headquarters, located across Lafayette Park from the White House, was deluged with thousands of applications from Americans excited about becoming part of this great experiment.

This essay deals with my two principal efforts to help the organization turn the young president's vision into reality.

* To produce a model for an excellent training program for the Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs).

* To produce a fundamental change in the Peace Corps' personnel policy, so that it would be permanently led by Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) on a rotating basis and thereby avoid bureaucratic senescence. My effort was embodied in the "In-Up-Out" policy that the Peace Corps adopted (administratively in 1963, and legally in 1965), which was based on my original memo on this subject, dated December 11, 1961.


In 1965, when the In-Up-Out policy actually became part of the Peace Corps Law, most of the original top group of Peace Corps founders seem to have believed that this would prove to be an "historic" event – "historic" in the sense that, at some future point, people would look back and conclude that the policy had caused the Peace Corps to become different, and better, than otherwise would have been the case.

Now, fifty years later, it seems that historians agree with this judgment. Here is some of the evidence:

* In her 1998 book, All You Need Is Love: The Peace Corps and the Spirit of the Sixties, historian Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman characterizes the In-Up-Out policy as the organization's "crowning achievement." She adds: "Franklin Williams first proposed what he called an ‘in-up-and-out' plan that would limit all Peace Corps personnel to a tenure of five years. Sargent Shriver quickly approved the proposal to prevent a ‘bureaucratic hardening of the arteries' and asked Bill Moyers to shepherd the proposal through Congress" (p. 58).

* In his 2004 book, Sarge: The Life and Times of Sargent Shriver, Scott Stossel states that this personnel policy was "unprecedented in the annals of the federal government, where lifetime appointments and comfortable sinecures were the norm. Shriver codified this in a policy, sketched out in a 1963 memo by Franklin Williams titled ‘In, Up, and Out,' which became known as the ‘Five Year Flush'" (p. 292).

* In his 1997 book, The Peace Corps Experience: Challenge and Change 1969-1976, P. David Searles, Peace Corps Deputy Director during the Nixon Administration, looks back on 35 years of Peace Corps experience and strongly supports the In-Up-Out policy: "Just when the old hands are beginning to lose heart, they are replaced by newcomers undaunted by the doubts and anxieties that experience in the Third World inevitably produces. There is renewed optimism, a positive attitude, and a determination to succeed that re-energizes the entire effort" (pp. 204-5).

In a statement in the Peace Corps Archives (no date given) Searles explains further:

On balance, the advantages of the five-year rule outweigh the disadvantages. This is especially true now that many staff positions are held by former Volunteers. They bring with them two or three years of Peace Corps experience, which significantly shortens the learning curve. Add to this the possibility under existing legislation of a sixth year of service in special circumstances -- and the presence of

some retreads -- and the agency's need for stability is being met. But without regular staff turnover both abroad and in Washington, one can almost predict a gradual hardening of the bureaucratic arteries that will eventually make the Peace Corps another of those government entities that do not listen, are not responsive, and seemingly do not care.

* Finally, there is the opinion of Jody K. Olsen, who has served the Peace Corps as Volunteer, country director, Chief of Staff, Deputy Director, and Acting Director of the agency. She sums it up this way: "the five-year rule is the single biggest asset that Peace Corps has," and the reason for "Peace Corps' unique organizational spirit." (Cited in Comprehensive Agency Assessment, p. 80-81.)

Since leaders and scholars of such caliber regard the In-Up-Out policy as having been of historic importance, it seems worthwhile to establish its actual, factual history. That is what this essay undertakes to do, as succinctly as possible, specifically with respect to the provenance of the idea, and the authorship of the original "In-Up-Out" memo. In putting the essay together, I have relied on my own recollections, backed by key original documents that establish and verify the basic facts.


I believe that my 1961 memo was a substantial factor in hastening and shaping the development of the Peace Corps' In-Up-Out personnel policy.

However, I hasten to add that I also believe that some kind of in-up-out policy might have emerged anyway -- because such a policy was consistent with the Peace Corps culture that was beginning to take shape by late 1961.

Specifically, I believe my memo provoked action by providing:

* an attention-ensuring name for the policy;

* an explicit rationale for why such a policy was needed; and

* a specific plan for what could and should be done to implement the policy effectively.


Forty-nine years have elapsed since I wrote that memo – long enough for a person's memory to become vague, selective, or excessively self-centered. So, to make this memo as objective, accurate and balanced as possible, I have made use of my own personal Peace Corps "database." This is a large file box containing the entire record of my service to Peace Corps/ Washington: the hundreds of memos, announcements, phone conversation summaries, notes to myself, think-pieces, and other relevant materials (all non-confidential and non-classified) that I accumulated during my seven months of service from June, 1961 to January 19, 1962. On that day, when I left the Maiatico Building for the last time, the box went with me. I have preserved it intact ever since.

In preparation for writing this essay, I decided to read or skim every document in that file box -- a task that took ten hours to complete. It was a delightful time trip, refreshing my memory in a thousand ways, bringing back into my awareness all sorts of context and nuance, and helping me check my memory on numerous facts.

This exercise yielded several key documents which are included as enclosures to this essay. It has been necessary to rely heavily on these documents, because the three individuals most centrally relevant to establishing the historical facts are unfortunately not available for interviewing. Sadly, Franklin H. Williams and Coates Redmond are now deceased. And so is the legendary and beloved "Sarge" Shriver, who died just two days before the fiftieth anniversary of John F. Kennedy's inauguration, having passed the previous seven years in the terrible darkness of Alzheimer's.


As was true of many early Peace Corps recruits, I "dropped everything" to join this exciting new organization. My involvement began unexpectedly in June of 1961 in the form of a 10:30 PM phone conversation with an official in Peace Corps/ Washington who had heard about my Thailand background and competence, and wanted me to come to Washington for "a few days" to help plan a training program for that country.

The call came at an unhandy time. I had just moved from Yale to Harvard, where I was settling in as a post-doctoral research scholar, and was eager to get started writing a book on Thai religion. However, I was excited about President Kennedy's new organization, and wanted to help if I could. Bottom line: I was in Washington the following morning, and was immediately hired. (I expected and asked to be paid like a Volunteer, but the bureaucracy didn't permit that!)

"A few days" turned out to be seven months. Basically, various officials in the Peace Corps headquarters were asking me to use my anthropological knowledge and experience to help make the organization's various programs more culturally appropriate and sophisticated, and to promote the development of language and cultural competence among the Volunteers.

Peace Corps Washington (PC/W) was at that time a loosely organized and extremely flexible structure, where employees and consultants often juggled multiple assignments. I ended up dividing my time among three entities:

* Officially, I was assigned to the PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT AND OPERATIONS DIVISION, and specifically to its so-called "Far East" branch. However, I spent only part of my time working with PDO, because some of its key officials were not particularly supportive of the language and culture approach. While they were not overtly opposed, they did not give this approach as high a priority as I thought was warranted.

* I also worked with the TRAINING DIVISION, which was much more strongly oriented toward helping the Volunteers develop language and cultural competence, and much more open to anthropological input. I was involved in a variety of training programs, but principally with that for Thailand – as summarized in Appendix One below.

* And finally, I worked to find excellent new people who could join the staff and make excellent contributions, especially as "representatives" – now called "country directors" -- for PC operations in particular countries. During the earlier part of my seven months at PC/W I performed this service primarily for Program Development and Operations. During the later months, I did so as a member of the TALENT SEARCH PANEL, which was headed by the late Franklin H. Williams, an articulate and charismatic human rights attorney and politician who had worked hard for the Kennedy campaign in California. Chairing the Talent Search Panel was an add-on task for Frank, whose official assignment was to handle liaison with international organizations. He needed help, and I was happy to provide it. We worked well together.

It was, incidentally, a fascinating experience to work with Frank. He was an extremely adroit politician, and the highest ranking Black official in the Peace Corps -- a fact that, if anything, enhanced his clout, given that Sarge and the other top leadership were firmly committed to creating an organization that would treat Americans of all races equally. (Subsequent to his Peace Corps service Frank became US Ambassador to Ghana, Vice Chairman of the New York City Board of Higher Education, and President of the Phelps-Stokes Fund.) For further information on Frank, see Redmon, pp. 70-75.

During my seven months in PC/W I often worked 10-hour days and seven- day weeks -- as did a number of my colleagues. We believed that we were making history – that we were helping to create a new kind of organizational structure and culture that would truly "make a difference" in the unfolding of American history, and add something of real value to American life. It was at once the most exciting job I have ever had, but also the most frustrating -- or, to borrow the parlance of later Peace Corps recruitment posters, "the toughest job I have ever loved."


In the summer and fall of 1961, PC/W was an unbelievably booming, buzzing place, populated by a couple hundred remarkably colorful, energetic, idealistic, intelligent, independent-minded people, many of whom were highly ambitious politically, and all of whom were striving to be effective, and to make the Peace Corps successful. Everyone was in a hurry. Everything was in short supply, even simple office equipment. (More than once I would leave my office for a few minutes, only to return and discover that in the meantime someone had made off with my chair!) Confusion and ambiguity reigned. All sorts of decisions were being made and unmade. And Sarge, as founding Director, was very much in charge, often even down to matters of minute detail.

But that was not all. Not only did Shriver want high quality programs and training, but it had to be right away, at breakneck speed -- for political reasons. His strategy (developed with his Deputy, the Congressionally knowledgeable 26-year-old Bill Moyers) was to get several contingents of PCVs into their host countries before Congress voted Yes or No on whether to create and fund this new organization – so as to present members of Congress with a fait accompli that would make it hard for them to vote No. Indeed, by the time Congress was ready to vote, some two hundred Volunteers were already in the field in four host countries, with many more in the pipeline. And on September 22, 1961 Congress did indeed pass the Peace Corps Act, giving Shriver legitimacy and an initial thirty million dollar budget.

There is no doubt that this was an adroit tactic politically, but it imposed a huge added burden on those entrusted with recruiting, selecting, training, programming, supporting and supervising the high-quality PCVs that Sarge – and all of us – wanted. Not only must we do all this well, but we needed to do it with a breakneck speed that practically invited errors.

Even after the Peace Corps Act was passed, Sarge and others in the top leadership felt, and transmitted, an unrelenting impatience to increase the number of Volunteers, and the number of countries to which they would be sent -- as quickly as possible. The bigger the Peace Corps became, the harder it would be for some future administration to abolish or weaken it. Whether this policy was wise or not, it called for hiring a lot of people quickly, and Sarge wanted the very best – which made my service on the Talent Search Panel truly exciting. I had a wide personal network of contacts, and contacts-of-contacts, and spent untold hours phoning all over the country, "checking out" various possible candidates, and "bringing in" a large number of really splendid people for personal interviews – people who were committed to, and adept in, the language and culture approach, and who also possessed other needed qualities, such as leadership ability, management experience, good judgment, and, if possible, personal charisma. (Sarge loved "charismatic types.") It was understood that I would limit my search to male candidates; it would be some years before PC/W began to accord anything like equal treatment to women.


Each day when I went to work, it was with a keen awareness that out of all this confusion, and all these ad hoc decisions – especially those made by Sarge – would soon emerge a new organizational culture. I wanted to do whatever I could to help promote the emergence of this new Peace Corps culture in ways that I thought were appropriate and wise. I was concerned that some individuals in this exciting new quasi-organization might make naïve, ethnocentric, or impractical decisions that would, willy-nilly, influence the formation of the PC culture in unwise and harmful ways. Since events were moving so quickly, I felt that there was no time for the conventional, gradualist, and super-tactful approach normally used by applied anthropologists and other change agents. As a result, I sometimes irritated some of my new PC/W colleagues, yet still felt that this rather plain-spoken and direct approach was the right one to take, given the urgency of the total situation.


My status as a temporary consultant in this new organization was distinctly marginal. Unlike a number of my colleagues, I had not worked in the Kennedy campaign and hence had no political debts to collect. I had no administrative power, nor did I seek any. I wanted to be effective in promoting the language and culture approach, but of course I realized that, as a consultant, I could only be effective to the extent that those of my colleagues who did possess administrative power trusted me, and believed that my advice was honest, wise and useful.

At this point it is also essential to clarify that I was also an outlier in another sense, namely that of qualifications for doing intercultural work. It turned out that I was one of the relatively few people in headquarters who had actually had a successful volunteer-type experience in a non-Western developing nation. I had done ethnographic research in Thailand for five years, most of it in peasant villages, and had learned the Thai language to the point where Thais routinely mistook me for a Thai on the telephone. Five years was long enough for me to have made plenty of mistakes, and hopefully to have learned from them.

Toward the end of those five years, I served as a short-term consultant to US AID/ Thailand, and facilitated a successful village-level community development project. This led to my becoming principal co-author (along with two Thai colleagues and one American) of a "Manual for the Rural Community Health Worker in Thailand." (See Bibliography, below.) This publication, which was brought out in both Thai and English versions, was a practical handbook – fieldwork-tested and evidence-based -- on how to do community development work in the thousands of agricultural villages where the vast majority of Thais lived. It was adopted by the Thai government for use in training its rural health and community development workers. (Fast forward ten years, and Peace Corps/ Thailand adopted our manual for use in training PCVs assigned to rural community development work.)

I had also worked elsewhere in Asia, especially in Japan and Indonesia, and had studied four Asian languages. At that time, in PC/W, these were unusual credentials. However, they were not an unmixed blessing, because, while they were much appreciated by many of my new colleagues, they were, I believe, covertly resented by others.


In the beginning, the Peace Corps headquarters faced a huge dilemma, which seriously threatened the realization of the Kennedy Vision. PC/W was charged with the basic responsibility for recruiting, selecting, training, programming, supporting and supervising thousands of Volunteers – all for the purpose of helping them to cross a cultural frontier and function effectively on the other side. Yet the problem was that the headquarters staff, from Sarge on down (with some notable exceptions) themselves largely lacked this Volunteer type of experience. While they brought with them many other needed skills, high motivation, and an altruistic orientation, many of them had never even set foot in a "developing nation." Others may have done so, but only as casual tourists.

Still others, especially in Program Development and Operations, had served in the developing nations with US AID -- but had lived mostly in large cities, where they were usually supervisors rather than "doers." They received a professional salary and generous benefits. While overseas, many of them had enjoyed household servants and luxurious amenities – and had socialized primarily with other Americans, or else with English-speaking members of the local elite. While a number of these officials were excellent administrators, and masters of the special skills needed to get things done in a large bureaucracy, they were still subject to problems of what I came to call "primary ignorance," and, especially, "secondary ignorance."


"Primary" ignorance refers to the phenomenon of simply "not knowing something you should know." Secondary ignorance refers to "not knowing that you don't know." Secondary ignorance is a much more complex phenomenon, and much more serious in its consequences. This entire matter is dealt with in some detail in Enclosure 7.

The Peace Corps today is vastly more linguistically and culturally sophisticated than it was in 1961 – so much so that an RPCV reading this essay might find it difficult to believe that the problems of primary and secondary ignorance, described here, were as serious as I claim. In response, I would cite the following two anecdotes, which are perhaps a bit extreme, but certainly illustrative of primary and secondary ignorance. Each example centers on a relatively senior PC/W official, holding the rank of Foreign Service Reserve Officer 3, on loan from US AID. These were smart men who had worked their way up in the US AID bureaucracy through merit, and who sincerely desired to be helpful to the PCVs -- but who were handicapped by a lack of previous Volunteer-type experience.

* On one occasion I was briefing PC trainees for service in the Philippines, and answering their questions as best I could. In doing this, I was partnering with one of my PC/W colleagues, Mr. X, an Asia- experienced senior US AID administrator. A trainee asked us for advice on how to maintain bodily cleanliness in a Philippine village that lacked modern plumbing. My friend's answer, paraphrased, was: "You have to be creative. Here's how you do it. You build an improvised shower shelter without a roof. Then you have your Philippine servant (of your sex, of course) stand on an elevated platform just outside the shelter, and, at your command, the servant will sprinkle water down on you. You soap up, and then have the servant sprinkle you again." Yes, he was serious! He was obviously ignorant of the fact that ordinary villagers in Southeast Asia are quite accustomed to taking bucket baths.

* On another occasion I was briefing PC trainees for service in Thailand, partnering with Mr. Y, another PC/W colleague who had similarly worked his way up in the US AID bureaucracy, and had spent some years with that agency in Thailand. The subject came up: How does one conduct a successful, useful dialogue with a Thai? What should be the Volunteer's conversational style? His answer, paraphrased, was: "Above all, be perfectly frank; if you think there is something wrong with Thai society or culture, say so. They need to hear your true feelings, and when they do, they will benefit from them." What Mr. Y apparently did not realize, despite his years in Thailand, was that one of the basic hallmarks of Thai culture, and of Thai conversational style, is that you should, at all costs, carefully avoid blunt, face-to-face confrontation or criticism. Thai culture does provide less direct ways to express disagreement or to offer constructive suggestions, and it is important, of course, for Volunteers to learn what these ways are.

In short, the basic dilemma was that many PC staffers, though typically qualified in many other ways, too often lacked the very kind of linguistic and cultural sophistication that they were charged with instilling in the Volunteers. This problem is much less serious now – thanks in large part to the reality that today the Peace Corps organization includes many culturally sophisticated and carefully selected RPCVs.

I hasten to add the obvious: that "secondary ignorance" is a universal human phenomenon to which we are all subject. For example, many of us in PC/W, certainly including myself, suffered from serious secondary ignorance regarding the procedures and politics of governmental administration, and my PC/W colleagues hailing from earlier work overseas with US AID must certainly have so perceived this. There is, though, an important difference here, in that the situation in PC/W was such that, if one acted unwisely because of one's secondary ignorance, this unwiseness would soon be obvious, because one would get corrective feedback from one's colleagues -- who, after all, were part of the same local situation, spoke the same language, etc. However, if a PC/W official acted unwisely with respect to a problem sited in Thailand, it might be weeks or months before the mistake became evident. In other words, when one is dealing across cultural frontiers, the problem of secondary ignorance is usually much more serious than when dealing within one's own culture. This is why it is so important that a PC program in a given country be formulated, or at least finalized, by people who are well grounded in the culture(s) of that country -- such as RPCVs who have previously served there.

Sadly, it appears that even now, decades later, the problems of primary and secondary ignorance still plague the Peace Corps to some extent. RPCVs have reported that, even in recent years, PC/W has persisted in appointing as key administrators – typically for partisan-political reasons – people who lack linguistic and cultural sophistication. My impression also is that quite often the job of Director of the Peace Corps has gone to similarly under- qualified appointees. Personally, I consider it disgraceful that for the first 32 years of the Peace Corps' existence, not a single RPCV was appointed to the Directorship -- not until 1993, when RPCV Carol Bellamy was appointed and confirmed.

Much more could be said about these complexities. If you wish to explore them further, please see my final chapter in a book written five years after my service in Washington, Cultural Frontiers of the Peace Corps (MIT Press, 1966). The following year this book was chosen by PC/W for inclusion in 4,200 "book lockers" that were sent to PCVs around the world.

I was editor of, and contributor to this book. All of my fourteen co-authors were social scientists or historians with special knowledge of the various host countries discussed, and of the Peace Corps programs in those countries: the Philippines, Malaya (later Malaysia), Thailand, Afghanistan, Somalia, Tanganyika (later Tanzania), Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Morocco, Tunisia, Jamaica, Peru, and Bolivia. In addition, the well-known anthropologist Margaret Mead provided an insightful Foreword. In connection with the Peace Corps' golden anniversary, the MIT Press has graciously relinquished its rights to this book, and, as of approximately March 1, 2011, the entire book will be available to the general public, for searching and downloading, at my Stanford home page,

http://www.stanford.edu/~rbtextor/ .


As I learned more about the dimensions of the above-described fundamental dilemma, I became more concerned. Here was a new organization whose culture was still unformed, but was rapidly beginning to take form. It was essential, I felt, that this organizational culture evolve in a way that would place a high value on linguistic and cultural competence, as a necessary (though of course not sufficient) qualification for Volunteers' succeeding on the other side of the cultural frontier. The best chance of making this happen, I believed, was to find a way to infuse into the organization, at middle and higher levels, individuals who were themselves linguistically and culturally sophisticated.

But how? Basically, I tried to do two things:

* Tactically, for the short run, I tried, with some success but much frustration, to facilitate the recruitment of staff who already possessed the kind of linguistic, cultural and professional competence needed.

* Strategically, for the longer run, I decided that I would do what I could to institutionalize a new personnel system for the PC staff -- so that in the future it would include more and more carefully selected returned Volunteers who had earned their translingual and transcultural competence credentials through the hard knocks of actual field experience. Hopefully, these RPCVs would, on average, be more sophisticated – and more realistic – in making policy decisions about recruiting, selecting, training, programming, supporting and supervising the PCVs. And hopefully, they would be able to work their way up into positions in the organization where they could actually influence policy. In time, this infusion of new personnel would steadily bring about positive changes in the organizational culture, so that in the future, it would be virtually taken for granted that both staff and Volunteers would be culturally competent.


During my work for the Talent Search Panel, Frank Williams and I naturally found ourselves discussing the key question: What the kind of person should we be searching for, to serve as a PC Representative overseas? Before long, Frank asked me to prepare a statement on this subject for the Panel's use. The result was my memo, dated November 6, 1961, on "Suggested Criteria for Selection of Peace Corps Representatives," which is reproduced below as Enclosure 7. I used this memo as a general guide in searching for talented candidates for these overseas assignments. I believe that the principles advocated in this memo remain as relevant today as they were then.


In designing a long-range strategy, it was clear that certain creative and fundamental changes were needed in basic Peace Corps personnel policy. It was necessary to find some legal way to ensure that the then-senior staff didn't hang onto their jobs forever, developing administro-sclerosis and bureaucratic senescence -- and blocking eager, culturally sophisticated, technically qualified young RPCVs from moving into the organization, and then, on the basis of merit-based promotion, moving up into positions high enough to enable them to influence policy. In hopes of creating such a new personnel policy, on December 11, 1961 I submitted to Frank the original In-Up-Out memo. I hoped that this memo would provide a creative yet achievable vision for the future – a vision exciting and persuasive enough to create a snowballing of support among top policy-makers.


As mentioned earlier, there was really only one decision-maker in the early Peace Corps organization, and that was Sarge, who possessed near- dictatorial powers. He made all the key decisions, and he also vetoed all sorts of suggested policy changes. There was absolutely no way my In-Up- Out vision and plan could become official policy unless he approved and implemented it. Somehow, I had to get my memo to him with some prospect that he would actually read it and find it credible. But the problem was, at that point, that Sarge did not know me. We had never had a conversation much longer than my saying "Hi, Sarge" when I bumped into him in the hallways. I was just a consultant, working sometimes at the first echelon level with people like Warren Wiggins in PDO, Joe Kaufman in Training, and Frank Williams on the Talent Search – but more often at the second echelon level, with people like PDO/Far East's Jim Silberman and Training's Al Meisel.

I decided that the best way to get my In-Up-Out plan to Sarge would be to go through Frank Williams -- with whom I had established a good working relationship, and who, in turn, had established a good relationship with Sarge. Sarge liked and trusted Frank. (Back in April 1961, Frank had made the legendary "Big Trip" around the world with Sarge – along with Harris Wofford, Ed Bayley and Bill Kelly.) Moreover, Frank was a consummate politician, with excellent articulating skills, and an acute sense of tactics and timing.


Thus it was that on December 11, 1961, I addressed my In-Up-Out memo to Frank, with the intent of having him forward it to Sarge, hopefully with a favorable cover note, such as "Sarge, you might find this interesting." Enclosure 1 below provides verification. It is a xerox copy of a thermofax copy of the original paper memo, initialed by me.


The text of the original memo was as follows. ============================================= December 11, 1961

To: Franklin H. Williams Talent Search Panel

From: Robert B. Textor, PDO/FE

Subject: A Plan to Keep the Peace Corps Permanently Young, Creative and Dynamic

1. Recommendations for Immediate Implementation:

a. Recommend that each new appointee to an overseas Representative job be told that the Peace Corps is not a life-long career; that he will have to move on after a few years, to make room for a deserving PCV alumnus.

b. Recommend [members of the Planning and Evaluation staff] be asked to keep their eyes open on field trips for promising qualified PCVs

who might be promoted to Associate, Deputy, or Representative jobs, where needed, even before they have completed their full two-year hitches.

2. Recommendations for Implementation During 1962:

a. Recommend that PC seek amendment to the Peace Corps Law to provide that PC may set up its own autonomous personnel system. As justification, it could be pointed out that PC, like the State Department, has peculiar needs and functions, and therefore should be independent of the Civil Service Commission.

b. Recommend that the new autonomous PC Personnel system provide that:

(1) Almost all substantive jobs in PC should be filled, as soon as possible, by qualified PCV alumni. A "substantive" job is a job – high or low – which influences the shape and gusto of PC programs, e.g., officers in Recruitment, Selection, Training, and Program Development and Operations, including overseas Representatives.

(2) PCV alumni, and all other staff employees, should follow the principle of "in-up-out." The law should set a maximum number of years – perhaps eight years – after which all staffers are required to leave and find jobs elsewhere.

3. Advantages of this Plan:

a. Excellence: Only the "cream-of-the-cream" of PCV alumni would be chosen for staff jobs.

b. Sound Programs: Programs would be planned by ex-PCVs who have fresh valid field experience, who know field conditions intimately. Impetuous, impractical, and unsound projects would thereby by avoided.

c. Effective Field Operations: Our Peace Corps Representatives would really know the language, customs, politics, family systems, economics, etc., of the host country, having learned all this as PCVs. PCRs' orders would be sound, because the men giving the orders would already have been through the experience of having taken orders.

d. High Morale: A Volunteer would know that he has a chance for a later staff position if he performs well, shows leadership, and truly masters the language and customs of the host country.

e. Elimination of Inappropriate Applicants: This plan would discourage applicants who might be looking for a cushy life-long berth where promotion depends on seniority rather than dynamic creativity.

f. Facilitation of Careers: Because of the eight-year limitation, there would always be "room at the top" for deserving staffers. PCV alumni could therefore move up rapidly.

g. Impact on Foreign Policy: The "in-up-out" principle would result in immense benefit to American foreign policy. Young ex-staffers would move rapidly into jobs in State and AID, in foundations and universities, etc. And they would move in at high levels of responsibility, because they would already have worked at high levels of responsibility in PC. Thus we would reduce by many years the time it would otherwise take to make our impact felt at policy levels within key organizations connected with U.S. foreign policy.

h. Youthfulness: Above all, this plan would make PC the first organization in U.S. administrative history that was not only born young, but stayed young!


Five years later, in editing Cultural Frontiers of the Peace Corps, I included an appendix in which I state that "Franklin H. Williams immediately forwarded the memo to Mr. Shriver" (Enclosure 2, below). Exactly what form this "forwarding" took was not completely clear to me, because Frank did not provide me with a copy of the document he sent to Sarge.


During the 49-plus years since December 11, 1961, I had given up hope of ever finding out just how Frank got my memo to Sarge. Then, on February 12, 2011, after I had placed this essay on my Stanford home page, my luck suddenly changed. On that day an official in Peace Corps/ Washington, having read my essay, provided me with a copy of Frank's follow-up memo, which he sent to Sarge the very next day, December 12. (See Enclosure 8, below.) What makes this document especially valuable is that it includes Sarge's marginal comments, indicating his approval or disapproval, point by point, and giving Frank follow-up instructions. I confess to a certain feeling of awe, to see these comments by Sarge, in his own hand, within a month after his having passed on.

This new information caused me to take this essay off my Stanford home page, and revise it in numerous ways, to become the present version. It is one of the luxuries of digital publishing that one can make corrections so conveniently.

Frank's December 12 memo is essentially just a verbatim retyping of my December 11 memo -- except that Frank added a prefatory note, as follows:

"The following observations are the result of lengthy discussions with Bob Textor who has been helping me on the talent search. These are a crystallization of the idea. We can prepare for you, if you respond favorably to the idea, a more detailed document. Obviously, I think it would be better if we could talk about it."

While Frank was generous in mentioning my role – which he needn't have done -- I must add that I do not remember any "lengthy" discussions with him on this issue, and there is nothing in my data bank to suggest this – i.e., no exchange of preliminary memo drafts, think-pieces, references, etc. Of course, after 49 years, my memory about all this could easily be inaccurate. Indeed, it seems plausible that, in the process of our working together on the Talent Search to find the best possible people to serve as overseas representatives, we must have at least occasionally shared ideas on the general subject of how to revamp the PC staff personnel system.

Reflecting on all this today, my judgment is as follows. Although I believe that "lengthy" discussions about the In-Up-Out principle did not take place, this does not bother me. This kind of embellishment happens all the time in government and politics. What is important is that by these few words Frank indicated that he had "bought into" the In-Up-Out principle, and "taken ownership" of it (while he was also being careful not to seem to be telling Sarge what decision to make, which would have been a serious mistake). He was also essentially suggesting that if Sarge decided affirmatively, Frank would be happy to make the In-Up-Out principle a part of his turf, and to serve as the key follow-up person.

This was exactly what I wanted. Frank had considerable "clout," and I had none. And I had long since learned, in my work as an applied social scientist, that it is often best to suggest a useful idea to someone in the organization who has "clout," and then let them "take ownership" of the idea. This is clearly what happened.

A slight digression is here in order. Frank's typist made one substantive typographical error, which neither she nor Frank caught. In item 3g of my December 11 memo, I state that young RPCVs who become PC staffers and then complete their staff service "would move rapidly into jobs in State and AID, in foundation and universities, etc. And they would move in at high levels of responsibility, because they would already have worked at high levels of responsibility in PC." In Frank's December 12 memo, a whole phrase is missing, and it reads simply "And they would move in at high levels of responsibility in PC." Thus the entire meaning of my original sentence is lost. Fortunately, this omission does not seem to have caused problems.


In order to further document the provenance and initial results of the In-Up- Out memo, it is relevant at this point to refer to two memos sent by or to Harris Wofford. Harris is today an icon in the history of the Peace Corps. He was "present at the creation"; indeed, he was the very first person Sarge invited, on Day One, 1961, shortly after the Kennedy inauguration, to participate in envisioning and planning this new organization. At that time Harris was Special Assistant to President Kennedy for Civil Rights and the Peace Corps. In 1962-64 he was the PC's Special Representative to Africa and Director of its 500-Volunteer Ethiopia program. He later became Associate Director in charge of the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Research. (Subsequent to his Peace Corps service Harris has had a brilliant career, serving as President of two educational institutions, SUNY College of Old Westbury, and Bryn Mawr College. Later, he served as Senator from Pennsylvania for four years. In 1992 he was on Governor Bill Clinton's short list for running mate.)

In the fall of 1961, during the training program for Thailand One at the University of Michigan, I traveled to Ann Arbor several times to serve as lecturer and carry out other duties. On one of those occasions Harris was also visiting the university and taking an evaluative look at the Thailand One training program. He and I thus had a chance to get acquainted, and we "hit it off" immediately. We had time to talk at some length about his ideas, my ideas, and our shared ideas, for helping equip the Volunteers so that they could develop a high level of linguistic and cultural competence. I explained to Harris that I was having serious trouble getting some of the PC/W staff to place sufficient priority on the language and culture approach.

Some days after our Ann Arbor conversation, to my surprise I received from Harris a carbon copy of a memo that he had written to Sarge, recommending that Sarge get to know me and my ideas concerning the language and culture approach -- and involve me, as appropriate, in policy councils. A copy of this document is reproduced below as Enclosure 3. It is dated December 5, 1961 -- just six days before I submitted my In-Up-Out memo to Frank.

Also included below is Enclosure 4, a memo from me to Harris dated December 26, fifteen days after I had submitted the In-Up-Out memo to Frank. Earlier that day I had had lunch with Harris, and had informed him about this memo. Enclosure 4 summarizes Frank's oral description to me of Sarge's initial reaction to my memo. I was pleased, in 1961, to have even this limited amount of information, because it suggested that my In-Up-Out idea had at least some chance of sooner or later becoming official policy. And of course one reason for my sharing this information with Harris was to encourage him to use his influence with Sarge to promote In-Up-Out. Whether he did so, and if so when, I don't know.

If Enclosure 8 had been available to me at that time, I would have been even more elated. In that memo, as Sarge's handwritten comments make clear, he took a definite interest in the "complexities" of how to implement such a policy, by asking Frank to discuss possibilities with Dorothy Jacobson and John Corcoran, key officials in personnel and finance, respectively.

As far as can learn from my data base, the In-Up-Out initiative apparently made no further progress at that time. If that is so, it would be understandable, for in those early months Sarge had a huge number of policy issues to deal with, day to day, and doubtless felt that he could afford to postpone a final decision on In-Up-Out.


Fast forward fifteen months to March 9, 1963. I was back at Harvard, and received a letter from Dick Graham (Enclosure 5 below), who had worked in Frank's office in 1961 and had remained at PC/W, later to become Country Director in Tunisia. (Subsequent to his Peace Corps service, Dick became an original member of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and then served as the founding director of the National Teacher Corps). Dick, who is now deceased, was my favorite squash partner and one of my best friends in the headquarters, and we had frequently discussed PC/W problems in a frank, comprehensive and even philosophical way. Dick's letter attached a copy of a March 6, 1963 memo written by Frank, obviously at Sarge's order, to "Senior Staff," on the subject of In-Up-Out (Enclosure 6 below). This was Frank's Second Effort memo on the subject of In-Up- Out.

Frank augmented my original memo by adding two paragraphs of his own at the beginning, and one paragraph at the end. These are essentially updates to fit the context of 1963.

In addition, Frank added two substantive ideas of his own, both of which I believe were unwise.

* In his first added paragraph "a," Frank asserts that "no staff member, GS-7 or above, may remain in a position more than two years without moving ‘up' or ‘out.'" In other words, Frank was applying the "In- Up-Out" principle not just to staff members whose duties were what I termed "substantive" -- i.e., who could influence the spirit and policy of Peace Corps operations -- but to all staff members above a certain level. This strikes me as excessively rigid, and likely to result in significant inefficiencies. For example, suppose Peace Corps/ Washington had employed an excellent accountant or budget analyst whose work was highly routinized yet quite complex, who knew his/her duties well and performed them efficiently – but who could not be promoted because of constraints in various civil service regulations. I think it would be unwise to mandate that such a technical person must be fired -- though he/she had no influence over policy decisions -- in favor of a new person who would then need to learn the job from scratch.

* In his first added paragraph "c," Frank asserts that "no staff persons should remain with the Peace Corps more than six years in toto!" Here, he reduces my recommended eight years to six, and makes no distinction between "substantive" and other employees. Moreover, his six- year requirement would apply to all staff persons, regardless of GS level – which strikes me, once again, as unnecessarily rigid. Moreover, I continue to have serious doubts as to whether a six-year period would be long enough for a qualified RPCV to:

+ learn the complexities of government administration;

+ earn promotion through excellent performance to a level where she/he can influence policy; and then

+ still to have at least a year or two at that level to actually initiate and solidify sensible, creative, culturally appropriate innovations.


At this point, unfortunately, it becomes necessary to correct some factual errors about the provenance of the In-Up-Out memo that appear in a widely circulated and cited book by the late Ms. Coates Redmon: Come as You Are: The Peace Corps Story, published in 1986, the year of the Peace Corps' silver anniversary.

Ms. Redmon is an accomplished story-teller, and her book is a delightful read. In her preface she makes it clear that she is writing "not a conventional history but rather an unconventional ‘mood-and-flavor' account that evokes the all-too-fleeting Kennedy years – the style, the dash, the daring, the rare humor, and most of all, the hope – as was personified by Sargent Shriver's leadership and inspiration" (Author's Note, page x). Ms. Redmon provides mini-biographies of a number of the key founders whom I remember well (such as Frank Williams, on pp. 70-74) and her descriptions of these people strike me as generally factual – even though sometimes crafted in a puff-piece, high-jinx style that seems more appropriate for a newspaper's society page than a serious analysis. Even so, her numerous fascinating vignettes help her readers to understand the impressive intelligence, colorful background, adventurous spirit, impatient creativity, rampant idealism, sense of humor, and bold bravado of the early Peace Corps staffers. It is not surprising that a book this interesting has been cited by serious writers and scholars.

However, there is one respect in which Ms. Redmon's book falls seriously short, and that is in her description of the provenance of the In-Up-Out memo. Here, her coverage needs correction, not only because her book has been widely read, but also because it has evidently influenced the treatment of this matter in other histories written subsequently – such as those by Cobbs Hoffman 1998, and Stossel 2004.

To provide clarification of the actual historical facts, key excerpts from pages 129-30 of Ms. Redmon's book are reproduced below, in bold. Each excerpt is then followed by my own comments in italics.


No policy decision was ever made faster and with less debate than the one called, "In, Up & Out." There was constant talk at the early Peace Corps of how to keep the organization fresh and vital. . . . Franklin Williams had an assistant, "an extremely clever, precocious, young man right out of Harvard," to whom he threw random but difficult challenges. . . . the young man wrote Williams (then special assistant to Shriver for almost everything) a memo . . . "If we are serious about keeping the Peace Corps young and dynamic," says Williams, "then he would suggest this: Deliberately, within eight years, move from an organization staffed by people who had never served as Volunteers to an organization staffed totally by former Volunteers. . . . Williams says that he actually had this in mind when he got the memo. . . He was astonished to find that his assistant had so perfectly expressed his fantasy. . . .Williams took his young assistant's "brilliant exposition," rewrote it in his own idiom, and submitted it to Shriver under his own name. "Sarge wouldn't have even read it if it had been from the guy. He didn't know the guy. The guy had no access. However, he would read it if it was from me."


[COMMENT: As indicated above, to the best of my recollection Frank Williams did not "throw me the challenge" of writing this memo, and there is nothing in my database to indicate or even suggest that he did. I simply wrote the memo on my own initiative, because I wanted to do what I could to change the future structure and culture of the Peace Corps. There was nothing unusual about this. I knew that my service at PC/W would be short, so I was continually grinding out think-pieces on various topics about which I believed I had some competence, and shooting them to various key staffers who might be in a position to take ownership of them, and then implement them.]

[I am flattered to learn that Ms. Redmon describes me – the only individual mentioned prominently in her book who remains nameless -- as "an extremely clever, precocious young man right out of Harvard," but that is not accurate. Before going to PC/W I had been at Harvard only a week or two, after two years at Yale as a Research Associate in Anthropology and Southeast Asia Studies, preceded by several years as a doctoral student at Cornell. And I was careful to so identify myself.

A comparison of Enclosures 7 and 1 provides insight into the historical record. The November 6 memo (Enclosure 7) starts right out with the lead- in phrase, "At your request, the following memo is submitted…." The nine pages that follow are professionally typed (doubtless by one of Frank's secretaries), based on an original prepared by me. The December 11 memo (Enclosure 1) is very different. It was typed personally and inexpertly by me, and contains no lead-in phrase such as "At your request…." These differences are consistent with my memory that the original In-Up-Out memo was written on my own initiative, and was not a "challenge" that had been "thrown" at me by Frank.

[Ms. Redmon's use of the term "precocious" makes it sound for all the world as if I had gotten my BA from Harvard perhaps a year or two earlier. In fact, however, I was a PhD in early mid-career -- five years younger than Frank, and eight years younger than Sarge.]


Shriver loved the memo and the idea. He told Williams to send copies to all the senior and upper-middle-level staff. According to Wiggins, "The idea just whizzed through. I was all for it. I remember no opposition. It became policy."


[COMMENT: Ms. Redmon is confused about the chronology. She assumes that there was just one In-Up-Out memo. She is unaware that there were actually two such memos, one in 1961 and one in 1963.

* The First In-Up-Out Effort involved my original memo that I sent to Frank on December 11, 1961, on the subject of "A Plan to Keep the Peace Corps Permanently Young, Creative [and] Dynamic"(Enclosure 1). The following day Frank sent this memo verbatim to Sarge, as his own, with the addition of a short introductory paragraph (Enclosure 8).

* The Second In-Up-Out Effort involved my original memo that Frank tweaked and sent to Sarge 15 months later, on March 6, 1963, on the same subject (Enclosure 6).

[When Ms. Redmon states that "Shriver loved it," she again reveals that she did not know that there were two In-Up-Out efforts, not one. A more accurate analysis would be that Sarge did indeed take the First Effort memo

seriously, discussed it with Frank, and asked Frank to look into its administrative and fiscal feasibility (Enclosures 4 and 8), but evidently took no action – while fifteen months later, when he received the Second Effort memo, he was enthusiastic and ordered Frank to circulate that memo to Senior Staff – which Frank did.

[The question now arises: Why didn't Sarge initiate the In-Up-Out policy back in December 1961? My best guess is simply that he decided that the time was not yet ripe for such a bold and radical move, and that such a policy might have been de-stabilizing to his fledgling organization. After all, the law establishing the Peace Corps had been passed only about three months earlier. If at that time Sarge had asked me for my advice, it would have been: Make plans now, and then wait a while, perhaps several months, before implementation -- until you judge that the overall PC personnel situation has become adequately stabilized." And essentially, that seems to be what actually happened.]


As it turned out, the only time Sarge and I ever had any real substantive contact occurred in January 1962, in connection with the Thailand One graduation exercises in Ann Arbor. This was a big event, and one that stirred the pride of people at the University of Michigan, who were thrilled when they learned that Sarge had accepted their invitation to be the principal graduation speaker. On that occasion I had the honor of introducing him – in English and Thai -- to a large crowd of eager Volunteers, their adoring families, and the general public.

On the next page is a photograph taken on the day of graduation, at a reception provided by the university prior to the actual ceremony. The people pictured are, left to right, His Excellency Mr. Visutr Arthayukti, Thai Ambassador to Washington; Dr. Harold M. Dorr, the university's Dean of Statewide Education and principal administrator of the Thailand One Training Program; "Sarge"; and, in the right background, myself.

That was the climactic moment of my brief PC/W career. At that point it was clear to me that I had done about all I could, in the capacity of a consultant at PC/W, and that the time had come to return to academic life, which I did.

Thereafter, I continued to serve as visiting instructor at successive Peace Corps training programs for Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines offered by a variety of American universities. I relished my contact with these PCV trainees. They were extremely eager to learn, and great fun to teach.

I continued accepting these visiting instructor assignments for five years. Then in 1966 I decided it was time to stop, and when various universities would continue to invite me, I would simply tell them that five years was long enough, and that the time had come for me to get out of the way and make room for RPCVs to take over. By then I had helped to train a total of about 1,600 Volunteer trainees.

Meanwhile, the Peace Corps itself was changing and maturing, and in ways that I found gratifying. On March 1, 1966, five years to the day from President Kennedy's signing of the executive order creating the Peace Corps, Sarge resigned and was replaced by the organization's second Director, Jack Hood Vaughn. Jack was clearly much more linguistically and culturally sophisticated than his predecessor, and began immediately to make his influence felt. (For information on Jack's background, see Redmon, pp. 565-56, 392-396, and 403.) 4


To return to the matter of "In-Up-Out," the question now arises once again: what is the optimum total number of years that a substantive official of the Peace Corps should be allowed to serve? Clearly, this period of time should be short enough to prevent administro-sclerosis, but long enough to avoid organizational instability or amnesia. But how to optimize between the two? In my original 1961 First Effort memo, I called for allowing a "substantive" official of the Peace Corps – one who "influences the shape and gusto of PC programs" -- to remain on the staff for a maximum of eight years. Subsequently, in the 1963 Second Effort memo, Frank Williams recommended six years. Eventually, the Peace Corps settled on five years, and in 1965 Congress incorporated that standard into law. Interestingly, a year later Harris Wofford wrote an article, "The Future of the Peace Corps," in which he projected:

With the five-year limit on staff tenure (the "five-year flush") now enacted in law, . . . and with a policy of priority to former Volunteers in filling staff positions, by1970, former Volunteers should, in fact, be running the Peace Corps from nearly the top to the bottom (Wofford 1966, p. 146).

I believed then that five years would be too short. I believed that the RPCV who is recruited to work in a substantive staff position must be there long enough for her or him to (1) to learn the ways of federal bureaucracy, and (2) on the basis of excellent performance, earn promotion to a position of influence; and then (3) still have a few years left in which to use that influence to effectuate real change and improvement.

I have not made a systematic study of how the In-Up-Out policy has actually worked, or failed to work, over the subsequent half century. However, just as I was preparing this essay, a new, Congressionally mandated, publication appeared: The Peace Corps: A Comprehensive Agency Assessment (June 2010). This Assessment strikes me as thorough and professional, and I recommend that it be read by anyone interested in the historical record of the In-Up-Out policy, to which it devotes sixteen informative pages (pp. 79-94).

Among the factual findings of this Assessment are these two, which apply to the organization's "direct hire" employees as of 2010:

* Among those assigned to duty in the U.S. (headquarters and regional recruiting offices) 48.6 percent are RPCVs; while

* Among those assigned to overseas duties, 83.1 percent are RPCVs.

These figures, especially the latter one, are consistent with my original aspirations at the time I wrote the In-Up-Out memo. I find them highly gratifying.

The Assessment concludes that the In-Up-Out policy should definitely be retained, but that in a number of ways it has proven to be too rigid -- often because the prescribed period of five years has proven to be too short. The Assessment offers a number of specific recommendations for tweaking and adjusting the policy to today's and tomorrow's circumstances.

Since I have been out of touch with day-to-day affairs of the Peace Corps for more than four decades, I do not feel competent to comment on any of these specific recommendations. However, I do feel qualified to make one general point, namely that many of the Assessment's recommendations call for providing exceptions and extensions for carefully selected Peace Corps staffers that would allow them to serve for a total of up to about eight years rather than five. And eight years, of course, is precisely the number of years recommended in my original In-Up-Out memo. Given this fact, one cannot help wondering whether, if there had been an "Eight Year Rule" in force from the beginning, perhaps many problems might never have arisen in the first place.


I believe this essay establishes the following points:

* The In-Up-Out initiative was a historic departure from conventional theory and practice in the field of pubic personnel administration. Indeed, Harris Wofford has termed it "probably the first such rule in the history of any government" (Wofford 1966, p.46, italics mine).

* This initiative has had a significant impact on giving a unique shape and vitality to the organizational culture of the Peace Corps.

* The original In-Up-Out memo was written by myself, as sole author.

* The late Franklin H. Williams deserves our gratitude for doing much of the political footwork needed to promote acceptance of the In-Up-Out principle and policy.

* Credit is obviously due also to others in the PC/W leadership, including former Deputy Director Bill Moyers for shepherding through Congress the amendment to the Peace Corps law in 1965, mandating an In- Up-Out policy; to Peace Corps general counsel Bill Josephson; and doubtless to others whose contributions I am not aware of.

* As Appendix One makes clear, the University of Michigan performed a crucial role in getting Peace Corps training off to a strong start, by conducting the Thailand One and Two Training Programs in a highly professional manner, and setting a standard of excellence that became a general model for Peace Corps training programs.

* And finally, if I may offer a personal obiter dictum, I feel impelled to add that in my opinion our nation owes a profound debt of gratitude to the late Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr., for creating this wonderful and improbable institution called the Peace Corps, and putting it on a permanent, sustainable and self-renewing footing. Like all of us, Sarge had his imperfections, as those who worked with him were well aware. But, all that said, the overarching historical – and historic -- fact is that he succeeded. Could anyone else have done it? In my opinion: probably not.

Looking back, it is clear that the Peace Corps has come a long way toward realizing President Kennedy's vision. Looking forward, we can take heart also in the words of another inaugural address, nine presidents later, in which Barack Obama, son and brother of anthropologists, announced: "to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: Know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity."


Friends, I hope you have found this essay be of some interest and value. See you at the golden anniversary reunion in Washington!

All best regards,

Bob Textor

Enclosures: 1.Textor's December 11, 1961 "First Effort" In-Up-Out memo to Franklin H. Williams.

2. "The ‘In-Up-Out' Principle." Appendix Three in Textor et al., Cultural Frontiers of the Peace Corps, 1966, pp. 350-52.

3.Harris Wofford's December 5, 1961 memo to Sargent Shriver recommending that Textor be given a more influential role in PC/W.

4. Textor's December 26, 1961 memo to Wofford Re Williams' Follow-Up Contact with Shriver about the "First Effort" In-Up-Out Memo.

5. Richard Graham's March 9, 1963 letter to Textor, attaching a copy of Williams' "Second Effort" In-Up-Out Memo.

6. Williams' March 6, 1963 "Second Effort" In-Up-Out memo, which Williams, at Shriver's instruction, sent to "Senior Staff."

7. Textor's November 6, 1961 memo to Williams, on "Suggested Criteria for Selection of Peace Corps Representatives."

8. Williams' December 12, 1961 "First Effort" memo to Shriver, based on Textor's "First Effort" memo to Williams, dated the previous day – showing marginal notes by Shriver.


This appendix will provide a few key specifics concerning the exceptional success of the Thailand One training program. The task of mounting this program was assigned to a PC/W Training officer, the late Albert Meisel. "Al" Meisel did not have a strong language-and-culture background himself, but he did fully realize how important it would be to provide such a background for our Thailand trainees. He asked me to join him in this effort, and we quickly developed a good working relationship. (For background about Al, see Redmon, pp. 148-51.)


One of my first assignments on this project was to advise Al, and PC/W, as to which university PC/W should invite to mount the Thailand One Training Program. After carefully reviewing the qualifications and readiness of a number of universities, I recommended the University of Michigan. PC/W agreed. PC/W invited Michigan. Michigan accepted. We were off and running.

From then on, I worked constantly with Al, helping him to deal with an endless array of details, and maintaining constant liaison with Michigan. The two of us were absolutely determined to show our PC/W colleagues what a truly excellent training program would look like – to create a "role model" for excellence. Key people at Michigan shared that aspiration.

One of the first questions that had to be settled was how long the program should last. Al and I "demanded" 15 weeks. PC/W's financial officials pushed back hard, explaining that they had previously authorized no program longer than eight weeks. I countered by contending that eight weeks would be totally inadequate, that Thai was a tonal language and difficult for Westerners to learn well, and that we were determined to produce PCVs who could communicate with Thais in Thai. After some fancy bureaucratic footwork, we succeeded in getting 13 weeks.

Michigan's response to this language-and-culture challenge was superb. Working together, we designed a rigorous program that included 210 hours of language training, supervised by Michigan's renowned linguistics professor and Thailand specialist William J. Gedney, plus a rigorous Thai Culture program, plus all the needed duty-specific professional training elements. Michigan's Dean Harold M. Dorr provided key support, and appointed as key administrator the indefatigable Professor Robert Leestma, an education expert with previous experience in Thailand. PC/W's programming back-up was conscientiously handled by Robert McClusky of Program Development and Operations, who had had previous field experience in Asia.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, working with PC/W's Selection Division, several of us spent long hours "raiding" the application files late at night, eagerly poring through hundreds of folders, searching for the very best potential Volunteers we could find. Helping in this task were two young PC/W interns, Alan and Judith Guskin. The Guskins were Michigan doctoral candidates who had been active during the 1960 election campaign, and had actually played key roles in convincing then-Senator Kennedy to commit publicly to the establishment of a Peace Corps.

As we examined folder after folder, Al and Judy caught Thailand fever and decided that they themselves wanted to serve in that storied kingdom. Since their qualifications were strong, they were invited to join Thailand One, and soon found themselves back at their Alma Mater.

In the weeks that followed, I participated actively in the instructional program, as did a number of Thailand-specialized social scientists – mostly anthropologists -- whom we invited to come to Ann Arbor for short stints as visiting lecturers. And all of us were greatly supported by the numerous Thai students at the University of Michigan, who were excited that the Peace Corps was coming to their country, and helped with the language and culture training in numerous ways. Without their unstinting help, the training program would have been far less robust.


Fast forward to January 1962, when forty-odd PCVs arrived at the Bangkok's Don Muang Airport, tingling with excitement. Upon landing, they greeted their new hosts in Thai – halting, hesitant Thai, yes, but intelligible Thai. Local governmental dignitaries on hand to greet the Volunteers were stunned and overjoyed. This "new kind of American who can speak Thai" became a media sensation. Never before in history had such a large collection of foreigners arrived in Thailand en masse, with basic language skills already learned. And incidentally, it was satisfying to note that this dramatic public manifestation of successful language-and-culture training occurred a few days before the new Kennedy Administration turned one year old.

Two years later Sargent Shriver wrote in an article for Foreign Affairs:

The first Volunteers who arrived in Thailand in January 1962 made a great impression with what observers described as ‘fluent' Thai. As the Volunteers were the first to point out, their Thai was not actually fluent, but their modest achievement was tremendously appreciated. Since then, of course, a large proportion of the Volunteers there have become truly fluent. (Shriver, Point of the Lance, p. 75).

In that same year there came a genuine expression of gratitude from the Thai side:

Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, one of the oldest and largest universities in Asia, awards honorary degrees only with the approval of Thailand's cabinet. In 1963, the cabinet decided to show its appreciation of the efforts of the 265 Peace Corps Volunteers in Thailand by awarding Sargent Shriver the degree of Doctor of Political Science – the second honorary degree ever given to a Westerner and the first in thirty-five years (Point of the Lance, p.47).


In 1962, in its first Annual Report to Congress, Peace Corps / Washington cited the Michigan program as a model, and general guide for language and culture training in PC programs in other host countries around the world:

Training officers asked themselves, for example, what university or college would be best suited for training Volunteers headed for Thailand? The ideal university for this project would need facilities for training teachers of English as a second language, technical and trade-industrial school instructors, university instructors in scientific and professional fields as well as entomologists and laboratory technicians; would have to be able to teach the difficult Thai language, provide an atmosphere conducive to the study of Thai culture, and have a strong American studies department. Such an ideal place was located: The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. This University has had long and close ties with Asia dating back more than a century. Its campus includes the Center for Southern Asian Studies as well as the English Language Institute, the pioneer center for study and instruction in the teaching of English as a foreign language. Approximately 40 Thai citizens live in Ann Arbor - - the great majority of them students at the University -- with whom the trainees were able to talk and to exchange ideas about each other's cultures. Training demands were fully met. This illustration was repeated with variations at institutions all over the country.

In its first five years, Peace Corps offered training (doubtless of varying quality) in forty-nine languages, from Spanish and French (often required to deal with former colonial bureaucracies and educational institutions) to, among others, Amharic, Baoule, Ewe, Hiligaynon, Kannada, Njanja, Pashto, Quechua, Twi, Wolof, and Yoruba. By 2010, this number of languages offered to PCVs had increased dramatically -- to 250! This is indeed a monumental accomplishment with revolutionary implications. As far as I know, throughout human history no institution has offered instruction in so many languages.


In the half century since 1961 there has been an uninterrupted stream of PCVs serving in Thailand, in a wide variety of programs. By now almost 5,000 Volunteers have served there, in more than 120 contingents. Many Thailand RPCVs have subsequently gone on to productive careers involving international or intercultural service of one kind or another. A stellar example of this, out of many that could be cited, is that of Darryl Johnson, an RPCV from Thailand Three (trained at the University of Washington), who in 2004 became American Ambassador to Thailand. It is fervently to be hoped that in the future more and more of our ambassadors and other diplomats, formal and informal, high-ranking and unranked, will be RPCVs. Thus, step by step, person by person, we are fulfilling the Kennedy vision of cultural competence that he articulated on the steps of the Michigan Union at 2:00 A.M. on October 14, 1960.

On October 14, 2010, a new historical marker was dedicated, located just across the street from the Union. It describes the historic roles of Alan and Judith Guskin in rallying support for a Peace Corps among Michigan students in 1960, and includes a photograph of them expressing the need for such a new organization to then-Senator Kennedy. The marker also includes a group photograph, taken the following year, of the fifty or so members of Thailand One (including Al and Judy). Thus, the members of this pioneering contingent are now an acknowledged part of the history of both the University of Michigan and the Peace Corps – and properly so.

The outstanding success of the Peace Corps in Thailand is of course due to many factors, but certainly important among them is the outstanding training conducted at the University of Michigan, which made a strong contribution to Peace Corps training more generally, and indeed to the overall culture of the Peace Corps itself.

John Kennedy would be proud. So should the University of Michigan.


Although I am solely responsible for any errors in this essay, I wish to acknowledge the kindness of the following individuals for vetting the manuscript, or otherwise providing help.

Mr. Jeremy Black, RPCV from the Comoros Islands, and current PC/W staffer.

Mr. John Coyne, RPCV from Ethiopia, former PC staffer, and co- editor of www.peacecorpsworldwide.org.

Dr. Gerald W. Fry, RPCV from Thailand and Distinguished Professor of International and Intercultural Education at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Alan E. Guskin, RPCV from Thailand and President Emeritus of Antioch University.

Ms. Madeleine Mader, RPCV from Cameroon and former PC staffer.

Dr. Jody K. Olsen, RPCV from Tunisia and former Country Director, Chief of Staff, Deputy Director, and Acting Director of the PC.

Dr. Roger Paget, Institutional Professor of Political Economy and Asian Studies, Emeritus, Lewis and Clark College.

Dr. Elliott Trommald, historian of the evolution of American values.

Hon. Harris L. Wofford, former Peace Corps Associate Director and Country Director in Ethiopia, and former US Senator.


Cobbs Hoffman, Elizabeth

All You Need is Love: The Peace Corps and the Spirit of the 1960s. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 1998.

Coyne, John, and Marian Haley Beil

Peace Corps Worldwide. Blog maintained and moderated by two RPCVs providing a constant flow of articles and essays about Peace Corps history. Accessible at: http://peacecorpsworldwide.org/babbles/.

Leestma, Robert

First and Second Peace Corps Training Programs for Thailand. Ann Arbor: Office of the Dean of State-wide Education, University of Michigan. I am the author of Appendix E of this document, entitled "Objective Techniques for the Study of the Indigenous Culture," which was part of my emphasis on encouraging PCVs to do their own informal research on Thai culture and behavior. 1962.

Peace Corps

First Annual Report to Congress. 1962.

Peace Corps

The Peace Corps: A Comprehensive Agency Assessment. June 2010. See especially Part B: The Five-Year Rule, pp. 79-94. multimedia.peacecorps.gov/.../PC_Comprehensive_Age ncy_Assessment.pdf

Redmon, Coates

Come as You Are: The Peace Corps Story. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. 1986.

Searles, P. David

The Peace Corps Experience: Challenge and Change, 1969-1976. Lexington KY: University of Kentucky Press. 1997.

Shriver, Sargent

Point of the Lance. New York: Harper and Rowe. 1964.

Stossel, Scott

Sarge: The Life and Times of Sargent Shriver. Washington: Smithsonian Books. 2004.

Textor, Robert B., Editor and Contributor

Cultural Frontiers of the Peace Corps. Cambridge: MIT Press. Foreword by Margaret Mead. 1966. With these contributors on the Peace Corps in a particular nation: Lambros Comitas, Jamaica; L. Gary Cowan, Nigeria; Vernon R. Dorjahn, Sierra Leone; Paul L Doughty, Peru; Louis Dupree, Afghanistan; William H. Friedland, Tanganyika; Charles F. Gallagher, Morocco and Tunisia; Alan E. Guskin, Thailand; George M. Guthrie, the Philippines, Dwight B. Heath, Bolivia; Frank J. Mahony, Somalia; Gerald S. Maryanov, Malaya; David Scott Palmer, Peru; David L. Szanton, the Philippines; and Robert B. Textor, editor and contributor of first and last chapters. To access a digitized version of the entire book, for purposes of searching or downloading, go to: http://www.stanford.edu/~rbtextor/ . Click "Publications."

Textor, Robert B., et al.

Manual for the Rural Community Health Worker in Thailand. With James C. McCullough, Kitima Kanitayon, and Suchart Wasi. Separate Thai version published as Khuumyy samrab Phuu Songsoem Anaamaj Chonnabod. Bangkok: Ministry of Public Health, in cooperation with the U.S. Agency for International Development. 1958. English version available at http://www.stanford.edu/~rbtextor/ . Click "Publications."

Wofford, Harris

The Future of the Peace Corps. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 365, The Peace Corps. May 1966, pp. 129-146.

Wofford, Harris

Of Kennedys and Kings: Making Sense of the Sixties. Farrar Straus and Giroux, 1980. Reprinted by the University of Pittsburgh Press, with a Foreword by Bill Moyers, 1991.

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Headlines: February, 2011; The 1960's; Five Year Rule; Peace Corps Headquarters; Staff; Shriver

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Story Source: Robert B. Textor

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