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The 1963 Ramon Magsaysay Award for International Understanding to the Peace Corps
The 1963 Ramon Magsaysay Award for International Understanding to the Peace Corps
THE 1963 RAMON MAGSAYSAY AWARD FOR INTERNATIONAL UNDERSTANDING
UNITED STATES PEACE CORPS IN ASIA
Service of UNITED STATES PEACE CORPS Volunteers in Asia dates from the arrival in Manila on October 12, 1961 of the first contingent of 128 men and women requested by the Philippine Government as teachers' aides in English for public schools. By mid-1963 some 1,400 Volunteers were working in Asia upon invitation of 11 countries and areas.
The idea of a United States government-sponsored voluntary overseas service corps came prominently to public attention during the 1960 presidential campaign when John F. Kennedy made two references to it. Congress had already approved a fund to study the feasibility of such a corps. Wide and enthusiastic response from the press and private citizens prompted the newly elected president in late January 1961 to appoint a Presidential Task Force under the direction of Robert Sargent Shriver to determine whether, and if so how, the idea could be implemented.
The Task Force findings were favorable. They were based upon comprehensive studies made by private educational institutions and foundations, and reviews of voluntary agencies and mission groups both abroad and in the United States which had carried on programs similar to the work proposed for the PEACE CORPS. Shriver, however, admitted to misgivings: "There is a great difference," he said, "between a noble idea, no matter how well conceived, and the execution of that idea in practical, realistic, down-to-earth terms."
By Executive Order 10924 issued on March 1, 1961 the PEACE CORPS was established on a temporary pilot basis as a separate agency of the Department of State. Legislation by Congress followed on September 12, 1961 formally creating a PEACE CORPS "to promote world peace and friendship by making available to interested countries and areas men and women of the United States qualified for service abroad and willing to serve, under conditions of hardship if necessary, to help such countries and areas meet their needs for trained manpower, and to help promote a better understanding of the American people on the part of the peoples served and a better understanding of other peoples on the part of the American people." President Kennedy had granted a minimum budget of US$5 million and a maximum of US$10 million for the period March 1 to June 30, 1961; in September a congressional appropriation of US$30 million was made for the Fiscal Year ending June 30, 1962.
In the pilot period a talented and energetic staff was enlisted. Shriver, then 45, was the oldest. Questionnaires were sent to the more than 30,000 people who had made inquiries. By May 1961 some 5,000 completed applications for membership in the CORPS had been received. To determine the response of foreign governments, Shriver and several colleagues made a tour of eight nations in Asia and Africa asking what those governments thought would be helpful to their countries. They came back with such requests as from India for agriculturists and from Ghana for teachers, plumbers and electricians.
The basic policies that have guided the organization's development also were set in this period. The PEACE CORPS, it was decided, would go only where invited. Volunteers overseas would work for the host government or for a private agency or organization within the foreign country, serving under host country supervisors, and working with host country co-workers wherever possible. Volunteers would be "doers," not "advisers." They would learn to speak the language of the host country, learn to appreciate its customs, be able, when questioned, to discuss adequately and intelligently the United States, refrain from political or religious proselytizing and set as the standard of their success how well the requested job was fulfilled.
Volunteers would serve for two years without salary or draft exemption, but would be provided with a living allowance enabling them to subsist in a modest manner comparable to the circumstances of their foreign co-workers. They would enjoy no diplomatic or other privileges. Termination pay of US$75 for each month of satisfactory service would be given to help the Volunteer get started again when he returned to the United States.
The PEACE CORPS would be open to all qualified, single Americans 18 or over, and to married couples with no dependents under 18 if both could qualify for the same project. A college degree would not be a requirement for service. In fact, a special effort would be made to attract farmers and craftsmen who possessed skills and experience but no degrees. High medical, psychological and character standards were established and it was determined that final selection would be made only at the conclusion of training. The hardship of PEACE CORPS life would be featured in recruitment so no candidate could misjudge the terms and conditions under which he volunteered to serve. Finally, candidates, trainees and Volunteers would be told that they could resign from the PEACE CORPS at any time; the CORPS wanted only those who served freely. The PEACE CORPS would have the right to terminate the service of any Volunteer at any time for reasons of health, inadequate performance or poor conduct.
Volunteers were to serve at no cost to the host government. To date the average of US$9,000 which has been expended for each Volunteer for one year—including training, clothing, living and termination allowances, travel, administration and all other overhead costs—has been paid entirely from U.S. congressional appropriations.
By late August the first group of 50 Volunteers had completed training at the University of California in Berkeley. On September 15, 1961 a young American introduced himself in a Ghana classroom, marking the beginning of the PEACE CORPS on the job. Seven hundred Volunteers were in 13 countries by the end of the year. Since then up to 3,000 persons a month have applied, about 10 per cent of whom have been accepted as trainees. Some 16 per cent of these have been selected-out during training which has been conducted by one of 60 U.S. colleges and universities or groups such as the National 4-H Foundation, the Experiment in International Living, CARE (Committee for American Remittances Everywhere, Inc.) the Research Institute for the Study of Man and the Tennessee Valley Authority.
The U.S. Public Health Service accepted responsibility for the health care of the Volunteers and detailed its doctors to the PEACE CORPS in the project countries. A PEACE CORPS Representative assigned to each project area has handled relationships with the host country and been responsible for the well-being and performance of Volunteers.
No longer an experiment, by mid-1963 there are some 5,000 Volunteers scattered in 44 countries of Asia, the Near East, Africa and Latin America. The first contingents were beginning to come home and a buildup had begun to increase the CORPS to 9,000 by January 1964. Reports of work of the Volunteers have prompted requests from one country after another to be included in the program. Despite some well-publicized indiscretions of speech and false allegations of their connection to an intelligence agency, every country that originally received Volunteers has asked for more.
Representing a cross-section of American life, the Volunteers have come with diverse backgrounds from the cities, towns and farms of all 50 American states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam. The typical Volunteer has been unmarried; the average age of the men is 25 and of the women 28. One-third of the Volunteers have been women. Some Volunteers are students who have yet to finish their education or men and women who temporarily left their careers in midstream; others have passed normal retirement age.
The PEACE CORPS selection process has been based on merit, measured against the particular requirements of each project. The candidates are first required to fill out a searching Volunteer Questionnaire designed to give insight into personality as well as family and educational background, working experience and interests. Response from the six references each candidate is required to list, and from former teachers or employers, plays a major role in the initial selection. Promising candidates take a Placement Test, or entrance examination, which helps the Selection Division evaluate abilities in various skill areas.
In scrutinizing the Questionnaires, the PEACE CORPS looks for idealism, enlightened self-interest (experience shows that a Volunteer does a better job if he not only wants to do something for his country and for world peace, but also sees service as an opportunity for self-betterment) and versatility. If a thorough analysis of the Questionnaire and Placement Test indicates that a candidate has the needed maturity, motivation, character and skill, an invitation to train for a project is issued. The candidate is free to accept or decline, state a preference for another country or ask that he be invited for another project at a later date.
The selection process continues throughout training, giving the PEACE CORPS a chance to form firsthand opinions of the candidate's personality under stress and his technical skill. During this period, the Civil Service Commission conducts a full background check on each trainee.
Training is usually conducted at a college or university where prospective Volunteers spend 60 hours or more a week in classes. Studies are tailored to the specific country and project. In a typical weekday program for teacher-trainees preparing for service in Thailand, four or five hours a day are devoted to Thai language, one hour to American studies, two hours to instruction in teaching English as a foreign language, and one to two hours each evening for Thai area studies. Interspersed through the training period are physical and psychiatric examinations, immunizations and a thorough medical orientation, including instruction in emergency first aid and basic preventive measures to be taken overseas. Language examination and PEACE CORPS orientation classes are usually held on Saturdays. The pressure of the schedule is in itself a test of stamina and intent on the part of the trainee. This phase of training lasts for eight to ten weeks.
Following these sessions training is generally continued at one of two PEACE CORPS training camps in Puerto Rico which were organized with the cooperation of the Puerto Rican Commonwealth Government, an American private foundation and the British Outward Bound Trust upon whose schools, which stress exposure to unexpected challenges, the camps were modeled.
In the PEACE CORPS camps language study is intensified and trainees learn to live without conveniences, washing their clothes in creeks and cooking over open fires. Physical conditioning programs include mountain climbing, trekking and survival swimming. Training concludes with orientation in the host country before actual work begins.
Volunteers are made to understand from the outset that theirs is principally a mission of service—the one "reward" they might expect was defined by President Kennedy: "They will have acquired new skills and experiences which will aid them in their future careers and they will have returned better able to assume the responsibilities of American citizenship with greater understanding of our global responsibilities." Recent estimates indicate that at least 65 per cent of returning Volunteers want to continue in overseas development work of some type and realize their need for more training.
While not a new idea—the British developed a Volunteer Service Overseas program in 1958—the PEACE CORPS in two years has inspired 12 other nations to plan similar efforts. They are Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, the Philippines, the Netherlands and West Germany. At a meeting in Puerto Rico in October 1962, attended by representatives of 43 nations interested in the work of the CORPS, an International Peace Corps Secretariat was organized which subsequently established headquarters in Washington, D.C.
In Asia as elsewhere the extent and nature of each country's PEACE CORPS participation has depended on local interest in the concept and the specific proposals of the host government. As of February 1, 1963 nine Volunteers were serving in Afghanistan, 150 in East and West Pakistan, 74 in India, 69 in Nepal, 99 in Thailand, 114 in Malaya, 60 in Borneo and Sarawak, and 631 in the Philippines. Seventeen have since gone to Indonesia and 130 more to the other countries, with additional groups in training for arrival overseas later this year.
In greatest demand have been teachers at all levels and in many subjects, particularly mathematics, science and English. Persons with experience in agriculture and health services usually have been next in priority, but the list of requested skills is long. In Thailand physical education instructors have been training the 1964 Olympic Team. In Afghanistan Volunteer mechanics are teaching vehicle repair. In East Pakistan a mechanical engineer from Riverside, California, is responsible for maintaining machinery that serves 50 village-farm cooperatives and has organized a repair shop to overhaul equipment, distribute spare parts, design and forge minor implements and backstop PEACE CORPS agricultural teams in the field. More important he had developed training courses for Pakistani mechanics and supervisors who will take over when his tour is finished.
Volunteer civil engineers are building bridges and roads in Malaya and North Borneo. Other civil engineers are assisting in housing and school construction in Nepal and East Pakistan. The oldest Volunteer is a 76-year-old water supply engineer working on a public works project in West Pakistan.
PEACE CORPS medical teams have helped staff urban hospitals and rural clinics and dispensaries, given instruction in public health and preventive medicine, provided medical administration and taught host-country medical and auxiliary personnel in hospitals, medical schools and schools of nursing. Typical of the assignments of registered nurses in seven Asian countries were two in Pakistan, one as an operating room nurse in the District Hospital in Lyallpur, and the other as helper in organizing a rural dispensary in Bucheki. A former public health nurse at a leprosarium in Hawaii was working at Kota Bahru Hospital on the northeast coast of Malaya in charge of 80 leprosy patients.
The largest group of Volunteers in India has been at Osmania University in Hyderabad teaching chemistry, physics, geology, agriculture and English. Others have been helping in poultry development and dairy work. Some are mechanics working on agricultural machinery. Several have been developing small industries. Others have worked in youth clubs or taught architectural design, printing, home science or physical education. The work has been carefully planned by state and local officials to be sure that the Volunteers did not displace nationals and that the jobs were useful.
In Pakistan more than one-third of the Volunteers are engineers, farmers, social workers and public health workers engaged in community development and rural public works; the government has requested five times their number more. Others are teaching in high schools, colleges and technical institutes, with emphasis on science. The performance of the 11 nurses in East Pakistan resulted in a request for another 100. The large majority of Volunteers, regardless of their job specialties, are living in villages, many in houses constructed of mud and cow dung. In a country where 80 per cent of the people live similarly in villages but most medical personnel remain in cities, the government has assigned Pakistani nurses to hospitals and dispensaries in remote areas since Volunteers have been willing to accept assignments there.
Volunteers are expected to cope with problems on their own as much as possible. In Pakistan the Volunteers prepared a booklet to explain their role to their Pakistani colleagues. A Pakistani supervisor, the booklet states, should expect from the Volunteers "a readiness and willingness to work wherever he is assigned and to make his job succeed even in cases where the job needs considerable development or definition." The institution to which a Volunteer is assigned should expect from him "a spirit of genuine cooperation with his superiors and coworkers, a desire to learn and share with Pakistanis in learning... and an interest and concern in the total success of the project and of the institution." The Volunteer, in his turn, should have "a clear statement and explanation of the job he is given. . . a clear description of the administrative relationship within which he is to perform. . . the necessary materials and a place to work."
The first months, the booklet candidly reports, were spent by the Volunteers in "stumbling efforts in Urdu, learning what was expected of them in their jobs, in some cases persuading their Pakistani superior that they were not guests but workers who expected to work eight to ten hours a day, and occasionally discovering that their job really did not exist." There have also been administrative mix-ups, as in the case of Nepal where one group was sent by mistake to a village where no one knew they were coming, who they were or what they were supposed to do.
Volunteers need to be alert and imaginative. In a village in the Indian Punjab, for example, Volunteers noticed that all that needed to be done to put to work an electric wheat-grinding machine purchased months earlier under the U.S. aid program and never used was to change the American plug that did not fit local outlets, for an Indian plug that did. In Pakistan an ingenuous Volunteer invented an inexpensive machine for parboiling rice—thus increasing its market value—by utilizing rice husks for fuel. His machine blows the husks over charcoal where they burn in mid-air, supplying the intense heat necessary to boil rice. He has also taught improved methods of breeding and feeding dairy animals to increase milk production. A 56-year-old Volunteer home economics teacher, lacking appropriate teaching materials, thoughtfully wrote to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and obtained extension bulletins published in 1915; she had discovered it was necessary to go back in time in order to lead her eager Pakistani pupils into the future.
All Volunteers work in their primary skill areas but many have found that their outside activities make a significant contribution to achieving PEACE CORPS objectives, Although cut off from his usual recreation and often from other Americans except for his teammate and occasional visits from his group leader, a resourceful Volunteer seldom has the problem of having nothing to do on his time off. In Pakistan the dispensing of a new adhesive bandage led to organizing a clinic with a PEACE CORPS doctor in charge and Volunteers assisting after work. In North Borneo a young woman with 4-H Club experience oiled and cleaned the rusting sewing machines—originally purchased as status symbols—that she noticed in many longhouses, and gave lessons in sewing. She also taught volleyball, gave lessons in building latrines and in making jam from bananas and soup from eggs and cucumbers.
In the Philippines the PEACE CORPS program found ready acceptance in the Department of Education and in the villages for its people-to-people approach evoked memories of a group of American teachers who had arrived in Manila 60 years earlier to found a modern system of public instruction. Responding to the call for volunteers to staff the schools established after the American annexation of the Philippines, this band of 600 pioneering men and women had sailed from California in July 1901 on the transport Thomas, a converted cattle ship. The "Thomasites," as they were called by the Filipinos, operated under great handicaps, but, like the later PEACE CORPS Volunteers, they learned to live in an alien culture under strange conditions, called upon untested resources and often performed tasks beyond their responsibilities as teachers.
The PEACE CORPS Volunteers have come as educational aides to Filipino teachers, not replacing teachers but providing an added resource—to serve as a model for spoken English, a guide to pronunciation, a resource for vocabulary development, and an aide in checking and improving English composition and other expression in English. Also as resource persons, the Volunteers have been invited to participate and assist in other activities in and out of school, such as scouting, adult education, parent-teacher meetings, and health and community development projects.
On the job the Volunteers in the Philippines have lived singly, boarding with families, or in groups of two to four in local houses. They have been given allowances similar to the salaries of Filipino teachers of P210 (in 1961-63 equivalent to an average US$60) monthly. All college graduates, the educational aides in rural elementary schools are under the supervision of local superintendents. Each works with one or more school within bicycle commuting distance of his residence and all have been active out-of-school activities.
During the school holiday in summer 1962 Volunteers in the Philippines engaged in 52 different projects ranging from camp counseling and agricultural work to summer theater. Earning public applause was "Camp Brotherhood" at Mambucal, Negros Occidental, where 18 Volunteers, a group of Filipino co-workers, and senior students from Negros Occidental College offered instruction in arts and crafts, classes in English and athletic activities to 700 indigent teenagers. Three other Volunteers showed some of the initiative of their pioneering grandmothers by planning Naga City's first children's day camp, providing recreation for 200 children during the summer months.
Though the largest of all PEACE CORPS programs, the Philippine project has in some respects been one of the most difficult because of the loosely defined role of the teacher's aide. Most of the Volunteers were young liberal arts graduates without teaching experience and when they arrived no one knew exactly what they were supposed to do. The majority came to feel, however, as one Volunteer wrote: "The important thing we are doing here is not that which can be measured with a camera. People in other projects can photograph a bridge they've designed or a road they helped build. But who can photograph the mind of a child? Our rewards in a project like this come with the satisfaction of seeing a child's face light up when he has learned to say 'fish' instead of 'fees' or 'hot' not 'hat.' We have had to learn and must continue to learn to accept an intangible gratification." Of the 128 in the first group, 111 worked out their tour. One died, several went home for personal reasons and only a few resigned or were terminated. Thirteen elected to extend their tours for a few months.
With comparatively few exceptions the Volunteer in Asia has shown a commendable resiliency in adjusting to assignments. Usually accustomed to considerable privacy, he has learned to live a life open to minute scrutiny by the people of the host country. He was generally shocked at the extent of poverty he found. Accustomed to innovation and do-it-yourself, he was usually unprepared for the bureaucratic defeatism of low-ranking officials and the slowness of Asian villagers to accept new ideas. These things he could not discuss easily with his Asian hosts for their natural inclination to be hospitable and courteous to visitors was now alloyed with resurgent nationalism and easily pricked pride.
To the highly motivated Volunteer the lack of hardship in some assignments was a disappointment. "Attracted in part by sacrifice," Shriver explained "some Volunteers were made uneasy by the luxury of modest comfort. . . . Often the difficulties have been depressingly ordinary, making the idea of sacrifice a big myth.'' Misconduct has sent some home. Arrogance has limited the usefulness of others. Many have been ill, few seriously. More debilitating have been the frustrations and the disappointments.
A feeling of being needed, however, has given many young Volunteers a sense of direction they lacked at home. The versatility they have often shown has surprised even their own countrymen. The Volunteers have done thousands of colorless tasks—building chickenhouses, digging drainage ditches, fixing motors. Often seeing little change they have learned to take heart from tiny triumphs. The PEACE CORPS, as Shriver has said, "is simply people." People with needed skills, who have made a genuine effort to get along with their hosts and do a constructive job.
To the great majority of those whom the Volunteers have come to help and whose cultures and aspirations they have come to know, the PEACE CORPS Volunteers' idealism, dedicated service and spirit of goodwill have opened new horizons. Many would agree with President Kennedy: "In these days of international tension the response of these Volunteers stands as a light to those who seek a peaceful world."
The generalizations in the above background statement apply to the Peace Corps everywhere but only details of the Asian projects are given since the Award cites specifically "persons in Asia."
American Peace Corps in Pakistan. Dacca: Peace Corps Office. January 1963.
American Weekend. January 24, 1962.
Asian Student. San Francisco: Asia Foundation. Vol. 2, no. 38, June 8, 1963.
Assignments of Peace Corps Volunteers, Malaya. London. April 1, 1963.
Daily Mirror. Manila. May 23, September 29, 1961; June 3, 18, July 1, 1963.
Daily Mirror, Magazine. Manila. August 3, 1963.
Detroit Free Press. April 9, 1962.
Evening News. Manila. May 15, 16, 23, September 6, October 11, 12, and November 2, 1961; January 22, May 7, June 1, 11, 1962; May 14, June 10, 11, 28,July 1, 2, 1963.
Free World. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Information Agency. Vol. 12, no. 3, March 1963.
Iowa Defender. October 19, 1962.
Japan Times. Tokyo. January 30, 1962.
Kosaka, Zentaro. "The U.S. Peace Corps and Future Aid to Underdeveloped Countries," KaigaiJijo. Tokyo. February 1963.
Manila Bulletin. May 13-17, 24, June 5, July 14, October 23, November 27, 1961; January 2, 22, February 1, May 18, 26, October 12, November 20, December 12, 1962; February 2, 8, April 16, 23, May 16, 21, 24, June 1, 5, 10, 13, 19, 20, 26,July 26, 1963.
Manila Chronicle. May 11, 13, 15, 16, 24, 26, June 1, October 30, 1961; September 13, 1962; April 17, 18, June 7, 22, and July 5, 1963.
Manila Times. May 13-16, 25, June 18, 19, August 8, October 13, 23, 24, 27, 1961; January 6, June 5, 25, September 13, October 11, November 20, and December 8, 1962; April 20, May 17, 24, and June 13, 1963.
New York Times. March 4, 19, 1963.
Peace Corps. 1st Annual Report to Congress for the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1962.
The Peace Corps in India After One Year. Booklet printed by the students and staff of Northern Regional School of Printing Technology, Allahabad, under the supervision of Peace Corps Volunteers, Walter Haan and Gary Lefkowitz. March 6, 1963.
Peace Corps. Office of Public Affairs. Brochures. Undated.
"Agriculture in the Peace Corps."
"College Education—Liberal Arts Students and the Peace Corps."
"Community Development—Opportunities for Junior College Graduates in the Peace Corps."
"Health Professions in the Peace Corps."
"Older Volunteers in the Peace Corps."
"Registered Nurses in the Peace Corps."
"The United States Peace Corps."
"You and Peace Corps."
Perez, Gilbert. "From the Transport Thomas to Sto. Tomas," in Morales, Alfredo, et al. Achievement and Self-Discovery. Manila: Ginn & Co. 1954.
Peace Corps Volunteer. Vol. 1, no. 3, January 1963; no. 4, February 1963.
Peace Corps Volunteer Questionnaire. October 15, 1962.
Philippines Free Press. December 16, 1961; March 16, May 18, July 13, 1963.
Philippines Herald. May 14, 16, 17, 24, 27, 28, June 8, October l3, December 23, 1961; September 13, November 20, 1962; April 19, May 6, 7, 9, 14, 29, June 7, 30, July 4, 5, 8, 13, 1963.
Ravenholt, Albert. "The Peace Corps in the Philippines," American Universities Field Staff Reports Service. New York. Southeast Asia Series. Vol. 10, no. 9, March 1962.
San Francisco Chronicle. November 13, 1961.
Santon, Henry J. "What an International Peace Corps Promises," Illustrated Weekly. India. September 16, 1962.
Sun-News. Washington, D.C. April 24, 1962.
Time. New York. July 5, 1963.
Weekly Graphic. Manila. October 25 and December 6, 1961.
Interviews with U.S. Peace Corps Volunteers in Asia and persons acquainted with their work.
|By Avinash G Vaidya (126.96.36.199) on Thursday, September 09, 2004 - 1:07 am: Edit Post|
In late 1960, we had one APCV from Montana. Her Name was Nancy Lee Hendricks. But unfortunately we do not have her latest postal address. So, I would like to request you to help me getting her recent address, to enable me to renew my contacts with her...
|By Nancy Lee Hendricks (usr-if-48.rmci.net - 188.8.131.52) on Sunday, January 09, 2005 - 7:18 pm: Edit Post|
Very happy to see your note on the website Peace Corps Online.
I do hope you will see this and respond.
|By NITIN Saxena (184.108.40.206) on Monday, May 08, 2006 - 7:15 am: Edit Post|
Just in case you happen to know about Peace Corps
particularly the operations in India between 1963 and 1966 First hand experiences, if any, will come handy while writing a book Nitin sAXENA
|By email@example.com (220.127.116.11) on Monday, May 08, 2006 - 7:14 am: Edit Post|
Just in case you happen to know about Peace Corps
particularly the operations in India between 1963 and 1966 First hand experiences, if any, will come handy while writing a book