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1961: Michael A. Lanigan served in Colombia in Andes, Antoquia, Cali (PCVL to 12 sites) beginning in 1961
Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Michael A. Lanigan can be contacted at exoskelanetzerodnet
Country of Service: Colombia
Training Group: Colombia I
Cities you served in: Andes, Antoquia, Cali (PCVL to 12 sites)
Arrival Year: 1961
Departure Year: 1963
Work Description: Rural Community Development. Organized juntas de accion
comunal. Later was Peace Corps volunteer leader to 12 sites and 25 volunteers.
Bring us up to date on your life after the peace corps:
Leaving out much, here is a brief on my post P.C. experiences. I helped
train 19 Peace Corps groups for Central and South America, Africa and
Nepal as a faculty member at Southern Illinois University and University
of New Mexico. I held various positions from teaching community
analysis and rural community development to being the assistant
program director in charge of organization and logistics.
Got degrees in sociology and government by attending four universities.
: Georgetown Foreign Service School, George Washington night school,
American University night school, and finally Southern Illinois University
(SIU) where I worked for a time as the assistant to the assistant dean of
international relations. At SIU I was vice president of the Sport
Parachute Club and a member of the parachute team that won the
National Collegiate Parachute League national competitions where our
team beat out West Point, the Air Force Academy and over thirty other
collegages for first place--a record that has yet to be broken.
Spent six years as a disaster specialist for the American National Red
Cross. Worked on and directed over 30 disasters. I worked on floods,
flash floods, hurricanes, tornados, riots, fires, earthquakes and several
smaller disasters. I directed the multi-million disaster relief operation in
Wilkes-Barre, Pa following Hurricane Agnes. On this one I supervised a
volunteer and professional staff of over 900. I also led a 12 man, United
States disaster relief specialist team to assist the Peruvian R.C. Society
after their awful earthquake in 1970 (Spent half a year on this one, half in
a tent at an emergency helicopter/field hospital base in the mountains
at 7,000 feet (a million and a half refugees and over 50,000 dead), and
half in Lima as the chief deligate to The League of Red Cross Societies in
After too many disaster and the world looking gray and sad I left that line
of work and worked my way across the country to California. I did
various jobs such as being a bouncer in a road-house, a cook in a
pizzaria, a dishwasher, then later the chef in a seafood/steakhouse in
the harbor at Half Moon Bay, Californi.I did a two-and-one-half
apprentiship to a metal sculptor (we made mild steel sheet and copper
sheet life-sized birds which sold for $100 to $8,000 depending on the
I worked eight years on the Pacific Ocean, first as a seacook for a couple
of years on a party-boat, then ars as a deck-hand on many commercial
fishing boats. (Depending on the time of year I geard up and
hook-caught cod, salmon, and albacore tuna. I made and used 60-80
pound pots to catch the California dungeness crabs. I ran a light boat for
the huge purse-seiners who went for the squid. I also helped makee and
fish 60 fathom gill nets to catch herring in San Francisco Bay. Eventually
I bought, rebuilt and skippered an old surplus government boat (it at one
time was the mail boat for the navy in San Francisco Bay). I fished that
for a few years but when El Nino's warm waters chased the salmon all
the way up to Alaska, and other fish moved north and I left the fishing
life. It was too much work and danger to end up poor.
I worked and lived for a year at a California hot springs where I kept the
mineral waters flowing and maintained the huge fresh water tanks and
the pipes that tapped our five springs. I also kept the generators and
trucks running. This was a funky old hot springs well over a hundred
years old. They were not hooked up to the power grid and used
generators for the work. The rooms and grounds were all lit by kerosene
lanterns. We had a 500 gallon tank just for kerosend and actually had a
job description of a "lamp trimmer" for our thirty some lanterns.
For a couple of years I worked for a landscape maintenance company up
in Washington State.
I finished up my working career as the cartoonist, photographer and
reporter for four newspapers in Northern California. I covered the grim
news beat of floods, plane and car wrecks, fires, and the usual daily
mayhem all our cities spawn. I also did photo-essays and wrote many
feature stories. My last three years I was political reporter covering city
and county politics and eventually became assistant editor.
I still write and submit copy to various papers and magazines, but for the
most part now am in a vegitative state of feeding my cat, watering my
garden, canoing on the huge Clear Lake at my door step, writing short
stories (some of which sell) and drinking an occasional beer at the local
pub where I have learned the gentleman's sport of pool.
Any thoughts you have now looking back on peace corps days?:
The Peace Corps experience was the most formative of any of my many
and varied experiences. It set the tone for the rest of my life. It also
gave me the guts to try to do things I never thought I could do. It taught
me that failure is the road to success, and just because it didn't work the
first time, don't quit. Get up, dust off and have at it again and again until
you get it right.
Any message for returned volunteers?:
Stay active, stay involved, stay informed and speak your mind on state
and national issue. Oppose this horrible 1984 TIPS attempt to make us a
nation of snitches trusting no one. And always, ALWAYS vote so that
never again will end up with an "appointed" government who wants to go
to war with the world in the name of oil.
Originally posted: July 31, 2002
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