2006.09.17: September 17, 2006: Headlines: COS - Colombia: Washington Times: Ronald Schwartz writes: We were Colombia One. We made history as the first Americans to begin training for the Peace Corps

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Colombia: Peace Corps Colombia : The Peace Corps in Colombia: 2006.09.17: September 17, 2006: Headlines: COS - Colombia: Washington Times: Ronald Schwartz writes: We were Colombia One. We made history as the first Americans to begin training for the Peace Corps

By Admin1 (admin) (ppp-70-129-41-31.dsl.okcyok.swbell.net - on Saturday, October 28, 2006 - 12:08 pm: Edit Post

Ronald Schwartz writes: We were Colombia One. We made history as the first Americans to begin training for the Peace Corps

Ronald Schwartz writes: We were Colombia One. We made history as the first Americans to begin training for the Peace Corps

"After settling into villages, we bought horses and began Stage 1 of the community development process -- meeting the people and identifying their "felt needs." This involved long walks and mounted visits to peasant farms, hundreds of cups of Colombian espresso, uncountable bottles of beer and endless conversations about President Kennedy. In our meetings with farmers, we preached the gospel of community development. We organized village committees, and inspired collective action for schools, roads, athletic fields and aqueducts. "

Ronald Schwartz writes: We were Colombia One. We made history as the first Americans to begin training for the Peace Corps

Forum: Kennedy's orphans

September 17, 2006

Caption: Photographs of Peace Corps Volunteer Darrell Swarens in Colombia in the 1960's

On Sept. 5, 1961, just before midnight, 62 young men boarded a train at New York's Penn Station. Destination: the White House.

We were Colombia One. We made history as the first Americans to begin training for the Peace Corps. Now we were in the White House, waiting to meet the president, John F. Kennedy.

In a dimly lit East Room, Kennedy spoke to us of his hopes for the Peace Corps and the Alliance for Progress. He also touched on a campaign theme, "the ill-chosen, ill-briefed" ambassadors and confirmed his lack of confidence in the foreign policy establishment. Kennedy had read "The Ugly American" and wanted more of them. More Americans who, like the book's hero, worked at the grass roots and spoke the local language. The president shook our hands and said, "I want to hear what it's really like down there."

Colombia in 1961 was a wounded nation recovering from 13 years of political violence that claimed 300,000 lives. We were welcomed with warmth and enthusiasm, largely due to the charisma of JFK, and his Catholicism. Colombians ubiquitously referred to us as "los hijos de Kennedy" -- Kennedy's children. We also encountered critics on the left who viewed us as agents of Yankee imperialism and, for some, an arm of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Colombia One was jointly administered by the Peace Corps and CARE. We had a third layer of bureaucracy -- Accion Comunal, the Colombian Community Development Agency. It had a short history, a low position in a big ministry, and a poorly paid field staff. On a scorecard for "potential political disaster," the Peace Corps-CARE-Accion Comunal alliance earned an easy "10."

After settling into villages, we bought horses and began Stage 1 of the community development process -- meeting the people and identifying their "felt needs." This involved long walks and mounted visits to peasant farms, hundreds of cups of Colombian espresso, uncountable bottles of beer and endless conversations about President Kennedy. In our meetings with farmers, we preached the gospel of community development. We organized village committees, and inspired collective action for schools, roads, athletic fields and aqueducts.

Kennedy's Alliance for Progress raised expectations of financial aid. And we were occasionally challenged by community leaders who saw us as ambulatory checkbooks. In fact, we had no store of materials or equipment. As Kennedy's children, however, we had access to Colombian authorities and felt no hesitation in requesting support. Our major obstacles were our own impatience, the inevitable delays, and our frustration with unfulfilled government promises.

The number of projects completed in communities with Colombia One volunteers was far greater than anyone would have predicted. The official report, includes 44 schools, 65 classrooms, 29 rural roads, 27 aqueducts, four health centers, 26 cooperatives, 100 sports fields and several hundred latrines. A similar number of works are listed as "in progress."

Most observers agree Colombia One exceeded expectations. Our most important contribution was just being there and trying to get something done. As Americans working in rural villages, we brought attention and publicity to Accion Comunal. In a book on the Peace Corps, David Hapgood and Meridan Bennett note, that "Without Peace Corps help, Accion Comunal might have disappeared in 1962, when it was still shaky, insecure and overextended."

Today, there are more than 182,000 Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. They include governors, senators, representatives, ambassadors, authors and university presidents. Beyond the glitter of the notables, however, are the stories of returned volunteers from Colombia and 137 other countries. They suggest the torch passed to Kennedy is still carried by his orphans.

Members of Colombia One have worked in more than 100 countries. They have had careers and assignments with the World Bank, the United Nations, the U.S. Agency for International Development, CARE, the Red Cross and other development and humanitarian agencies. As economists, administrators and consultants, they have designed, managed and participated in hundreds of international projects: Establishing stock markets in Asia, low-cost housing and disaster relief in Latin America, factories in Colombia and Brazil, and training institutions in Africa and the Americas.

On the domestic front, Colombia One volunteers have been leaders in education, public service and the private sector. One, Steve Honore, received the Peace Corps' Franklin Williams Award for Outstanding Community Service. Another, Henry Jibaja set up VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) in Florida. John Arango helped establish and is currently director of New Mexico's Legal Aid program. Others have worked with Model Cities, the Office of Equal Opportunity, Head Start and in programs for Native Americans and Southeast Asian refugees. A few anecdotes about former Colombia One volunteers illustrate "the rest of the story."

As a volunteer in Colombia, Bill Woodenberg, developed a technology to integrate woven bamboo strips into concrete slabs. Later, he adapted the process to industrial production and created factories and hundreds of jobs in Bangladesh and Togo. In Washington, Ned Chalker started the National Maritime Heritage Foundation. The NMHF is a partner with the District of Columbia and the Navy Department to create a Maritime Center and build a Tall Ship to represent the District. Reflecting on his Colombia experience, Mr. Chalker observed, "I met all these people who after you got to know them were just like the people I grew up with... except they spoke Spanish."

After retiring as president of a manufacturing firm, Michael Murray became a founding board member for the $100 million reconstruction of Forest Park in St. Louis. In Arizona, Phil Lopes is the Democrats' Leader in the State House of Representatives.

It has now been 45 years since our White House meeting. Today, Kennedy's dreams for Latin America continue to inspire passion and policy. And Colombia, despite the drugs and insecurity, has made enormous progress in education, health care, manufacturing, trade and communications.

As the Peace Corps celebrates its 45th year, the "ugly Americans" from Colombia One will raise glasses of aguardiente to say muchas, muchas gracias. We will thank the Colombians for their generosity, and for helping us learn that life's greatest reward lies in trying to make it better for others.


An anthropologist, development consultant and past faculty member at Williams College and Colgate and Johns Hopkins Universities, Mr. Schwarz was director of development solutions for Africa and spent 12 years in research and teaching in Colombia.

When this story was posted in October 2006, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Contact PCOLBulletin BoardRegisterSearch PCOLWhat's New?

Peace Corps Online The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
Harris Wofford to speak at "PC History" series Date: October 26 2006 No: 1011 Harris Wofford to speak at "PC History" series
Senator Harris Wofford will be the speaker at the 4th Annual "Peace Corps History" series on November 16 sponsored by the University of Maryland at Baltimore County (UMBC) and the Maryland Returned Volunteers. Previous speakers in the series have included Jack Vaughn (Second Director of the Peace Corps), Scott Stossel (Biographer of Sargent Shriver), and C. Payne Lucas (President Emeritus of Africare). Details on the time and location of the event are available here.

Top Stories and Breaking News PCOL Magazine Peace Corps Library RPCV Directory Sign Up

Election 2006: Top Races for RPCVs Date: October 22 2006 No: 1002 Election 2006: Top Races for RPCVs
Congressman Chris Shays in Connecticut
Shays not afraid to differ with Bush 21 Oct
Maybe it's time for Shays to depart 29 Sep
Shays says US should have gone into Iraq sooner 20 Oct
Shays slams National Republican Committee 13 Oct
Shays says Abu Ghraib more pornography than torture 14 Oct
Chris Shays calls for Rumsfeld to resign 4 Oct
Shays says his faith has been shaken 15 Sep

Governor Jim Doyle in Wisconsin
Doyle started with service in Peace Corps 8 Oct
Margaret Krome writes: Doyle helps Wisconsin 27 Sep
Doyle has a slight edge in the polls 20 Oct

Kinky Friedman in Texas - Candidate for Governor
Kinky Friedman—singer, writer, governor? 31 Aug
Friedman No. 2 in polls as election day nears 16 Oct
"I want to be your good shepherd" 12 Sep

Congressman Jim Walsh in New York
Walsh facing his first serious challenge in a decade 11 Oct
Walsh points with pride to his earmarks 27 Sep

Congressman Sam Farr in California
Sam Farr and the case of the missing opponent 16 Oct

John Garamendi in California - Candidate for Lt. Governor
Garamendi best for lieutenant governor 13 Oct

John Kefalas in Colorado - Candidate for State House
John Kefalas is waging a determined campaign 3 Oct

October 22, 2006: This Month's Top Stories Date: October 22 2006 No: 1005 October 22, 2006: This Month's Top Stories
The crisis over North Korea's nuclear bomb test 14 Oct
Hill faced strong opposition for denuclearization agreement 8 Oct
John Coyne writes: The first Peace Corps book 20 Oct
Thomas Tighe moderates discussion with President Clinton 17 Oct
PC announces Community College degree program 18 Oct
Donna Shalala expresses dismay over football brawl 16 Oct
Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley defends Lebanon policy 16 Oct
Jan Guifarro elected Chair of NPCA Board 15 Oct
Carl Pope writes: From the pump to the polls 13 Oct
Ambassador Gaddi Vasquez Says Africa a Priority 12 Oct
Chris Dodd opposes Bush terrorism bill 10 Oct
Isaac Edvalson is founder of Africa's Tomorrow 9 Oct
The Man who turned down Shriver 8 Oct
Mae Jemison tells girls to reach for the stars 6 Oct
Loren Finnell receives Shriver Award 4 Oct
Matt Sesow paints onstage during opera 2 Oct
Film examines anti-malaria drug lariam 29 Sep
Blackwill dismisses Musharraf's claims 27 Sep
Ron Tschetter sworn in as 17th Peace Corps Director 26 Sep
Rape Victim Student Gets $1 Million From City College 26 Sep
Ricardo Chavira narrates Public Service Announcements 25 Sep

The Peace Corps Library Date: July 11 2006 No: 923 The Peace Corps Library
The Peace Corps Library is now available online with over 40,000 index entries in 500 categories. Looking for a Returned Volunteer? Check our RPCV Directory or leave a message on our Bulletin Board. New: Sign up to receive our free Monthly Magazine by email, research the History of the Peace Corps, or sign up for a daily news summary of Peace Corps stories. FAQ: Visit our FAQ for more information about PCOL.

Chris Dodd's Vision for the Peace Corps Date: September 23 2006 No: 996 Chris Dodd's Vision for the Peace Corps
Senator Chris Dodd (RPCV Dominican Republic) spoke at the ceremony for this year's Shriver Award and elaborated on issues he raised at Ron Tschetter's hearings. Dodd plans to introduce legislation that may include: setting aside a portion of Peace Corps' budget as seed money for demonstration projects and third goal activities (after adjusting the annual budget upward to accommodate the added expense), more volunteer input into Peace Corps operations, removing medical, healthcare and tax impediments that discourage older volunteers, providing more transparency in the medical screening and appeals process, a more comprehensive health safety net for recently-returned volunteers, and authorizing volunteers to accept, under certain circumstances, private donations to support their development projects. He plans to circulate draft legislation for review to members of the Peace Corps community and welcomes RPCV comments.

He served with honor Date: September 12 2006 No: 983 He served with honor
One year ago, Staff Sgt. Robert J. Paul (RPCV Kenya) carried on an ongoing dialog on this website on the military and the peace corps and his role as a member of a Civil Affairs Team in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have just received a report that Sargeant Paul has been killed by a car bomb in Kabul. Words cannot express our feeling of loss for this tremendous injury to the entire RPCV community. Most of us didn't know him personally but we knew him from his words. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends. He was one of ours and he served with honor.

Meet Ron Tschetter - Our Next Director Date: September 6 2006 No: 978 Meet Ron Tschetter - Our Next Director
Read our story about Ron Tschetter's confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that was carried on C-Span. It was very different from the Vasquez hearings in 2001, very cut and dried with low attendance by the public. Among the highlights, Tschetter intends to make recruitment of baby boomers a priority, there are 20 countries under consideration for future programs, Senator Dodd intends to re-introduce his third goal Peace Corps legislation this session, Tschetter is a great admirer of Senator Coleman's quest for accountability, Dodd thinks management at PC may not put volunteers first, Dodd wants Tschetter to look into problems in medical selection, and Tschetter is not a blogger and knows little about the internet or guidelines for volunteer blogs. Read our recap of the hearings as well as Senator Coleman's statement and Tschetter's statement.

Chris Shays Shifts to Favor an Iraq Timetable Date: September 2 2006 No: 971 Chris Shays Shifts to Favor an Iraq Timetable
In a policy shift, RPCV Congressman Chris Shays, long a staunch advocate of the Bush administration's position in Iraq, is now proposing a timetable for a withdrawal of American troops. How Mr. Shays came to this change of heart is, he says, a matter of a newfound substantive belief that Iraqis need to be prodded into taking greater control of their own destiny under the country’s newly formed government. As Chairman of the House Government Reform subcommittee on national security, he plans to draft a timetable for a phased withdrawal and then push for its adoption. A conscientious objector during the Vietnam War who said that if drafted he would not serve, Chris Shays has made 14 trips to Iraq and was the first Congressman to enter the country after the war - against the wishes of the Department of Defense.

Peace Corps' Screening and Medical Clearance Date: August 19 2006 No: 964 Peace Corps' Screening and Medical Clearance
The purpose of Peace Corps' screening and medical clearance process is to ensure safe accommodation for applicants and minimize undue risk exposure for volunteers to allow PCVS to complete their service without compromising their entry health status. To further these goals, PCOL has obtained a copy of the Peace Corps Screening Guidelines Manual through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and has posted it in the "Peace Corps Library." Applicants and Medical Professionals (especially those who have already served as volunteers) are urged to review the guidelines and leave their comments and suggestions. Then read the story of one RPCV's journey through medical screening and his suggestions for changes to the process.

The Peace Corps is "fashionable" again Date: July 31 2006 No: 947 The Peace Corps is "fashionable" again
The LA Times says that "the Peace Corps is booming again and "It's hard to know exactly what's behind the resurgence." PCOL Comment: Since the founding of the Peace Corps 45 years ago, Americans have answered Kennedy's call: "Ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man." Over 182,000 have served. Another 200,000 have applied and been unable to serve because of lack of Congressional funding. The Peace Corps has never gone out of fashion. It's Congress that hasn't been keeping pace.

Support the US-Peruvian Trade Pact Date: July 20 2006 No: 930 Support the US-Peruvian Trade Pact
Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo, the Peace Corps President, has been lobbying both Democratic and Republican legislators to support the US-Peruvian trade pact before July 28, when his term ends and a US congressional recess begins. If President Bush fails to get approval before Congress goes on recess, it will be a case study proving that the United States does not reward its friends. Please call your representatives.

PCOL readership increases 100% Date: April 3 2006 No: 853 PCOL readership increases 100%
Monthly readership on "Peace Corps Online" has increased in the past twelve months to 350,000 visitors - over eleven thousand every day - a 100% increase since this time last year. Thanks again, RPCVs and Friends of the Peace Corps, for making PCOL your source of information for the Peace Corps community. And thanks for supporting the Peace Corps Library and History of the Peace Corps. Stay tuned, the best is yet to come.

History of the Peace Corps Date: March 18 2006 No: 834 History of the Peace Corps
PCOL is proud to announce that Phase One of the "History of the Peace Corps" is now available online. This installment includes over 5,000 pages of primary source documents from the archives of the Peace Corps including every issue of "Peace Corps News," "Peace Corps Times," "Peace Corps Volunteer," "Action Update," and every annual report of the Peace Corps to Congress since 1961. "Ask Not" is an ongoing project. Read how you can help.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Washington Times

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Colombia


Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.