2009.06.29: June 29, 2009: Headlines: COS - Tanzania: 1960s: Illinois AP News: Dr. Harlan Bengtson and his wife, Kathryn remember serving as Peace Corps Volunteers in Tanzania in the 1960s

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Tanzania: Peace Corps Tanzania: Peace Corps Tanzania: Newest Stories: 2009.06.29: June 29, 2009: Headlines: COS - Tanzania: 1960s: Illinois AP News: Dr. Harlan Bengtson and his wife, Kathryn remember serving as Peace Corps Volunteers in Tanzania in the 1960s

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Dr. Harlan Bengtson and his wife, Kathryn remember serving as Peace Corps Volunteers in Tanzania in the 1960s

Dr. Harlan Bengtson and his wife, Kathryn remember serving as Peace Corps Volunteers in Tanzania in the 1960s

As he was sifting through the usual accumulation of "stuff" from the past 30 or 40 years, Bengtson came across a packet of old letters. He realized they were the ones he had written home to his parents when he and Kathryn served as teachers in the Peace Corps in Tanzania, East Africa, from 1965 to 1967. Arranging them in chronological order, he sat down and began to read the letters and the memories came pouring back. The Bengtsons had of course, told their four children a little about their adventures, but not all the details. Bengtson decided to type the letters into the computer, printed them out and gave them to his children as a Christmas gift. "I knew a lot of the memories and information would be gone someday when Kathryn and I are gone, so I wanted to make sure to document it for our kids and grandchildren," Bengtson said. "Then after I saw the information on paper I really liked it; everyone else seemed to like the way I put it together, and I decided to put the letters into book form with a few additions and photographs." The result is "Tunakumbuka (We Remember)," which chronicles the two years the couple spent as teachers at the Malangali Secondary (boarding) School, Tanzania, East Africa, teaching mathematics and physics.

Dr. Harlan Bengtson and his wife, Kathryn remember serving as Peace Corps Volunteers in Tanzania in the 1960s

ILLINOIS STYLE: Peace Corps Pioneers Remember Tanzania

VICKI BENNINGTON, The (Alton) Telegraph

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (AP) ―

After retiring from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 2000, Dr. Harlan Bengtson and his wife, Kathryn, packed up and moved to Albuquerque, N.M.

As he was sifting through the usual accumulation of "stuff" from the past 30 or 40 years, Bengtson came across a packet of old letters. He realized they were the ones he had written home to his parents when he and Kathryn served as teachers in the Peace Corps in Tanzania, East Africa, from 1965 to 1967.

Arranging them in chronological order, he sat down and began to read the letters and the memories came pouring back. The Bengtsons had of course, told their four children a little about their adventures, but not all the details. Bengtson decided to type the letters into the computer, printed them out and gave them to his children as a Christmas gift.

"I knew a lot of the memories and information would be gone someday when Kathryn and I are gone, so I wanted to make sure to document it for our kids and grandchildren," Bengtson said. "Then after I saw the information on paper I really liked it; everyone else seemed to like the way I put it together, and I decided to put the letters into book form with a few additions and photographs." The result is "Tunakumbuka (We Remember)," which chronicles the two years the couple spent as teachers at the Malangali Secondary (boarding) School, Tanzania, East Africa, teaching mathematics and physics.

The seed for the organization that became the Peace Corps was planted in 1960, when then-Sen. John F. Kennedy challenged University of Michigan students to serve their country in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries. From those roots grew a federal government agency devoted to world peace and friendship. Since then, more than 195,000 people have served in the Peace Corps in as many as 140 countries.

The Bengtsons were some of the early Peace Corps members leaving the comfort of rural Iowa, where they had both grown up in different parts of the state to travel to Tanzania just five years after the Peace Corps' beginnings.

The couple met during college; he was at Iowa State University and she at Drake University. In one of his classes, he read the book "The Ugly American," which really made an impression.

"It talked a lot about Americans in foreign countries leaving a bad impression, and not presenting a very good view of our country to the world," Bengtson said. "I thought maybe I would like to do something that would give a different impression and the Peace Corps seemed a good way to do it."

Kathryn agreed with the idea, so after the two graduated and were married; they filled out Peace Corps applications, saying that they were interested in going to India. The awaited invitation came in the mail, but the location was Tanzania, East Africa.

"We had a fairly modern, newer house with running water and a bathroom," Kathy Bengtson said. "But laundry had to be done by hand and cooking was accomplished on a wood stove. But we had the basics; certainly everything we needed."

"Everyone in the country was very welcoming to us," Bengtson said. "And many could speak English."

After returning to the United States, they kept in touch with friends and students in Tanzania for several years, but then as often happens, lost touch. So it had been awhile since the two had thought about their adventure until the letters resurfaced.

Bengtson is retired from the School of Engineering at SIUE, where he worked from 1975 to 2005. He was the dean of the engineering school for six years.




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Headlines: June, 2009; Peace Corps Tanzania; Directory of Tanzania RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Tanzania RPCVs; The 1960's





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Story Source: Illinois AP News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Tanzania; 1960s

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