The Public Interest

The Peace Corps’ wonder years

Charles Murray

Fall 1998

ASKING a former Volunteer to review a history of the Peace Corps is like asking a former GI to review a history of World War II. You’re likely to get a lot of war stories. I will try to keep myself in check, but some basic disclosure is in order. I joined the Peace Corps in June 1965, right after obtaining my BA in History, and was assigned to the Village Health and Sanitation Project in Thailand. Twenty-three years old at the time, I received three months of training in the Thai language and Thai culture, both of which were taught rather well. I also received training in the manufacture and installation of the concrete water-seal privy, taught sketchily. I was then dispatched to Thailand, where after the first two months, I was so miserable that I envied a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) who was nearly killed in a traffic accident because he had thereby acquired an honorable way to be sent home. After another month, I had grown to love Thailand and not only completed my two-year Peace Corps hitch but stayed in Thailand for another four years working on the research side of rural development.

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