About the author of this post: Evelyn Ganzglass is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) who conducts interviews on behalf of the RPCV Oral History Project. She served in Somalia, 1966-1968.
Peace Corps friends, I urge you to get involved in the National Peace Corps Association-affiliated project, the RPCV Oral History Archive Project (OHAP). Its mission is to preserve the U.S. Peace Corps legacy, since the program’s inception in 1961, as experienced and articulated by individual Peace Corps volunteers and staff. “The toughest job you ever loved” is a slogan that resonates with many volunteers. There are good days. There are great days. There are bad days. Some volunteers want to stay in their host countries forever; others can’t wait to come home. We all have stories to tell.
Through OHAP, RPCVs throughout the country are being interviewed about their Peace Corps experience.Their in-depth oral history interviews, conducted by other RPCVs, are archived at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum as part of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. Interviews cover volunteers’ lives before Peace Corps, their Peace Corps training, their experience of serving as a volunteer in-country, and their reflections on the impact Peace Corps had on their lives, the host country they served in, and the United States. Interviews average sixty to ninety minutes and must be conducted in person so that the digital recordings meet the Kennedy Library’s technical standards for oral history preservation.
In the words of OHAP founder Robert Klein, "We believe that the history of the Peace Corps lies within the unique experience of each Peace Corps Volunteer. Thus, the goal of the project is to build up a comprehensive collection of firsthand narratives by those who have served. These interviews epitomize the special character of Peace Corps service – we are part of the Peace Corps project but we serve as individuals."
We have a number of volunteer interviewers in the Washington, DC, area who would love to interview you about your unique Peace Corps experience. We hope that once you’re interviewed, you, too, will decide to become an interviewer. Peace Corps country reunions, story slams and other gatherings are great places to conduct oral history interviews.
Visit the OHAP website for more information about the project and how to become involved. Also, please consider helping us digitize about 500 of the earliest interviews that were conducted and recorded on audiocassette tapes. While interviews can be requested from the JFK Library’s Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Collection, we are currently raising funds to digitize these files and make them more accessible to the public online. Learn how you can contribute through the Phyllis Noble Memorial Oral History Fund here.
We encourage you to contact Ganzglass directly at [email protected] to arrange an interview as part of the OHAP.
Our blog is a platform for RPCVs to share their stories and activities as they relate to our mission and that of the Peace Corps. The opinions shared in this blog do not reflect the views of the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Washington, D.C., and do not constitute endorsement of any particular organization or activities.