Peace Corps Experience
- Cornell University
- Industrial and Labor Relations
I left Cornell after my junior year to enter training for the first PC coaching project in Senegal when the Peace Corps was only a year old. I had been a National AAU finalist in distance running, and participated in the 1960 Olympic Trials in the 10,000 meters. I hoped to work as a PCV for two years, continue my athletic training, and try out again for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics when I finished my PCV service in Senegal.
Our initial work in Senegal was with the Senegalese National team, in training for the African Games of 1963 (which Senegal hosted), and then the next year for the Olympics. In mid-1963, I damaged my left knee which prevented me from further serious training, but I continued to coach both track and basketball. I moved to the Isle de Goree, off the coast of Dakar, Senegal, where I initiated a project to rehab an older two-story building and create a community center that provided sports and cultural activities to the island's inhabitants.
During my two PC years, I was also able to assist US State Department visitor athletes, such as 1960 Olympic track champion, Wilma Rudolph, and also NBA professional basketball players, John Havilchek and KC Jones of the Boston Celtics, who visited Senegal and spent several weeks giving workshops and other performances.
Upon returning to the USA in October 1964, I worked with Peace Corps/Washington's Division of Volunteer Recruitment and Selection, visiting university campuses throughout the US. I returned to college in February 1965 and later worked for an NGO, International Rescue Committee, in Botswana, as their first African Refugee Project Director. Later, I studied for two years at the Institut Africain de Geneve (Univ. of Geneva, Switzerland) in African Studies, assisted NGOs dealing with African refugees at conferences, and wrote my memoir, African Refugee Problems, 1958-1968.
Later, I worked in American universities from Michigan to Nebraska to California, instituting programs to assist minorities and women with admission to undergrad and graduate professional school programs, from which, back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, they seemed to have been ignored.
For a guy who grew up on the south short of Lake Superior in Northern Michigan, my PC experience certainly had an amazing effect on my life.