Peace Corps Ethiopia

I was in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia for three years, 1967-70.  the first two years I lived in the capital city of Addis Ababa, taught English at Haile Selassie I University and was faculty advisor to the English-language student newspaper.

For the third year I was assistant zone chief in the Malaria Eradication Service based in Dessie, a provincial capital.

It was an interesting time in the U.S.  The Peace Corps was still young enough to have some of the Kennedy “Camelot” shine still on it and the Vietnam War–and the draft–was going on.

I had spent five years at the University of Illinois getting a BA in Journalism.  Spending the first two years as an electrical engineering major slowed me down a bit.  The draft board asked me in that fifth year if I was really serious about getting a degree so I know they had an eye on my body.

I was looking for more than just getting a newpaper job and starting a career, and with the draft looming wasn’t even sure that I could anyway.  And I was not relishing to have to actually make the choice to leave the country to avoid the draft.  My inclination was just to get as far away from the U.S. as I could.

So during my fifth year of college, I applied to the Peace Corps. I was invited to the Ethiopia program.  I quickly looked at a world map and determined Ethiopia was pretty far away, so I accepted the offer.

Fortunately for me, my draft board apparently had enough Illinois farm boys available to fill its quota of bodies for Viet Nam.  I was granted a deferment for the Peace Corps and the draft board renewed the deferment for each of the three years I was there.  (By the end of my third year, the lottery had started.  I had a high number and I had turned 26–home free.)

A few days after my last final exam I was on a plane to Utah for the Ethiopia training program and three months later I was in Addis Ababa

Two of the pages of this section are now complete.  There is a report and photos of the trip my daughter and I took to Ethiopia in November 2018, my first time back in fifty years.

Also finished is a page with all the letters I wrote home while I was there.  Yes, my mother saved them!  Fortunately, most were typewritten and I could use OCR to turn them into pixels.  I shot some movies while I was there and I have been able to salvage some stills from the very old 8-mm film.


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