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Back Issues of PDAA Today

Back issues of PDAA Today, PDAA’s quarterly print newsletter are now online and available for download.

Charles Silver’s Peace Corps

by Charles Silver

Charles Silver, Malaysia, 1977-79, as adviser to the school photography club

I served in Malaysia 1968-70 as a secondary school science teacher and advisor to the photo club. I had never been out of the country before, and I found Malaysia to be completely different from any place I had ever been. The people there looked different from me, spoke different languages, had different food and cultures, and followed different religions. They were, quite simply, “foreign,” but I soon discovered that “foreign” was really just another word for fascinating and exciting. I learned a lot about myself and America from seeing how other people put their lives together. Like many volunteers, Peace Corps service was a life-changing experience for me that led me to abandon graduate work in physics and turn to a new career in the Foreign Service. Twenty-six years after the end of my Peace Corps service, I was the USIA Desk Officer for Southeast Asia. On my first visit to KL, one of the posts for which I responsible, a Malaysian man stopped me as I walked down a corridor in the embassy, looked carefully at me, and quizzically asked, “Mr. Charles?” It turned out to be one of my former students who was now a senior FSN at USIS KL. It seems I was not the only person from that class who wound up in USIS. I will always be grateful to the Peace Corps for giving me that opportunity to expand my horizons and maintain contact across continents.

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