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Michael Boyle’s Peace Corps

by Michael Boyle

I was a volunteer in the Philippines from 1967 to 1969 in Ormoc City, Leyte Province. I had graduated from Stanford with no idea of what to do next in my life, so I followed an old friend (from high school days) into the Peace Corps. I certainly didn’t want to get drafted into the Army! Anyway, the experience of living and working overseas (as an elementary school TESL teacher) inspired my interest in the Foreign Service and ultimately led to my career with USIA and the State Department. Oh, I first had to be drafted into the Army—immediately after I returned from my time in the Peace Corps—since my local draft board in Wyoming didn’t seem to think there was any equivalency in having served my country for those two years.

I haven’t been back to the Philippines, but I often read about how much it has changed, probably in every possible way, with better infrastructure and communications that would have changed almost everything about my life in Ormoc City. We had no phone service and communicated with our regional headquarters in Cebu City – on a different island — by telex or mail. I’m sure that is improved now. We generally travelled to Cebu City by overnight ferry. It was cheap and I could afford to do that a couple of times a month. That may not have changed much, but I would hope the old converted WW II- era minesweepers have been replaced with something more modern. When the government sprang for it, I could fly to Cebu by old DC-3s from the dirt airstrip outside of Ormoc, but that only happened a couple of times during my tour. I could go on and on about the state of the roads on Leyte.

But, that separation from official Peace Corps also engendered a degree of freedom. I would guess that I wouldn’t be able to have the same free-wheeling and carefree time today. Still, my memories are strong and the whole experience was seminal. It was a huge turning point in my life and something I have been proud of doing ever since.

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