Peace Corps Writers
Talking with Laurence Leamer (page 4)
 Talking with
Laurence Leamer
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page 4

 
Do you have an idea for your next book?
I’m writing a biography of Arnold Schwarzenegger right now. After that I have no idea.
Where do you live now?
I live in Florida and Washington, DC though for the past months I’ve been out in California writing the Schwarzenegger biography.
One final question. What do you think is the legacy of the Peace Corps? Is it only in the experiences of Americans living overseas? Does it have any lasting value?
Just look at my group alone and see how the world is a better place because of them. I was at our last reunion at Lake Tahoe in July of 1999. Some of these people don’t have that much money, and actually we rarely even saw each other in Nepal, but almost everybody was there. I brought my daughter and her fiancé because I wanted them to know and understand these people.
     My daughter after graduating from Swarthmore spent a year in Costa Rica teaching with World Teach, a Peace Corps-like organization. And she’d met Antonio there, a Spanish engineer.
     While at the reunion, I got a call one morning from NBC saying that John Kennedy Jr’s plane was down. I didn’t realize it but I was live on national television talking about John. MSNBC hired me as a commentator and I left in the middle of the reunion. I wanted to talk about the good things that John and his family had done. I didn’t pretend I knew him. And I was the only talking head not to be criticized.
     Anyway, afterwards I wrote a letter to Sarge. I knew how badly the family was taking it. And I talked about our reunion and I said how Suzanne had worked in Asia in the health field and gone to work at Gates when it was only a couple of people, and how she was changing lives, and people would live longer, and healthier lives because of her. And I said that she knew how to do her job so well because of the Peace Corps. And I said that in any hierarchy of goodness, the highest level is when we don’t even know the good that we are doing. And I said “Sarge, you don’t even know about Suzanne, or about what she’s doing, but if not for you she wouldn’t be there.” That’s true of the Peace Corps too. Okay, we don’t have a president yet, but we will, and our imprint and concerns are everywhere in America and the world.
     But I have to tell you that Sarge replied immediately to my letter. He brushed past my attempt at eloquence and wanted to know how he could get hold of some of those Gates billions to further Special Olympics. Now that’s the Peace Corps spirit.
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