Peace Corps Writers
Pursing Love, I Discovered the Peace Corps (page 3)

Pursing Love, I Discovered the Peace Corps

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I don’t know if starry-eyed Marsha ever took JFK’s message to heart and joined the Peace Corps because, over time, a sequence of other women became the objects of my affections, and I lost track of her before graduation. But my roommate Tom, a landscape architecture major, became a Volunteer in Tanzania in 1964 followed by a stint with USAID in Viet Nam and a career with the State Department. An economics major, I joined the Peace Corps after graduation in 1965 and spent two years teaching high school English in Iran. This led to a thirty-five-year career in intercultural education with the Experiment in International Living and later at an intensive English as a Second language Institute.
     
Just think of the confluence of contingencies: If I hadn’t chosen to attend the U of M and met Marsha in my freshman composition class, and if she hadn’t been so persuasive, I would not have heard JFK’s challenge to idealistic young Americans in person and taken it as my personal call to service. That random and fragile chain of circumstances has profoundly shaped my life.
     
While I have lost track of Marsha, my erstwhile companion on that frosty but historic evening, it turns out that Linda Malila, my wife of thirty-four years, was also among the students present and listening to JFK’s words. Although Linda and I overlapped for more than two years at the U of M, (and JFK’s speech is one of several events in Ann Arbor where we are certain we both were present,) we didn’t know each other then and didn’t meet until eleven years later in San Francisco.
     
As things worked out, Linda never joined the Peace Corps, but JFK spoke to her keen interest in international service. In 1961, she went to Berlin and helped resettle refugees from the East Zone and the GDR as they fled to West Berlin and West Germany. Working for Lutheran World Federation / Volunteer Services, Linda was present when the Berlin wall went up. Kennedy’s message inspired her to action and cemented her strong belief in promoting international and cross-cultural understanding.
     
On that October evening, I was a lad of rather parochial interests from the small town of Athens, Ohio. If my Peace Corps experience had not globalized my worldview and led to my employment by an international NGO, I am certain I would have had little romantic appeal to Linda when a second confluence of contingencies led to our actual meeting, an event that took place many years and 2000 miles from that chilly but inspiring night in Ann Arbor.

As a Peace Corps Volunteer John Krauskopf taught English in the boys’ secondary schools in Ahwaz, the provincial capital of Khuzistan Province in Iran. In 1969, he returned to Iran for the in-country portion of that year’s Peace Corps training where he supervised a teacher-training summer school. After ten years of involvement in international student exchange with Experiment for International Living, he spent more than two decades as the foreign student adviser and director of the English as a Second Language Institute in Millbrae, California before retiring. He is now writing a book about his international experiences. Earlier this year John was appointed corporate secretary of the Western Railway Museum in Solano County, California.
     
He authored the article “Christmas on the Mekong” that appeared in the November 2004 issue of Peace Corps Writers as part of our ongoing series “War and Peace Corps.”

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