The American dream through the window of peace corps memoirs
Blumberg, Jeffrey Scott
Thesis (M.A.L.S.)--Georgetown University, 2008.; Includes bibliographical references. This thesis focuses on whether and how Peace Corps volunteers attempt to impart the values of the American Dream to the communities where they serve. The American Dream is defined as a dual set of values. The material/conservative version of the Dream incorporates the idea that through hard work and determination, success will follow. The idealistic/liberal version of the Dream encompasses the ideas of liberty and equality. This thesis investigates whether volunteers experience similar frustrations in trying to impart the values of the Dream and what broader implications of the difficulties of development work would be revealed during this study.; To investigate this problem, the author reviews and analyzes three memoirs of Peace Corps volunteers. The author chooses the memoir as the vehicle for this study because it exposes the volunteer experience and the core beliefs of the volunteer in an expressive and pointed medium. The three selected memoirs chosen were Living Poor, drafted by Moritz Thomsen about his experience as a volunteer in Ecuador in the 1960s, The Ponds of Kalambayi, written by Mike Tidwell about his volunteer work in Congo in the 1990s, and "The Narrowest Road," my memoir about my Peace Corps experience in Belize from 2004 to 2006.; After a review of the three memoirs, the author determines that each of the volunteers attempts to impart the values of the American Dream. They all three face disillusionment as they encounter the challenges of trying to impart these values while doing development work in poor villages with different cultures. They face disillusionment as they struggle with an experience that is significantly different from the one they originally envision.; The volunteers do not achieve their originally planned version of the Dream as noted in the conclusion to this thesis. They fail to reach this vision due to the poverty in their villages, the cultural differences they encounter, and the lasting remnants of the colonialist past. The volunteers achieve some measure of success when they modify their version of the Dream and their development projects to be more sensitive to the cultural differences they face in their communities.
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