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October 13, 2010 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2010-10-13

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2B The Statement // Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wednesday, October 13 2010 // The Statement 7B

Magazine Editor:
Trevor Calero
Editor inChief:
Jacob Smilovitz
Managing Editor:
Matt Aaronson
Deputy Editor:
Jenna Skoller
Sara Boboltz
Corey DeFever
Photo Editor:
Jed Moch
Copy Editors:
Erin Flannery
Danqing Tang
The Statement is The Michigan
Daily's news magazine, distributed
every Wednesday during the
academic year. To contact The
Statement e-mail calero@michi-


dinner and passionately discussed
the impact that student participa-
tion abroad could have in developing
countries. On a whim, they wrote
a note on a napkin to then editor in
chief of The Michigan Daily, Tom
Hayden, emphasizingthe importance
of student participation abroad.
The Guskins dropped the note off
at the newsroom, and the Daily pub-
lished it on October 19th, 1960. The
note asked students to send letters to
the Daily or the Guskins articulating
support for an international aid pro-
gram that they would in turn send to
Kennedy and Bowles.
"If it is at all possible, we would
like students to start asking others
in their classes, dorms, sororities,
fraternities, houses, etc. to send let-
ters expressing their desire to work
toward these goals," the letter read.
"With this request we express our
faith that those of us who have been
fortunate enough to receive an edu-
cation will want to apply their knowl-
edge through direct participation in
the under developed communities of
the world."
Almost instantaneously, the
Guskins were flooded with letters
and telephone calls from students
voicing support for such a program.
In response to such widespread sup-
port, the Guskins drafted petitions
and urged students and faculty mem-
bers around campus to sign them.
"It just took off like wildfire," Al
Guskin said.
Shortly after, the Guskins received
a call from Kennedy's campaign
manager telling them that the sena-
tor wanted to meet with them at the
Toledo Airport on Nov. 3. The next
day, the Guskins were off to Toledo to
discuss the project.
"I gave him the petitions and he
looked into my eyes," Judy Guskin
said excitedly in a recent interview
with the Daily. "He was a big guy,
this big tall man that came to me, and
with very large hands. That's what I
remember. And he listened, he really
was attentive."
"I was really impressed with the
fact that all he wanted to do was say
hello to us and meet us," Al Guskin
said. "He wasn't interested in mak-
ing any big deal for the press about
it, and it was kind of fun. We talked
for a little bit, he teased us a little bit.
He asked us if he could take the peti-
The Guskins were hesitant about
what would happen next. They were
worried that Kennedy wasn't truly
interested in developing the pro-
gram, or even if it would be feasible.
In response, Kennedy assuredly told
them that after Election Day, the
Peace Corps would be his main focus.
"Until Tuesday, the election. After
that, the world," Al Guskin remem-
bers Kennedy told them.
Kennedy was elected president on

November 8,1960. In December, Uni- English to undergraduate Thai stu-
versity students held a conference in dents and Al developed the firstsocial
which faculty and students discussed psychology program for a university
how to best launch an international in Thailand.
aid program. They held workshops The Guskins developed close rela-
where they outlined what members tionships with their colleagues and
of the program would do abroad, the the Thai students they worked with.
needs of various countries and other Five of the 45 Peace Corps volunteers
issues relevant to the group. in their group ended up marrying
In the summer of 1961, the Guskins Thai citizens they met during their
came to Washington D.C. to work on experience with the Peace Corps,
something .Judy
"I'll meet a returned Peace Corps Guskin says is "not
so unusual in the
volunteer who's 30 years and we start world of Peace
Corps." Another
talking about our experience. It's a one of her col-
leagues adopted a
powerful experience that changes Thai child.
, ,,ie.While in Thai-
people's lives." land, Judy received
a letter stating
developing the Peace Corps program. that she needed to help develop the
By that time, a national student group domestic Peace Corps. So, instead of
had been formed and a conference returning to Ann Arbor, she and Al
was held at American University that were once again off to Washington.
featured over 400 different campus There they set up the first 13 train-
representatives. The Guskins and ing programs for future Peace Corps
other Peace Corps supporters lobbied trips, which were being developed
on the Hill for increased support, simultaneously with many other
attracting national attention. blooming Peace Corps programs.
"The Washington Post followed The Guskins worked briefly with
us around all day and we didn't even migrant workers in Florida before
know how important it was to be in finally returning to Ann Arbor, where
the Sunday paper of The Washington Al finished his doctorate degree and
Post, that's how naive we were," Judy Judy changed careers and pursued a
Guskin said. "But we finally let him degree in educational psychology.
interview us."
While in Washington, the Guskins
worked on the Peace Corps selection Though Guild ultimately reached
division and helped develop criteria the level of intimacy within her Gua-
for student applications and choos- temalan village that the Guskins
ing countries. Judy Guskin said she reminisced about, it took her time to
remembers working late into the get used to the indigenous Guatema-
night. lan way of living. Various restrictions
"We had a lot to do, " Judy Guskin were placed on women, including
said. "It was very, very exciting. We the prohibition of a beloved college
worked long hours. We would stop pastime - drinking. Women were
when it got dark and we got too hun- barred from local cantinas and Guild
gry and we'd go out to eat, and then said any recreational drinking was
we'd come back and...people were still "frowned upon."
working up there, so we went back to Moreover, Guild had to get used to a
work." lifestyle that was much different from
After guidelines were set, the hers in the United States. Bathing and
Guskins took charge of the "Thai- other water-related activities were
land Project." Judy began doing carried out in a stone basin. At times,
research on the country and talked because of drought, water would be
with the Thai embassy to determine limited for extended periods of time,
how volunteers could help in Thai- so she had tobe diligent about saving
land. Somewhere along the way, Judy surplus amounts. Electricity was also
became infatuated with the country. a bit haphazard, she said, but overall
"I fell in love with Thailand, that's worked pretty efficiently.
as simple as it is," she said. "I got a Despite the lifestyle differences,
National Geographic magazine. I Guild said a crucial part of the Peace
read about Thailand. I knew very Corps is living like the locals and
little about it. I went to eat at the one realizing that the Peace Corps isn't
restaurant - "Jenny's Pan Asian" in supposed to be lavish.
Washington, D.C. - that had some "You don't go to the Peace Corps
Thai food on the menu, and I fell in expecting to have a luxurious life-
love with Thai food." style," Guild said. "That's not the
"I decided I didn't want to go back point of Peace Corps. The point of
to graduate school, I wanted to go to it is to go into a community and live
Thailand," she added with a laugh. the standard of the community. And
Judy and Al were part of the Thai- if people don't have water, you don't
land 1 program, where Judy taught have water. You are embedded in the


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- N A - Ira
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A Letter To The Editor published in The Michigan Daily on October 19, 1960. The let-
ter was written on a napkin by Al and Judy Guskin and dropped off at the Daily for
then-editor in chief Tom Hayden. It asked students to send letters to the Daily and the -
Guskins supporting plans for an international aid program.


Privacy also became somewhat
challenging for Guild. As the only
American in her community, she
generated a strong sense of curios-
ity among locals. Since she was con-
stantly being monitored, Guild had
to exude a happy exterior at all times
and restrict her emotions to not
frighten locals, something she found
draining at times.
"You're constantly in people's view
and they know where you are at all
times because you're unique and dif-
ferent in the community," Guild said.
"It's difficult to adjust to the fact that
you're such an anomaly and that you
don't have as much privacy as you
would in the States."
Despite this, she rose above these
challenges, eventually acclimated to
the culture and soon felt as if she was a
true part of the community. The town
treated her like she belonged, and she
soon developed lasting friendships
and relationships that made her feel
truly comfortable in Guatemala.
"They really took me in as one of
their own," Guild said. "I felt really
safe, I had friends. It's a unique expe-
rience that you don't get when you
just travel to a country and that takes
a long time to establish. And the fact

that I was just able to meant so much
to me."
Al Guskin said last week that even
at 73 years old, he automatically feels
a bond with young students recently
coming out of the program.
"I meet with them and there's a
bond immediately because we had
this powerful experience," Al said.
"I'll meet a returned Peace Corps vol-
unteer who's 30 years and we start
talking about our experience. It's a
powerful experience that changes
people's lives. We gain much more
than we give. We really gain so
Both the Guskins will be in Ann
Arbor to celebrate the 50th anniver-
sary of Kennedy's speech and to be
present at the various programs in
honor of the Peace Corps and their
To Judy, the anniversary has
allowed her to delve into her past and
remember the moments that enriched
and forever transformed her life.
"Basically I'm reliving wonderful
days," Judy said. "Thinking about my
students, thinking about Ann Arbor.
And that's what this is giving me an
opportunity to do."

De paTi 1.11 I ene dt, 13)1 ps vUlunteere 'nJIeraioUn.
Special Information Event:
Meet Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams
Thursday, October14 at 6:30 p.m.
Kuenzel Room, Michigan Union 4
Apply this Fall for programs leaving
in 2011 -- Peace Corps 50th Anniversary Years
Life is calling. How far will you go?
800.424.8580 peacecorps.gov/application

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