The first Peace Corps Volunteers arrived in Tehran in 1962.  The last Volunteers left in 1976.  It is estimated there were over 1500 Volunteers active in Iran during these years.  

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One goal of the Peace Corps Iran Association is to develop this history and make it available on this website.  Here you will find links to videos, articles, and pictures that represent a portion of this history.  Other pages on this website contain additional information.

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THE EARLY YEARS

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The Peace Corps in Iran

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The Peace Corps in Iran is a brochure describing Iran and the Peace Corps program published about 1966.

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Why Austin?

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In 2015, PCIA organized a conference and reunion on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin, in part to mark the 50th anniversary of the first training group on that campus.  This article describes some of the early history of Peace Corps in Iran.

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Peace Corps Iran: The Early Years

Here is a video from the Austin conference presentation by Richard Eaton, John Lorentz, Thomas M. Ricks, Chris Speake

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The beginning of the Peace Corps in Iran was marked by a hybrid administrative structure that was decidedly un-Peace Corps like, and by the lack of any precedent. The presence of the first PCV groups coincided with the origins of Peace Corps Iran under the guidance of the first director, William Cousins. Several volunteers from these early groups provide their perspectives on this development and observations on their own experiences as “pioneers.”

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In November 1964, the Peace Corps Volunteer magazine published a theme issue focused on Iran. Below are excerpts from this issue that illustrate the work of Volunteers in those days.

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The Cover

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We Are Glad You Have Come — We Need You, by Jay R. Crook

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A Bridge for Makhlaven, by Jim Anderson

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Lahijan Gets a Grant’s (Washing Machine), by Jim Anderson

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An Experiment by the Caspian, by Jim Whitaker

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Happiness Can Be a Beanbag, by Sharon Omohundro

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A Vacation School in Meshed, by Tom Ricks

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Articles about Iran from more issues of the Peace Corps Volunteer magazine.

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A College of Dentistry for Mashad, by Tom Huf and Rober Cavanna

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The Kutchee, the Highway, and the City in Iran, by Neil Hart

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Masjeds – The Architecture of Meditation, by Jim Durfy with the collaboration of John Holehan

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Barkley Moore:  The Beautiful American

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“When you meet Barkley Moore, you don’t realize instantly that he is truly The Beautiful American.  It takes a minute or two.  Barkley has just come home after serving abroad longer than any other volunteer in Peace Corps history.  His intended two-year stay in Gonbad-e Kavus, a small city 50 miles from Russia in northern Iran, stretched out to six years and four months.”

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So begins an article about Moore by Jim Hampton published in ‘Volunteer,”  a magazine for Peace Corps Volunteers dated March 1971.

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THE LATER YEARS

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Peace Corps in Iran: A History and In-Depth look at the Later Years

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At the 2015 conference at the University of Texas, Austin, one session focused on the latter years of the Peace Corps in Iran.  Presenters were Jasamin Rostam-Kolayi, Paul Zimmerman, Warren Sawyer, Jo Floyd, Paul Barker. Moderator, Jeanette Gottlieb.

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Information about the presenters and a recording of this session  can be viewed at this link.  
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In a related article, Sheldon Fleming, son of the last Peace Corps Director in Iran, offers his perspective on how the Peace Corps decided to leave Iran.

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Why  Peace Corps Left Iran

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COMING SOON:  HISTORICAL REFLECTIONS FROM KHABARNAMEH (PCIA NEWSLETTER)

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Letterhead used by the Peace Corps office in Tehran.