Two-Way Gift: What Iran Peace Corps Volunteers Brought Back to America

Mary Catherine Bateson

This session will consist of a report on some 80 responses to the brief survey of former volunteers about their Iran experience and how it has affected their lives. For many, perhaps most, it was a “life-changing experience.” What did Iran give to them and through them to the United States? How has the presence of returning PCVs affected the United States? How might their experience influence their choices looking forward? And how should the United States value this ongoing legacy of the Kennedy years as we move into a global future?


To listen to the audio recording of Bateson’s presentation, click here.


 Bateson, Mary Catherine

Mary Catherine Bateson is an anthropologist and linguist. She grew up in New York City, spent her senior year of high school in Israel and learned Hebrew, then studied Arabic in college, receiving a PhD in Linguistics and Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard in 1963. She lived in Iran from 1972 to early 1979, learning Farsi, teaching anthropology at Damavand College, and becoming involved in higher education planning for the Ministry of Education. In the United States she has taught at Harvard, Amherst, and George Mason University. She also spent two years in the Philippines where she taught at the Ateneo de Manila, the Jesuit University. She is the author of several books dealing with life history materials, including With a Daughter’s Eye: A Memoir of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson and Composing a Life. She is currently a visiting scholar at Boston College.