Peace Corps Malaysia

Pokok Pokok  (A quarterly magazine written and produced by Malaysia PCVs from 1965 to 1983). Only selected issues are currently available (here). The Best of Pokok Pokok  is a 258-page book of selected stories, articles, poems, letters, editorials, artwork, and photographs from the first 16 years, edited by Don Lovett (Malaysia 89) and Clayton Gill (Malaysia 90). Many thanks to Don Lovett for scanning and making available this book.

History of Peace Corps in Malaysia

 The United States Peace Corps in Malaysia, 1962-1983.  A history, researched, written and edited by Michael J. Quaid. 52pp. (Kuala Lumpur: Art Printing Works Sdn. Bhd. 1983). This ephemeral publication is the most authoritative account of Peace Corps in Malaysia and appears to be based on documents and records in the KL Peace Corps office. The author was tragically murdered shortly after completing the report.

50 Years of Enduring Friendship: 1962-2012 Peace Corps Malaysia. An Enduring Bond: Peace Corps 50th Anniversary Celebration in Malaysia (American Embassy, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. A 43-page booklet of pictures and stories published to commemorate the 50th anniversary of arrival of the first batch of Peace Corps Volunteers).  

There are two versions of this publication: 

 "Early history of the Peace Corps in North Borneo (Sabah)" by Thaine H. Allison, Jr., El Chan, and A. J. Grantham, Borneo Research Bulletin (43: 88-97, 2012). 

"The Peace Corps in Malaysian Borneo" by A Baer. Borneo Research Bulletin (43:86-87, 2012).

"People to People: The Peace Corps in Sarawak" by A.S. Baer, Oregon State University. (To enlarge the text, click on the "full screen" icon in the lower-right of the viewer--right angles in the corners.)

 “Peace Corps Amerika Syarikat: Satu Pengalaman Dalam Pembangunan Pendidikan Di Sabah, 1961-1983” by Bilcher Bala. Jurnal Sejarah (University of Malaya) (17: 84-131, November 2009).

Diplomasi Peace Corps: Bantuan Sukarelawan Amerika Syarikat di Malaysia, 1961-1983” by Bilcher Bala.  Jurnal Borneo Arkhailogia (Heritage, Archaeology and History) (2(1), Edisi Khas: 65-97 Jun 2018). Many thanks to Professor Bilcher Bala for this English translation "Volunteer Diplomacy: United States Peace Corps for Malaysia, 1962-1983

"The Fork Once Taken: From the British Crown Colony of North Borneo to the Federated State of Sabah, East Malaysia" by Charles Parton (Publish America, Baltimore, 2000). Sections are available on Google Books). This memoir by the first Peace Corps associate director (1963-65) in North Borneo (Sabah) captures the spirit and excitement of the early days of Peace Corps.

"The Representative Staff as Intercultural Mediators in Malaya" by Gerald S. Maryanov in Robert B. Textor, ed. Cultural Frontiers of the Peace Corps (1966, MIT Press). The first Peace Corps associate representative in Kuala Lumpur in 1961-62 recounts the debates over the role and placement of PCVs in Malaya I and II.

The official account of why the Peace Corps left Malaysia in 1983. Also see "The "Bitter-Sweet" Story Behind Peace Corps Leaving Malaysia" by Mike Anderson (Apa Khabar, Spring 2015).

GAO Report (1979) of Peace Corps that was critical of selected programs, including Malaysia, see pp.7-10. (Note: GAO evaluations of government programs, including this report, are largely based on hearsay and do not necessarily reflect a full or balanced understanding.) 

"The Peace Corps in the 1970s: Report of Staff Survey Team to the Committee on Foreign Affairs" is a 1973 assessment of how well the Peace Corps is responding to the demand for more highly skilled PCVs. The evaluation of the Malaysia program (pp. 25-32) is generally positive.

The Peace Corps in Malaysia (a 1980 6-page booklet published by ACTION (Peace Corps was administered by ACTION from 1971-81) 

Why were American PCVs in Malaysia so successful? Here are the views of two expert observers:

University of Michigan professor Gayl Ness writes in a letter to the Insitute of Current World Affairs.

The volunteers do all of this because they have a great deal of personal energy, they like their work, and they rest well with some sense of accomplish­ment. And they do all of this an easy sense of confidence in themselves and their fellow-workers, a sense that often appears to be best characterize the democratic spirit of Americans.

Standford University professor Fannie Shaftel writes in a report on PC teachers in Malaya:

(The PCVs) seemed at ease in their schools, friendly with their colleagues, and enjoying many friendships with Malaysians of all three cultures. A number of Malayan teachers told me how their attitudes towards Americans had been changed as a result of their acquaintance with Peace Corps volunteers

Story of the Peace Corps in Malaysia, An article in the New Straits Times, July 3, 2022. (The arrival of the first Peace Corps volunteer group exactly six decades ago paved the way for a lasting and mutually beneficial relationship between Malaysia and the United States, writes ALAN TEH LEAM SENG)

Lois Estock Antal (Malaya II) describes her Peace Corps experience (courtesy of NPCA)

James Wolter (Malaya I) describes his memorable meeting with Sargent Shriver (courtesy of NPCA)

Peace Corps Malaysia Staff, 1961-83

Dr. John Landgraf, First Peace Corps Director in North Borneo & Sarawak, 1962-64

Malaysia PCVs with multiple in-country tours and PCVs with 4 plus years in Malaysia (from The United States Peace Corps in Malaysia, 1962-1983). Kudos to these, and to the many other Malaysia PCVs with similar records, for their exceptional Peace Corps service.

Facebook pages

Peace Corps Malaysia 

Peace Corps Malaysia XII

Sabah Peace Corps Reunion

Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Hawaii

Looking into the Past of Sarawak - Borneo 

other Documents/Videos

The Volunteer's Guide to Kelantan and Besut (circa 1976-77). An irreverent, but interesting account of all things Kelantan written by PCVs and many others (see Introduction). Mimeographed. Many thanks to Dave Zane, RPCV 1977-79 for preserving and scanning this document

Malaysia 1969-1970. A video posted on YouTube with scenes of villages and towns, possibly by a Returned PCV. Posted on Peace Corps Malaysia Facebook page by Zane Baldwin, June 14, 2021

Former Peace Corps volunteers who remain in Malaysia, video by The Star (newspaper) in 2014 with several volunteers from the United States who served in Malaysia under the Peace Corps programme share their stories and why they stay put in the country until now. Posted by Hank Elling on the Peace Corps Malaysia webpage, January 12, 2018.