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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Learn more about the Peace Corps in Sarawak with this article by Edwin C. Price, Jr featured in National Geographic magazine as well as see some videos.

Peace Corps in Sarawak By EDWIN C. PRICE, JR.

Peace Corps in Sarawak By EDWIN C. PRICE, JR.

By Edwin C. Price, Jr.

IN SEPTEMBER, 1962, Kanowit District of Sarawak's Third Division, on the island of Borneo, welcomed its second American. He was a 4-H Club organizer with two years of college, a developing ego, and an urge to get out and do something constructive.

He could not hope to be remembered as fondly as Kanowit's first American, Dr. Linn Fenimore Cooper, a physician and great-grandson of American author James Fenimore Cooper. Dr. Cooper has a hospital ward named in his memory, but as the second American, I can at least hope to leave a good record as the Peace Corps Volunteer in Kanowit.

Peace Corps training in Hawaii prepared a dozen of us to organize 4-H Clubs in Sarawak. Throughout our training we were called "The Plowboys." We felt our rank low among the other Volunteers, and I often wished I were a teacher. Arrival in Sarawak, however, and full realization of the job to be done changed all that.

The success of our 4-H Clubs is evident in club gardens, fishponds, and chicken houses. We're "getting progress," as the natives say.

"Getting progress" would be more difficult were it not for a few former British Colonial Service officers who know and understand Americans. "Don't expect results too fast, and take six months to settle in, if necessary," they told us when we arrived. One of them, Desmond L. Bruen, then the Kanowit District Officer, advised me through my first year. Bruen's district was 90 miles up the big river Rajang. It is the largest district of the lbans, or Sea Dyaks, in Sarawak.

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