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History of the start of Peace Corps in Morocco


On May 2, 1962, the Peace Corps sent Lawrence Williams to Rabat, the capital city of independent Morocco. Williams, then operations officer for French-speaking Africa, joined in discussions which soon led to Peace Corps programs in three countries of West Africa- Morocco, Senegal and the Ivory Coast. These discussions were comparatively brief - a sign that in its second year the Peace Corps was becoming an established institution around the world. In mid-June, Williams went to the Ivory Coast for two weeks, returned briefly to Rabat, and on June 29, took off for Dakar in Senegal. By July 8, he was back in Washington.

The program in Morocco called for English teachers and rural community action workers where the emphasis was on surveying and irrigation. The 56 Volunteers who were to carry out this program went into training at California State Polytechnic in San Luis Obispo on October 12, 1962. They arrived in Rabat on February 12, 1963. On hand to greet them was Deputy Representative Reuben Simmons, who had moved to Morocco less than a month before from his job as Deputy Representative in Tunisia.

Simmons was then serving as Acting Representative in Morocco just as he had served as Acting Representative in Tunisia. The regularly assigned Representative in Morocco, Frederic Thomas, arrived in Rabat on May 7.

Fred Thomas was born in New York City. He served almost two years in the Marine Corps, as a short-wave radio operator at Camp Pendleton in California, before he entered college. In 1952, he graduated from Harvard with a degree in international relations and Middle East studies after spending a summer surveying self-help organizations in Algeria, Morocco and Tunis. Awarded a Fulbright fellowship, he enrolled for one year at the School of Oriental Studies in Cairo, Egypt, which included two months in rural parts of the Sudan where he studied local government councils. Named a Ford Foundation research scholar, he set off with his wife to live for a year in villages in Chad, the Sudan and northeast Nigeria. His studies in African focal government and the role of tribal authority resu1ted in articles such as "Juhaina Arabs of Chad," published in the Middle East Journal and the basis of a dissertation for which he received a Ph.D. from the University of London. For the next three years, he worked with the Empire Trust Company of New York City as consultant on problems involving mineral concessions in the Yemen, in the course of which he participated in negotiations with Yemeni authorities. In 1956, he became an analyst with the Mobil International Oil Company and was assigned problems concerned with foreign oil I laws concession terms and offers of land. Three years later, he transferred to the Mobil Oil Company of Canada, Ltd., and was sent to Tripoli as public relations adviser for the firm's activities in Libya. It was from Libya that he submitted his application to join the staff of the Peace Corps.

With a knowledge of French and Arabic and extensive experience in North and West Africa, Thomas became an operations officer in the Peace Corps' Office of Africa programs. He participated in 1961 in the discussions, which led to the first Peace Corps program in Tunisia. In 1962, he negotiated programs in Gabon, the Niger Republic and the Republic of the Cameroon. Named Peace Corps Representative in Morocco he arrived in Rabat on November 17 and completed preparations for the expected arrival of the first Volunteers on January 28. On December 12, he returned to Washington for consultation. Before he could get back to Rabat, he came down with hepatitis. As a consequence, Simmons was moved from Tunisia to Morocco and the overseas arrival of the Volunteers was postponed until February 11.

By May, Thomas had recovered, and he returned to Morocco to reassume his duties.

In the first three years of the Peace Corps, the agency's overseas administrators were relatively free from serious illness. However, in remote Niger, Thomas Echols was also hospitalized for hepatitis.  Thomas Carter, later Associate Representative in Senegal, underwent an operation in Washington which forced him to cancel a January 10 flight to Morocco where he was originally scheduled to serve.

Morocco 1
Training at California State Polytechnic College, San Luis Obispo, CA, October 12, 1962 to January 26, 1963.
Graduation Exercises were held January 25.
The PCV oath was taken on Friday, February 8.
The group arrived in Rabat on Monday, February 11 at 3pm.
PCV service completed on August 11, 1964


Fresh from discussions in Tanganyika which led to the first detailed program in the Peace Corps, Lee St. Lawrence went on to Tunisia for more of the same. He flew into Tunis on June 27, 1961, and commenced the series of conferences through which the exact details of a program are agreed on.  On July 15, he was relieved by Fred Thomas, later to be Representative in Morocco. St. Lawrence spent four days working with Thomas as the talks continued and then took off for Washington, where he was to become Regional Director for the Far East Thomas departed on August 13 with negotiations completed for the first Tunisia program. This turned out to be the most complicated program in Africa. When the first Volunteers arrived in Tunis - on August 14, 1962, almost exactly one year after Thomas' departure - they included heavy equipment mechanics, architects, town planners, building construction supervisors and physical education teachers. They had been instructed in two languages- French during their training program at the University of Indiana, and a smattering of Arabic after their arrival in Tunisia. The heavy equipment mechanics had also taken training at the Caterpillar Company plant in Peoria, III., marking the first time that a Peace Corps training contract had ever been signed with a private business firm. On hand at the airport to meet this group of 65 men and women was Deputy Representative Reuben Simmons, then serving as Acting Representative in Tunisia.

Originally from Charleston, S. C., Simmons went to college at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo. He received his degree in mathematics in 1939, spent one year in graduate sociology studies at the University of Chicago and then went to work for the Farm Security Administration. As a farm labor community supervisor based in rural Lilburn, Ma., Simmons spent four years organizing the kind of community self-help projects which have become the trademark of the Peace Corps. I n 1945, he moved to Washington as an administrative assistant in the Farm Security Administration. In the following year he transferred to the Farmers Home Administration, first as an agricultural credit specialist and then as a loan examiner. Toward the end of his eight years in the field of farm credit, he took three years of night classes at American University's College of Law. In 1954, he teamed with a partner to open a public relations firm in Washington, and the two developed a number of national accounts. In 1956, he joined the foreign aid administration and was sent to Libya as an agricultural credit adviser. In more than five years in Libya, Simmons helped set up a credit system for small farmers via the organization of Libya's National Agricultural Bank. He returned to Washington in 1961 to join the staff of the Peace Corps.

Simmons remained in Tunisia until the following January, when he left for Rabat, the capital of Morocco, for a five-day conference with Lawrence Williams and Chester Carter. He had agreed to transfer to Morocco. where the first Volunteers were scheduled to arrive in February. In a three-way administrative shift, Carter, who had been Representative in the Federated Republic of the Cameroon, moved to Tunisia as Representative. Larry Williams replaced Carter in the Cameroon.

Included in the next group of Tunisia-bound Volunteers were 20 agricultural workers assigned under the technical supervision of the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization. The rest of the group, 25 nurses, arrived in Tunis on June 14, 1963.  The UN group paused in Rome to confer with FAO officials and flew into Tunis two days later.

But by then, Chester Carter had returned to Washington to become Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Affairs. On hand to welcome the new arrivals was Richard Graham, the new Representative in Tunisia, who had served the Peace Corps since its earliest days as Director of Recruiting. Graham arrived on May 12.

Besides Graham, the Peace Corps staff in Tunisia includes Deputy Representative Walter Carrington, who transferred from Sierra Leone back to Washington for research studies and thence to Tunisia in December, 1963, plus two Associate Representatives.  The first of the two Associates arrived in Tunis in October, 1962. He was George Klein, who was born in Budapest, Hungary, but grew up in Jackson Heights, Long Island and has a knowledge of four languages-German, Hungarian, French and Italian.

After two years at St. Ambrose College in Davenport, Iowa, Klein spent a brief period at Georgetown University and received his B.S. from Fordham before coming to the Peace Corps. While attending St. Ambrose, Klein held a variety of part-time jobs.  He was night office clerk at Davenport's American Legion Post #26, a stock clerk at Bendix Aviation and Standard Oil of Indiana in Davenport, an assembler at Rock Island's Bridge & Iron Works and a timekeeper at the Oscar Mayer Packing Co., Davenport.

In 1954 Klein entered the U. S. Army and was assigned to the Administrative Specialist School at Camp Chaffee, Arkansas. From there he was sent to Heidelberg as a member of the Alien Testing and Interviewing team. After the Army, the Catholic Relief Services in Salzburg hired him as an emigration officer to work on refugee resettlement. In 1959 he returned to the U. S. to continue his studies.  In October, 1963, he moved to Niger to take charge of the Peace Corps office in Niamey.

Charles H. Thomsen was born and raised in Keene Valley, New York. He spent his undergraduate days at Harvard and studied for his master's degree at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He received his B.A. in history and government and his M.A. in Middle East studies.

In 1953, he entered the Army as an infantryman and spent two years at Fort Ord in California. After his discharge he went to the Emerson School in Exeter, N. H., to teach history, civics and geography while coaching football, hockey and baseball. A few years later, Thomsen joined the staff of the Gulf Oil Company as an assistant foreign affairs representative in their Governmental Relations Department. His travels through Egypt, Iran, Lebanon and Kuwait as a representative of Gulf Oil gave him an opportunity to get a first-hand look at the Middle East. He was thus familiar with the Arab world when he assumed his duties as an Associate Representative in Tunis in the spring of 1963.

Directors of Peace Corps Morocco : A Chronology

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