In 1962, Leslie Noyes Mass was a recent college graduate when she answered the call of President John F. Kennedy and joined the newly founded Peace Corps. Leslie was assigned to Pakistan and told to start any kind of educational program she could – in a small Muslim village where she was the only Westerner and the only Peace Corps volunteer. Nearly 50 years later, Leslie returned to Pakistan to discover a much-changed country and a village that still remembers her.
Come hear Leslie Noyes Mass talk about her adventures in Pakistan in 1962 and in 2009. She will share stories and photos from her book, Back to Pakistan: A Fifty-Year Journey, on Wednesday, March 21 at 7 pm at the Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake Street. This special event is cosponsored by the Oak Park Council on International Affairs. Other returned Peace Corps volunteers are welcome to come meet Leslie and share their experiences informally. Copies of Back to Pakistan will be available for sell and signing.
In Back to Packistan, Leslie Noyes Mass interweaves letters and memories of her Peace Corps days with her observations of present-day Pakistan. Returning to a more modernized Pakistan, with cars, trucks, and buses largely replacing the rickshaws and tongas of the 1960s, she’s struck by the “omnipresence of Islamic law,” where there are now prayer rooms in the airports, and liquor and beer no longer flow freely in city restaurants.
Leslie Noyes Mass returned to Pakistan in 2009 as a volunteer helping to train female teachers for a Pakistani non-governmental institution. On her recent trip, Leslie focused on the accomplishments of the Citizens Foundation, which has set up hundreds of schools since 1996, and where girls now make up 50% of their enrollment, a “staggering achievement in Pakistan.” Leslie interviewed the organization’s CEOs, administrators, teachers, students, family members, and ayahs, finding people from all educational levels and social classes trying to solve the country’s education problems.
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