(Training pics are full size; some More Recent Photos -- with a bluish outline -- can be clicked to enlarge)


Don Beck
San Diego, CA & Republic of Ireland
1967 Training Biography

George D. Beck, Jr.
Originally from Florida, George now calls Los Altos, California, home. Following a B.S. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he majored in architecture at the University of California at Berkeley, preparing for a future career in city planning. He has done summer work as a nurseryman and gardener and has worked in catering, salesmanship, electronics, and car and motor repairs. George has traveled through most of Europe, Brazil, the Carribean, and throughout the United States. His hobbies range through philosophy, bridge, stamp collecting, sketching, and music. He likes volleyball and crew. George is 21 [actually 25].

More Recent

click photo to enlarge

Location and Work
Oruro (July 1967-Jan 1968)
• Health Census & Potable Water Sytems-- Municipal Health Department
• CD: Showers Design, El Hogar with Padre Javier

• TOEFL, University & Ferrocarril Classes w/ Bill Coolidge

Huanuni (Jan 1968 - June 1969)
• TOEFL, Junior High & High School, Huanuni Schools, 2 classes
• TOEFL, Adults, USIS Library, 1 class
• CD: Set up Pre-school/Nursery classroom, COMIBOL
• Tutoring Math & Sciences, USIS Library

After PC I went to Berkeley in City Planning for a semester. School seemed so unreal and I dropped out to move to Northern California to get married. I joined People’s Temple, as I was deeply impressed with the works of the congregation, their activist social concern for others, people "putting hands and feet on prayers." Within a year we had taken in four children, one of whom we adopted. I obtained a teaching credential on the basis of Peace Corps teaching and worked to set up a bilingual educational program in which I taught Kindergarden for ten years.

At the same time, I spent two summers in Guyana working to build the Agricultural Project of about 50 people that later grew into Jonestown. When Jim Jones went over taking more than 900, I was still teaching in Ukiah.  We lost our adopted child as well as two of the other children we had raised in the tragic Guyana murders.

After another year in Ukiah I returned to graduate studies, getting a Masters in Special Education and Spec Ed credentials. I moved to San Diego, divorced and taught there another 21 years. Taught Special Ed in Junior and Senior High and then taught computers in a charter middle school. President Clinton visited to honor us as a “model charter program.”

I was also a part-time instructor at San Diego State teaching teachers about computers in education.

I retired in 2002, five years now, and it still feels strange. Though I am more of a kindergardener at heart, I miss middle schoolers who need to be listened to and ignored at the same time.

I met my partner nine years ago; he is a veterinarian who has worked in Ireland for 25 years, though originally from Australia.  When he retires we will go to Australia. For now, I live part time in San Diego and part time in west of Ireland – the Republic, not the English-occupied portion.

As to hobbies, I collect stamps and like gardening -- "plant a radish, get a radish, not a brussel sprout" -- anyone remember The Fantastiks?

PC In Your Life


Obtained a teaching credential in California from my teaching as a PCV, I ended up teaching for 30+ years, in bilingual education for much of that. I used Spanish which I learned in PC all through teaching.

I learned patience. The bus from Oruro to Huanuni had a scheduled time to leave but never left until the bus was full. I would get anxious and angry that you never knew when you would leave. One day I realized the bus would leave when it left, not earlier, not later. I relaxed and talked more to people and ever after that it always seemd to leave earlier than I wanted.

Best/Worst PC Experience

BEST: My students in Huanuni said they had never had a Christmas tree. SO I got a ten foot tree from the market in Oruro and brought it to Huanuni. We put the tree in the USIS Library and students made popcorn chains and paper ornaments to decorate it. I was overly proud of "helping" them.

They wanted to put it in the town plaza gazebo. I said no, thinking it wouldn't be safe, etc. I went away for a few days and they moved it to the plaza anyway. People added decorations to it every day. The electrician put in neon lights to light it (when electricity was on). It was awesome because of them, not because of me! I learned to listen.

BEST: As "Ass. Editor" of Pues (title given me by Bob Pruitt) I recall the Peter C. Valence column and an Ambassador interview.  Jules Beck remembered the name of our Ambassador then -- Raul Castro – a rather undiplomatic man who wanted us expelled from Bolivia. I also remember talk of stoning the embassy if we were going to be expelled.  Now forty years later, such talk seems strange, as most all of us went on to jobs helping others, putting that energy to better works.  Makes me proud.

WORST: The worst for me? Purple burps! I was the first in my group to get them and had them off and on for most of my service. (rotten egg gas at both ends)

RPCV Groups

Member of:
• San Diego Peace Corps Association. I layout our newsletter and manage our website.
• Amigos be Bolivia y Peru.
Young Heroes Foundation, Swaziland

In the Future
Since working with Jeff Fletcher when he wrote saying it was 40 years since training, I find memories popping up. In all those years, I had only contact one or two from our group briefly. Now, I look forward to sharing and hearing more from everyone.
Favorites to Share
Movies: Field of Dreams, Now Voyager, To Kill a Mockingbird, It's a Wonderful Life, Harold & Maude, Finding Forrester, African Queen, Casablanca, Ghandi, To Sir, With Love
Books: No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series-Alexander McCallSmith; On the Beach-Nevil Shute
Quote: "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius--and a lot of courage--to move in the opposite direction." --Albert Einstein
Websites: http://www.truthout.org/ news; http://www.snopes.com check urban legends, online stories;