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In , Stanford anthropology professor Robert Textor, who helped create training programs for the first volunteers going to Asia, edited Cultural Frontiers of the Peace Corps MIT Press , in which he and 15 other experts analyzed the young agency's strengths and weaknesses. Despite the long interval between the two volumes, they address similar problems, such as the difficulty of securing sufficiently meaningful jobs for volunteers and of adequately training inexperienced people.

Language and cultural training normally lasts 10 weeks. Moreover, doubts about how much the Peace Corps contributes to host countries' development have persisted for 50 years. Textor also flagged the often conflicting interests of volunteers, in-country agency staff and Peace Corps administrators in Washington, D.

This spring, Congressional testimony underscored a disconnect when several former volunteers, victims of sexual assault and rape while on assignment, alleged that the agency "belittled and blamed" them instead of giving support and adequate training. Peace Corps director Aaron Williams apologized and said that procedural reform was under way.

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Despite such failures, even its critics acknowledge that the Peace Corps promotes Americans' understanding of other peoples and develops leadership qualities in its volunteers. Five alumni whom Stanford interviewed would agree. It is difficult to measure the agency's impact on other countries, but requests for volunteers continue to outstrip supply.

One valid yardstick might be volunteers' achievements after their Peace Corps service.

The poisoned well

As Peter Laugharn, '82, remarks, "Spending two years in another culture where you're learning about others will give you a more solid grounding for making a mark than anything else can. It will help provide direction for your next four to five decades. Jan Orsini's Peace Corps stint in Thailand jumpstarted a lifelong career that touched rural communities across Asia. Orsini, '63, was assigned to help farmers with rubber production, from planting and tapping trees to marketing finished sheets.

He also became fluent in the local language, Jawi, and at the end of his Peace Corps term, the U. Food and Agricultural Organization hired him for a rubber development project with the Thai government. He and his Thai counterpart, Poom Siri, helped small producers band together in order to produce a marketable volume of high-grade rubber.

He and Siri called their methodology Success Case Replication and formed more than successful rubber-marketing groups from to During a five-year period, members' incomes grew 14 percent on average, and Thailand's grade 1 rubber jumped from 1 percent to 11 percent of rubber exports. After earning a master's in development and agricultural economics at Cornell, Orsini returned to Thailand in with the U.

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Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. During the next 23 years, he worked in other developing Asian countries, from Mongolia to the Philippines. Orsini, now 71, practiced what he preached, learning from the intensely communal Thai rural culture. By her own reckoning, she was a "clean-cut" hippie, a premed student who studied Mandarin in Taiwan, went to Stanford in Germany, hitchhiked around Europe and survived organic chemistry. But when the Vietnam war became "too real," Charlene Hsu-Winges, '70, joined campus protests.

The day after graduation, Hsu-Winges left for training camp in Puerto Rico. Posted to Valverde Mao, a dusty provincial capital in the Dominican Republic, she "endured cockroaches, small rats and outhouses" to teach women about family planning, nutrition and health. She also delivered babies. Operating under the friendly but watchful eye of religious authorities, she had to be sure her charlas, or talks with women, respected local mores. She left her post early to finish premed requirements, went to Tufts Medical School, married her Peace Corps sweetheart and discovered the subspecialty of pediatric ophthalmology.

She still teaches and works in private practice. My time in the Dominican Republic also taught me the importance of seeing the world and making decisions based on my values. Policymakers are deluded to think that the U. Fighting over immigration is central to the American story.

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One hundred years ago, the U. Congress decided that there needed to be severe limits on who was coming into the country. We are again caught between nationalists longing for an imagined past, and activists invoking ideals the nation has not attained. The enduring popularity of "The Camp of the Saints" sheds light on nativists' historical opposition to immigration. How the Enlightenment created modern race thinking, and why we should confront it. The idealistic interpretation of Ellis Island should be revisited.

But the asylum, which later became known as Chapin Hall, changed dramatically over the years as it tried to respond to changing policies, priorities, regulations, and theories concerning child welfare. Cmiel offers a vivid portrait of how these changes affected the day-to-day realities of group living.

How did the kind of care given to the children change? What did the staff and management hope to accomplish? How did they define "family"? Who were the children who lived in the asylum? What brought them there? What were their needs? How did outside forces change what went on inside Chapin Hall? This is much more than a richly detailed account of one institution.