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Cyprus’ First (and only) Peace Corps Staff
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More Reps Around the World
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Reps Around the World
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Ruth Olson, Special Assistant, Division of Volunteer Field Support
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Review — THE WHITE KAHUNA by Joseph Theroux (Samoa)
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Review — THE COTTAGE ON THE BAY by Ruben Gonzales (Liberia)
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Philippines’ First Peace Corps Staff (Part Three)
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RPCVs Democrats Running for Congress
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Swendiman follows RPCV daughter into the Peace Corps as Deputy Director (Ukraine)
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Women at Peace Corps HQ

Cyprus’ First (and only) Peace Corps Staff

When newly independent Cyprus showed an interest in inviting the Peace Corps, the Near East-South Asia regional office sent Patricia Sullivan to Nicosia, the island’s capital city. Miss Sullivan, who later became operations officer for Nepal and Afghanistan as well as Cyprus, arrived in Nicosia on January 9, 1962, and remained until early April. Toward the end of April, Associate General Counsel Roger Kuhn, then discussing a program in Turkey, flew over from Ankara for three days to assist with a few technical points in the program note. When Miss Sullivan flew back to Washington, the first Cyprus program, which called for geologists, teachers and agricultural extension workers, was ready to go. The 23 Volunteers who were sent to the island went into training nine weeks later at Howard University. Meridan Bennett, the Representative in Cyprus, shared part of the training with them. Born in Minneapolis, “Med” Bennett was raised . . .

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Ruth Olson, Special Assistant, Division of Volunteer Field Support

One of the nicest people, especially to RPCVs arriving at PC/HQ in the early days, was a woman who had the least connection to Volunteers life, Ruth Olson. She was raised in Albuquerque, N.M. and had two years at the University of New Mexico before she came to Washington to take a job as a typist in the Treasury Department. It was then the gloomy Thirties, the heart of hard times, and her college career became a casualty to economics. The approach of World War II generated a number of new war agencies which, because they were new, had tumultuous personnel problems. Beginning in 1940, Miss Olson moved through the personnel offices of a number of these new agencies—the War Production Board, the Federal Security Agency, the Foreign Economics Administration, the vastly expanded Navy. In the process, she was called on to deal with every conceivable variety of personnel problem. . . .

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Review — THE WHITE KAHUNA by Joseph Theroux (Samoa)

   The White Kahuna: Robert Louis Stevenson, Detective  Joseph Theroux (Samoa 1975-78) Kilauea Publications 372 pages 2018 $12.00 (paperback), $2.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by: Kaldi Davis (Senegal 1993-96) • My immediate question about the author’s name – was he related to Paul Theroux? — was answered by a New York Times article, noting that “A new voice from another writing family, Joseph Theroux, debuts with Black Coconuts, Brown Magic, a somber comedy set in Samoa. He is the younger brother of Paul …”  I also learned that Paul has four brothers and two sisters in another New York Times piece published in 1978 entitled “The Theroux Family Arsenal.”  Like Paul, Joseph became a Peace Corps Volunteer.  He served in Samoa  where he taught in a school and eventually became its principal.  He has lived in Samoa, Hawaii and Cape Cod. My next question was “Robert Louis Stevenson, Detective?”  Well, The Strange . . .

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Review — THE COTTAGE ON THE BAY by Ruben Gonzales (Liberia)

  The Cottage On the Bay: Family Saga of Scots Grove Plantation by the Sea in the Carolinas by Ruben Gonzales (Liberia 1971-76) Moonshine Cove Publishing February 2018 282 pages $14.99 (paperback), $6.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by Peter V. Deekle ( Iran 1968-70) • There is a story in each of us . . . often more than one, and in Ruben Gonzales’s case he demonstrates a strong capacity for storytelling. Drawing on his keen powers of observation and, indeed, an individual emersion in a culture (honed by his Peace Corps experience, Liberia, 1971-1976) he tells a compelling story of the multi-generational Stewart family. Ruben’s story is really a sweeping saga of the South (particularly the Carolinas) first at the Civil War’s beginning and then following the local events there into the early twentieth century. The tale’s central character, Martha Stewart, is the unusually determined and committed oldest daughter of the Scots Grove Plantation owner, . . .

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Philippines’ First Peace Corps Staff (Part Three)

The Volunteers of Philippines II arrived in January; Associate Representative John Cort flew in in February; Philippines III arrived in March. The Volunteers were sent out to additional schools in the Bicol and the Visayas. Cort was kept in the new headquarters in Manila. For 12 years before coming to the Peace Corps, Cort, a cum laude graduate of Harvard, had served as executive secretary of the Newspaper Guild of Greater Boston. Cort’s newspaper background made him a natural to assist in the production of “Ang Boluntargo,” the Volunteer newsletter in the Philippines which commenced regular monthly publication as he Voluntario with the issue of December, 1961. In June, 1962, Philippines IV arrived and the new Volunteers were assigned to schools on Cebu and Bohol islands. There were then 271 Volunteers at work in the educational aide program, a figure that would double in September with the arrival of groups . . .

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RPCVs Democrats Running for Congress

  Donna Shalala (Iran 1962-64) Florida, Won       John Garamendi (Ethiopia 1966-68), California, Won       Joe Kennedy III (Dominican Republic 2003-05) Massachusetts, Won       Rick Neal, (Morocco 1988-93) Ohio, Lost       Shireen Ghorbani (Moldova 2003-05) Utah, Lost  

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Swendiman follows RPCV daughter into the Peace Corps as Deputy Director (Ukraine)

  WASHINGTON – President Donald J. Trump  announced today his intent to nominate Alan R. Swendiman to serve as Deputy Director of the Peace Corps. Currently, Swendiman serves as Founding Principal of The Capitol Connection, LLC, a government contract consulting firm practicing in the areas of strategy, business development, and operational management. Previously, Swendiman served as a legal advisor and senior executive for a broad range of federal agencies, including serving as Deputy Principal Legal Advisor and Chief of Staff for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (2010-2016), General Counsel of the United States Agency for International Development (2008-2010), General Counsel and Acting Chief of Staff of the U.S. General Services Administration (2005-2006), and General Counsel of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (1992-1993). Swendiman has also held positions with the Executive Office of the President and with the State of North Carolina, overseeing administrative services and information technology. In addition, he has more than 30 years . . .

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Women at Peace Corps HQ

  Arriving for work on or before March 1, 1961, the day President Kennedy signed the executive order establishing the Peace Corps, were a few women who were early volunteer staffers and who would become famous in those first years of the agency. The majority of these women were well connected by family or friends to Shriver and eager to work at the Peace Corps, the shining star of Kennedy’s administration. The Peace Corps was the “hot” agency and everyone, of course, wanted to be connected to Kennedy — if they couldn’t be in the White House — they wanted to be with Shriver and the Peace Corps. The women at the time were mostly “second class” citizens in the world-of-work. They were not, for example, sitting at the “big conference table” at Senior Staff meetings. Looking at old black-and-photos of Peace Corps HQ meetings, you might see that Elizabeth (Betty) Forsling Harris had wedged herself into the group, . . .

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