Archive - August 2009

1
Peace Corps Ex-Staffers Do COS On Madoff
2
Reading Poets & Writers
3
Former Peace Corps CD Andrew Oerke To Receive Club Of Rome Lifetime Achievement Award
4
New Fiction From John Givens
5
RPCV Observes Election Day In Lizrazhd
6
Peace Corps Writer On President's Short Summer Reading List
7
Picking On Peace Corps Staff
8
Greetings From Director Williams
9
RPCV Aaron S. Williams Sworn In As Peace Corps Director
10
New Novel by Kirsten Johnson (Kenya 1982-84)

Peace Corps Ex-Staffers Do COS On Madoff

In today’s Counterpunch (edited by Alex Cockburn) Pam Martens writes about the “long-awaited investigative report by the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Inspector General on how the SEC bungled multiple investigations of Bernard Madoff.” According to Martens, the team that produced this report on one of the most long-running and convoluted frauds in the history of Wall Street included Inspector General H. David Kotz who came to the SEC-IG post in December 2007 after five years as Inspector General and Associate General Counsel for the Peace Corps. The Deputy Inspector General, Noelle Frangipane, also came to the SEC from the Peace Corps where she had served as Director of Policy and Public Information.” At home and abroad, the Peace Corps cleans up the mess!

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Reading Poets & Writers

Reading the Sept/Oct 2009 issue of Poets & Writers, a magazine that claims it goes from “from inspiration to publication” I was struck by the numerous ads for writing programs, MFAs, on-line degrees, and workshops given by colleges and universities. While the ads claims to be about teaching writing, what they seem to be suggesting is destination travel. For example, the full page ad for Chatham University in Pittsburgh has a woman with her laptop (by the way most of these ads feature laptops. What happened to pen-and-pencil and yellow pads?) sitting on cliffs high over the Monongahela or the Allegheny, the two rivers that dissect the rustbelt city.  Now Chatham College (as it is well known) is up in the hills, miles from the polluted waters of the rivers that made this old industrial town famous before the turn of the last century. Nevertheless, this co-ed is watching white caps under the scripted selling . . .

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Former Peace Corps CD Andrew Oerke To Receive Club Of Rome Lifetime Achievement Award

On November 18, 2009, Andrew Oerke (PC/Staff in Tanzania & Uganda, and CD in Malawi and Jamaica from 1966-71) will be presented with the USA Club of Rome Lifetime Achievement Awards for his latest collections of poems, Songs of Africa, published in English and Bulgarian by PSP & Fakel in Sofia, Bulgaria. The presentation will be made at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.  Andrew is the 2006 winner of the Peace Corps Writers Award for Best Poetry Book. He also received the United Nations Artists and Writer’s Association award for Literature for his two volumes African Stiltdancer and San Miguel de Allende. Besides his time with the Peace Corps, Andrew worked on microcredit projects in more than 60 nations around the world. Of his poetry, noted literary critic Harold Bloom has written, “Oerke’s eye is shrewd, his mind capacious, and his generosity toward humankind is endless. His poems, whether set in Africa, . . .

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New Fiction From John Givens

John Givens (Korea 1967-69) has a story in The Mississippi Review currently online at http://www.mississippireview.com. The Mississippi Review is published by the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi. The story is about a rogue samurai solving problems in the 17th century entitled, “The Buddha-nature of the House: John is from Northern California and earned his BA in English literature at the California State University Fresno and his MFA in creative writing at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, University of Iowa, where he was a Teaching/Writing Fellow. [John is one of many fine Peace Corps writers who attended the famous Iowa writing program. The RPCV writers include Phil Damon (Ethiopia 1963-65), who, I believe, was the first RPCV in the program,  Richard  Wiley (Korea 1967-69),  and most recently Matt Davis (Mongolia 2001-03).]  Afterwards John studied language and art in Kyoto for four years, then worked as a writer & editor in Tokyo for . . .

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RPCV Observes Election Day In Lizrazhd

 After his Peace Corps service in Turkey (1965-67), Ken Hill was a staff member who left the Peace Corps in 1975 to pursue personal business interests. In the mid-90s he and his wife Winnie (Nepal 1966-68) returned to Peace Corps where Ken was Country Director first for the Russian Far East, then Bulgaria and Macedonia. In 1999 he became Chief of Operations for Peace Corps programs in Europe and Asia and was appointed Chief of Staff of Peace Corps during 2001. Now retired, Ken is engaged in numerous volunteer and political activities. He is active in local and Virginia politics, on the Boards of the Bulgarian-American Society and the Friends of Turkey and the Alexandria, Virginia Sister Cities Committee with Gyumri, Armenia. He was an advisor to the Obama / Peace Corps Transition Team and is a former Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Peace Corps Association.” When . . .

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Peace Corps Writer On President's Short Summer Reading List

RPCV Kent Haruf’s (Turkey 1965-67) novel, Plainsong is one of the five books the President is reading this summer. The book is described on the jacket as a masterful detailing of unsettled lives, bound by their windswept town and landscape — “their fates somehow overcoming the powerful circumstances of place and station, their confusion, curiosity, dignity and humor intact and resonant.” Slate’s political writer, John Dickerson,  “analyzed” the list and said that Haruf’s book was the only one that showed “geographical and literary diversity.” The other four books are: The Way Home, by George Pelecanos Hot, Flat and Crowded, by Tom Friedman Lush Life, by Richard Price John Adams, by David McCullough

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Picking On Peace Corps Staff

Emailing today with an RPCV from Ethiopia, I started to recall the ‘famous’ first staff at the agency and the long-time tradition in the Peace Corps of official boondoggle trips overseas to ‘see’ PCVs, but really were just so the Washington Staff could get out of D.C. and on the government’s dime see something of the Third World. Theroux wrote about those Visiting Washington Officials in some of his early writings from Malawi. This sort of junket was also captured wonderfully by short-term Peace Corps Evaluator Fletcher Knebel in his 1966 novel on the Peace Corps, The Zinzin Road. Knebel’s PC/W character was Maureen Sutherland, “…a slim, willowy young woman, stylishly dressed…She wore elongated dark glasses, and a sheaf of black hair fell loosely over one eye. Her skin, as creamy as enameled china, hinted of regular facials and a variety of expensive oils and ointments.” Sutherland’s character was based on a legendary African Region Desk Officer of . . .

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Greetings From Director Williams

August 24, 2009 TO: Peace Corps Community FROM: Allison Price, Communications Director SUBJECT:Greetings from Director Williams This morning I was sworn in as the 18th Director of the Peace Corps. While preparing for this day, I decided that the first thing I wanted to do was to take a moment to introduce myself to the Peace Corps community and thank you for everything you have done and continue to do. As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, this is quite an emotional moment. When I was in that small town in the Dominican Republic, I was consumed by the same daily thoughts: How was I going to master another language? What did it mean to be a 20 year old, training rural school teachers, many twice my age? How would I make a life in a community so far from my home? In 1967, I couldn’t have imagined all of the people who had . . .

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RPCV Aaron S. Williams Sworn In As Peace Corps Director

Washington. D.C., August 24, 2009 – Aaron S. Williams was sworn in Monday as the eighteenth Director of the Peace Corps. Director Williams was nominated by President Obama on July 14 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on August 7. “I am deeply honored to be the Director of the Peace Corps and I want to thank President Obama for the trust that he has placed in me. I look forward to making his call to public service a reality for more Americans,” said Director Williams. “I am committed to recruiting, training, and supporting the next generation of skilled and enthusiastic volunteers eager to serve side by side with members of Peace Corps host communities around the world.” Mr. Williams is the fourth director to have served as a Peace Corps volunteer. He served as a volunteer in the Dominican Republic from 1967 to 1970. Upon completing his service, he . . .

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