Archive - October 2017

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Review — WILD WORLD by Peter Rush (Cameroon)
2
“What Are You?” They Ask My Son by Michael Meyer (China)
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Sarge Recalls His First PC/H Staff
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The Peace Corps: A lot of bucks for very little bang? (Brookings)
5
US Ambassador Scott Brown Down & Dirty with PCVs (Samoa)
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Staff in PC/W–Early ‘60s
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The Peace Corps in Washington–The Early ’60s
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Tyler McMahon (El Salvador) wins 2016 Gival Press Novel Award
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Review — PATCHWORKS by B.A. East (Malawi)
10
What has happened to our Peace Corps?

Review — WILD WORLD by Peter Rush (Cameroon)

  Wild World (novel) by Peter S. Rush (Cameroon 1972–73) Prior Manor August 2017 288 pages $16.95 (paperback) Reviewed by D.W. Jefferson (El Salvador 1974–76, and Costa Rica 1976–77) • You can’t change an institution unless you are willing to become a part of it and work from the inside. That’s what Steve Logan decided to do. In the spring of 1970 he is a senior at Brown University, very much in love with his girlfriend Roxy, a pre-med student, and planning to go to law school in the fall. Then he hears about Kent State, four student demonstrators killed by the National Guard. Inspired by a campus appearance by a New York City police officer who is fighting corruption on the force, and unwilling to leave Roxy on her own as she has recently lost both her father and sister, Steve decides to join the local Providence police force and . . .

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“What Are You?” They Ask My Son by Michael Meyer (China)

  This Opinion piece appeared in The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, October 31, 2017, written by Michael Meyer (China 1995-97). Michael teaches creative nonfiction at the University of Pittsburgh. His most recent book, just published by Bloomsbury, is The Road to Sleeping Dragon: Learning China from the Ground Up. — JC • “What Are You?” They Ask My Son At 5, he doesn’t quite understand what it means to be ‘biracial.’ ‘I’m a boy,’ he says.   My son is 5. He was born in Hong Kong and spent the past two years in Singapore. We returned to the U.S. so he could grow up here, and the culture shock has been minimal: Like his fellow kindergartners, Benji loves Legos and belting out “Let it Go.” Unlike them, he plays piano, which he learned in a Singapore preschool. Also unlike them, Benji is constantly asked: “What are you?” It’s a . . .

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Sarge Recalls His First PC/H Staff

I do not think it is altogether fair to say that I handed Sarge a lemon from which he made lemonade, but I do think that he was handed and you (The Peace Corps staff) were handed one of the most sensitive and difficult assignments which any administrative group in Washington has been given almost in this century.” –President Kennedy in a speech to the Peace Corps staff It was apparent to Shriver from the very beginning that he needed talented people who had wide experience in government work. The question was–how would he find them! He followed the principle that one good man would bring another. So Warren Wiggins got him Jack Young from NASA, a demon of energy and creativity who organized our management services. Presidential Counsel Ted Sorensen recommended Joe Kauffman. The Dean of the Yale Law School, Eugene Rostow, recommended Bill Delano. The “talent search” turned up . . .

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The Peace Corps: A lot of bucks for very little bang? (Brookings)

The Peace Corps: A lot of bucks for very little bang? By Thomas M Hill, Visiting Fellow—Governance Studies Brookings Monday, October 16, 2017 Former Congressman Sam Farr (D-Calif.) is credited with having stated that the Peace Corps is “the American taxpayer’s best bang for its buck.” Certainly, it’s a sentiment shared by many returned Peace Corps volunteers who describe their experiences as personally transformative. However, at approximately $56,500 per volunteer per year, the Peace Corps is one of the most expensive civilian overseas programs funded by the federal government and nearly twice as expensive as the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. The program’s cost ($410 million annually) coupled with its inconsistent development track record and the agency’s insistence that it operate independently from U.S. foreign policy should raise questions for Congress about whether an entirely taxpayer-funded model is sustainable and a good use of limited resources. In 1971, Brent Ashabranner, the former Deputy Director of the Peace Corps suggested that . . .

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US Ambassador Scott Brown Down & Dirty with PCVs (Samoa)

Thanks to the ‘heads up’ from Andy Trincia (Romania 2002-04) From The Guardian, New Zealand US officials investigated Brown after he was accused of inappropriate behaviour at a party in Samoa and was alleged by one woman to have stared at her breasts Scott Brown: US envoy to New Zealand ‘counselled on standards of conduct’ The state department said: ‘We take allegations of misconduct seriously and we investigate them thoroughly.’ Photograph: @peacecorpssamoa Facebook/The Samoan Photographer Reported by Eleanor Ainge Roy in Dunedin and Julian Borger in Washington Thursday 26 October 2017 US Ambassador to New Zealand, Scott Brown The US ambassador to New Zealand has been “counselled on standards of conduct for government employees” after an investigation into his behaviour at a party in Samoa in the summer. US officials from the state department’s office of inspector general flew to New Zealand last week to interview Scott Brown, a former Republican senator, and reported their findings . . .

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Staff in PC/W–Early ‘60s

The main source of my personnel research in the early Peace Corps/Washington comes from Who’s Who in The Peace Corps Washington. Thanks to a ‘heads up’ from Peace Corps’ first photographer, Rowland Scherman, I now know this informative pamphlet was written by Peace Corps PR/Reporter, a former San Francisco newspaper reporter, Thompson “Jim” Walls. I met Jim and Rowland in 1962-3 when they were traveling around the world gathering Volunteer stories and photographing PCVs. They spent several weeks in Ethiopia on this historic trip and brought back to the US photographs of what the Peace Corps was doing overseas in these early years. Jim wrote the copy for this information pamphlet Who’s Who in The Peace Corps and Roland took all the photos. The agency and all of us who were PCVs and Staff are indebted to them.  Shriver Remembers First Staff Reading the biographies of all these men and women . . .

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The Peace Corps in Washington–The Early ’60s

There are unfortunately few books about the early days of the agency, how it was formed and who was involved in those weeks at the Mayflower Hotel and in the original Peace Corps Office, the Maiatico Building, located at the edge of Lafayette Park and within sight of the White House. Who were the people who built the agency? Harris Wofford’s book, Of Kennedys & Kings Making Sense of the Sixties (1980) devotes a chapter to the Peace Corps. The Bold Experience: JFK’s Peace Corps by Gerard T. Rice (1985) tells of the political maneuvering to create the agency, as does to a certain degree, All You Need Is Love: The Peace Corps and the Spirit of the 1960s by Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman (1998). However, Come As You Are: The Peace Corps Story by Coates Redmon (1986) a press writer at the Peace Corps in its first days, gives the background . . .

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Tyler McMahon (El Salvador) wins 2016 Gival Press Novel Award

  Gival Press has announced that Tyler McMahon of Honolulu, Hawai’i has won the 2016 Gival Press Novel Award for his novel Dream of Another America. McMahon will receive a cash prize of $3,000. The novel will be  published in the spring of 2018. — JC Advance Praise “So gritty about every least detail, so frank about its people’s needs, Dream of Another America might at first seem the furthest thing from a dream. Yet Tyler McMahon has worked this desperate material into a headlong tumble of jeopardy and escape, sweeping up a remarkable array of souls—mostly Central American—in a spell so vivid it seems straight out of the deepest recesses of the unconscious. As his protagonist Jacinto makes his way north to Los United, McMahon puts the reader too up against the worst monsters of that odyssey, now baking in the desert, now clinging to a train. The novel’s likewise unsparing about . . .

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Review — PATCHWORKS by B.A. East (Malawi)

  Patchworks (mystery) by B.A. East (Malawi 1996-98) Moonshine Cove Press September 2017 259 pages $13.99 paperback, $6.99 Kindle Reviewed by Peter Van Deekle (Iran, 1968-70) • B.A. East brings to his latest and timely novel a refined skill for realistic dialog and a  first-hand experience of the federal bureaucracy. This reviewer received his copy of Patchworks on the morning after the Las Vegas massacre in October 2017 with the prophetic statement on its back cover: “America’s next gun massacre is inevitable …” The 20013 shootings at the Navy Yard facility in Washington, D.C. provide a credible context for this novel’s heightened anxiety over safety and security. Within that anxiety, East gives readers an engaging narrative centered on two of the novel’s central characters, Gabriel Dunne and Manny Teague.  Dunne’s internship in the fictitious Bureau of Government Intelligence and Execution involves him in an investigation of gun violence in America.  Gabriel’s academic . . .

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What has happened to our Peace Corps?

  This is the language (and tone) of rejection letters being sent to would-be candidates for Peace Corps positions. In this case, it took a year for the rejection letter to arrive. Where is the human agency that we once worked for in DC and overseas? If this is the way the current Peace Corps Agency treats staff, how do they respond to PCVs? And they didn’t even have the decency to add the name of the person sending the letter! Well, maybe it’s Alexa who is now sending out the Need Not Apply letters from Peace Corps Washington. — JC • This is in regards to your application for the position of Country Director: Your application for the subject position has been reviewed and evaluated. We regret to inform you that after a thorough review of your application and supporting documents, your application does not show possession of the . . .

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