Author - John Coyne

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Peace Corps Announces 2018 Top Volunteer-Producing Schools
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Jody Olsen Takes The Stand (Again)–Congressional Confirmation Hearing
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Ashley Bell, “In, Up and Out” in Trump’s Fast Turn Over Peace Corps Administration
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The Peace Corps Experience: Creating Global Citizens–Chicago Humanities Festival
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Michael Varga Writes About Life With HIV (Chad)
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Tom Miller Seeks Writer for Moritz Thomsen Book (Ecuador)
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Tom Bissell Reviews The Triumph of Christianity (Uzbekistan)
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The IT office at the Peace Corps is undergoing a leadership shakeup (DC)
9
Review–The Lost City of the Monkey by Douglas Preston (Honduras)
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Mark Gearan Appointed to Head IOP at Harvard’s Kennedy School

Peace Corps Announces 2018 Top Volunteer-Producing Schools

Peace Corps Announces 2018 Top Volunteer-Producing Schools Press Release February 21, 2018 For the second straight year, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Washington, and the University of Minnesota hold the top three spots respectively on the Peace Corps’ Top Volunteer-Producing Colleges and Universities list. The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill ascends to No. 4 this year, while the University of Florida holds steady at No. 5. There are 85 Badgers serving in the Peace Corps, bringing the all-time count of volunteers from the University of Wisconsin to 3,279. Wisconsin has appeared in the top 5 of the Peace Corps’ rankings for the past three years. Making big jumps on this year’s large college list, the University of Texas moved from No. 25 to No. 8 and the University of Virginia moved from No. 15 to No. 6. The Texas Longhorns have 61 currently serving Peace Corps volunteers, while . . .

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Jody Olsen Takes The Stand (Again)–Congressional Confirmation Hearing

Things on the Hill are often subject to change: Date:  February, 27, 2018 Place:  Dirkson Senate Office Bldg:  Room 418 Time:  2:30 p.m.  (Suggest arrival 30 minutes before) Length of hearing:  35 – 45 minutes URL to watch on computer: https://www.foreign.senate.gov/hearings/nominations-021518  Thanks to the ‘heads up’ from Tino Calabia (Peru 1963-65)

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Ashley Bell, “In, Up and Out” in Trump’s Fast Turn Over Peace Corps Administration

Ashley Bell, now an Associate Director of the Peace Corps, has been appointed regional director for the Small Business Administration in the Southeast. Bell, a lawyer and former member of the Hall County Board of Commissioners, has held several positions in the Trump administration — most recently as an Associate Director of the Peace Corps. He got in early with President Donald Trump’s campaign and Republican forces in the general election. “I’m a Day One guy for the administration,” Bell told The Times in a call from Atlanta on Tuesday. Bell worked in communications for the Republican National Committee during President Donald Trump’s campaign, and after Trump’s election Bell worked in communications for the State Department transition team before moving to the Peace Corps to work in external relations with other agencies, the public and Congress. Bell’s brief career at the agency Washington, D.C., July 7, 2017 — The White House has appointed . . .

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The Peace Corps Experience: Creating Global Citizens–Chicago Humanities Festival

I happen to ask  myself what has ever happened on February 21st with the Peace Corps and typed into Google the date and guess what popped up on my computer screen–February 21, 2014, Chicago, Illinois.    

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Michael Varga Writes About Life With HIV (Chad)

Michael Varga is a retired diplomat.  He served as a TEFL Teacher in the Peace Corps in Chad (1977-79).  As a Foreign Service Officer, he served primarily in hotspots in the Middle East for the U.S. State Department.  His assignments included the United Arab Emirates, Syria, Morocco, and Canada.  He worked in Washington, D.C. in the Economic bureau and as the desk officer for Lebanon when the last American hostages were released in the 1990s. He was also a Pearson Fellow at the World Trade Center Miami.  He holds a Master’s degree in Development Economics from the University of Notre Dame.  Michael is also an author.  His novel, Under Chad’s Spell, a fictionalized account based on his service as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Chad, Africa, is available on Amazon.com.  His essay, “Diplomatic Detours,” published in the March/April issue of Plus Magazine, details his life as a long-term survivor with HIV.  You can access the essay through . . .

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Tom Miller Seeks Writer for Moritz Thomsen Book (Ecuador)

Tom Miller has been writing about Latin America and the American Southwest for more than thirty years. Miller’s highly acclaimed adventure books include The Panama Hat Trail about South America, On the Border, an account of his travels along the U.S.-Mexico frontier, Trading With the Enemy, which takes readers on his journeys through Cuba, and, about the American Southwest, Revenge of the Saguaro. Additionally, he has edited three compilations, How I Learned English, Travelers’ Tales Cuba, and Writing on the Edge: A Borderlands Reader. Miller, a veteran of the underground press of the 1960s, was subpoenaed by the Nixon Justice Department to testify before a federal grand jury investigating the anti-war movement. Miller refused to even enter the grand jury room, claiming that to appear behind closed doors would affect his ability to gather news. After considerable legal maneuvering on both sides a US District Court judge ruled in Miller’s favor. Miller was born and raised . . .

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Tom Bissell Reviews The Triumph of Christianity (Uzbekistan)

A little over a week ago,  Denis Nolan (Ethiopia 1964-66), reviewed on this site: Apostle: Travels Among the Tombs of the Twelve written by Tom Bissell (Uzbekistan 1996). This Sunday, February 18th, in the Book Section of The New York Times, Tom reviews the new book by Bart D. Ehrman entitled, The Triumph of Christianity. While Ehrman’s book has received some mixed reviews (check out the WSJ) Tom sums up his lengthy review with this wise comment (and reason alone to read the book) “Reading about how an entire culture’s precepts and traditions can be overthrown without anyone being able to stop it may not be heartening at this particular historical moment. All the more reason to spend time in the company of such a humane, thoughtful and intelligent historian.” A collection of Bissell’s essays entitled, Magic Hours, is being reissued in paperback in March.  

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The IT office at the Peace Corps is undergoing a leadership shakeup (DC)

Peace Corps CIO exits after 3 months By Chase Gunter Feb 15, 2018 The IT office at the Peace Corps is undergoing a leadership shakeup. Rick Endres, who took over as Peace Corps CIO in October, is no longer in the position, an agency spokesperson confirmed. Deputy CIO Scott Knell, who served as the agency’s acting CIO from January through October 2017, is once again acting CIO. The CIO job at the Peace Corps is a career position, not a politically appointed one. The agency’s CIO is charged with managing a global network and infrastructure that includes the D.C. headquarters and overseas posts that support staff and more than 7,400 volunteers worldwide. The Trump administration is requesting $31.2 million for Peace Corps OCIO operations for FY2019, down from $42 million in 2017. The agency’s overall budget request is $396 million. The agency is currently in the midst of a technology . . .

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Review–The Lost City of the Monkey by Douglas Preston (Honduras)

The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston Published by Grand Central Publishing 326 pages January 2017 Kindle $9.49, Hardback $10.81, Paper $9.49 According to the author of The Lost City of the Monkey God, Douglas Preston, two Peace Corps Volunteers were instrumental in discovering an ancient ossuary in the Mosquitia of Honduras, which would turn out to be the most important archaeological find since discovering Copan. In April 1994, Timothy Berg (Honduras 1993-95)  and Greg Cabe (Honduras 1993-95) explored some caves on the Talgua River and, walking in a shallow stream, entered into one of the largest caves where, to their surprise, they ran across a ledge littered with pre-Columbian artifacts and eventually, something strangely elongated and “frosted like sugar candy, covered with glittering crystals of calcite. The discovery of an abandoned metropolis occurred almost eighteen years later in 2012, when the author joined a team of scientists and . . .

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Mark Gearan Appointed to Head IOP at Harvard’s Kennedy School

Mark Gearan, who’s spent much of his career in politics and academia, is the new director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School. Mark, who was Director of the Peace Corps from 1995-99, growing up in Gardner, Mass, and  worked on former Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis’s 1988 presidential campaign, and in President Clinton’s White House. Most recently, and for over 18 years, he was President of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in upstate New York. “The IOP exposes students to the practical world of politics and public service in order to inspire and help the students enter that world later in their lives,” said Douglas Elmendorf, Dean of the Harvard Kennedy School. “Our students will benefit greatly from Mark’s deep knowledge of both public service and higher education.” “I am honored to serve as the next director of the Institute of Politics.  The mission to inspire and prepare Harvard . . .

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