Author - John Coyne

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Happy Ethiopian New Year
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The Not-So-Ugly Americans, 1965 (Ecuador)
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Peace Corps Volunteers to help? The precedent
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“The forgotten role of the Peace Corps in U.S. foreign policy” by Bren Flanigan (Benin)
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Paul Theroux (Malawi) essay: “The Romance of the American Road Trip”
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PEACE CORPS TRANSITION BRIEFING BOOK 2017
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Maureen Orth’s A Made-for-Tabloid Murder (Colombia)
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Excerpt: LEARNING TO SEE by Gary Engelberg (Senegal)
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More problems with the Five Year Rule
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What the Congressional Research Service has to say about The Peace Corps Today

The Not-So-Ugly Americans, 1965 (Ecuador)

  Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Marnie Mueller (Ecuador 1963-65) In 1965 Public Television produced a documentary about the Peace Corps in Guayaquil. Marnie Elberson Mueller, Dave Zimmerman, and James Samiljan were chosen as subjects for the project, which was titled THE NOT-SO-UGLY AMERICANS. Jim’s dad managed to get a copy of the film through a friend who worked at WGBH in Boston. It had been sitting in storage until last month when Jim had it digitized. Marnie Mueller thought other RPCVs would enjoy seeing the video after all these years and forwarded it to me to share on this site. (Thank you, Marnie.) Jim had the video uploaded to YouTube. It is about 30 minutes long. The link below should take you directly there: https://youtu.be/TKPGYPtFL5M The Not-So-Ugly Americans, 1965    

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Peace Corps Volunteers to help? The precedent

  In light of current events in Texas and the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, it behooves us to learn from history. Here is what former Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez said about his decision to send Crisis Corps (now Peace Corps Response) Volunteers to aid in the Hurricane Katrina effort. (This interview was recorded by Alana DeJoseph (Mali 192-94) for the upcoming documentary about the Peace Corps, A Towering Task being made by DeJoseph): Vasquez recalls: Well, I had the opportunity to travel to Sri Lanka, Thailand after the tsunami and witnessed the devastation that the tsunami had caused and it was not long thereafter that Katrina struck the United States and the Gulf Coast. I saw the images, the devastation; it was incredible. And made a decision that I would authorize the deployment of Crisis Corps — these are returned Peace Corps volunteers who make up this group at that . . .

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“The forgotten role of the Peace Corps in U.S. foreign policy” by Bren Flanigan (Benin)

  Thanks for the ‘heads up” from Bob Arias (Colombia 1964-66) about this article. — JC • The forgotten role of the Peace Corps in U.S. foreign policy   Washington Post Opinion Article By Bren Flanigan (PCV Benin) August 31, 2017 After surviving nine hours in a non-air-conditioned bus in the hot West African climate, during which the only escape from the jolting ride is a “pee-pee stop,” the last thing I wanted to do was converse in my extremely limited French with my Peace Corps host father. But I was instantly interrogated on the then-ongoing tumultuous 2016 presidential election: “Why do all Americans hate Muslims?” It’s humbling to find people in Benin following U.S. current affairs with intense interest, when many Americans could never locate Benin on a map. Addressing questions like these gives Peace Corps volunteers the opportunity to shatter the stereotypes about the United States portrayed in television . . .

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Paul Theroux (Malawi) essay: “The Romance of the American Road Trip”

In the WSJ, September 2-3 Review Section is a long essay by Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-65): “The long, improvisational trip by car is an American institution–and no other travel experience especially today, can beat the sense of freedom it brings.” Theroux begins with F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Fitzgerald, three months in their marriage and they are living in Westport, Conn. and  Zelda is slightly cranky over breakfast. She hates Yankee bacon and craves Southern biscuits. “I wish I could have some peaches anyhow.” So Scott says, “let’s get dress and go.” And so it begins. They set off in their secondhand 1918 Marmon Speedster for Montgomery, Alabama. All of this tale is told in Fitzgerald’s memoir The Cruise of The Rolling Junk, a 1,200-mile journey to the deep South on bad roads. Theroux goes onto to recount other such road trips, including his own told in Deep South: Four . . .

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PEACE CORPS TRANSITION BRIEFING BOOK 2017

PEACE CORPS TRANSITION BRIEFING BOOK 2017 Human Resources Overview PEACE CORPS STAFF Domestic Headquarters 764 Regional Offices (or other domestic locations) 136 Overseas US Direct Hire 187 Foreign Service National 82 Personal Services Contractor 3013 TOTAL 4182 At the same time in 2016 there were 7,213 PCVs (therefore, more or less, one employee for every two Volunteers. The total number of PCVs also declined in six years, down from 8,655 PCVs in 2010.) You can read all the numbers in the briefing book, (but not names that have been redacted.) Thanks to Joanne Roll (Colombia 1963-65) for getting the Transition Book on an FOI request. Read the Transition Briefing Book 2017 (redacted) (1)  

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Maureen Orth’s A Made-for-Tabloid Murder (Colombia)

 “A Made-for-Tabloid Murder,” by Maureen Orth (Colombia 1964-66) in the August 2003 Vanity Fair: “On Christmas Eve, a pretty, young, pregnant wife goes missing. Right after the Iraq war, her body washes up, and her husband is arrested. With its heartbreaking details and perfect timing, the Laci Peterson murder has become America’s No. 1 crime and human-interest story. In Modesto, California, where National Enquirer reporters wield huge checks, cable-news anchors fight over gruesome autopsy exclusives, and the most elusive prey is Scott Peterson’s ‘motive,’ Amber Frey, the author reports on three families, a town, and an industry, all consumed by a national obsession.” You can read the story here: http://bit.ly/2w5rBan

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Excerpt: LEARNING TO SEE by Gary Engelberg (Senegal)

“Test of Time”is an excerpt from Learning to See,  a collection of memoirs and short stories about the culture of Senegal and the experiences of Gary Engelbery there. — JC • TEST OF TIME by Gary  Engelberg (Senegal 1965–67)  June 2003:  A lone podium in the middle of the field faced an expanse of tents that protected about 300 guests from the African sun. The Peace Corps Director who was also a former Senegal volunteer, had invited me to speak at the swearing in ceremony of the new Peace Corps Volunteers in Senegal. It was a special day because it was also the 40th anniversary of Peace Corps in Senegal.  The first volunteers had arrived in 1963. I was in the third group that came in 1965 and had been in Senegal ever since. So the Director asked me, as the “dean” of former volunteers, to speak in the name of . . .

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More problems with the Five Year Rule

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Joanne Roll (Columbia 1963-65): To: Sheila Crowley, Acting Director From: Kathy Buller, Inspector General Date: July 31, 2017 Subject: Management Implication Report – Challenges Associated with Staff Turnover This document provides information concerning the negative impact of personnel turnover on agency operations, drawing on an analysis of interviews conducted by OIG evaluators from 2010 through 2015 in 27 country program evaluations (see Appendix A for a summary of these sources). In addition, we have included highlights from 34 audit and evaluation reports over the same period that referenced challenges related to position vacancies and staff turnover (see Appendix C) Conclusion The analysis presented in this Management Implication Report is intended to inform agency leadership that personnel turnover continues to present and exacerbate challenges for overseas staff, as reported to OIG in multiple country program evaluations and audits in recent years. OIG recognizes that the . . .

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What the Congressional Research Service has to say about The Peace Corps Today

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) works exclusively for the United States Congress, providing policy and legal analysis to committees and Members of both the House and Senate, regardless of party affiliation. As a legislative branch agency within the Library of Congress, CRS has been a valued and respected resource on Capitol Hill for more than a century. Here is a 16-page report by Curt Tarnoff, Specialist in Foreign Affair, published as a PDF  on July 20, 2017 CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE Peace Corps JULY 20, 2017

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