The Peace Corps

Agency history, current news and stories of the people who are/were both on staff and Volunteers.

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Niki Tsongas, wife Of Paul Tsongas (Ethiopia) retiring From Congress
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First Peace Corps Conference: RPCVs on the Couch (Washington, D.C.)
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The First RPCV Conference, March 1965 (Washington, D.C.)
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The Legend of Kennedy, King, and Harris Wofford (Ethiopia)
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Trump In Real Trouble Now! Mueller Hires RPCV Lawyer (Benin)
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Seventh (and last) Peace Corps Fund Award: “Taxi” by Sue Rosenfeld (Senegal)
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Sixth Prize Peace Corps Fund Award: Discovering Bhagawan by Sara Wagner (Nepal)
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RPCV lobbying the White House for Peace Corps directorship
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Sixth Prize Peace Corps Fund Award: “Honey for the Heart” by Brian Minalga (Niger)
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Trump, Lies, and the Peace Corps

Niki Tsongas, wife Of Paul Tsongas (Ethiopia) retiring From Congress

   Congresswoman Niki Tsongas announces she will not run for reelection  by the Boston Herald’s Chris Villani Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, who has represented Lowell [MA] for nearly a decade, announced today that she will not run for reelection, citing a desire to spend more time with her family. Tsongas’s statement: I have learned in life that there is a time for endings and for new beginnings. After much thought, I have decided that this is one of those times. The time feels right most especially because of my desire to spend more time enjoying and celebrating my wonderful and growing family. Her late husband, Paul Tsongas (Ethiopia 1962-64), was a Democratic Congressman, and served as a Senator from Massachusetts. He made an unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 1992 as Bill Clinton captured the party nomination on the way to winning two terms in the White House. Paul Tsongas died . . .

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First Peace Corps Conference: RPCVs on the Couch (Washington, D.C.)

Before the first Conference for Returned PCVs, the Peace Corps sent out 3300 questionnaires and 2300 were returned. Gary Bergthold (Ethiopia 1962-64) who was in 1965 working in the Peace Corps Medical Division, and chairman of the conference committee that read and tabulated the questionnaires told the opening session, “Elmo Roper, the American pollster, couldn’t believe it. This tremendous response, plus the fact that 90 per cent of those who replied said they wanted to attend this conference.” He went on to say. “The first thing that becomes clear is the remarkable diversity of opinion among returned Volunteers. The greatest agreement on any one question was less than 15 per cent.”   This was most obvious at the plenary session when Sargent Shriver called to the podium Ruth Whitney (Ghana 1962-64) and let her have her say as the Peace Corp Volunteer reported in its April 1965 Volunteer Magazine. Ruth, . . .

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The First RPCV Conference, March 1965 (Washington, D.C.)

The recent successful NPCA Conference in Denver got me thinking about the first RPCV Conference held at the State Department on March 5-7, 1965. Over 1,000 RPCVs attended, of the approximately 3,000 plus PCVs who had returned home. By the time the conference ended, as reported in the Saturday Review, “it was beginning to dawn on even the most grudging onlooker that the Peace Corps veterans–who should number at least 50,000 by 1970–are going to be an inspiring force in our national life.” (It turned out to be closer to 75,000 RPCVs). The article goes onto say that the “atmosphere in the State Department auditorium was one of verve, confidence, and high good humor. In fact, the witty opening speeches by Corps director Sargent Shriver and Vice President Humphrey evoked such volleys of laughter that one middle-aged journalist expressed fear for the building safety, on the grounds that State Department auditoriums are . . .

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The Legend of Kennedy, King, and Harris Wofford (Ethiopia)

I have been reading a massive book by Steven Levingston entitled Kennedy and King: The President, The Pastor, and the Battle Over Civil Rights. Levingston is the nonfiction editor of the Washington Post. My primary interest, of course, is what he had to say about Harris Wofford and Sargent Shriver and their role in the famous phone call to Coretta King after her husband had been jailed in Georgia during the 1960 presidential campaign. Levingston details all the events (political and otherwise) that led to JFK’s spontaneous call to Coretta from his hotel room at the O’Hara Airport. Years ago, back in 1980, Farrar Straus Giroux would publish Wofford’s own book entitled Of Kennedys & Kings: Making Sense of the Sixties that also detailed the events surrounding the famous phone call. It was first thought by the political insiders that the ‘call’ would cost Kennedy the election. As Levingston writes, “King’s . . .

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Trump In Real Trouble Now! Mueller Hires RPCV Lawyer (Benin)

  Thanks to the ‘heads up’ from Bob Arias (Colombia 1964-66):   Exclusive: Former Justice Department official joins Mueller team Karen Freifeld   NEW YORK (Reuters) – A former U.S. Justice Department official has become the latest lawyer to join special counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, a spokesman for the team confirmed. Greg Andres started on Tuesday, becoming the 16th lawyer on the team, said Josh Stueve, a spokesman for the special counsel. Most recently a white-collar criminal defense lawyer with New York law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell, Andres, 50, served at the Justice Department from 2010 to 2012. He was deputy assistant attorney general in the criminal division, where he oversaw the fraud unit and managed the program that targeted illegal foreign bribery. Mueller, who was appointed special counsel in May, is looking into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and . . .

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Seventh (and last) Peace Corps Fund Award: “Taxi” by Sue Rosenfeld (Senegal)

Sue Rosenfeld (Senegal 1977-81) joined the Peace Corps in 1977 and 40 years later she still lives in Africa. She served as a Junior High School English teacher and then as the PCVL for TEFL and as a teacher-trainer at the Teacher Training Faculty of the national university. Originally from New Jersey, Sue obtained her BA in Latin from Dickinson College and her Masters in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Teachers College, Columbia University. After serving four years as a PCV in Senegal, Sue taught for three years on a Fulbright grant in Burundi. She next moved to Niger where she has lived ever since. Initially, she directed the English Language Program at the American Cultural Center and then for 24 years–its entire duration–directed Boston University’s International Study Abroad Program in Niger. Now partially retired, she is an adjunct at Niger’s national teacher-training faculty. Today, she trains . . .

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Sixth Prize Peace Corps Fund Award: Discovering Bhagawan by Sara Wagner (Nepal)

Sara Wagner (Nepal 1996-98) left the United States for the first time on the cusp of her 24th birthday, to become a Community Health Volunteer Coordinator with the Peace Corps. Upon returning Stateside, she delved into public health on the country’s largest tribal nation, with the Navajo Area Indian Health Service. She has lived in Northern Arizona for the past 18 years yet still feels an affinity for distant Himals rising in the north, foothills and river valleys cascading down from every direction, flowing to India, to everywhere – for taking a step back in time, as if into a storybook, to a simpler time and place, awakened her heart. While it sometimes feels like this experience never happened, something, or someone, always comes along to remind her that she did not imagine it, that these people who embody love are real.   Discovering Bhagawan By Sara Wagner A magnificent sunset engulfed . . .

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RPCV lobbying the White House for Peace Corps directorship

I had a long conversation this morning with an RPCV who is lobbying the White House to be the next director of the Peace Corps. (Yes, Virginia, there are Republican RPCVs). The candidate wants to be Director to improve the agency and the role of PCVs overseas. This former Volunteer served for three years in the Peace Corps, in Africa, and in the early ’70s.  A successful business person who wants to improve the agency, the candidate is seeking ‘your ideas’ to take to any forthcoming meetings with the Trump Administration.  You can post your opinions and ideas on the site now and I’ll see that the RPCV candidate receives the information. This RPCV candidate for Director will also be attending the NPCA Conference next week in Colorado. The candidate will send me the time and location where you can talk personally in Denver and share your ideas. I’ll post the information . . .

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Sixth Prize Peace Corps Fund Award: “Honey for the Heart” by Brian Minalga (Niger)

  Brian Minalga (Niger 2008-10, Namibia 2010-12) served as an educator in the Peace Corps in Niger and Namibia. He then was a Peace Corps Recruiter from 2013-2014. Brian also completed a Master of Social Work degree as a Paul D. Coverdell Fellow. He now lives in Seattle where he works nationally to advance justice for historically underrepresented communities in HIV clinical and behavioral research. •   Honey for the Heart by Brian Minalga   A ga kanu ay se.  It is sweet to me.   THIS IS HOW YOU SAY that you like something in a dusty town called Dosso in Niger, West Africa. The language is called Zarma, and Zarmaphones are very interested in what’s sweet to you: Dunguri nda mo, a ga kanu ni se? (Beans and rice, is it sweet to you?) Kaidiya wate, a ga kanu ni se? (Rainy season, is it sweet to you?) . . .

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Trump, Lies, and the Peace Corps

 Op-Ed in The News & Observer of Raleigh, North Carolina, July 21, 2017 (Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Bea Hogan (Uzbekistan 1992-94) • Trump, lies, and the Peace Corps BY GENE NICHOL Contributing columnist Gene Nichol is Boyd Tinsley distinguished professor of law at the University of North Carolina. His daughter in a Peace Corps Volunteer in The Gambia. She would be unaffected by Trumps proposals. Several times each week, Americans are pressed with an odd question – how did we come to this? Who would have thought it possible, for example, that when the presidents of the United States and Russia give conflicting accounts of their joint discussions, most of us would assume that a murderous, dictatorial KGB operative was closer to the truth. Even Republicans seemed to wince: “It’s certainly conceivable Putin is lying, but we know Trump lies constantly – all day, every day, whether he . . .

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