The Peace Corps

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

1
The Sins of Kalamazoo
2
The Not-So-Ugly Americans, 1965 (Ecuador)
3
Peace Corps Volunteers to help? The precedent
4
Peace Corps Burkina Faso Volunteers evacuated safely
5
“The forgotten role of the Peace Corps in U.S. foreign policy” by Bren Flanigan (Benin)
6
PEACE CORPS TRANSITION BRIEFING BOOK 2017
7
Maureen Orth’s A Made-for-Tabloid Murder (Colombia)
8
More problems with the Five Year Rule
9
What the Congressional Research Service has to say about The Peace Corps Today
10
What is wrong with the Office of Third Goal in the Peace Corps? (Washington, D.C.)

The Sins of Kalamazoo

In the spring of 1962 I was a graduate student in English at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. We all know Kalamazoo if we know the poet Carl Sandburg. The sins of Kalamazoo are neither scarlet nor crimson. The sins of Kalamazoo are a convict gray, a dishwater drab. And the people who sin the sins of Kalamazoo are neither scarlet nor crimson. The run to drabs and grays–and some of them sing they shall be washed whiter than snow–and some: We should worry. Well, I wasn’t sinning in Kalamazoo! (We never sinned back in the early Sixties.) I was a grad student and I had just been selected to go to Ethiopia. A country I couldn’t at first find on a map of Africa. (Oh, there it is!) I wasn’t the only Western student joining the Peace Corps in 1962. Bill Donohoe, a history major at Western, also had . . .

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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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Peace Corps Burkina Faso Volunteers evacuated safely

https://www.peacecorps.gov/news/library/peace-corps-burkina-faso-volunteers-evacuated-safely/?utm_campaign=&utm_medium=email&utm_source=  WASHINGTON, D.C., September 03, 2017 – The Peace Corps today announced that, acting with an abundance of caution and considering the unique circumstances of their service, all Peace Corps Burkina Faso volunteers have been successfully evacuated out of the country due to security concerns. The Peace Corps has been closely monitoring the safety and security environment in Burkina Faso and will continue to assess the situation. The Peace Corps looks forward to a time when volunteers can return while underscoring that the safety and security of its volunteers are the agency’s top priority. There were 124 volunteers working in Burkina Faso on projects in community economic development, education and health. The Peace Corps has enjoyed a long partnership with the government and people of Burkina Faso and hopes to be able to continue volunteers’ work there. More than 2,075 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Burkina Faso since the program . . .

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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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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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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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What is wrong with the Office of Third Goal in the Peace Corps? (Washington, D.C.)

  The DC Office of the Third Goal has 16 employees — yes, 16 employees. I wonder what do they do all day? After five months of asking by Joanne Roll (Colombia 1963-65), they still have not listed any books written by RPCVs or Peace Corps staff on their webpage. The ‘official’ Mission Statement of the Peace Corps states:. The Office of Third Goal and Returned Volunteer Services (3GL) engages the Peace Corps community to further intercultural understanding and supports Volunteers through career transitions. Is there any better way for Americans of all ages to learn about the developing world than to read the prose and poetry of RPCVs? Com’on Peace Corps turn to former Volunteers to tell the world about living and life overseas. They know the story and they have written brilliantly about their experiences for 56 years. Wise up and use their books.  Office of Third Goal (3GL)* Mission . . .

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