The Towering Task – A Peace Corps Documentary UPDATE

Here is the latest news about The Towering Task, the Peace Corps Documentary in production  by RPCV Alana deJoseph (Mali 92-94).

Building Bridges

The Peace Corps and its long history of building bridges stand in stark contrast to the terrible news we seem to be reading about on an almost daily basis these days. While we’re assembling this documentary, it’s feeling like we are also getting the opportunity to respond to so much divisiveness, anger, and fear with a story of hope. We are inspired by your stories and steadfast support to keep building bridges – whether with people on the other side of the globe or our neighbors. Yes, it is much easier to respond with our own anger, fears, and frustrations, but making peace, reaching out, and healing the wounds that others have inflicted is what the Peace Corps and the RPCV community do day in and day out. Changing the narrative with this story of hope is an opportunity and a privilege.October 1st was World Day of Bullying Prevention (Stomp Out Bullying), and the month of October is National Bullying Prevention Month. We, too, stand against bullying. Check out this 2012 Peace Corps video of RPCV Bob Schlehuber, who implemented Peter Yarrow’s (Peter, Paul & Mary) Operation Respect program in the Ukraine.

Operation Respect Anti-Bullying Program in Ukraine – Peace Corps

Peace Corps Connect Interviews (continued)
In last month’s newsletter, we shared images and stories from seven interviews we hosted at Peace Corps Connect. This month, we’re sharing seven more.
Kul Chandra Gautam
Winner of the 2018 Wofford Global Citizen Award
Kul was in 7th grade in Nepal when the first Peace Corps Volunteers showed up. He is a fantastic storyteller and had all of us on the edge of our seats. One of his most recent jobs was as Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF under former PC Director Carol Bellamy.
Carol Bellamy
Peace Corps Director 1993-1995
Besides giving us great insight into the early 90s at the Peace Corps, Carol even helped us push our equipment cart down the streets of Manhattan! A true Peace Corps spirit!
Kristina & Wendy Owens
RPCV Bolivia 2000-2002 & RPCV Paraguay 2000-2002
These fabulous twin sister RPCVs didn’t only tell us about their time in South America (when 9/11 happened!), but also explained their organization, PC to Politics, which supports RPCVs serving in or running for political office – helping JFK’s vision for the Peace Corps come true!
Tappan Heher
RPCV Mali 1990-1992
Tappan is in the middle of producing his own documentary about his two mothers – his American mother and his Malian Peace Corps mother. A beautiful story!
Virginia “Ginny” Kirkwood
RPCV Turkey 1964-1966 & PC Country Director Thailand 1990-1993
Matriarch of a 4-generation Peace Corps family, the famous “Aunt Ginny” (as we know her from her niece former Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet’s stories) knows more about the Peace Corps than most. What an honor to get to hear some of her stories!
Kevin Quigley
RPCV Thailand 1976-1979 & National Peace Corps Association President 2003-2012
Kevin told us about Thailand PCVs working with refugees from the Vietnam War and then later from the Khmer Rouge. He was the one who started the Wofford Global Citizen Award, reminding us of the effort it has taken to make the Peace Corps not just an American story but one of shared cultures.
Mandy Manning
RPCV Armenia 1999-2001
2018 Teacher of the Year, Mandy inspired us on so many levels! Serving in a former East Bloc country, Mandy’s experience as a PCV was different from the traditional mud hut image, but no less transforming. Her time as a PCV carries forward into her teaching of refugees and immigrant children today!

And here’s an August recording of Mandy in conversation with Bill Gates talking about the important work she’s doing now:

Bill Gates’s Heroes in the Field: Mandy Manning

What’s Next
We had our first test screenings of the first hour of the documentary in Santa Barbara in Septemberand we are happy to say that the audiences loved it.

Vibrant discussions followed the segment on the beginnings of the Peace Corps, and we received a lot of great suggestions for future screening venues. We are also continuing to build out our plan for community screenings around the US and the globe. Keep those suggestions coming!

Now, we are back in the edit suite to finish the full program (and pick up the last remaining interviews). The search for archival materials is turning up some wonderful images and footage, and our team keeps finding new and interesting material to illustrate the Peace Corps over time. Your help in this is absolutely invaluable! Pictures, film, video, newspaper clippings, news reports, documents, audio files, everything you send us contributes to a more complete picture of this complex history. Thank you!

And, as we mentioned before, we will be submitting to film festivals, show the film at conferences, and after a public television broadcast, we’ll make the program available for streaming.

To start all of this off, we will have our big gala premiere in Washington, DC.We are planning on September 22nd to be the big day, and we are hoping that all of you will join us. We will have a red carpet and everything! So stay tuned!

Beyond that, we will be developing lesson plans for universities, high schools, and middle schools so that we can help bring the discussion of the Peace Corps into America’s classrooms.

Join the Team!

We are still seeking volunteers to uncover archival material.

If you would like to help further the production of A Towering Task, help us with archival research as a production assistant. You will be given research tasks and asked to help us dive into the internet, contact archivists, connect with companies and individuals to find the highest quality archival video possible in support of A Towering Task.

5-10 hours per week is preferable, but we’ll take whatever help we can get. No experience necessary. You just need an inquiring and curious mind, and we know you do!

Contact Dave Steinke, Archival Researcher, at dave.steinke@gmail.com for more information and to get started.

How You Can Help Us Cross the Finish Line
We know that we are soon headed into the holidays, and the fundraising requests will be filling up your mailboxes. So, let us rally each and every one of you around telling this story of the Peace Corps now. It’s an important one – and at a pivotal moment in history.

We are so incredibly proud of this community and thankful for your wonderful support so far. We have been able to raise over $500,000 towards our goal of $917,000. We have accomplished so much with your support, from our production trips across the US and the globe to the work of the edit team and the research team.

We are in the final stages now and need all of you to help us get this documentary out into the American narrative. Every dollar gets us closer to those community screenings and broadcast, so that we can engage America in a conversation about what it means to build rather than to tear down.

Your support helps us continue bringing stories like yours to life!

Easy Ways to Support Our Work

  1. Spread the word. Share this newsletter and the documentary website with your friends and family. Ask them to donate. For social media, please use the hashtag #IgnitePeaceCorps.
  2. Donate. Click on the blue DONATE button below. (All donations are tax-deductible.)
  3. Share. We love to receive your thoughts, stories, and photos. Email them to info@peacecorpsdocumentary.com.
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https://mailchi.mp/peacecorpsdocumentary/oct-2018-enews-a-towering-task?e=d09090d4da

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