Archive - May 2009

1
No peace at the Peace Corps
2
Let Them Eat Junk Food!
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A Writer Writes: Living in the UAE
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Your Immigrant Story
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Less Not MorePeaceCorps
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RPCV Roland Merullo On The Shores of Lake Como
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The Ying And Yang Of The Peace Corps
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George May At Tam O'Shanter
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The Three Goals Of The Peace Corps
10
Another RPCV Joins The China Gang of Writers

No peace at the Peace Corps

This was in the Al Kamen’s Washington Post column, In The Loop, this morning. Kamen was a PCV in the Dominican Republic  in the early Sixties. What with President Obama’s emphasis on volunteerism domestically and internationally, it seemed odd that there has been no announcement of a new Peace Corps director. One name circulating as a top contender for the post is James Arena–DeRosa, now New England regional manager for the Peace Corps in Boston. Arena-DeRosa also teaches developmental research and advocacy at Brandeis University and worked with the aid organization Oxfam International. “Some folks in the returned-volunteer community, a powerful and active lobby, may be less than delighted about this. There’s a strong feeling among some former volunteers — not shared by all of us — that service overseas is a prerequisite for the job, especially with so many former volunteers available. Arena-DeRosa reportedly enjoys strong support from Massachusetts . . .

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Let Them Eat Junk Food!

Robert Albritton (Ethiopia 1963-65) teaches at a university in Canada and has a book coming out this month that might interest you. It is entitled, Let Them Eat Junk: How Capitalism Creates Hunger and Obesity. From the book jacket, “Capitalism may promise cheap, nutritious food for all, but it has failed to deliver on that promise.” The book explores the economics of our food system, and it explains why a quarter of the world’s population go hungry despite the fact that enough food is produced worldwide to feed us all. Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved, says about the book, “Marx understood the dynamics of the current food crisis over a century ago. Robert Albritton has written a fine primer, bridging the best thinking of the nineteenth century to the urgent needs of the twenty-first.” And Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University, author . . .

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A Writer Writes: Living in the UAE

In August of 2008 Darcy Munson Meijer (Gabon 1982-84) moved to Abu Dhabi with her husband and two of her children, boys ages 7 and 8, to begin  a three-year teaching contract at Zayed University, an all-female institution. She went to work in the Academic Bridge Program that prepares the women to do university coursework full-time in English. Darcy explains the reason for this essay . . . It started at the annual party hosted by one of my fellow Gabon RPCVs in St. Croix last summer — this desire to set people straight about life in Abu Dhabi. While my friends were sharing stories and gossip in the corps de garde, conversation turned to the birqa that I would surely have to wear in the United Arab Emirates, where we to move shortly. You may already know that the surest way to get an American’s knickers in a wad is . . .

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Your Immigrant Story

 The Choosing America Project is looking for true short stories that express the “very essence of being an immigrant in America.” They are looking for “gripping human interest stories that will  reflect the diversity of the American immigrant experience, past and  present.” Do you have a story to tell? Go to  www.choosingamerica.com . If you don’t have a story, then pass this request onto someone you know. They are trying to disseminate this information to as many immigrants as possible in search of the best material. Forward this to other writers, editors, students,  professors, educators, seniors, colleagues and friends, community  leaders and organizers as well as to community groups and  organizations, anyone you believe who can contribute to this  project. Many thanks.

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Less Not MorePeaceCorps

President Obama released a detailed version of his Fiscal Year 2010 budget to Congress which includes a funding request of $373.5 Million for the Peace Corps.  This request represents a ten percent increase in spending above the current $340 Million funding level for Peace Corps. According to Kevin Quigley, President and CEO of the NPCA, “President Obama’s Peace Corps funding request is a step in the right direction, but it is only a step.” This budget does not call for MorePeaceCorps. It simply means an increase in the number of PCVs to 9,000. And that means approximately 13% increase by the time of the 50th Anniversary. There is no doubling of the agency! This budget now goes up on the Hill and to the appropriations  committees of the House and Senate, but don’t expect miracles from that crowd. Regardless of what Obama said during the campaign, regardless of what members of Congress say, the Peace Corps ain’t getting much bigger during this administration. The . . .

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RPCV Roland Merullo On The Shores of Lake Como

Roland Merullo (Micronesia 1979-80) has written a number of fine novels (Leaving Losapas, his Peace Corps novel), and since then novels on a wide range of topics, including golf (Golfing with God: A Novel of Heaven and Earth.) He is back with a new one, this on golf, travel, Italy and a lot more: The Italian Summer. Last year Roland took a long summer vacation with his wife and two daughters in northern Italy. Of the trip, Roland writes in his introduction, “Just the story of a slice of time in a beautiful place, where I had a lesson in living more slowly.” (Hey, Roland, you spent two years in Micronesia! Could anything possibly move slower than those islands?) There is a lot in this book, from writing about golf to long and leisurely dinners. You can get a great meal out of these beautifully written pages. Touchstone Books published The Italian Summer this spring. As they . . .

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The Ying And Yang Of The Peace Corps

The Ying and Yang of the Peace Corps has always been whether a PCV is an expert technical advisor (written small), or an American just off on a Third World Walk About. The three goals of the Peace Corps give a mixed metaphor to the real reason of being a PCV. Many HCNs see us as CIA agents, and back home in Americans we’re thought of as missionaries without a religion. PCVs for the most part just want a job, want to feel wanted, and need to believe they are getting the job done. So, on the macro side there is this grand design of the whole agency encouraging peace by sending Volunteers into the world and on the micro side there are just men and women-mostly young and inexperienced–hoping that at the end of the tour they will have been somewhat successful. These competing goals are not necessarily bad. . . .

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George May At Tam O'Shanter

In his history of the PGA, Gerald Astor tells how Fred Corcoran first met George May behind the 18th green during the USGA amateur championship at Winged Foot. Then at a banquet celebrating the 1940 Chicago Open played at the Tam O’Shanter Club, May, the president and principal owner of the club, announced the prize money for the following year would be bumped from $5000 to $11,000, settling it a notch above the $10,000 offered by Los Angeles and Miami for their Opens. May further surprised the audience by declaring admission prices would be slashed to the level of grandstand seats at the ballpark, $1.10. May did much more to cause excitement at his tournaments. He had pros shoot from the front tees; lower scores, he reasoned, would impress people. His first four-day tournament drew 41,000, including 23,000 on the final day. May was also ahead of his time – . . .

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The Three Goals Of The Peace Corps

When I last worked for the Peace Corps (back in the mid-’90s) there was a lot of talk about the Three Goals of the Peace Corps, but no one seem to know too much about how they came about, or why. Even the few books on the early history of the agency are vague about the who, what, when and how of the Peace Corps goals. Harris Wofford in his 1980 book Of Kennedys And Kings does write about how decisions were made by the Mayfloor Gang who invented the Peace Corps. And since Wofford was with Shriver from the very beginning days of planning the agency, his words are worth reading. Harris writes, “A clear statement of purpose was also required. From the first sessions several purposes had been articulated and some discareded, and Shriver welcomed hard argument among the contending viewpoints. Providing trained manpower for development? Promoting mutual international understanding? . . .

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Another RPCV Joins The China Gang of Writers

Michael Levy (China 2005-07) joins the expanding ‘China Gang’ of writers (Mike Meyer, Peter Hessler, and all) with a humorous memoir of serving in rural China. His account of being far from the high-rises of Beijing and his discovery of a Chinese adoration–and often–of all things Jewish, has just been sold to Holt. The memoir is entitled, Kosher Dog Meat. Holt has published a number of RPCVs, including Sarah Erdman’s Nine Hills To Nambonkaha(Ivory Coast 1998-2000); Maureen Orth’s (Colombia 1964-66) The Importance of Being Famous; and Thurston Clarke (Tunisia 1968) The Last Campaign: Robert F. Kennedy and 82 Days That Inspired America.

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