Archive - April 1, 2010

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Once Again My Favorite Hobby Horse: One Laptop Per Child
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Mad Men And Their Cigarettes
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Mad Woman At The Peace Corps: Elizabeth Forsling Harris, Part Six

Once Again My Favorite Hobby Horse: One Laptop Per Child

I was watching Worldfocus this evening and they are running a series on Africa and the final segment was on Rwanda and the program of  One Laptop per child that the President Paul Kagame began. There are 2,3 million primary kids and he wants to use them to make his country first in Africa with these $100 computers. He was the leader after the 1994 genocide where 800,000 were killed. It is a surprisingly positive story after so much tragedy and without books, materials, etc., these computers are giving children an edge of all of the students in Africa. Kagame is a genius. Why the Peace Corps doesn’t work out an arrangement with the MIT folks who developed this inexpensive computer is beyong me. Do any of you have any ideas how we might make this leap forward in the thinking of the agency? Meanwhile, check out www.worldfocus.org You can see . . .

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Mad Men And Their Cigarettes

If you watch Mad Men you know all about the office atmosphere and the thick layer of smoke that filled the offices. It was no better in the Peace Corps during those early years in 1960s. Flipping though pages of old Peace Corps publications, I see half a dozen people who I knew, all with cigarettes in their hands. Al Meisel in the Training Division; Charlie Peters, head of Evaluation; Jim Gibson, head of Agricultural Affairs. He liked cigars and smoked them in the building! The wonderful Jules Pagano.  Another heavy smoker. Howard Greenberg in Management; Jack Vaughn, the second director, and Frank Mankiewicz; evaluator Dick Elwell, (as I recall, everyone in evaluation smoked and drank and wrote great prose). Doug Kiker and his crew in Public Affairs knew how to light up. And so did Betty Harris. With her cigarette holder. When the Mad Men weren’t smoking, they were drinkings. Warren Wiggins told me that . . .

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Mad Woman At The Peace Corps: Elizabeth Forsling Harris, Part Six

In Come As You Are: The Peace Corps Story,Coates Redmon tells how Shriver came back from Hyannis Port that following Monday morning and charged into the Conference Room  “waving the two memos” and declared, “I have talked to my wife, Eunice. I have talked to my sister-in-law, Ethel. And I have talked to General Maxwell Taylor. They all believe that married Peace Corps Volunteers should be able to have their babies overseas.” The Mad Men of the Senior Staff sat stunned and silent. The Medical Division stared at Sarge in disbelief. Betty Harris tried hard not to look smug. What had really transpired in the mythical Kennedy compound at Hyannis Port? Betty Harris would reach this conclusion: “What Sarge was revealing in all innocent candor was that the Kennedy family felt fully  empowered to influence Peace Corps policy on matters of family. The Kennedy family would proclaim and decree at this level. Of course. . . .

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