Archive - May 2010

1
A Selection of Peace Corps Firsts
2
Review by Cynthia Morrison Phoel of The Blind Visionary
3
What The University of Michigan Is Planning For The 50th Anniversary
4
The Peace Corps Leaves It To Others To Do The Job In Haiti
5
A Walk on the Georgetown Canal: Peace Corps Training in D.C.
6
Paul Theroux Talks E-books
7
Peace Corps Training In The Summer of '62
8
Peace Corps Planning for the 50th Anniversary–It Ain't Going To Happen
9
The First PCVs To Colombia
10
When the "PE Guys" Arrived in Bogota

A Selection of Peace Corps Firsts

For those keeping score, here is more data on ‘who’s first?’ On January 14, 1960, Congressman Henry Reuss (D. Wis) introduced a bill for a study of a “Point Four Youth Corps” plan. It is passed. On June 15, 1960, Senator Hubrt Humphrey (D. Minn) introduces a bill calling for establishment of a “Peace Corps.” It is not passed. On June 24, 1961, Colombia I begins Training. On August 30, 1961, The first group of Peace Corps Volunteers departs for Ghana. The 51 Volunteers are serving as secondary school teachers. On September 12, 1961, Tom Livingston from Woodale, Illinois became the first Peace Corps Volunteer when he took up his post as an English teacher at a secondary school in Dodowa, Ghana. On September 22, 1961, Congress formally approves the Peace Corps by passing an act. On November 11, 1961, First marriage between Peace Corps Volunteers: Carol Armstrong and Roger . . .

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Review by Cynthia Morrison Phoel of The Blind Visionary

Reviewer Cynthia Morrison Phoel’s first book of fiction, Cold Snap: Bulgaria Stories, will be published in June 2010 by Sourthern Methodist University Press. She holds degrees from Cornell University and the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers. Her short stories have appeared The Missouri Review, The Gettysburg Review, and Harvard Review. She lives near Boston with her husband and three children. Cynthia has reviewed Doug Eadie’s The Blind Visionary for Peace Corps Worldwide. • The Blind Visionary by Doug Eadie (Ethiopia (1965–67) and Virginia Jacko Governance Edge January 2010 162 pages $19.95 Reviewed by Cynthia Morrision Phoel (Bulgaria 1994–96) ABOUT SIX MONTHS after I returned from the Peace Corps, I was diagnosed with retinal detachment. I was 25 at the time and an unlikely candidate for a condition that more commonly occurs in older people. Retinal detachment is a serious problem and can result in permanent vision loss. I had . . .

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What The University of Michigan Is Planning For The 50th Anniversary

Looking forward to the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps–and stepping up with a plan ahead of the agency’s celebrations in 2011–the University of Michigan has set up a series of special events, including a national symposium on the future of international service, and a commemoration of Senator John F. Kennedy’s speech on the steps of the Michigan Union. It all begins this September, 2010 and is being organized  by two RPCVs on the faculty of the University of Michigan, Dr. John Greisberger (Afghanistan 1973-75) and Kay Clifford (Uganda 1970-72). The events planned (so far) include: September 6 Hilltopia Music and Arts Festival (HMAF) 7:00 – 10:00 p.m. Palmer Field MServe, Michigan Student Assembly, Peace Corps 50th Committee, and a growing number of student organizations and U-M offices have created a free outdoor music and arts festival as part of Welcome Week activities and the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps. HMAF will . . .

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The Peace Corps Leaves It To Others To Do The Job In Haiti

The following email note from “Peace Corps Response’ (i.e. The Crisis Corps) has been making the rounds of the RPCV world. I ask, why isn’t the agency doing the job? Why isn’t the Peace Corps going to Haiti with its Crisis Corps Volunteers? I’m told, the U. S. Embassy in Haiti, and the bureaucrats in Washington responsible for Haiti relief, have stymied Peace Corps efforts to get Volunteers in there. Part of this problem is the lack of a government in Haiti with which to have an agreement. If so, then how are all the other relief efforts able to go forth? Sean Penn seems not to have any trouble getting to volunteer in Haiti. I’m also told that Aaron and his Chief of Staff have been banging on the State Department doors, but they aren’t getting anywhere. Perhaps what the Peace Corps needs is another ‘Push for Peace Corps’ . . .

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A Walk on the Georgetown Canal: Peace Corps Training in D.C.

In the summer of ’62 slightly more than 300 of us traveled early in July to Georgetown University to begin Peace Corps training for Ethiopia. I was one of many ‘Kennedy Kids” coming out of the Midwest. Just out of college, just off an Illinois farm, it was the first time I had ever been on a plane. In those days all the airlines had beautiful stewardesses serving free drinks and endless snacks, and somewhere over the Allegheny I fell in love with my stewardess. It was a short romance as I was heading for Africa and in those days of the New Frontier the great adventure was the Peace Corps. But my first weekend in Washington at Georgetown was like being back at college. I had graduated from another Jesuit college–St. Louis University–and I knew all about stone wall campuses, College Gothic Buildings, and Jesuits in religious garb saying . . .

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Paul Theroux Talks E-books

The Atlantic has their fiction 2010 issue published. As always, it is a great collection of stories and essays, including one by Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-65), on “Fiction in the Age of E-books”…..The Atlantic says that analysts estimate Americans will buy on the order of 6 million e-readers this years–and by 2014, an estimated 32 million people will own one. What does this mean to writers, storytelling, etc., they asked Theroux in a short q & a. that appears in the current issue. In part of his replies about e-books, Paul replied, “Movable type seemed magical to the monks who were illuminating manuscripts and copying texts. Certainly e-books seem magical to me.” Paul, however, admits that he still writes his first drafts in longhand. Finally, the interviewer asks: What’s your advice for a young person who wants to grow up to become a fiction writer? PT: Notice how many of . . .

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Peace Corps Training In The Summer of '62

Training for PCVs going to Ethiopia in the summer of ’62 at Georgetown University [and, I guess, at colleges and universities across the country] began with calisthenics at 6 a.m. six days a week. We were out of our dorm beds by 5:45 and walking sleepy-eyed across the still-wet grass of the Georgetown campus to the athletic fields. This was the start of our 14-hour day of training for Ethiopia. The famous training camp in Arecibo, Puerto Rico [which is always recalled with a photo of Barbara Wiggins (mother of Warren Wiggins) at age 65 rappelling down a wall in Puerto Rico]. And it was Arecibo where Margery Michelmore was spirited off to after arriving back from Nigeria. It was an Outward Bound extension program for Trainees run by the late Reverend William Sloane Coffin. No one really knew ‘how’ to prepare so many soft Americans for the Third World . . .

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Peace Corps Planning for the 50th Anniversary–It Ain't Going To Happen

These were the plans for the 50th Anniversary done late in the tour of the last Peace Corps Administration. Grand plans as you can see, but very little of these good ideas will take place, given the current pace of planning underway in Washington, D.C. today. However, the University of Michigan will launch a kick-off week of events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps in October. Over the years, the U. of Michigan has sent more thand 2,230 U-M alumni have been PCVs. You can read the activities that the University of Michigan has planned at the website: http://peacecorps.umich.edu Meanwhile, back in D.C….this is what they were day-dreaming about:   Goals Are To… v Make the public aware of the success of Peace Corps in fostering peace and understanding. v Advance the Third Goal of the Peace Corps – bringing the world back home. v Support recruiting to . . .

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The First PCVs To Colombia

Now that Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams has announced PCVs will be returning to Colombia, I thought it would be interesting to recall what one of the original PCVs to Colombia, Ron Schwarz (Colombia 1961-63), remembers about his first days in the Peace Corps. From the day after JFK’s inauguration until June 26, 1961, Sarge was surrounded by staff he recruited. The best and the brightest.  But not on the 26th of June. That day, the Director was surrounded by strangers, Colombia I Trainees. No one knew if they were the best, or the brightest. Sarge was ill at ease, with reason,” Ron remembers. “The selection committee complained of the “paucity of good, fully qualified candidates.” Some were high school graduates; others had completed only two years of college. A dozen or so had not even taken the Peace Corps test. References for were incomplete, few met minimal language qualifications, and our “special skills” fell . . .

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When the "PE Guys" Arrived in Bogota

Jim Brown (Colombia 1962-64) served as a PE instructor and coach in Bucaramanga, Colombia, and the other day he sent me this short piece about his group of “PE Guys.” He had read it to a gathering of twenty-nine other Colombia RPCVs, and their  spouses and adult children, who had gathered for a reunion at the National Conference Center, near Leesburg, Virginia. Since his Peace Corps years, Jim has been a coach, college professor, writer, and editor. He lives now in Atlanta with his wife, Arlene, where they produce health, medicine, and sports content for various organizations, including the Cleveland Clinic, the Duke School of Medicine, and the Steadman-Philippon Research Institute in Vail. Thanks, Jim, for sending us, When the “PE Guys” Arrived in Bogota. When we – the “PE Guys” – arrived in Bogota in January of 1963, the English teaching part of the group was already there after training . . .

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