Archive - August 2010

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U of Wisconsin's Call For Papers
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Schedule For U of Wisconsin-Madison Event
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U of Wisconsin Hosts 50th Anniversary Event
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A Writer Writes: Finding Sanjally Bojang
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We Can Do It Better!
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How to Ruin A Rural Weekend: Reading More of the Comprehensive Agency Assessment
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Our Best Mystery Writer: Phillip Margolin (Liberia 1966-67)
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Angry Young Men At The Peace Corps
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Who Was The Most Disliked Staffer in D.C.?
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Who Were These Mad Men & Mad Women-Some Early Peace Corps Statistics

U of Wisconsin's Call For Papers

The African Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison will be hosting a conference on the Peace Corps and Africa from March 24-26, 2011. The intent of the conference is to explore the impact of the United States Peace Corps in Africa and elsewhere, and on the lives of Americans who have served as volunteers or have been otherwise touched by the Peace Corps. Timed to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps (launched in March 1961) and of Wisconsin’s African Studies Program (founded in September 1961), the conference will include opportunities for celebrating, reminiscing, and socializing (see the preliminary program online, e.g., a keynote address by Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams, story booths, the ultimate Peace Corps dance party in Memorial Union, etc.), but the core of the conference will be several evaluative panels featuring research and commentary by scholars and writers bringing a variety of perspectives on . . .

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Schedule For U of Wisconsin-Madison Event

A conference organized by the University of Wisconsin-Madison African Studies Program to honor fifty years of volunteer service and assess the impact of the Peace Corps in Africa and beyond Preliminary Program March 24–26, 2011 Memorial Union, University of Wisconsin-Madison Thursday, March 24th 5:00-7:00 Welcoming reception,co-hosted by the UW-Madison African Studies Program, the Chicago Peace Corps Recruiting Office, and Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Madison. Off-campus venue: Promega Corporate Headquarters, 2800 Woods Hollow Road, Fitchburg (15 minutes from Memorial Union; bus transport provided by the organizers). Promega is the site of a month-long exhibition of Peace Corps memorabilia and reflections, curated by Donna Page, who, after welcoming remarks by the organizers, will briefly describe the exhibit. Refreshments provided in the gallery. Friday, March 25th 8:15-8:45 Coffee 8:45–10:15 Panel 1: Fifty Years of the Peace Corps in Africa: Presentations and discussions featuring scholars 10:30-12:00 Panel 2: The Past and Future of . . .

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U of Wisconsin Hosts 50th Anniversary Event

Joining the University of Michigan http://peacecorpsworldwide.org/university-of-michigan-events-for-the-50th-anniversary/ and the Black Mountain Institute of UNLV, http://peacecorpsworldwide.org/black-mountain-institute-features-rpcv-writer/ is the African Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin, Madison Campus. This is fitting as Madison was the first campus to get Bob Gale’s Big Blitz treatment back in ’63. I received a note from James Delehanty (Niger 1979-81) from the University outlining the event. It will take place in Madison on March 24-26, 2011; the focus is Africa. The intent of the conference is to explore the impacts of the United States Peace Corps in Africa and elsewhere, and on the lives of Americans who have served as volunteers or have been otherwise touched by the Peace Corps. Tthe conference will include opportunities for celebrating, reminiscing, and socializing (see the attached preliminary program, e.g., a keynote address by Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams, story booths, the ultimate Peace Corps dance party in Memorial Union, etc.), but the . . .

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A Writer Writes: Finding Sanjally Bojang

Joan Richter, wife of Dick Richter, an early Peace Corps Evaluator (1963–65), is herself an award-winning short story writer whose works have appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and in themed anthologies. Also a freelance journalist and editor, she was a stringer for The New York Times‘ metropolitan section, and a contributing editor to Westchester Magazine. Joan also worked for American Express, publishers of Travel & Leisure and Food & Wine as director of public affairs. A specialist in tourism, she was the company’s representative to the United Nations World Tourism Organization. In her career, she has traveled to more than sixty counties in Africa, Europe and Asia. She was consulted by Peace Corps/Washington on the role of staff wives overseas, stemming from her two years in Kenya where her husband, Dick, was the deputy director (1965–67). Along with their two small sons, they traveled throughout East Africa to visit . . .

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We Can Do It Better!

Reading some passages in The Bold Experiment: JFK’s Peace Corps by Gerard T. Rice, I was struck by a quote from David Halberstam’s book, The Best and the Brightest. Rice notes that Shriver’s effusive brand of idealism went against the grain of John Kennedy who was, according to Halberstam, “at least as skeptical as he was idealistic, curiously ill-at-ease with other people’s overt idealism, preferring in private the tart and darker view of the world and of mankind.” Harris Wofford is also quoted in an Oral History Interview at the JFK Library that Kennedy was “put off by too-far-reaching ideas…Certainly, idealism or liberalism in any conventional sense was uncongenial to him.” Kennedy’s existential sense of irony was the polar opposite of Shriver’s unbounded idealism and optimism. Within the Kennedy clan, Shriver was called the “family Communist” for his very liberal views. We are hearing much the same about Obama, about how . . .

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How to Ruin A Rural Weekend: Reading More of the Comprehensive Agency Assessment

Up in Columbia County, I settled into a wicker rocking chair on our screen porch overlooking a valley of pine trees, and in the distance the rolling Berkshires hills, and instead of doing something useful like organizing the socks in my sock drawer, I dipped once again into the 204 pages of Assessments and Recommendations slapped together by that Gang of Six consultants the Peace Corps hired:  Maryann, Megan, Ken, Jean, Diana, and Carlos! I wanted to see what they had to say about Recruitment and Selection that they titled (page 105) IMPROVING THE RECRUITMENT AND SELECTION PROCESS TO ATTRACT A WIDE DIVERSITY OF HIGHLY AND APPROPRIATEDLY SKILLED VOLUNTEERS. Their descriptions of the ‘process,’ summing up, and recommendations for 25 pages and says virtually nothing. For example: Recommendation VI- 3: The assessment team recommends that the Office of Volunteer Recruitment and Selection develop a new recruitment strategy that has an integrated diversity recruitment . . .

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Our Best Mystery Writer: Phillip Margolin (Liberia 1966-67)

After his Peace Corps service in Liberia,  Phillip Margolin became a lawyer, and then a successful novelist!+ He now writes full time and is the author of 15 bestselling mystery novels, the most recent being Supreme Justice. He has been nominated for an Edgar. In the current issue of The Writer Magazine (September 2010) there is a reprint of an article  Phillip wrote in 1977 for the publication entitled, “Essentials of Good Suspense Novels.” If you are interested in writing mysteries, you might want to read it. We interviewed Phillip years ago in our newsletter Peace Corps Writers & Readers, and you can read more about him at www.phillipmargolin.com

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Angry Young Men At The Peace Corps

Peace Corps HQ was not for the faint-hearted. It was not for the flower children of the early Sixties, or for those who talked peace and love and sang Woody Guthrie’s This Land Is Your Land to Rose — everyone’s favorite elevator operator — when they went to work in the morning. In his book on the early days of the agency, Gerard Rice talks about how the senior staff meetings were among the most brutally frank in Washington, and Sarge, too, wasn’t above the fray. For example, in September 1961, young Bill Josephson rebuked Shriver and John Corcoron, associate director of Management, for revising an organization chart without prior consultation with the rest of the senior staff. There were more than one Super-Ego at the conference table and around the building; everyone was out to prove he or she was The Best. And the ‘best’ meant to get the best PCVs. I remember in . . .

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Who Was The Most Disliked Staffer in D.C.?

I’m getting all these emails saying that the questions is too hard. After all, there were 18 lawyers in PC/HQ. That’s more than enough within that group, and we’re not even counting all those Ph.D.! Too hard. Okay. I’ll narrow the guessing game. One of these six. Bill Josephson–Deputy General Counsel Doug Kiker– Chief of the Division of Public Information Bill Haddad–Associate Director for The Office of Planning and Evaluation Ruth Olson–Special Assistant to the Chief of the Division of Volunteer Field Support John Alexander–Director of the African Regional Office Franklin Williams–Chief  of the Division of Private Organizations The prize for the first winner is a copy of a fabulous new Peace Corps book, the first one in our PeaceCorpsWriters collection. Autographed by the author.

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Who Were These Mad Men & Mad Women-Some Early Peace Corps Statistics

The first staff at the agency came to D.C. from all walks of life, and with all sort of interests and passions. They were skiers, mountain climbers, big-game hunters, prizefighters, football players, polo players and enough Ph.D. (30) to staff a liberal arts college. They included 18 attorneys, of whom only four worked as attorneys in the General Counsel’s office and the rest (including Shriver) worked elsewhere in the first Peace Corps office, the Maiatico Building. Nevertheless, it was a small staff. In WWII 30 people were required to support every soldier in the front lines. Once out of war, one person in Washington was needed for every four overseas. Shriver set up the agency in the early years so that the goal was ten Volunteers on the job for every administrative or clerical person in support, and that meant everyone-secretaries and overseas staff included. By keeping the staff small . . .

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