Archive - September 2010

1
Who Said The Peace Corps Didn't Want Skilled PCVs From Day One?
2
Who Was The First PC Trainee De-Selected?
3
Review: William Timmons' Burma Tiger
4
Push For Peace Corps Campaign Does Video
5
Review: Tom Bissell's Extra Lives
6
Review: Chic Dambach's Exhaust the Limits
7
Review: William Timmons' Never Push An Elephant
8
More On Moynihan & The Peace Corps
9
Why Weren't RPCV PC Directors Invited to Kennedy School of Government: "50 years of the Peace Corps: Answering President Kennedy's Call to Service"
10
Review: Kelli M. Donley's Under The Same Moon

Who Said The Peace Corps Didn't Want Skilled PCVs From Day One?

[A friend who I served with in Ethiopia (1962-64) sent me this article from the January 3, 1963, The Machinists, a newspaper published by the International Association of Machinists. It is the way that the Peace Corps did recruitment in those early days. Here was an announcement looking for Diesel Mechanics. The  contact person at the Peace Corps was Jules Pagano. A few months ago I wrote about Jules as one of the original Mad Men at the agency. Here’s the newspaper ad:] Peace Corps Needs Diesel Mechanics The Peace Corps is looking for 30 gasoline or diesel engine mechanics to volunteer for a special repairing and maintenance project in Tunisia. JULES PAGANO of the Peace Corps public affairs office announced recently that volunteers will be assigned to repair shops to maintain trucks, buses, and auto engines and to help train Tunisian mechanics. The operation is part of a Tunisian Peace Corps . . .

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Who Was The First PC Trainee De-Selected?

This coming November Rutgers University will honor the PCVs who trained at Rutgers and went to  Colombia with the first group of Volunteers. The Rutgers College Avenue Campus will host a program of guest speakers on November 4, beginning at 7:00 p.m. The next day, a commemorative plaque will be unveiled  at 11:00 a.m. at Hegeman Hall in New Brunswick. Thirty-five of the 62 (men only) Colombia One RPCV are planning to attend the cerebration. Recently the Rutgers Magazine, interviewed Harry Kranz, a 1945 graduate of the College, who was instrumental in getting the Peace Corps Training Program to Rutgers, about his involvement and those early Volunteers. Kranz was with Shriver on June 25, 1961, when Shriver came to Rutgers to see what “real PCV Trainees” looked like. Kranz, who had been an assistant to Walter Reuther, head of the United Auto Workers Union, had contacted Harris Wofford about going to work . . .

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Review: William Timmons' Burma Tiger

Burma Tiger by William V. Timmons (Niger 1965–67) CreateSpace $11.62 501 pages May 2010 Reviewed by Leita Kaldi Davis (Senegal 1993-95) “BURMA TIGER FOLLOWS Sergeant Major Michael St. John from Rudyard Kipling’s poem, ‘Mandalay,’ as a series of divinely inspired circumstances thrust him from anonymity into international fame.” There you have the story line in William V. Timmons’ own words, and an indication of his labyrinthine writing style, as incomprehensible as the print on the back cover, which is pale yellow on pale green and is barely legible with a magnifying glass. Not a good beginning. Once again we have a book that seems to be a first draft, i.e., devoid of editing — or maybe even thinking, as indicated by phrases such as: “. . . half delirious with fevers well above normal,” and “dozens, perhaps twenty small canoes,” misspellings such as “whicker chairs”, “rueful rouge” (for rogue), and . . .

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Push For Peace Corps Campaign Does Video

The relentless Rajeev Goyal (Nepal 2001-03) and his Push for Peace Corps Campaign has produced a short, informative 2-minute animation video entitled “Build a Better World.” It is something that you’ll never see on the Peace Corps.gov site. The purpose of it is to build awareness that House Appropriators recently passed a $46.15 million increase in Peace Corps funding for the 50th anniversary (which would support 1,000 new positions), but the Senate, shortly before recess, voted to reduce this increase by $26 million! The video asks all RPCVs to call their Senators and urge them to vote for the full $446.15 million Peace Corps budget. Check out the video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUruDQAmAYA

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Review: Tom Bissell's Extra Lives

Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter by Tom Bissell (Uzbekistan 1996–97) Random House/Pantheon $22.95 201 pages June 2010 Reviewed by Bruce Schlein (Papua New Guinea 1990–92; Bosnia 1996; PC/Staff/DC 2003–05) EXTRA LIVES OR LIVES WASTED? My inclination upon thinking about the topic of Extra Lives (video games) and delving into the first chapter was to think the latter (hours wasted, many hours). Admittedly this point of view is part predisposition I had recently read an article citing research that shows youth are more disconnected from nature than ever before. The culprits? Electronic media and the perception that society is less safe. It isn’t hard to see how video games, especially ones with names like Crime Life: Gang Wars and Killer 7, could contribute to this phenomenon. But Tom Bissell talks through these issues, and actually relegates them un- or less important as the reader is drawn in by eloquent descriptions of . . .

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Review: Chic Dambach's Exhaust the Limits

Exhaust the Limits: The Life and Times of a Global Peacebuilder by Charles “Chic” F. Dambach (Colombia 1967–69) Apprentice House $18.95 314 pages November 2010 Reviewed by Bob Arias (Colombia 1964–66; Peace Corps Crisis Corps: Panama, Paratuay 2009–2010; Peace Corps Staff: Training Center/Puerto Rico 1966–68; Colombia APCD 1968–73; PC/DC 1976–77; CD/Argentina, Uruguay 1993–95)) IN READING ABOUT CHIC DAMBACH´s compelling and moving journey, I am struck by the need to label his efforts as seeking Peace as his Target!  I was moved. It began for Chic Dambach in college, and it has never ceased. Attending the University of Oklahoma on a football scholarship — an outstanding college prospect — he came upon racism on the playing field of his school. He met it head on. It wasn’t just another game for Chic. Fighting racist attitudes was his first challenge, and he reached out to make a difference. This is his  trademark, whether on a football field in Oklahoma, . . .

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Review: William Timmons' Never Push An Elephant

Never Push an Elephant by William V. Timmons (Niger 1965–67) CreateSpace (BookSurge) $15.95 310 pages 2009 Reviewed by Richard Lipez (Ethiopia 1962–64; PC/DC Staff 1964–67) I WISH William V. Timmons were a more adroit writer, for he plainly knows his way around Southeast Asia. His greatest gifts apparently are non-literary, however. For their achievements as child welfare workers, Timmons and his wife Rachel were decorated by the King of Thailand. In Bangkok, some of the worst suck-ups in the indolent Thai upper classes receive these honors, but I am guessing that farangs recognized by the old monarch have actually done something useful. The deficiencies of this “thriller” about some CIA and U.S. missionary old boys rescuing a young American woman from a Burmese opium magnate are evident right away, and I almost threw in the towel after about 50 pages. The talky opening chapters are set in hectic, sedate, grim, . . .

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More On Moynihan & The Peace Corps

Poet Tony Zurlo (Nigeria 1963-65) was kind enough to send me a March 8, 1998 column by Mary McGrory from the Outlook Section of The Washington Post. It was a column about the Peace Corps on the 37th birthday of the agency, the CIA, and Moynihan. McGrory writes about Moynihan, saying, “he was a fan of the Peace Corps but not the CIA,” and then told a story of how when Moynihan was the ambassador to India villagers were resisting the help of the Peace Corps. The reason was that peasants had been evicted from their mud huts on either side of the volunteers’ mud hut to make room for the local police, who had moved in with their listening devices to monitor what they were sure were U.S. espionage activities. McGrory wrote in that column, “The CIA is into disruption, uprooting, sabotage and subversion. The Peace Corps is about plowing, planting, irrigating, . . .

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Why Weren't RPCV PC Directors Invited to Kennedy School of Government: "50 years of the Peace Corps: Answering President Kennedy's Call to Service"

The John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum, part of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, with be having a “conversation with Peace Corp Directors” on October 12, 2010. They have asked the current Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams, (Dominican Republic 1967-70), of course, to come but then they stiffed all of the other notable RPCV Peace Corps Directors and asked (mostly) Republican hacks to present the agency at the Kennedy School. Why is that? Take Elaine Chao (she has been invited) who was director from (1991-92). Chao was famous for breaking into tears whenever she talked about all the work PCVs were doing overseas. Volunteers laughed at her, and to her face. She was also famous for scheduling several hours a day (regardless of the country) where she could have her hair done while overseas. And she told me once, in her office in the Peace Corps, that she didn’t become a PCV because she was an immigrant daughter and . . .

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Review: Kelli M. Donley's Under The Same Moon

Under the Same Moon by Kelli M. Donley (Cameroon 2000) Donley Books $16.00 356 pages May 2010 Reviewed by Terry Sack (Bolivia 1963–65; PC/DC 1968–69) KELLI DONLEY’S NOVEL Under the Same Moon is the story of a young girl from Mozambique who, against her will, is brought to America. The book has a unique and attractive cover. Unfortunately, things go down-hill from there. The first and most obvious flaw is evident on page one: the layout. There is no spacing between paragraphs. This, combined with frequently awkward transitions from one paragraph to the next, makes reading of the text difficult. Another distracting layout issue is having the identifying content — name, book title and page number on the bottom of the page. While layout issues are significant, by far the major problem with the book is that it begs for serious professional editing. For example, on page one, paragraph 3: . . .

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