Archive - October 2010

1
Remembering JFK At U-M
2
Tom Hayden speech at University of Michigan
3
My Favorite Mad Man: Harris Wofford, Part Five
4
In Search of the Historic Public Records of the Peace Corps
5
PeaceCorpsWorldWide.Org Recognized By Westchester, NY Newspaper
6
UNLV Creative Writing Program Featured In The Writer
7
50 Years after Kennedy proposed the Peace Corps — article in Chicago Tribune
8
More On The U-Michigan Peace Corps Week
9
How To Write A How-To Novel
10
Get ready for The 50th — Order Meisler's book now

Remembering JFK At U-M

[An online magazine for alumni and friends of U-M has a great piece about what is happening at the University of Michigan this week. Check out Joe Serwach story below. He writes for the U-M news service, and also watch the promotional: “The Passing of the Torch” on Youtube.com Thanks to Andy Trincia ( Romania 2002-04) for sending this along to me.] Joe Serwach writes: From John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama, presidents have challenged University of Michigan students to change the world. In Kennedy’s case, the transformation was rapid and enduring: The Peace Corps was born. “It was 50 years ago that a young candidate for president came here to Michigan and delivered a speech that inspired one of the most successful service projects in American history,” Obama told U-M graduates May 1. “And as John F. Kennedy described the ideals behind what would become the Peace Corps, he issued a challenge . . .

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Tom Hayden speech at University of Michigan

50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE PEACE CORPS CELEBRATION OCT. 14, 2010 Speech by Tom Hayden It happened here, and it can happen again. The difference between 1960 and 2008 (sic) is that students and young people in the earlier time couldn’t vote. But we could march, and we did in Ann Arbor in support of the southern student sit-in movement. And we could imagine, propose reforms, and believed the politicians might heed the call. Sargeant Shriver called the Peace Corps creation a case of spontaneous combustion. It would have been a stillborn idea were it not “for the affirmative response of those Michigan students and faculty,” and “without a strong popular response he would have concluded that the idea was impractical or premature.” If it was spontaneous combustion, there had to be igniters and inciters. I became the editor of the Daily in the summer of 1960. I hitchhiked and to . . .

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My Favorite Mad Man: Harris Wofford, Part Five

Harris Wofford also dropped by our Training program at Georgetown University. Sometimes early in the day, before seven a.m., he would arrive with his oldest son, who was then about 10, and they would do the morning exercises with the ‘guys’ up on the playing field behind the college dorms. In the years since our Training days, that field became the site of the new Georgetown Hospital. Wofford  would also come to Georgetown when we were having someone famous speaking to us. Chester Bowles, then the Secretary of State, addressed us, as did the former governor of Michigan, Soapy Williams, who was Kennedy’s Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.  I remember Wofford best from small sessions we had with him late in the evening and sitting around a college conference table. For the life of me, I can’t recall how or why those sessions came about, nor why I was in them. Perhaps Harris was having many other small . . .

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In Search of the Historic Public Records of the Peace Corps

Public records document the public business of government. Since 1961, the public business of Peace Corps has been to send almost 200,000 Volunteers to 138 countries to provide requested technical assistance. A public record of all that work would be invaluable.  So, I went looking for it. I began my search on a rainy afternoon in my favorite city to visit, Washington DC, at my favorite time of year, early spring. All the middle schools on the Atlantic seaboard, if not the whole country, empty out, outfit 7th graders in matching color T-shirts and send them off to explore their national’s capital. The kids are still young enough to be awed, but not too much. I loved to watch them carefully step over the string fences on the National Mall to play Frisbee on the newly sown grass. One special incident happened at the Smithsonian where the American flag from . . .

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PeaceCorpsWorldWide.Org Recognized By Westchester, NY Newspaper

NEW ROCHELLE – When Peace Corps volunteers return from teaching English, fighting disease or designing irrigation systems, they have one more job to do: tell the story. Volunteers are expected to share what they learned about the people and cultures they came to know during their two years abroad. Pelham resident John Coyne, an author, blogger and former volunteer in Ethiopia, has made it his mission to help them do so. Coyne edits a busy website called Peace Corps Worldwide, where volunteers share their experiences through a network of blogs. The site grew out of a newsletter Coyne created with Marian Haley Beil in 1987 and a smaller website that launched in 1999. Peace Corps Worldwide launched four years ago, with Coyne as editor and Haley Beil as publisher. There are more than 200,000 former Peace Corps volunteers, and they’ve produced a kind of subgenre of the travelogue. By living . . .

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UNLV Creative Writing Program Featured In The Writer

The November issue of The Writer carries a short piece on the best Niche MFAs, 10 programs with a specialty focus. One listed is the MFA in creative writing with international emphasis at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). This creative writing program was started by novelist Richard Wiley (Korea 1967-69) author of half a dozen novels including Soldiers in Hiding that won the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1986. Wiley is also the Associate Director of the Black Mountain Institute, an International Center for Creative Writers and Scholars at UNLV. (The BMI is hosting this Thursday, October 14, at 7 pm in the Beam Music Center Doc Rando Recital Hall “Writing the World: American Authors Looking Outward” with Peter Hessler (China 1996-98); Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-65); Mary-Ann Tirone Smith (Cameroon 1965-67); and Marnie Mueller (Ecuador 1963-65). The event is free and open to the public. If you can attend, go early to . . .

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50 Years after Kennedy proposed the Peace Corps — article in Chicago Tribune

[This article appeared today, 10-10-2010, in the Chicago Tribune. It was written by John Keilman, a Tribune reporter. As of today I am not seeing signs that the agency understands that the 50th is a great recruitment opportunity. The Peace Corps, of course, is allowed to spend money to recruit, but my guess is that they are afraid of the IG’s office, and the Peace Corps lawyers — a bunch of hanger-ons from the Bush years — who will slap their hands for using the lives and experiences of RPCVs to ‘sell’ the idea that the Peace Corps was worthy once, and is still worthy today. Of course these lawyers, and others key people in the Peace Corps administration, never were PCVs, and they do not have a feel for the organization. They just want jobs! I’m sure they are also afraid to volunteer and live the life of a PCV.) Articles such as this one will . . .

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More On The U-Michigan Peace Corps Week

At the Ann Arbor City Council meeting on October  4, 2010, the council agreed to close – State Street, from South University to East William – in connection with the 50th anniversary celebration of the founding of the Peace Corps. There will be two events on October 14, 2010, one of them in the early morning, to mark the exact anniversary of the 2 a.m. speech by John F. Kennedy from the steps of the Michigan Union. The later event, at 11 a.m. will include as guest speakers  Sen. Harris Wofford, Jack Hood Vaughn, Aaron Williams, Julia Darlow, Mary Sue Coleman and Jennifer Granholm. The council voted unanimously to approve the street closing.

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How To Write A How-To Novel

Reading a review of Philip Roth’s Nemesis by J.M. Coetzee in the October 28, 2010, The New York Review of Books, I came across a paragraph, and a piece of good advice, that we can benefit from as writers. Coetzee is writing about Roth’s way of providing “how-to’s” in his novels. “Among the subsidiary pleasures Roth provides,” Coetzee writes, “are the expert little how-to essays embedded in the novels: how to make a good glove, how to dress a butcher’s display window.” In his novel, Everyman, for example, Roth has a “modest but beautifully composed little ten-page episode of how to dig a grave.” In other words, the reader comes away from a book by Roth not only being impressed by the story, his language, but also with new knowledge. It is perhaps an old prose trick, but it works. Give the reader something new to chew on. Telling a story, . . .

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Get ready for The 50th — Order Meisler's book now

SINCE ITS INAUGURATION, the Peace Corps has been an American emblem for world peace and friendship. Across the nation, there are 200,000 returned Volunteers — including members of Congress and ambassadors, novelists and university presidents, television commentators and journalists. Yet few Americans realize that through the past nine presidential administrations, the Peace Corps has sometimes tilted its agenda to meet the demands of the White House. In his soon-to-be-released book, When the World Calls: The Inside Story of the Peace Corps and Its First Fifty Years [Beacon Press 2011], Stanley Meisler discloses, for instance, how Lyndon Johnson became furious when Volunteers opposed his invasion of the Dominican Republic; he reveals how Richard Nixon literally tried to destroy the Peace Corps, and he shows how Ronald Reagan endeavored to make it an instrument of foreign policy in Central America. But somehow the ethos of the Peace Corps endured. In the early . . .

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