Archive - February 2011

1
Mike Tidwell (Zaire 1985-87) Saving Our Planet One Op-Ed at a Time
2
Listen to President Kennedy via recordings on Podcast speak about and to the Peace Corps
3
Were you assaulted in the Peace Corps? Congress wants your story!
4
Atlantic Wire picks Meisler's column as one of Friday's Five Best
5
Review of Meisler's When the World Calls
6
Meisler's Op-Ed in LA Times Friday, February 25, 2011
7
Maureen Orth's LATimes Op-Ed Today, February 25, 2011
8
Washington Post Review of Meisler's Peace Corps Book
9
Review of Christopher Conlon's A Matrix of Angels
10
Charlie Peters’ Excellent Adventurers and their Peace Corps Evaluation Reports 1961-1967

Mike Tidwell (Zaire 1985-87) Saving Our Planet One Op-Ed at a Time

[This piece entitled “A climate-change activist prepares for the worst” was in the Washington Post Outlook Section on Friday, February 25, 2011. It was written by Mike Tidwell (Zaire 1985–87) who is executive director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and author of The Ponds of Kalambayi: An African Sojourn, newly re-released. Sarge Shriver called The Ponds the best  Peace Corps memoir ever written.] • A Climate-Change Activist Prepares for the Worst Ten years ago, I put solar panels on my roof and began eating locally grown food. I bought an energy-efficient refrigerator that uses the power equivalent of a single light bulb. I started heating my home with a stove that burns organically fertilized corn kernels. I even restored a gas-free lawn mower for manual yardwork. As a longtime environmental activist, I was deeply alarmed by new studies on global warming, so I went all out. I did my part. . . .

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Listen to President Kennedy via recordings on Podcast speak about and to the Peace Corps

Hear President Kennedy speak at the University of Michigan in the Fall of 1960 and then in the Rose Garden sending off Ghana I. The National Archives administers the Presidential Libraries.  It has made available online podcasts of the Presidents speaking on historic issues. I have read the transcripts of President Kennedy speaking, but I have not listened to the Podcasts.  There are instructions on the website on how to connect to the Podcasts.  I can only link to the Home page of the National Archives and Records Administration, nara.gov.  It is not possible to hyperlink to a specific page from outside the web.  The steps I outline should take you to these valuable public records. Please note:  On January 31, 2013, I learned that the page with these podcasts was no longer operative.  I contacted the JFK Library and spoke with an archivist who was not aware that the . . .

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Were you assaulted in the Peace Corps? Congress wants your story!

Following a recent episode of 20/20 featuring former Peace Corps Volunteers who were sexually assaulted during their overseas service, Congress has decided to explore the issue further and has asked a group of assault survivors to provide it with additional information from former volunteers about their experiences, prevention and response efforts, and possible policy enhancements, for an upcoming hearing, most likely at the end of March.  Pursuant to that request, First Response Action is gathering stories of former volunteers who experienced sexual assault while serving in the Peace Corps.  First Response Actions has model affidavits to help survivors tell their stories, and will share those stories with Congress affording survivors whatever level of anonymity or attribution they choose.  First Response Action is also interested in the stories of other Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, including former Country Directors, who may have information regarding sexual assault prevention and response policies. If you . . .

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Atlantic Wire picks Meisler's column as one of Friday's Five Best

Stanley Meisler on the 50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps  Meisler, a former L.A. Times staff writer and author of a book on the Peace Corps, writes that the Corps today is in some ways “a shadow of what it once was.” He recounts the history of the Corps from its founding in the 60’s, when it was held in such high esteem that volunteers names were often included in the papers, to current days when many people have forgotten that it even exists. Still, the effectiveness of the Peace Corps on-site, “providing skilled manpower to poor countries in need,” has in some ways improved. The Corps’ role in local and American politics has always been fraught, he says, but it has been useful in improving the image of America abroad. He notes many famous alumni, from Chris Dodd to Paul Theroux to the founder of Netflix. “It’s possible to . . .

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Review of Meisler's When the World Calls

When the World Calls: The Inside Story of the Peace Corps and Its First Fifty Years by Stanley Meisler (PC/HQ 1963-67) Beacon Press 272 pages February 2011 Reviewed by Robert B. Textor (PC/HQ 1961-62) STAN MEISLER’S “COMPARATIVE ADVANTAGE” in writing this book is significant. During the mid-Sixties, he served as a member, and later deputy director, of the PC’s Evaluation Division, reporting to the legendary Charlie Peters. This evaluation function was initially conceived by Bill Haddad, one of the PC’s founders. Its purpose was to visit the PCVs in the field, and to identify problems before they became serious, so that corrective and preventive action could be taken. From the beginning, Haddad and Peters stressed that these evaluators should be journalists or lawyers. (It is no accident that Haddad was a journalist, and Peters was a lawyer). Their reports were to be brutally truthful, and interesting to read — and . . .

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Meisler's Op-Ed in LA Times Friday, February 25, 2011

True to the Peace Corps The corps’ celebrity and size may have diminished, but its longevity is a testament to its importance. By Stanley Meisler In some ways, the Peace Corps, which celebrates its 50th anniversary Tuesday, is a shadow of what it once was. It had so much pizzazz in the early days that newspapers proclaimed the names of new volunteers as if they had just won Guggenheim fellowships. Now, the number of volunteers – 8,655 – is about half of what it was at its highest in 1966, and not everyone knows the Peace Corps still exists. The first director – the irrepressible, inspiring Sargent Shriver, who put the program together in six months – made the cover of Time in 1963. The current director – Aaron Williams, a former volunteer with decades of experience in international development – barely gets his name in the papers. At a . . .

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Maureen Orth's LATimes Op-Ed Today, February 25, 2011

latimes.com Op-Ed A Peace Corps volunteer’s journey The Peace Corps set us on a path to a more fulfilling and interesting life. By Maureen Orth February 25, 2011 Twenty years ago I was riding down a dusty road in rural Argentina gabbing in Spanish with a local journalist when suddenly a wave of nostalgia hit me, and I realized why I felt so happy: It was just like being in the Peace Corps again. At the time, I was doing investigative reporting on Argentina’s flamboyant then-President Carlos Menem, but the discussion of local politics and poverty and figuring out how to get the information I wanted was pure Peace Corps. When I served in the 1960s in Medellin, Colombia, as a community development volunteer, I had no thought of becoming a journalist. After my Peace Corps stint, I enrolled in graduate courses in Latin American studies. But they seemed so . . .

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Washington Post Review of Meisler's Peace Corps Book

The Peace Corps at 50 By Steven V. Roberts WHEN THE WORLD CALLS The Inside Story of the Peace Corps and Its First Fifty Years By Stanley Meisler Beacon. 272 pp. $26.95 In 2008 Christiane Amanpour illustrated America’s declining role in the world by telling a foreign policy conference, “There wasa Peace Corps.” After the session a former volunteer named Jon Keeton angrily corrected CNN’s chief foreign correspondent: “There still is a Peace Corps.” As author Stanley Meisler recalls, “Amanpour blushed but pointed out that there must be something wrong if someone like herself did not realize the Peace Corps still existed.” The Peace Corps is a forgotten player today, riding the far end of the government’s bench and seldom getting into a game. Some years ago a State Department document referred to it as the “Peach Corps” and no one caught the error. But the Corps still sent 7,671 . . .

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Review of Christopher Conlon's A Matrix of Angels

A Matrix of Angels by Christopher Conlon (Botswana 1988-90) Creative Guy Publishing $12.95 245 pages 2010 Reviewed by Leita Kaldi Davis (Senegal 1993-96) A Matrix of Angels is a literary thriller by Christopher Conlon, Bram Stoker Award winner and acclaimed author in the world of horror fiction. I abhor horror stories. But I actually didn’t realize I was reading one until gory scenes surfaced of a serial killer who tortured three teen-age girls in his basement, murdering them by drilling holes in their heads and leaving their remains in a river bed. Hence, the psycho’s label of “river-bed killer.” I was lured into the story by Conlon’s vivid account of the intense friendship between two girls, Frances Pastun and Lucy Sparrow, respectively 12 and “almost 13”. Frances was sent away by drug addicted parents to live with an aunt and uncle, where she meets Lucy, who lives across the street. . . .

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Charlie Peters’ Excellent Adventurers and their Peace Corps Evaluation Reports 1961-1967

Charlie Peters, lawyer, WWII Veteran, Kennedy campaigner,  Master’s in English and former West Virginia Legislator, was chosen by Shriver to head up the first evaluation unit in a federal agency.  He did so with relish, hiring professional journalists and fanning them out overseas to independently evaluate the fledging Peace Corps programs, many times to the consternation of those in the Program Department who had created those very same programs. ( See: Redmon, Coates, Come As You Are, Chapter six “Charlie Peters, the Burr under the Saddle”, Orlando, Florida, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, 1986). These reports compose the first real public record of the Peace Corps and the National Archives has preserved all of them in its vaults at College Park, Md. The evaluators spent weeks or even months in-country traveling to sites and interviewing both staff and Volunteers. Upon their return, their reports circulated among staff at PC/DC as well . . .

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