Archive - May 11, 2011

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Vietnam Journeys, text by Mary Ann Bragg (Botswana 1980–82)
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Peace Corps article in the New York Times this morning

Vietnam Journeys, text by Mary Ann Bragg (Botswana 1980–82)

Vietnam Journeys Photography by Charles Fields Introduction and text by Mary Ann Bragg (Botswana 1980–82) Fields Publishing 264 pages $50.00 Reviewed by Richard Lipez (Ethiopia 1962-64)   WHEN THE PICTURE-TAKING COMMENCES at a family gathering of ours, just before the shutter clicks my mother-in-law jokingly commands everybody to “look pleasant!” In Fields’s big, handsome, underly satisfying book of photos of Vietnam and Vietnamese life, he seems to have urged Vietnam to “look pleasant,” and it obliged.   It’s true that Vietnam is in decent shape overall. The free-market reforms of the ’80s have the economy moving at a steady trot (though foreign investors complain that the bureaucracy is still godawful), and most of the population isn’t old enough to remember “the American war”; the chief preoccupation of the young seems to be charging into the neon-lit, mall-culture, consumerist future. Based on what I saw of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam . . .

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Peace Corps article in the New York Times this morning

May 10, 2011 Peace Corps Volunteers Speak Out on Rape By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG WASHINGTON – Jess Smochek arrived in Bangladesh in 2004 as a 23-year-old Peace Corps volunteer with dreams of teaching English and “helping the world.” She left six weeks later a rape victim after being brutalized in an alley by a knife-wielding gang. When she returned to the United States, the reception she received from Peace Corps officials was as devastating, she said, as the rape itself. In Bangladesh, she had been given scant medical care; in Washington, a counselor implied that she was to blame for the attack. For years she kept quiet, feeling “ashamed and embarrassed and guilty.” Today, Ms. Smochek is among a growing group of former Peace Corps volunteers who are speaking out about their sexual assaults, prompting scrutiny from Congress and a pledge from the agency for reform. In going public, they . . .

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