Archive - May 2011

1
The Basic Problems with Sexual Assaults and How to Solve as Least One of Them
2
RPCV from Kyrgyzstan Writes Op-ED in NYTIMES
3
Aaron Williams Takes One for the Peace Corps
4
From Chairwoman Ros-Lehtinen, Opening Statement at Hearing on Peace Corps Volunteer Safety
5
Third Goal Bash
6
If you missed the Hearings on the Peace Corps…
7
Vietnam Journeys, text by Mary Ann Bragg (Botswana 1980–82)
8
Peace Corps article in the New York Times this morning
9
Review of Chris Honore's Out in the All of It
10
Peru's Washington Deputy Consul General seeks help from Peru RPCVs

The Basic Problems with Sexual Assaults and How to Solve as Least One of Them

The Peace Corps has two basic problems with the issue of sexual assaults: 1) the attacks themselves; 2) the response from the agency. As for #1 the agency can help here by making Trainees and PCVs vividly aware of where they are in the world, and how to behave to protect themselves. But lets get real. This morning (Sunday) I picked up the New York Times and read where the I.M.F. Chief was arrested and accused of a sex attack at a midtown Manhattan hotel. He was pulled off an Air France first-class seat by the Port Authority police and booked for an alleged attempted rape. He was accused by a chambermaid maid at the exclusive Sofitel Hotel (where his suite of rooms cost $3,000 a night) of sexually assaulting her twice. So, you don’t have to be on some back alley in the middle of a Third World country and be in danger. But the issue that makes all . . .

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RPCV from Kyrgyzstan Writes Op-ED in NYTIMES

Volunteers and Victims By JIA TOLENTINO Published: May 13, 2011 THIS week, in the wake of accusations that the Peace Corps had mishandled the startling number of sexual assaults against its volunteers over the last decade, Congress invited former participants to tell their side of the story. In many cases, their tales were horrifying – not only of rapes and attempted rapes, but also of the Corps’s efforts to play down or ignore them, as well as the risks involved in certain country assignments. Many echoed comments by volunteers interviewed for an ABC News report in January. Karestan Koenen, who was raped in 1991 in Niger, said, “My own experience was that the treatment by the Peace Corps was worse than the rape.” As a recent Peace Corps volunteer whose service in Kyrgyzstan ended early because of sexual harassment, I sympathize with Ms. Koenen. My ultimately positive experience points to . . .

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Aaron Williams Takes One for the Peace Corps

Aaron Williams took one on the chin for the Peace Corps on Wednesday, May 11, 2011. He took one for his Administration, all those CDs and APCDs around the world; he took one for all the past Peace Corps Directors when he appeared as the sole Peace Corps voice at the House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing to examine what its chairwoman, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtien, Republican of Florida, called “serious crimes” committed against Peace Corps Volunteers, including murder. In announcing the Hearing, her office cited reports of “gross mismanagement of sexual assault complaints.” She is right. All of us going back fifty years could say much the same. We all have stories to tell from being there. Trying to ‘run’ the Peace Corps from Washington is like trying to organize a gaggle of geese. It can’t be done. Aaron, and the Directors before him, has had to delegate authority to others, many others, . . .

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From Chairwoman Ros-Lehtinen, Opening Statement at Hearing on Peace Corps Volunteer Safety

“Despite critical reports by its own Inspector General, the General Accountability Office, and prior Congressional hearings, Peace Corps’ safety and security failures have been a recurrent problem with tragic consequences for thousands of volunteers. Some who seek to ignore those problems have asserted that volunteer service, itself, is inherently risky as an excuse for lax and ineffective safety and security measures. That attitude is unacceptable.” Read the complete statement at: http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/press_display.asp?id=1819 Please note:  The links for the actual testimony are no longer active.  The testimony should be available in hard copy at those public libraries that are federal depositories.  The hearings were held on May 11, 2011 before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.  A librarian should be able to help you access the hard copies, or tell you how to find them.  The links are now here just for reference. The hearings can be viewed at the link provided . . .

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Third Goal Bash

We are more than half way to raising our ($10,000) to reserve space for our Third Goal Bash, a party in D.C. on Saturday night, September 24, 2011, of our 50th Anniversary Peace Corps Reunion. Thanks to all of you who have made contributions and bought tickets. Now as for the rest of you who are coming to Washington, D.C. (and not attending the NPCA Gala,) but who want a place to party…Well, we’re the place you want to be. We are hosting a second gala (with a small ‘g’) and you can make it happen by buying your ticket(s) early. They are just $33. Thirty-three dollars for the Third Goal. The event begins at 7 p.m. at the George Washington University athletic arena. We’ll have beer, wine, soft drinks, and food, plus entertainment and plenty of space to dance or just hang around and talk to others from your years overseas and find out what has happened to them since you last . . .

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If you missed the Hearings on the Peace Corps…

If you missed yesterday morning’s live showing of the Hearings, then missed them last night after midnight, you can watch them now at:http://www.c-span.org/Events/House-Foreign-Affairs-Cmte-Hearing-on-the-Peace-Corps-50th-Anniversary/10737421475-1/ Thanks to Stan Meisler for the ‘heads up’ on this link.

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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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Review of Chris Honore's Out in the All of It

Out in the All of It by Chris Honoré (Colombia 1967–69) iUniverse, Inc. 45 pages $9.95 2011 Reviewed by Richard Lipez (Ethiopia 1962–64) THIS CHARMING SHORT COLLECTION of sketches about Honoré’s Peace Corps life in Colombia in the late sixties touches all the familiar themes –– isolation, confusion, ineptitude, fear of going over a cliff in a bus, longing to go home, wonder, growing confidence, feelings of connectedness, apprehension about going home — and explores them with both skill and a becoming modesty. At the last big Peace Corps get-together, the 25th anniversary conference in Washington, a bunch of us Ethiopia-ones admitted to one another what we were thinking on that initial bus ride from the Addis Ababa airport to the university: “God, what have I done!” Honoré’s early months as a teacher trainer in Cartagena were like that. Alone and feeling constantly clumsy and misplaced, Honore wonders how he . . .

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Peru's Washington Deputy Consul General seeks help from Peru RPCVs

AFTER THE APRIL FIRST-ROUND CONTEST for the Peruvian presidency that involved five top candidates, two remaining candidates are slugging it out before the June 5th run-off. The turnout could prove enormous when voters choose either Ollanta Humala, a former army colonel who lost in the 2006 election, or Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of former President Alberto Fujimori. Recently in Washington, DC, Peru’s Deputy Consul General Maria Eugenia Chiozza de Zela met with Tino Calabia (Peru 1963–65) and Sarah Stewart (Guatemala 2004–6, Honduras 2006–7, PC Response/Panamá 2009–10) to discuss getting help with the election at polling sites in this country from Spanish-speaking RPCVs. Both Tino and Sarah had joined 13 others recruited by RPCVs Mike Wolfson and Gloria Levin, (President of Amigos de Bolivia y Peru), to assist with the April elections. Chiozza now needs more help, and Sarah and Tino agreed to contact Spanish-speaking RPCVs who once served in Peru . . .

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