Archive - August 2011

1
Review of Taylor Dibbert's Fiesta of Sunset
2
Bob Arias with Gordon Radley
3
Context lacking in Peace Corps crime coverage
4
Director Williams Responds to Post Article
5
Kinky Friedman (Borneo 1967-69) for Rick Perry (just when you thought it was safe to say you were an RPCV!)
6
Theroux Writes His Peace Corps Novel
7
Thank You, Sister Mary David Walgenbach!
8
The Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011 H.R. 2337 and S. 1280 – An Overview
9
Review of Second Volume (The Americas) of Peace Corps Stories
10
In search of Emily Arsenault (South Africa 2004–06): Upcoming author appearance at R.J. Julia

Review of Taylor Dibbert's Fiesta of Sunset

Fiesta of Sunset: The Peace Corps, Guatemala, and a Search for Truth By Taylor Dibbert (Guatemala 2006–08) 192 Pages iUniverse July 2011 Reviewed by P. David Searles (CD Philippines 1971-74 & Regional Director NANEAP 1974–76) TAYLOR HAS DONE A GREAT FAVOR for people like me whose real knowledge of the lives Peace Corps Volunteers lead is based on what took place decades ago, and for those considering Peace Corps service as the next step in their lives. Dibbert served in Guatemala from 2006 to 2008 as a member of an Appropriate Technology group concentrating on bringing potable water to the poorest of the poor in rural Guatemala. Fortunately for us, he faithfully kept a journal of his time in-country and has now published a judiciously edited version of it in his book, Fiesta of Sunset. Dibbert tells his story with honesty, clarity, some humor, and always with a deeply felt . . .

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Bob Arias with Gordon Radley

Bob Arias was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Colombia from 1964 to 1966. After his tour he worked for the Peace Corps for a number of years, and with various administrations. In 2001 — his last assignment, he moved on a report on Safety and Security for the Peace Corps. Then in 2003 he returned to Oregon to become the Executive Director of the CASA program. However, by 2009 he was back with the agency, first serving in Panama and Paraguay as a Crisis Corps/Peace Corps Response Volunteer, and then in Colombia where his Peace Corps service began nearly fifty years ago. After  The New York Times article by Simon Romero about Gordon Radley’s trip to the site of where his older brother had perished in Colombia was published on August 24, 2011, and reprinted on this blog, Bob dropped me a note and some additional photographs of this journey and his connection with . . .

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Context lacking in Peace Corps crime coverage

Letter to the Editor Washington Post Published: August 26 written by Matt Losak co-founder of the Peace Corps Fund, a nonprofit that supports a Peace Corps goal to increase Americans’ understanding of the peoples served. He was a Peace Corps volunteer in Lesotho from 1985 to 1987. The Post’s coverage of the safety and security of Peace Corps volunteers [“Volunteers on a quest for due process,” front page, Aug. 21] fell short of any reasonable standard of journalism. While zeroing in on volunteers who have been victims and the agency’s response, The Post failed to provide context and made the story more salacious than informative. This, as you noted, comes as the Peace Corps celebrates 50 years of Americans volunteering in the huts and villages of half the globe. For example, The Post cited more than 1,000 rapes, attempted rapes and sexual assaults for 2002-10. How many were rapes and how many . . .

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Director Williams Responds to Post Article

Peace Corps’ response to crimes against its volunteers August 25 The Aug. 21 news story “Volunteers on a quest for due process” discussed the 2008 transfer of authority from the Peace Corps’ Office of Inspector General to the Office of Safety and Security to coordinate the response to violent crimes committed against our volunteers. This action was taken to comply with the Inspector General Act of 1978, which prohibits the transfer of operating responsibilities like safety of volunteers to the inspector general. The Post suggested that, as a result of this transfer of authority, victims today are less likely to get an aggressive response to crimes committed against them. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our security staff works closely with personnel from the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security and the FBI, as well as with the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, to support volunteers who have been victims . . .

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Kinky Friedman (Borneo 1967-69) for Rick Perry (just when you thought it was safe to say you were an RPCV!)

Kinky for Perry Rick Perry has never lost an election; I’ve never won one. Maybe that’s what’s wrong with the world. On the other hand, I’ve long been friends with Bill Clinton and George W., and Rick Perry and I, though at times bitter adversaries, have remained friends as well. It’s not always easy to maintain friendships with politicians. To paraphrase Charles Lamb, you have to work at it like some men toil after virtue. I have been quoted as saying that when I die, I am to be cremated, and the ashes are to be thrown in Rick Perry’s hair. Yet, simply put, Rick Perry and I are incapable of resisting each other’s charm. He is not only a good sport, he is a good, kindhearted man, and he once sat in on drums with ZZ Top. A guy like that can’t be all bad. When I ran for . . .

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Theroux Writes His Peace Corps Novel

The opening of The Lower River, the next novel by Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-65), is coming out in the Spring, 2012. It begins: Even in his best days in Medford, running the family clothing store, Altman had always imagined that he would return to Africa, to the Lower River. It had been his Eden, for those four years he had spent in a village called Malabo as a young man. Now, after nearly forty years, he was on his way back. The decades in between seemed almost a digression: the business, the marriage, the children. Altman’s Store for Men had closed, the marriage had failed, Altman’s children were grown, absent, living their lives. A little over sixty, he was alone again. He had enough money to see him into his old age, yet he wanted more than that. No one needed him in Medford, and he wondered if the people of . . .

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Thank You, Sister Mary David Walgenbach!

The New York Times on Sunday, August 21, 2011 asked the question “If I Were President…..to nine citizens and among them, Sister Mary David Walgenbach, Prioress of the Holy Wisdom Monastery of Middleton, Wisconsin who said, “I would invest half of our defense budget in children, young people and in energy conservation….I would expand the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps and grow both for the next ten years.” Thank you, Sister!

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The Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011 H.R. 2337 and S. 1280 – An Overview

The Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011 seeks to amend the Peace Corps Act to enhance the safety of serving Volunteers. The legislation has been introduced in both Houses of Congress with bipartisan support. It has already been voted out of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and is pending action in the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The goal is to legislate administrative systems designed, first, to prevent sexual assault of Peace Corps Volunteers, and then, to provide for adequate treatment if such crimes occur and finally, to make Peace Corps officials accountable for the implementation of these provisions. The law draws  from the Congressional testimony of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who were assault victims as well as from experts in the field. The First Response Action Group, of RPCVs, is responsible for leading this effort. The legal status of Volunteers and the Five Year Rule . . .

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Review of Second Volume (The Americas) of Peace Corps Stories

Gather The Fruit One By One: 50 Years of Amazing Peace Corps Stories:Volume Two, The Americas Edited by Pat Alter (Paraguay 1970–1972) and Bernie Alter (India 1967–1969) Series editor Jane Albritton (India 1967–69) Travelers’ Tales May 2011 314 pages $18.95 Reviewed by Dan Close (Ethiopia 1966–68) GATHER THE FRUIT ONE BY ONE: 50 Years of Amazing Peace Corps Stories: Volume Two, The Americas is the second in the series of four books of essays by Peace Corps Volunteers collected by Jane Albritton and her editors. The remaining volumes cover Africa, Eurasia, and Asia and the Pacific. I met a traveler from a far-off land who said, “Here’s a story for you! Here’s a great story for you. And it’s true. I know, because it happened to me.” Actually, here are forty-six extraordinary tales of life lived in the Americas outside of America. Some are old; some are new. They are . . .

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In search of Emily Arsenault (South Africa 2004–06): Upcoming author appearance at R.J. Julia

By John Valeri, Hartford Books Examiner Arsenault is the author of two novels, and will be appearing at R.J. Julia on Thursday evening.   Her literary debut, The Broken Teaglass, was selected by the New York Times as a Notable Crime Book of 2009.  In addition to her forays into fiction, she has worked as a lexicographer, an English teacher, and a Peace Corps volunteer in South Africa.  Though Arsenault now lives in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, she grew up in Connecticut. Her newest, In Search of the Rose Notes (William Morrow, $14.99), was released last month.  Publishers Weekly gave the book a starred review and noted it to be “an emotionally complex and deeply satisfying read.”  Meanwhile, fellow author Alafair Burke praised, “Feels like a beautifully written secret, whispered into the reader’s ear…This is a smart, creative, and utterly charming novel.” Eleven-year-olds Nora and Charlotte were best friends. When their teenage . . .

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