Archive - February 2013

1
TROUBLE: Transition Trifecta – Email Obama
2
Review of J. Grigsby Crawford's (Ecuador 2009-11) The Gringo
3
Peace Corps Director Congratulates Senator Harris Wofford for Receiving Presidential Citizens Medal
4
Harris Wofford Receives Citizens Medal from President Obama
5
Launch of Julie R. Dargis' (Morocco 1984-87) Book: Pit Stop in the Paris of Africa in Downtown Minneapolis
6
Harris Wofford (PC/HQ & CD Ethiopia 1962-67) to Receive The Presidential Citizens Medal
7
New Book Chronicles Dennis Carlson (Libya 1968-69) Peace Corps Time in Libya
8
Review of Sandra Meek's (Botswana 1989-91) Road Scatter
9
The Price of Justice—Laurence Leamer (Nepal 1964-66) New Book
10
China RPCV Writers Publish in Their Host Country

TROUBLE: Transition Trifecta – Email Obama

No permanent Director; budget cuts that mean layoffs looming: and, personnel system changes to the Five Year Rule up in the air, this is Peace Corps, today.  Does it matter to the serving Volunteer? It could. I believe  it imperative to pay  attention to Peace Corps during times of transition to make sure that the safety and service of Volunteers are not compromised. From the outside looking in, it is hard to tell exactly how these stresses are currently impacting Peace Corps. But, there are some  clues to be found in the history. Let us look at them. In 2008, Obama’s transition team wrote a paper for the President outlining a road map for the Peace Corps. The report made recommendations for the first 90 days of the Obama’s administration, including this: “Peace Corps reform needs to start on January 20lh. Under ideal circumstances a new director will have been . . .

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Review of J. Grigsby Crawford's (Ecuador 2009-11) The Gringo

The Gringo: A Memoir By J. Grigsby Crawford (Ecuador 2009–11) Wild Elephant Press $15.95 (paperback); $9.99 (Kindle) 225 pages 2013 Reviewed  by Kitty Thuermer (Mali 1977–79) So let’s pretend I’m fresh out of college and that I’ve wanted to join the Peace Corps ever since the 7th grade.  I make an appointment with a recruiter, who is a clean cut guy named Grigsby Crawford, back from serving in Ecuador. We meet in Adams Morgan, Washington D.C. Me: Hey, one of my burning questions – I’ve been reading a lot of scary stuff about safety in the Peace Corps.  Did you feel safe in Ecuador? Grigs: Safe?!  (Laughs) …well, to be honest… I was sent alone to a dangerous outpost in the Wild West of the country and …um, things deteriorated and my host family was threatened – because of me – and armed thugs with machine guns were out to . . .

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Peace Corps Director Congratulates Senator Harris Wofford for Receiving Presidential Citizens Medal

Washington, D.C., February 15, 2013 – Harris Wofford, who was instrumental in the formation of the Peace Corps, was honored today with the Presidential Citizens Medal. Peace Corps Acting Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet released to following statement in congratulations. “I cannot think of a more deserving American for this prestigious honor. Senator Wofford’s lifetime of good and gracious service to our country has been exemplary, and he has inspired and guided generations of Americans to serve our communities, our country and our world. Congratulations from everyone in the Peace Corps family to Senator Wofford on this special honor that he so richly deserves.” Senator Wofford worked closely with Sargent Shriver to create the Peace Corps after it was established by executive order on March 1, 1961. Wofford served as the Peace Corps’ special representative to Africa and as Country Director in Ethiopia from 1962 to 1964. Upon returning to Washington, he . . .

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Harris Wofford Receives Citizens Medal from President Obama

[John Gomperts is the former Director of AmeriCorps and is currently President and CEO of America’s Promise. This morning he sent out a message to his staff about Harris Wofford being bestowed with the Citizens Medal. John is a nice guy and he has allowed me to reprint part of his message for our Peace Corps Community.] This is part of what John had to say to his staff about Harris. Also, he had a wonderful and  ‘typical’ Wofford tale to tell. It is a story that those of us who know Harris can certainly relate to: John Gomperts: “In a ceremony at the White House this morning, the President bestowed the Citizens Medal on my and our colleague, mentor, and friend Harris Wofford. I can’t think of a more deserving winner, and I am happy not only for Harris but for all the people and organizations he has influenced, including especially America’s Promise. It . . .

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Launch of Julie R. Dargis' (Morocco 1984-87) Book: Pit Stop in the Paris of Africa in Downtown Minneapolis

For more than twenty-five years, Julie Dargis (Morocco 1984-87) has worked with international non-profit organizations in post-conflict environments in Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe. In Pit Stop in the Paris of Africa she depicts the realities and challenges of living and working in such environments.  On Friday, February 15, 2013, there will be reception and reading by Julie of her book. Julie will recount stories inspired by war-affected  populations rebuilding their lives.  The reception begins at 5 p.m. and Julie will read at 7 p.m. The Book Launch is being held at Gallery 13 in Downtown Minneapolis/Highland Bank Court/Street Level–811 LaSalle Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55402. It is sponsored by American Refuge Committee, World Without Genocide, and Indie House Press. If you can’t make it, check out:www.pitstopintheparisofafrica.com      

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Harris Wofford (PC/HQ & CD Ethiopia 1962-67) to Receive The Presidential Citizens Medal

Former Senator Harris Wofford, one of the original Mad Men with Shriver in creating the Peace Corps, and later the first Country Director in Ethiopia (1962-64) will receive the Presidential Citizens Medal,  the nation’s second-highest civilian honor, that recognizes American citizens who have performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens. Wofford will be honored along with other recipients at a White House ceremony this Friday, February, 15. Wofford’s first claim to fame came in  1941 as a teenager when he created the American Student World Federealist Movment. As Harris tells it on a wintry Saturday night early in ’41, when he was 14-year-old in Scarsdale, New York, he was taking a bath, reading his Latin lesson, and listening to the radio. He got caught up listening to Clarence Streit, who was committed to the notion of an Atlantic union of democratic nations federated along lines similar to those . . .

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New Book Chronicles Dennis Carlson (Libya 1968-69) Peace Corps Time in Libya

Volunteers of America: The Journey of a Peace Corps Teachers by Dennis Carlson (Libya 1968-69) chronicles his time in Libya in the late 1960s. It is the first American account of living through the revolution that brought Gaddafi to power. The author moves from campus protests at the University of Washington in the spring of 1968, to Peace Corps training in Utah and the Navajo Nation in New Mexico, to living and teaching in an isolated village in Libya, to a European summer vacation, to the revolution that led to charges that Peace Corps volunteers were CIA agents, to returning to the U.S. in October, 1969, to witness the anti-war moratorium on the Capital Mall in Washington, D.C. The heart of the story is the author’s own evolving journey as a teacher, during which time he began to question both the official curriculum of English instruction and the broader purposes of teaching . . .

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Review of Sandra Meek's (Botswana 1989-91) Road Scatter

Road Scatter: Poems by Sandra Meek (Botswana 1989–91) Persea Books,$15.95 86 pages 2012 Reviewed by Ann Neelon (Senegal 1978-79) The revolutionary aspect of Sandra Meek’s new collection Road Scatter-in which the poems are focused, although not exclusively, on a daughter’s vigil at her dying mother’s beside-is that it gives us elegy as kinetic sculpture.  Instead of traditional lament, we get clatter, crash and shimmer. It is as if, in each poem, grief plummets like a ball down a shoot, hits a force field of running water and is then channeled to a lever, which flings it onto a piano key, forcing it to set off not just an echoing note but also a flashing light. We get a sense of how living through a death-in the dullness of its seemingly endless repetitions, but also in its unexpected scintillations-is like turning on a grief machine. Grief is not static, but rather . . .

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The Price of Justice—Laurence Leamer (Nepal 1964-66) New Book

The Price of Justice: A True Story of Greed and Corruption is a story of corporate corruption so far-reaching and devastating it could have been written a hundred years ago by Ida Tarbell or Lincoln Steffens. And as Laurence Leamer (Nepal 1964-66) demonstrates in this captivating tale, because it’s true, it’s scarier than fiction. This nonfiction legal thriller traces the fourteen-year struggle of two lawyers to bring the most powerful coal baron in American history, Don Blankenship, to justice. Don Blankenship, head of Massey Energy since the early 1990s, ran an industry that provides nearly half of America’s electric power. But wealth and influence weren’t enough for Blankenship and his company, as they set about destroying corporate and personal rivals, challenging the Constitution, purchasing the West Virginia judiciary, and willfully disregarding safety standards in the company’s mines-in which scores died unnecessarily. As Blankenship hobnobbed with a West Virginia Supreme Court . . .

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China RPCV Writers Publish in Their Host Country

The RPCV writers who served in China are now seeing their books published in China. Recently River Town (Peter Hessler 1996-98) book on his tour was published on the mainland. In less than a year, it has sold almost as many copies as it sold in the US since it came out in 2001. According to Peter, “Chinese are eager readers of foreign works, and especially of literature, social science texts and academic collections. Translated books account for a huge slice of the market, and domestic writers often take inspiration from them. Maybe this is the fourth goal — bringing a Peace Corps view of the host country back to the host country.” The publisher is also bringing Peter back to China to tour — something that the US publisher has not done. Published by Shanghai Translation Publishing House, River Town has 150,000 copies in print and is described to the Chinese . . .

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