Archive - June 18, 2013

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Fran Koster (Sierra Leone 1964-66) Discovering the New America
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Peace Corps, Mondelēz International Partner to Strengthen Capacity in Developing Nation
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Peace Corps Deputy Director Talks Junk Food With Coyne
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Review of Peter Hessler's (China 1996-98) Strange Stones-Dispatches from East and West

Fran Koster (Sierra Leone 1964-66) Discovering the New America

Discovering the New America: Where Local Communities Are Solving National Problems by Francis P. Koster (Sierra Leone 1964-66) The Optimistic Futurist, $25.25. 264 pages 2013 Reviewed by Matt Losak (Lesotho 1985-88) In Francis Koster’s Discovering the New America (The Optimistic Futurist, 2013), the author offers a volume chockablock with proven,  innovative ideas for solving common community problems like conserving water and homelessness and nationwide scourges such as obesity and criminal recidivism. Koster, an “optimistic futurist” by trade and thinking, is selling his badly needed brand of the Peace Corps can-do tonic for anyone who might slow their gate in front of his friendly wagon. Sadly, though, in today’s climate, where truth and reason are too often being burned at the stake, this catalogue of optimism might seem a little out of touch for the increasingly embittered and paranoid American audience. I mean, I actually have relatives who still believe our . . .

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Peace Corps, Mondelēz International Partner to Strengthen Capacity in Developing Nation

This is the press release from Peace Corps describing the program that was discussed in the interview John Coyne conducted with Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet.   (Correction: 6/20/20) This is an ongoing Peace Corps program.  From the Friends of Dominican Republic: Community Economic Development: Volunteers in this program partner with farmers’ associations, artisans, tourism service providers and community-based groups to improve organizational capacity, business skills and financial awareness. Those who attended the 50th Anniversary celebration and conference and took the “Tour de Chocolate” in El Seibo saw a wonderful example of successful volunteer work in this sector. Over the years volunteers have worked with a cacao cooperative and a community farm demonstration. Another project, now in its fifth year, is the national youth business plan competition called “Construye tus Sueños .” Local NGOs and private sector donors provide support for this program. Like many of the major Peace Corps projects, the Build Your Dreams . . .

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Peace Corps Deputy Director Talks Junk Food With Coyne

Last week shortly before Deputy Director of the agency, Carrie Hessler-Radelet  (Western Samoa 1981-83 ), rushed out her office door for a trip to Morocco, she was kind enough to pause and respond to a few questions I had about what is happening with the Peace Corps, given the recent news that the agency and Kraft Foods had reached a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on a ‘collaborative relationship.’ This MoU promoted (of course) comments from RPCVs, such as, “The Peace Corps Eats Junk Food.” RPCVs also wanted to know about the agency’s new training ‘model’ (yet again, the Peace Corps has a new training model) as well as this special project on malaria control that we reported on several weeks ago? Here’s what Carrie had to say. Carrie, describe this new Training Model: “Focus In/Train Up.” Clever phrase but give us an example of what makes it different and better. . . .

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Review of Peter Hessler's (China 1996-98) Strange Stones-Dispatches from East and West

Strange Stones—Dispatches from East and West By Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) Harper Perennial trade paperback; $14.99 354 pages May 2013 Reviewed by Richard Lipez (Ethiopia 1962-64) Strange Stones is Peter Hessler’s fourth book that’s all or mostly about China, and it’s as fresh, meaty, and irresistible as the acclaimed three others, Country Driving, Oracle Bones , and his exemplary Peace Corps memoir, River Town .   The new book is a collection of eighteen pieces, most of which first appeared in The New Yorker, where Hessler is a staff writer now reporting from Cairo . Having picked up some anti-Chinese sentiment in Thailand and Burma , I’ve never been all that eager to set foot in the Peoples Republic .   Their neighbors to the south tend to regard the Chinese as aggressive, exploitive and rude, and I’ve witnessed a good deal of this behavior.   I have more favorable second thoughts about . . .

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