Archive - November 2013

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Where Were You When John F. Kennedy Was Shot? Thomas Pleasure (Peru 1964-66) Remembers
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Where Were You When John F. Kennedy Was Shot? Richard Lipez (Ethiopia 1962-64; HQ Staff Washington staff 1964-67) Remembers
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The Peace Corps Lends A Hand: Philippines Disaster Relief Effort
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Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) Letter from Abydos in New Yorker
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Where Were You When John F. Kennedy Was Shot? Kitty Thuermer (Mali 1977-79) Remembers
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Where Were You When John F. Kennedy Was Shot? Larry Lesser (Nigeria 1963-65) Remembers
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Where Were You When John F. Kennedy was Shot? Ronald A Schwarz (Colombia 1961-63) Remembers
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Link to download FY 2014-2015 Strategic Plan Draft PDF
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Rowland Scherman's (HQ Staff 1961-63) film Eye on the '60s
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Where Were You When John F. Kennedy was Shot? Roger Landrum (Nigeria 1961-63) Remembers

Where Were You When John F. Kennedy Was Shot? Thomas Pleasure (Peru 1964-66) Remembers

In June of ’63 I was so stoked by the President’s Peace Speech at American University that at my graduation from UCLA the following week, my fiancé and I submitted our applications to join the Peace Corps the Summer of ’64 when she graduated.  Peace was coming and I wanted to be a veteran of making peace. I had already served my time in the military years before arriving at UCLA. Upon graduating high school I had signed on with ATSF railroad as a switchman, albeit a grimy job it financed my college education and lots of adventuring.  The jobs offered me after I graduated from UCLA: Bank Mgmt. Trainee $395 and Supermarket Product Sales $495, were half of what I earned as a Santa Fe switchman, a union job. By the first week of November ’63 my buddies had convinced me I should take a White Collar job selling . . .

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Where Were You When John F. Kennedy Was Shot? Richard Lipez (Ethiopia 1962-64; HQ Staff Washington staff 1964-67) Remembers

While Kennedy was being shot, I was at the movies in Addis Ababa.  It was Friday night in the Ethiopian capital, and I took in a flick at the Haile Selassie Theater, a mile or so from my house in Kirkos Kebele.  The movie was something in black and white with Vivien Leigh, but not one of her classic portrayals, Scarlett or Blanche.  It was the kind of grade-B British melodrama that turns up at 9 in the morning on TMC.  While I sat through this so-so episode of respectable sludge, barely paying attention, that little schmuck Oswald was murdering the man who got me to Ethiopia in the first place, the best thing that ever happened to me. Still innocent, I went home to my little pink and green house after the movie and didn’t turn on the radio.  I probably slept well.  It was a quiet neighborhood, down behind . . .

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The Peace Corps Lends A Hand: Philippines Disaster Relief Effort

From The Peace Corps Press Office: WASHINGTON, D.C., Nov. 14, 2013 – In the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, the Peace Corps would like to thank all of the individuals and organizations that have expressed interest in working with the agency to offer support to those affected by this devastating storm. The Peace Corps and the Philippines have a long history. More than 8,700 volunteers have served in the Philippines since the Peace Corps was established in 1961 – more than any other country in the world. Below find ways you can support relief efforts to help those in need in the Philippines. The Peace Corps Philippines Country Fund helps fund volunteer and community projects through the  Contributing to this fund supports long-term development efforts throughout the country. One hundred percent of all contributions to the Philippines Country Fund are allocated to approved PCPP development projects that meet Peace Corps small . . .

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Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) Letter from Abydos in New Yorker

The Buried Excavating the Egyptian Revolution. by Peter Hessler The New Yorker, November 18, 2013 From Cairo, it’s only about three hundred miles to Abydos, in Upper Egypt, but the distance feels much greater. This region has been a world apart ever since Pharaonic times. The ancient Egyptians separated their land into Upper and Lower, a division that confuses moderns who orient themselves by the compass rather than by the Nile. Upper Egypt lies to the south, where the river has carved a deep gorge into the North African plateau. At Abydos, the gorge is about fifteen miles wide, flanked on both sides by high cliffs that are the color of sand. There’s no rain to speak of, and the surrounding desert is absolute: from the air, the narrow corridor of green along the Nile appears hopelessly isolated. Head due west and the next river you cross is in South . . .

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Where Were You When John F. Kennedy Was Shot? Kitty Thuermer (Mali 1977-79) Remembers

I was in the Atlantic Ocean, sailing on a ship back to Africa, and I was nine years old. Back in the day, when people asked each other where they were when Kennedy was shot, you heard riveting tales of mass hysteria, school shutdowns, weeping teachers, and long family vigils in front of the television as Walter Cronkite fought back tears while removing those stone-age black glasses as he officially announced to America that it was over. Some years later, when I would ask folks where they were when Kennedy was shot, there were two reactions: 1)  Ted Kennedy was shot? 2)  Uh…I wasn’t even born till 20 years later. Flash forward, and President Kennedy is to the Twitter generation what President Lincoln was to us: history! But back to that ship.  Ours was a nomadic Foreign Service family with my father serving in the U.S. Embassy in Ghana.  That . . .

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Where Were You When John F. Kennedy Was Shot? Larry Lesser (Nigeria 1963-65) Remembers

On November 22, 1963, I was in the middle of pre-deployment training at UCLA as a member of Nigeria IX. My wife and I were going to be English teachers. That morning our group was listening to a British professor lecture on something historical or cross-cultural when someone came to the back of the hall and called in that JFK had just been shot. After a brief moment to take in this shocking news the lecturer went on. A few minutes later someone again called in from the door at the rear of the lecture hall to tell us that the president was dead. For a minute we just sat there. The professor said something or other about what a terrible thing it was and then said he thought the best thing was to continue the lecture. (He was from the British stiff-upper-lip school.) But within a few minutes individual . . .

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Where Were You When John F. Kennedy was Shot? Ronald A Schwarz (Colombia 1961-63) Remembers

The noontime news on my car radio reported that the President was in Dallas, Texas. Any mention of JFK boosted my adrenalin and brought back memories; my connection to the President was personal. In September 1961 my Peace Corps group (Colombia I) met with JFK in the East Room of the White House. And, several months later, he and Jackie were welcomed by millions of Colombians and two-dozen volunteers in Bogotá. The love affair between Colombians and our Catholic President was pervasive and mystical. His picture was posted on mud walls of huts throughout the country. Volunteers in Colombia and all of Latin America were referred to in the press and radio as los hijos de Kennedy – Kennedy’s children. The connection opened hearts, doors and countless bottles of beer. In 1963 in the USA, the Peace Corps was expanding; up to 100,000 a year was a number kicked around. . . .

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Link to download FY 2014-2015 Strategic Plan Draft PDF

Here is the link to read the text of the draft Strategic Plan. http://files.peacecorps.gov/multimedia/pdf/opengov/PC_FY_2014-2018_Strategic_Plan_draft_11.8.13.pdf There are only twenty more days to give Peace Corps your opinions and suggestions after reviewing the draft plan. The government shut-down delayed the posting of the plan. Now, the holidays are fast approaching. Many of us may be preoccupied with the 50th Anniversary of the Kennedy Assassination.  Peace Corps is asking for comments from the RPCV community.  I would urge you all to review the plan and offer suggestions. Thanks to PC staffer Erin Durney for helping me negotiate the Draft FY 2014-2018 website.  There is also a direct link to the PDF form of the plan at the bottom of the webpage: www.peacecorps.gov/open/plan

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Rowland Scherman's (HQ Staff 1961-63) film Eye on the '60s

I saw this film last night. It is great! I had the opportunity to relive my Twenties. A large section of it is film from the Peace Corps 50th Anniversary, events as well as the March to Arlington. Rowland Scherman went around the world for the Peace Corps in the fall of ’62 and there are photographs from that era, as well as great images and stories about Bob Dylon, The Beatles, Arthur Ashe, Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, all the Kennedys and Shrivers, and maybe you! Check it out. Thursday Night Nov. 14. 7:30pm Cape Ann Community Cinema 21 Main Street Gloucester, MA http://vimeo.com/ondemand/eyeonthe60s/66046480

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Where Were You When John F. Kennedy was Shot? Roger Landrum (Nigeria 1961-63) Remembers

I was on a Peace Corps recruiting blitz at University of Pennsylvania sitting at a table in the student union handing out brochures for “the toughest job you’ll ever love,” jawboning students to take the plunge, having just returned from two years as a PCV in Nigeria. Word of JFK’s assassination circulated through the union with a shocked buzz. The sudden death of our young president seemed unreal. The recruiting team immediately headed back to DC by van. At the recruiting table with us was a relative of LBJ, who had been foisted on the PC staff. I thought she was going to break a leg in her rush to get back to Washington. Peace Corps headquarters, then across Lafayette Park from the White House, was a stricken place. Everyone, including me, felt like royalty had been assassinated. Many early PCVs shared the feeling that JFK had personally empowered us, . . .

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