Archive - December 2013

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Karen Phillips (Gabon1997-98) Killer Sentenced To Life
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Lakes of Darkness, A Poem by John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962-64)
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The Peace Corps Announces Top Volunteer Producing States On Slow News Day
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Review of Robert E. Hamilton's (Ethiopia 1965-67) Short and Shorter
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Review of Mark Wentling's novel Africa's Embrace
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Don Messerschmidt (Nepal 1963-65) Makes You An Offer You Can't Refuse
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KENNEDY PEACE CORPS COMMEMORATION ACT PASSES COMMITTEE
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FINALLY! The Peace Corps Is Improving Business Processes
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Getting rid of paper processes at the Peace Corps
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Review of Tom Weck's (Ethiopia 1965-67) Bully Bean

Karen Phillips (Gabon1997-98) Killer Sentenced To Life

Thierry “Rambo” Ntoutoume Nzue was convicted for the 1998 murder of 37-year-old Karen Phillips. A Gabonese criminal court sentenced Ntoutoume Nzue to life in prison. Phillips served in Oyem, an agricultural city of about 40,000 in the coastal African nation of Gabon. She worked as an agro-forestry volunteer, helping local farmers market their agricultural products. “She just loved helping people,” said Richard Phillips, Karen’s father. “That’s the type of person she was. Karen was a doer and a giver.” Prior to joining the Peace Corps, Phillips worked in Atlanta as a fundraiser for the international development organization, CARE. A native of Delaware County, Pa., Karen received her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Villanova University in 1982, and a master’s degree in business administration from Fordham University in 1989. “There is nothing harder for this agency than losing a volunteer, and after many years, I wholeheartedly hope the Phillips family can . . .

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Lakes of Darkness, A Poem by John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962-64)

Lakes of Darkness In Memory of A.J. Montesi He came to this green shore From loneliness of bachelor nights, Empty Sundays, A year of failing dreams, Mirrored into miseries. From semesters of faculty treachery, Misdemeanors in the hall. Months of silly students, Who turned his kindness Into youthful gall. A little man, Who wears his age with grace; He brought to me A spirit bent from a life of Use. We slid the books aside; Fished for trout off the point. I caught a fighting rainbow Who fought my arching pole Desperate for its life. Another trout flipped in space for flies Then slid again to darkness. That slap of water brought To mind our own fixed lives. He saw himself In a shrinking world Where good men fashion Wars with words. I knew his history As I know my own. We all have lakes of darkness, Not to seek in refuge, But . . .

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The Peace Corps Announces Top Volunteer Producing States On Slow News Day

The Peace Corps Announces Top Volunteer-Producing States and Metropolitan Areas for 2013 Vermont reclaims top spot among states with the most volunteers per capita, also ranks among top metro areas per capita WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 11, 2013 – The Peace Corps today released the 2013 rankings of the top volunteer-producing states and metropolitan areas across the country. Vermont reclaimed the No. 1 spot among states with the most Peace Corps volunteers per capita with 7.8 volunteers for every 100,000 residents, a position it last held in 2010. Vermont also ranked among the top metro areas per capita. The Burlington-South Burlington metro area ranked second behind Ithaca, N.Y., where volunteers accounted for 11.7 of every 100,000 residents. California, New York and Texas continue to be the Peace Corps’ top states, and New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, and Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana held their positions as Peace Corps’ top metro areas. “Americans from all across . . .

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Review of Robert E. Hamilton's (Ethiopia 1965-67) Short and Shorter

Short and Shorter: Short Stories and Poetry By Robert E. Hamilton (Ethiopia 1965-67) self-published,$.99 ebook 204 pages 2013 Reviewed by Darcy Munson Meijer (Gabon 1982-84) RPCV Robert Hamilton has collected 41 of his short stories and poems in Short and Shorter: Short Stories and Poetry. The stories were written between 1976 and 2013, and Hamilton laid them out in the order that they were written. Not primarily a writer, Hamilton wrote most of the stories as gifts to friends and family. Nonetheless, I found almost all of them quite pleasant to read. As I read the first stories in the collection, my suspense was up. I feared that the character alone in the library at night would be stabbed by a deranged recluse. I expected Winston to get ensnared by ruthless arms dealers. I thought Mrs. Blake had an ugly secret. In fact, nobody in the stories gets hurt (though . . .

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Review of Mark Wentling's novel Africa's Embrace

Africa’s Embrace Mark Wentling (Honduras, 1967-69; Togo, 1970-73; PC Staff, Togo, Gabon, & Niger, 1973-77) A Peace Corps Writers Book, $16.78 (paperback); $14.34 (Kindle) 348 pages 2013 Reviewed by Jack Allison, Malawi, 1967-69) What an engaging gem of a novel!  The jacket cover sums up the book nicely:  “Although Africa’s Embrace is literary fiction, the novel is, in actuality, a thinly-veiled autobiographical account of the author’s three years of working in an African village back in the 1970s.” Apparently the author, Mark Wentling, took an oath not to reveal parts of the story for 40 years, and he honored that promise.  The novel is a three-year adventure story of how a young chap from Kansas adapted to life in remote West Africa. The protagonist, David, is renamed “Bobovovi” by the village elders; after he is “transported” magically down a mountain “on a moonbeam,” he is thereafter viewed and treated differently by . . .

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Don Messerschmidt (Nepal 1963-65) Makes You An Offer You Can't Refuse

• Bhutan: Going to the Dogs Trek and Festival Be assured, this new 2014 trip is not all trek. Between our arrival in Bhutan on March 29 and departure on April 12, there is a total of 6 days on a moderate mountain trek (highest elevation is something around 13,500 feet, over and down in one day). the trek is scheduled for early in the trip, in Tashigang District, in the far Northeast corner of the country. The rest of the trip is an eco-tour of Bhutan, through the hills and mountains on the “Royal Road” from east Bhutan west to the capital, Thimphu, and ending at Paro (the airport town). It includes a drive through some amazing forests, high and low; a brief visit to beautiful Bumthang and Punakha valleys, sight-seeing in Thimphu, a day-long hiking excursion to “The Tiger’s Nest” — the amazing cliffside Taktsang Monastery (near Paro), . . .

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KENNEDY PEACE CORPS COMMEMORATION ACT PASSES COMMITTEE

Dec 4, 2013 Press Release Washington, DC – Congressman Joe Kennedy applauded today’s passage of the Peace Corps Commemoration Act (H.R. 915) by the House Committee on Natural Resources. Kennedy introduced this cost-free legislation in February to authorize the non-profit Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation to establish a commemorative work on federal land in Washington, D.C. The Foundation is responsible for any costs associated with the commemorative work. Last month, Congressman Kennedy testified before the Committee on Natural Resources in support of the bill, which passed today by unanimous consent. “At a time when the international community was fractured by the Cold War, the founding of the Peace Corps reminded America of the best it had to offer: service to others for the common cause of global peace, mutual understanding, prosperity, and progress,” said Congressman Kennedy.  “Commemoratives in our nation’s capital celebrate the seminal moments in American history, and it is . . .

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FINALLY! The Peace Corps Is Improving Business Processes

[Thanks to Joanne Roll (Colombia 1963-65) for the ‘heads up’ on this item.] by Jason Miller Federal News Radio The Peace Corps is moving toward a lightweight, agile technology environment. And one way it’s doing that is by working differently with the business side of the house. “It used to be that people didn’t like working with us so at the very last minute they’d call us and say, ‘we need technology.’ That’s changed,” said Dorine Andrews, the Peace Corps chief information officer. “Now we are leading the sessions to redesign the business so that it allows the business people to make the decisions. I’m really excited about our role in front end business process reengineering.” The effort to empower the business folks isn’t new. Andrews started it when she became the Peace Corps CIO in 2010. But more than three years later, she said the priorities reflect just how . . .

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Getting rid of paper processes at the Peace Corps

[Thanks to Joanne Roll (Colombia 1963-65) for the ‘heads up’ on this item.] April 28, 2011 — The Peace Corps is modernizing the last of its global infrastructure networks this year and then it’s time for a break…sort of. Dorine Andrews says the 50-year-old agency will take a step back and reassess the status and health of its IT infrastructure and systems. Andrews, who’s been CIO at the agency for about nine months, said her staff of about 70 federal employees at the headquarters in Washington will start looking at back end administrative systems and changing the agency’s overall strategic approach to IT. Andrews said the Peace Corps is starting a pilot with Microsoft’s SharePoint software to move paper processes to electronic-something she said should have been done years ago. The end goal, she said, is to move the agency’s email system into the cloud and reduce the amount of . . .

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Review of Tom Weck's (Ethiopia 1965-67) Bully Bean

Bully Bean (Lima Bear Stories) Thomas Weck (Ethiopia 1965-67) and Peter Weck, Illustrated by Len DiSalvo Lima Bear Press 30 pages $15.95 (hardcover) 2013 Reviewed by Tony D’Souza (Ivory Coast 2000-02, Madagascar 2002-03) By this point, I think it’s safe to say that my kids will grow up with Thomas and Peter Weck’s Lima Bears; the series first appeared two years ago, and we’ve been following them ever since. In the short span of childhood, that’s been half my kids’ lives! The Wecks’ have released the fifth title in their series, Bully Bean, and I’ve been finding that there’s an odd congruence between where my kids are developmentally and the subject matters the Wecks’ are tackling. The bean bears of Limalot were facing their unfounded fears in The Cave Monster right around the time my kids discovered that the dark spaces under the bed and in the closet were great . . .

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