Archive - March 2014

1
Matt Gould (Mauritania 2001-02) Co-Creater of New Musical Witness Uganda
2
Memorial Service For Hal Fleming, Early Peace Corps Staff
3
Carrie Hessler-Radelet Talks Turkey & Technology At Senior Staff Conference
4
Marnie Mueller (Ecuador 1963-65) The Fickle Voter
5
The Fish and Rice Chronicles by PG Bryan (Micronesia 1967-70)
6
Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) Letter From Cairo
7
We Are Family, But
8
The Peace Corps Press Office Alerts PCVs About Upcoming New York Times Article
9
Novelist Kinky Friedman Wins Primary in Texas
10
Static Funding For The Peace Corps

Matt Gould (Mauritania 2001-02) Co-Creater of New Musical Witness Uganda

Witness Uganda, currently being performed at Harvard’s American Repertory Theater in Boston, is a musical co-created by composer Matt Gould (Mauritania 2001-03) and Griffin Matthews. It is directed by Diane Paulus, the A.R.T. Artistic Director, and the 2013 Tony Award for Best Director of a Musical (Pippin). And it is a smash hit at the Loeb Drama Center from February 4th to March 16th. A good friend of mine who saw the production and alerted me that an RPCV was one of its co-creaters. She wrote, “The music was very powerful and powerfully performed. The cast gave their all to the story. Matt Gould not only composed the music but also let the band and was singing out a storm as well.” Witness Uganda grew out of Griffin Matthews experiences when he volunteered to go to Uganda to help AID victims. It started this way. Griffin went to Uganda in the . . .

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Memorial Service For Hal Fleming, Early Peace Corps Staff

Hal Fleming, who headed the Peace Corps Public Affairs and Recruitment in the mid-’60s and later was the Country Director in Cote D’Ivoire, died suddenly of heart failure on February 4, 2014 at his home in Great Falls, Virginia. As a Peace Corps writer, he published several short stories, poems, and two novels: The Brides’ Fair, set in Morocco, and Once Upon A Storm, a Civil Rights era mystery. In 1978 he joined USAID as Mission Director in Morocco, later was a counselor for development at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. From 1994 – 97 he was at the State Department as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Organizations. A memorial gathering for family, friends and colleagues is scheduled for April 27 from 4 to 6 p.m., at DACOR Bacon House, 1801 F Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20006. Contributions in Hal’s memory may be made to the DACOR . . .

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Carrie Hessler-Radelet Talks Turkey & Technology At Senior Staff Conference

Carrie Hessler-Radelet (Western Samoa 1981-83), Acting Director of the Peace Corps, on the 5th and 6th of February, held the first Senior Staff Meeting of this new Administration. Aaron Williams (Dominican Republic 1967-70) did not hold any such meetings in his tenure (August 24, 2009 – September 17, 2012) as Director. Fifty plus Peace Corps ‘Directors’ met for two days in Eastern Maryland to chart the future of the agency. They went down to the shore in freezing winter weather because the hotel rates were cheap. As we know, the Peace Corps loves cheap! At the meeting Carrie Hessler-Radelet evoked Sargent Shriver’s credo that the Peace Corps was a “bold experiment” and told her senior staff, “the time has come for us to recapture that sense of purpose and idealism, the energy, the innovation…the passion.” Since become Acting Director in 2013, Carrie has made many major changes in politics and . . .

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Marnie Mueller (Ecuador 1963-65) The Fickle Voter

Marnie Writes: The Fickle Voter In late December 2013, I received an invitation to meet and greet the Mayor-elect of New York City, Bill de Blasio, in his new home-to-be, Gracie Mansion. I almost deleted the invite because I was still smarting over the fact that my first choice for Mayor hadn’t made it through the primary. I had voted for Christine Quinn because I thought, even though she was more conservative than I am, she’d earned the right to be Mayor, knew her way around the city’s political system, and was tough. You need to be tough for the second most difficult job in America. Also, I’m tired of super competent women being pushed out of the way when the next tantalizing upstart male comes onto the ballot. And I liked the idea of a married lesbian couple living in the above mentioned Gracie Mansion. As far as de . . .

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The Fish and Rice Chronicles by PG Bryan (Micronesia 1967-70)

The Fish & Rice Chronicles: My Extraordinary Adventures in Palau and Micronesia by PG Bryan (Micronesia 1967–70) Xlibris $19.99 (paperback); 7.69 (Kindle) 334 pages 2011 Reviewed by Reilly Ridgell  (Micronesia 1971–73) In 1993 the University of Guam (UOG) forwarded to me a manuscript of a memoir written by an RPCV, Patrick Bryan, who had spent three years in Palau. The University had recently created the University of Guam Press in an effort to bring all the University’s publishing efforts under one umbrella. At the time I was working at Gum Community College, and I was a member of the UOG Press’ advisory board. I looked over Bryan’s manuscript and drew up a short list of critiques and suggestions for rewrites. I was impressed with Bryan’s vivid descriptions, but there were a few quirks and problems that, if fixed, I thought, would make the book much stronger. I returned the manuscript to UOG . . .

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Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) Letter From Cairo

The March 10, 2014, issue of The New Yorker carries a long “Letter From Cairo” piece by Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) from Egypt entitled, Revolution On Trial: The strange world of the Muslin Brotherhood court cases. Peter and his wife, Leslie, and their two babies live in Cairo. His most recent book is Strange Stones: Dispatches from East and West.

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We Are Family, But

This is going to be difficult. Ultimately, the RPCV/PCV community is fam ily. We can be critical among ourselves, and I have been, but when someone from the outside is critical, the impulse is to close ranks.  Here are two items by RPCVs that may be source material for the NYTimes Article. RPCV Ryan Cooper on the staff of the Washington Monthly wrote an article for the April 2012 issue of that magazine, titled “Good News, first, Bad News Never.” It was a critical article of the Peace Corps and included his experience as a Volunteer. Washington Monthly was started by the legendary Charlie Peters, who manned the Peace Corps Office of Evaluation from 1962 -1968.  Cooper advocated a return to such an office as an answer to Peace Corps problems. I thought that Cooper could have done more as a Volunteer to deal with his site concerns and said . . .

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The Peace Corps Press Office Alerts PCVs About Upcoming New York Times Article

Dear Peace Corps Colleagues, I wanted to make folks across the agency aware that, in the coming week, we expect The New York Times to publish an extensive multi-media story about the Peace Corps both in print and online. The Office of Communications has been working with the paper extensively on this story, which  will include commentary from Acting Director Hessler-Radelet, along with both supporters and critics of the agency. The Times has solicited a wide variety of stories from current Volunteers and RPCVs, and we expect the piece will include both positive and negative sides to it.  Finally, it is our strong hope that agency reforms to enhance support for Volunteers and enhance their experience in the years ahead will be highlighted throughout. Because of the depth of this story, I fully expect that it will go viral quickly in the Peace Corps community and beyond.  To help Peace Corps . . .

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Novelist Kinky Friedman Wins Primary in Texas

Novelist, rancher, and country music singer, Kinky Friedman, got one step closer Tuesday to adding another line to his résumé: agriculture commissioner of Texas. Kinky made the  Democratic primary runoff for the position. He’ll compete against cattle farmer Jim Hogan in that May 27 contest. A Republican is favored to win the general election. Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/03/richard-kinky-friedman-texas-agriculture-commissioner-runoff-104270.html#ixzz2v5cIHl5B

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Static Funding For The Peace Corps

Reported by Jonathan Pearson (Micronesia 1987-89) Advocacy Director for the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) on Tuesday, March 4, 2014 President Obama submitted a Fiscal Year 2015 budget to Congress which requests virtually the same level of overall funding for the State Department and other international affairs programs, including the Peace Corps. The President is requesting $42.6 billion for the State Department and other International Affairs programs, about a 0.2% decrease from spending in the current fiscal year. The Peace Corps fared only marginally better, as the President is requesting $380 million for the fiscal year that begins next October. That’s a one million dollar increase from current funding, which is about 0.3% above current funding. Pearson reports that RPCV Congressman Sam Farr  is expected to begin circulating his annual “Dear Colleague” letter, urging support for increased funding for the Peace Corps.

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