Archive - November 2015

1
The Peace Corps Tells LBJ "Hell, No! We Won't Go!"
2
The Peace Corps and the Vietnam War, Part One
3
In Laurence Leamer’s (Nepal 1964-66) Library
4
Senegal RPCV Killed in Mali Attack
5
Vietnam and the Peace Corps, Dr. Geidel Sums up The Connection
6
REVIEW — Renewable by Eileen Flanagan (Botswana 1984-86)
7
RPCV Anita Datar killed in Mali Attack
8
Peace Corps Volunteers and Staff Safe in Mali
9
More on Peace Corps Fantasies–Women in the Agency
10
What Is IN Peace Corps Fantasies? Chapter by Chapter

The Peace Corps Tells LBJ "Hell, No! We Won't Go!"

Stanley Meisler, an early evaluator for the agency, in his 2011 book, When The World Calls: The Inside Story of the Peace Corps and its First Fifty Years gives a detailed account of the Peace Corps’ limited connection to the war in Vietnam. In his book, Meisler writes, “On January 6, 1966, two Peace Corps officials embarked on a secret, reckless trip to Vietnam. The goal of their mission was to find out whether Vietnam might be a suitable country for a Peace Corps program. That goal was foolish and fanciful……The two officials were Warren Wiggins, deputy director of the Peace Corps, and Ross J. Pritchard, director of Far East regional operations. Within the Peace Corps, Wiggins and Pritchard were known at the most fervent players of the numbers game-they relentlessly promoted massive new programs without worrying about meticulous planning. But it was not their idea to go to Vietnam.” . . .

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The Peace Corps and the Vietnam War, Part One

Recently I have been reading two books that focus on volunteering in the time of the Vietnam War. The one that we are blogging about currently, Dr. Molly Geidel’s Peace Corps Fantasies: How Development Shaped the Global Sixties. The second is The Fortunate Few: IVA Volunteers From Asia to the Andes written by Thierry J. Sagnier. The IVS was founded in 1953 and played a key role in the establishment of the Peace Corps in 1961. Over 30 PCVs were IVsers after their service, another four became PCVs after IVS and some 17-18 were on the staff of the Peace Corps. Dr. Geidel spends a lot of time in her book detailing how PCVs spent time in the Peace Corps hiding from the draft, (remember now the good doctor has already said early PCVs in the ’60s were “ruggedly masculine figure” and now she is claiming we didn’t want to . . .

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In Laurence Leamer’s (Nepal 1964-66) Library

The New York Post, Sunday, November 22, 2015, has a one page book section and this week they featured Laurence Leamer (Nepal 1964-66). Here’s what writer Barbara Hoffman had to say about Larry… Antioch College was a liberal-arts college – liberal, period – when Laurence Leamer went there in 1960. John F. Kennedy was running for president, “but they didn’t think he was liberal enough,” Leamer says of his classmates. Leamer, however, supported JFK and wrangled a job in DC just in time to see the newly inaugurated president pass by on Pennsylvania Avenue. Decades later, after serving in the Peace Corps and writing for magazines, Leamer wrote three books on the Kennedys, including the bestselling The Kennedy Women. Now there’s Rose, his play about the Kennedy family matriarch. Starring Kathleen Chalfant, it’s playing at off-Broadway’s Clurman Theater through Dec. 13. . Here, 52 years after JFK’s death, are four . . .

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Senegal RPCV Killed in Mali Attack

U.S. Victim of Mali Attack Worked on Women’s Health By LIAM STACKNOV. 20, 2015 New York Times Anita Ashok Datar, an American public health worker from the Washington suburbs, was killed Friday when gunmen attacked a luxury hotel in Mali‘s capital, Bamako, killing at least 19 people and taking as many as 100 more hostage. She is the only American known to have died in the attack, according to United Nations officials. Ms. Datar, who lived in Takoma Park, Md., loved the fiction of Jhumpa Lahiri and Zadie Smith and was the mother of a young son, Rohan. Her Facebook page has pictures of the two of them together during a series of family milestones: vacations, Halloween and the first day of school. In a statement released Friday, her family said that of all her accomplishments, Ms. Datar was most proud of him. “We are devastated that Anita is gone – it’s unbelievable to . . .

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Vietnam and the Peace Corps, Dr. Geidel Sums up The Connection

Dr. Geidel in her cultural history of the U.S. in the 1960s turns her attention on the Peace Corps and Vietnam in chapter five of her book, Peace Corps Fantasies How Development Shaped The Global Sixties. (I should say right off that I served in the military and in the Peace Corps in the Sixties and I don’t have an axe to grind with either service.) Molly Geidel is another story. She begins, (again,) by turning her academic lens on Associate and then Deputy Director, Warren Wiggins, and what he had to say about Vietnam and Peace Corps Volunteers. (By the way, I should mention that Wiggins was a pilot in WWII, flying war supplies to China over the Hump in the China/Burma/India campaign. He was one of many early Peace Corps staff who were vets from the war.) Geidel begins her Fifth Chapter: Ambiguous Liberation: The Vietnam War and . . .

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REVIEW — Renewable by Eileen Flanagan (Botswana 1984-86)

Renewable: One Woman’s Search for Simplicity, Faithfulness, and Hope Eileen Flanagan (Botswana 1984-86) She Writes Press March 2015 186 pages $16.95 (paperback), $9.95 (Kindle) Reviewed by Julie R. Dargis (Morocco 1984-87) • When Eileen Flanagan arrived in Botswana in 1984, “the same year that Apple introduced the Macintosh and Daryl Hannah starred in Splash with Tom Hanks,” global warming had yet to hit the global scene. Yet, that same year, as I arrived to my Peace Corps site in the south of Morocco, the population had been experiencing a severe drought. So much so, when the rains finally came with abandon, my students rejoiced for days. Twenty-five years later, as a result of global warming, Flanagan would be reporting similar news from her village in Botswana. Flanagan had entered the village of Bobonong atop a dusty road, rattling past round huts of mud and dung in a rusted-out Ford pickup . . .

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RPCV Anita Datar killed in Mali Attack

The Washington Post is reporting that the only American killed in the Mali terror attack was RPCV Anita Datar. Here is the link to read the Post report: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/anita-datar-was-the-only-american-killed-in-mali-she-was-there-to-help/2015/11/20/70e0b0aa-8fe6-11e5-ae1f-af46b7df8483_story.html From the report: “When she was in her early 20s, Anita Datar spent two years in Africa, serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal. She was on the continent again, this time in Mali, on Friday, when gunmen seized a luxury hotel and killed at least 20 people. Datar, a 41-year-old international development worker from Takoma Park, Md., is the only American known to have died in the attack.” Thanks to the National Peace Corps Association for posting this on their Facebook page, where I first read about it.

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Peace Corps Volunteers and Staff Safe in Mali

From Peace Corps Twitter– “All Peace Corps Mali Volunteers and Staff are safe and accounted for. PC Mali has eyes on all Volunteers (and/or direct voice contact with them). We are in communication with the Embassy and will keep Volunteers and Staff updated of the security situation in Bamako.” There is a Peace Corps contingent in Mali. From the Peace Corps website: http://www.peacecorps.gov/volunteer/learn/wherepc/africa/mali/ “There are 39 Peace Corps Volunteers in Mali working with their communities on projects in community economic development and health. During their service in Mali, Volunteers learn to speak local languages, including Bambara, French, Malinke, Minianka, and Senoufou. More than 2,645 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in Mali since the program was established in 1971.”

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More on Peace Corps Fantasies–Women in the Agency

Dr. Geidel spends a chapter on the role of women in the early days of the agency, i.e., the ’60s. In particular she singles out associate director and also deputy director of the agency, Warren Wiggins, author (with Bill Josephson) “A Towering Task,” quoting from his speeches and from his staff meetings. She picks up lines given in talk, and comments made by men around the senior staff meetings to make her point that the Peace Corps was sexist back in the ’60s. Geidel has done her homework. She has gone to the files stored in boxes at the Kennedy Library in Boston and those old files at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland. She cannot be faulted for her research. However, it the way she spins, edited, and presents her findings that I find fault with. Having been around in the ’60s, having served with women in Ethiopia, . . .

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What Is IN Peace Corps Fantasies? Chapter by Chapter

Dr. Molly Geidel’s book has six chapters. The first three chapters explore how the 1960s Peace Corps “embodied a radicalized, gendered vision of modernity that linked economic integration to freedom, frontier masculinity, and global brotherhood.” (If you ever wondered why you hate academic writing, now you know.) Chapter 1 examines Peace Corps “architects’ deployment of the gendered anxieties and fantasies of postwar social science in the conception, formation, staffing, and early volunteer recruitment efforts of the agency.” The second chapter “attempts to understand how the Peace Corps inaugurated and codified new models for relating to racial and cultural others, using modernization doctrines to revise the romantic-racist vision of rebel masculinity that captured the popular imagination in the 1950s. The third chapter turns to the women in the 1960s Peace Corps, analyzing fictional texts about “Peace Corps girls” alongside memoirs and other nonfiction accounts by and about women volunteers. “Here I . . .

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