Archive - 2016

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VERMONT RANKS AS PEACE CORPS’ TOP VOLUNTEER-PRODUCING STATE IN 2016
2
Making Lemonade In The Maiatico Building, Part 7
3
Making Lemonade In The Maiatico Building, Part 6
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Brian Forde (Nicaragua): Tech can reshape the U.S. Peace Corps and bridge political divides
5
Making Lemonade In The Maiatico Building–Part 5
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“Is It Folly to Be Wise” by Janet Mulgannon Del Castillo (Colombia)
7
“2016 — The Year of the Creepy Clown” by Susan O’Neill (Venezuela)
8
Making Lemonade In The Maiatico Building, Part 4
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Making Lemonade In The Maiatico Building, Part 3
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Writing from Mongolia, PCV Sally LaRue

VERMONT RANKS AS PEACE CORPS’ TOP VOLUNTEER-PRODUCING STATE IN 2016

Vermont Ranks As Peace Corps’ Top Volunteer-Producing State in 2016 WASHINGTON. D.C., Dec. 20, 2016 – Today, Peace Corps announced that Vermont ranks No.1 among states with the highest number of Peace Corps volunteers per capita for the fourth consecutive year. Fifty-two (52) volunteers from the Green Mountain State are currently serving worldwide, with a ratio of 8.3 volunteers for every 100,000 residents, the highest per capita rate in the nation. Meanwhile, the Burlington-South Burlington area ranks No. 2 among metropolitan areas with the highest number of volunteers per capita, with 18 area residents currently serving overseas. It has ranked in the top five volunteer-producing metropolitan areas per capita since 2013. “During my time leading the Peace Corps, I have seen the tremendous impact that volunteers have when they share their unique hometown perspectives with the communities they serve,” said Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet. “Volunteers represent our nation’s rich diversity by . . .

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Making Lemonade In The Maiatico Building, Part 7

What continues to surprise me is how few people–since that morning in the Mayflower Hotel–have read “A Towering Task” the policy paper written by Wiggins and Josephson. The document was the first draft of defining the Peace Corps; it was in some ways the Holy Grail of the agency. When I asked Warren Wiggins about this, he commented wryly, “It’s marvelous that nobody has read it because, you see, in most ways I didn’t know what the hell I was talking about. In some ways I was dead on, but I did recommend that we ship air-conditioned trailers to the Philippines to house the Volunteers. It’s a far cry from the theology of the Peace Corps that evolved, but then, those were the early days.” What is clear now from the safety of time and distance is that being anti-establishment, amateurish, anti-professional was the reason for the success of the Peace . . .

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Making Lemonade In The Maiatico Building, Part 6

The question in 1961 at the Maiatico Building was: would anyone apply to the Peace Corps? Could the United States produce enough Americans of high quality and character to make the Peace Corps successful? Between March 1 and June 1, 1961, after the Peace Corps preliminary policies were set, approximately 10,000 Americans filled out and mailed in Peace Corps applications. From June to December 31, 1961, Americans volunteered at the rate of 1,000 per month. In those early months, the Peace Corps made little effort to attract Volunteers, preferring to wait until it had a clear mandate from the Congress both in terms of authorization and appropriation. That mandate came on September 22, 1961. With bipartisan national endorsement, the Peace Corps took the initiative in explaining its program and the opportunities for Peace Corps service. October and November 1961 were taken up in preparing an adequate public information and public . . .

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Brian Forde (Nicaragua): Tech can reshape the U.S. Peace Corps and bridge political divides

Brian Forde (Nicaragua 2003-05) co-founded the Digital Currency Initiative at the MIT Media Lab and was formerly a senior advisor at The White House.  Today he is co-founded the Digital Currency Initiative at the MIT Media Lab. • Earlier this week, President-elect Trump met with some of the top leaders of American tech companies. Some of these leaders are trying to find common ground after being on the receiving end of some of his sharp-worded tweets. Like many of my friends in the tech community, I’m faced with the reality of a Trump presidency and searching for a way to honor the calls of President Obama and Secretary Clinton for national unity and a chance for the president-elect to lead. My struggle comes from looking for common ground with a president-elect whose policy goals I largely do not support but recognizing from my time working in the Obama White House just how ineffective obstructionist politics . . .

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Making Lemonade In The Maiatico Building–Part 5

Scratch any RPCV or PCV and they’ll tell you the three goals of the Peace Corps. While the wording varies from one publication to the next, these are the goals: (1) Contribute to the development of critical countries and regions; (2) Promote international cooperation and goodwill toward the country; (3) Contribute to the education of America and to more intelligent American participation in the world.  Now, those are the stated goals, and I know that they have been tweaked with by staff and PCVs over the last 50 years. For example, “living at the level of the HCNs” is often stated as Goal # 2. But the question is, who came up with these goals and why three? Well, at the famous Mayflower Hotel in the winter months of 1961 when the task force of Shriver/Wofford/Wiggins/Josephson and a handful of others began to draft the proposal to give JFK that would define . . .

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“Is It Folly to Be Wise” by Janet Mulgannon Del Castillo (Colombia)

  IS IT FOLLY TO BE WISE? by Janet Mulgannon Del Castillo (Colombia 1964–66) A GREAT ADVANTAGE OF BEING YOUNG is that one has no fear. Young adults are so devoid of knowledge and life experience that they have no concept of failure. I was 19 years old when I went to Colombia, South America, to save the world. I was in the Peace Corps and President Kennedy’s words rang in my ears. “Ask not what your country can do for you — but what you can do for your country!” There I was, in the tiny town of Buena Vista, enlightening the villagers on what latrines were for, how to construct them, and how to use them. The irony was that I had had little knowledge of where water came from or how toilets even flushed before I arrived. But I sure knew how to build a latrine! One sweltering morning . . .

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“2016 — The Year of the Creepy Clown” by Susan O’Neill (Venezuela)

  2016 — The Year of the Creepy Clown by Susan Kramer O’Neill (Venezuela 1973–74 • IT STARTED WITH RANDOM GUYS who showed up in public places, their very presence disturbing the peace. Rumors flew that some attempted to entrap children. I doubt they accomplished it. Children are smarter than adults; they know to be wary of the white face, the painted grin, gigantic feet and orange hair. I remember one picture: a lone clown, hands on hips, head tipped to one side, across from a rural apartment complex somewhere down south. Just standing. Watching. It creeped me out. In no time, the clowns claimed 2016. They owned it. I must add this disclaimer: There were good clowns in the year’s mix. Lovely, heartbreaking clowns. Muhammed Ali; Prince, and Bowie. Gene Wilder. The wry Zen master, Leonard Cohen. These fine clowns will be linked with 2016 only because that was . . .

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Making Lemonade In The Maiatico Building, Part 4

The Peace Corps actually ‘started’ the day after Kennedy inauguration. Kennedy telephoned Shriver and asked him to form a presidential Task Force “to report how the Peace Corps could be organized and then to organize it.” Shriver telephoned Harris Wofford and they rented two rooms for offices in the Mayflower Hotel, downtown in Washington, D.C. They were the “Task Force.” They began to call people they thought might know something about international development and living in the developing world. One name led to another. Shriver says that he had no long-term, premeditated vision of what the Peace Corps might be. “My style was to get bright, informative, creative people and then pick their brains.” The first official meeting of the Task Force was scheduled for February 6. Kennedy had requested a report from Shriver by the end of February. Shriver would later say, “I needed help badly.” On Sunday night, . . .

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Making Lemonade In The Maiatico Building, Part 3

In Shriver’s memo to Kennedy, Sarge had written, “We have submitted to your Special Counsel legal memoranda showing how the Peace Corps can be created as a program agency in the State Department within the existing Mutual Security framework….Congress can consider the program fully when it deals with the requests for specific legislation and funds for FY 1962.” Shriver and the others who had drafted this memo and come up with the “idea of a Peace Corps” saw the new agency as being within the State Department so that it “can work closely with State and ICA, drawing on their personnel, services and facilities, particularly pending reorganization of the whole foreign aid program. But the Peace Corps should be a semi-autonomous entity with its own public face. This new wine should not be poured into the old ICA bottle.” While the Band of Boys in the Mayflower Hotel thought this . . .

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Writing from Mongolia, PCV Sally LaRue

Sally LaRue is one of the first PCVs to enroll in the online MFA program at California’s National University. It is the start, I hope, of a full class of PCVs and RPCVs getting MFAs in Creative Writing from the special MFA program I’m trying to start that focuses on Peace Corps writers. This writing MFA is sponsored by Peace Corps Writers and the NPCA. I asked Sally to write a short note about how it is going for her as she is in her second year in Mongolia as a TEFL teacher in a secondary school where, she also writes, “I spend a lot of time teaching students funny dances.” Sally writes: Only two classes into the MCW program at NU, I have written more and learned more about writing than ever before. I debated for some time about the benefits of a Master’s degree in Creative Writing. Would . . .

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