Archive - 2019

1
Peter Hessler’s New Book on Egypt (China)
2
RPCV Writer Hits it Big (Kenya)
3
Afghanistan, First Peace Corps Staff
4
PCV Care Packages
5
Big data is Peace Corps’ ticket to renewed policy relevance (and mojo) (Malawi)
6
Charles Nelson, Program Development and Coordination
7
Campus Recruitment–Those Were the Days!
8
Original Staff at the Peace Corps, 1961 (Part Two)
9
Being in the Peace Corps is Mentally Exhausting
10
Original Staff at the Peace Corps, 1961 (Part One)

Peter Hessler’s New Book on Egypt (China)

When Peter Hessler graduated from Princeton, he went to England as a Rhodes Scholar. Finishing school, he decided in 1994 to travel home by way of China. On the Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to Beijing, via Mongolia, he observed traders carrying odd products, from speedometers to Mongolia and Russian-speaking clocks to China. He wrote an essay about his trip and sent a blind submission to The New York Times. They published his article. “It was a shock to me,” Peter recalls. “And it was first time I had been published in a newspaper.” His trip took six months, and Peter continued to write articles for publication. An essay about camping on the Great Wall of China appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer; he then wrote a humorous piece about eating ice cream in Vietnam. These short essays would be his first small steps into a publishing career. “My initial trip around the world taught . . .

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RPCV Writer Hits it Big (Kenya)

Today, Tuesday, January 15, 2019, Kristen Roupenian (Kenya 2003-05) first collection of short stories You Know You Want This is being published by Gallery/Scout Press. It has been named one of the most anticipated books of 2019 by Vogue, Huffpost, Entertainment Weekly,and Kirkus Review among others. Kristen Roupenian, who graduated from Barnard College, holds a PhD in English from Harvard, as well as an MFA from the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan. Her short story, “Cat Person,” published in The New Yorker late in 2017 went viral amid the growing #MetToo movement and made Kristen an overnight writer sensation. We have written about Kristen previously on this site at: http://peacecorpsworldwide.org/pcv-writer-cat-person-authors-bad-date-story-and-her-date-with-fame-kenya/ Kristen had finished most of this collection of short stories when it sold in a $1.3 million two-book deal the week after “Cat Person” was published. Now HBO is developing an anthology project, according to Ellen Gamerman in an . . .

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Afghanistan, First Peace Corps Staff

Robert Steiner, the only Vermonter at the time to direct a Peace Corps program overseas, insists that “Afghans are like Vermonters—both are proud, independent and frugal.” He notes that they are generally wary of foreigners, including, sometimes, Peace Corps Volunteers. “Afghanistan has only recently known foreigners other than invading armies,” he points out. “Experience has taught them to be wary—to see a foreigner in their country for other than military purposes is to many of them a novelty.” Information about the Peace Corps was first brought to Afghanistan by Cleo Shook, a Peace Corps program officer with extensive experience in that nation. On a two-month visit which began in December, 1961, Shook was told that Afghanistan wanted Volunteers. Afghan caution, however, resulted in a limited program—the nine Volunteers who arrived in Afghanistan on September 6, 1962, to inaugurate the program were all assigned to work in the capital city of . . .

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Big data is Peace Corps’ ticket to renewed policy relevance (and mojo) (Malawi)

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Dan Campbell (El Salvador 1974-77) • Big data is Peace Corps’ ticket to renewed policy relevance (and mojo) by Michael Buckler, opinion contributor — 01/10/19 The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of the hill Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen recently spoke at the Center for Strategic and International Studies about the future of the iconic agency under her watch. As a former Peace Corps teacher in Malawi (2006-08), I was struck by Director Olsen’s honesty regarding the agency’s need to “demonstrate results” in addition to sharing “wonderful” stories. Director Olsen framed Peace Corps as a “strategic point in longer-term development efforts,” with volunteers providing “data points” to development partners such as USAID. These words suggest a seismic shift for a staunchly qualitative agency searching for relevancy in an increasingly quantitative world. Director Olsen appeared to identify Congress as the catalyst: “the Hill . . .

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Charles Nelson, Program Development and Coordination

This division developed general guidelines and policies for program development and operations and recommends the allocation of resources among regions and types of projects. It developed and negotiated all project proposals which were interregional in scope. Charles Nelson worked his way through Lincoln University with the usual college jobs—washing dishes, working as a library researcher—and one of the marked distinction—making corn flakes during the summers at the Kellogg’s factory in his home town of Battle Creek, Michigan.   After graduating in the social and behavioral sciences, Nelson went through Officers Candidate School in the Army and was assigned in 1942 to a tank-destroyer battalion with which he landed at Omaha Beach in France after D-day. The battalion participated in three European campaigns as it rolled across France, Germany and Austria. The advance ended at Innsbruck where at the end of the war Nelson moved into the military government, serving as . . .

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Original Staff at the Peace Corps, 1961 (Part Two)

The Peace Corps’ original executive secretary was Bradley Patterson Jr., who had been one of the State Department’s veteran executive secretaries. A mountain climber by avocation, Patterson helped set up the first Cabinet secretariat and then served as assistant secretary to the Cabinet under President Eisenhower, where his performance led to  his receiving the Arthur S. Flemming Award for 1960. His duties have taken him to international conferences and to George Washington University, where he lectured on public administration. He left the Peace Corps to become special assistant to the Secretary of the Treasury. The man who set up the Medical Division was Dr. Lee J. Gehrig, an honor graduate of the University of Minnesota Medical School and veteran surgeon with the U.S. Public Health Service. Part of his career was spent roaming Alaska in a campaign against tuberculosis and part on the high seas—as ship’s physician aboard the three-masted . . .

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Original Staff at the Peace Corps, 1961 (Part One)

The first face that the visitor to Peace Corps headquarters usually saw belonged to receptionist Helene Farrall. Helene, who studied at the University of Maryland and had worked for the American Friends of the Middle East. She wa born and raised in Faulkner, Md. and she still lived there. Her dedication to the Peace Corps was shown by the fact that she undertook a daily commute of 45 miles in each direction.       John D. Rockefeller IV, was a Far East program officer in charge of the Philippines and North Borneo/Sarawak. Previously he was special assistant to the Director and ran the talent search. “Jay” went to Harvard, his travelled widely throughout Asia, did postgraduate study in Chinese affairs at Yale, and spent three Peace Corps-type years as a student and teacher in a Japanese university. He has written on Japanese affairs for both the New York Times magazine and Life. . . .

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