Archive - February 2020

1
Women Were No Part of the “Mad Men” in the Early Peace Corps
2
“Who wants to be the one tenth of a Volunteer?”
3
Peace Corps Is Vigilant In Monitoring Coronavirus
4
Review — BE STEADFAST by Bryan J. Meeker (Sierra Leone)
5
RPCV Charles Kastner (Seychelles) at New York RunCenter
6
Review — QUEEN OF HEARTS edited by Leita Kaldi Davis (Senegal)
7
Review — FLORIDA LOST AND FOUND by Fran Palmeri (Benin)
8
Milly Taylor’s New Novel (Ethiopia)
9
China Peace Corps Evacuated Safely
10
Harvard Students Want to Keep Former PC Director Gearan “In House”

Women Were No Part of the “Mad Men” in the Early Peace Corps

Contrary to some myths, Peace Corps Washington was not a government version of “Mad Men.” writes Joanne Roll (Colombia 1963-65) yesterday in her blog item. Sorry Joanne. I have to disagree. The Peace Corps (like other government agencies at the time was made up of  “mad men”.) In the third year of the Peace Corps–1963–a booklet was published by the agency entitled “Who’s Who in the Peace Corps Washington.” Here is a photo in those early years of a Senior Staff Meeting with Shriver at the head of the table. A list of the top 40 employees were profiled in this booklet. Only three profiles were of women: Alice Gilbert (Director of the Division of United Nations and International Agency Programs); Ruth Olson (Special Assistant to the Chief of the Division of Volunteer Field Support); Dorothy Mead Jacobsen (Chief of the Division of Personnel). There was also a list of  . . .

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“Who wants to be the one tenth of a Volunteer?”

     “A Towering Task” producter Alana de Joseph asked that question as we tried to decipher how many actual Volunteers were serving from Colorado when Peace Corps did its annual count September 2019. Was this the simplest of requests?  Not exactly.  Only the top 20 states with serving Volunteers were listed on the Peace Corps home page. And then, only certain of these states were awarded an actual number. Colorado was not among them. Instead, Colorado was listed as having 4.1 Volunteers for each 100,000 in population, prompting Alana’s question. (https://www.peacecorps.gov/news/library/peace-corps-announces-2019-top-volunteer-producing-states/)   If I could have decoded that statistic, I would have majored in Physics and not Political Science. Using my Poli Sci degree, I realized we could just ask our Senator.  Within a day, Senator Gardner’s office reported Colorado had 192 serving Volunteers as of September 2019.  But all of this  reminded me of Peace Corps Worldwide’s publisher, Marian . . .

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Peace Corps Is Vigilant In Monitoring Coronavirus

Peace Corps describes  efforts to make sure all serving Volunteers and Staff are safe as the Coronavirus Outbreak continues.  Here is the latest press release: “https://www.peacecorps.gov/news/library/peace-corps-monitoring-coronavirus-outbreak/ “WASHINGTON – Since the outbreak was first reported in early January, the Peace Corps has been closely monitoring the coronavirus with the State Department Bureaus of Medical Affairs and Diplomatic Security, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization, to safeguard volunteers and staff at Peace Corps posts around the world. Peace Corps medical officers are communicating with volunteers on how to mitigate the risks of exposure, and an interdisciplinary working group is working closely with overseas posts to track and analyze the impact on the agency and to ensure an effective and timely response. Each Peace Corps program has developed specific protocols for the coronavirus that have been included in their Emergency Action Plans. Volunteers are thoroughly trained in . . .

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Review — BE STEADFAST by Bryan J. Meeker (Sierra Leone)

    Be Steadfast: A Peace Corps Volunteer Journey in Sierra Leone By Bryan J. Meeker (Sierra Leone 2011-13) 361 pages CreateSpace March 2019 $9.99 (paperback) Reviewed by D.W. Jefferson (El Salvador 1974–76; Costa Rica 1976–77) • Where to begin? Bryan Meeker has written a wonderful memoir of his Peace Corps service in Sierra Leone. I’ll start with a synopsis from the back cover: “Be Steadfast” is a deeply personal memoir of a Peace Corps volunteer’s service in Sierra Leone. Absent during the decade-long devastating conflict, the Peace Corps returned in 2010 as a symbol of unity and progress. While the Peace Corps had worked in Sierra Leone for decades before the war, many of the traditions and cultural norms changed, leaving these new volunteers to forge brave new paths. Being a volunteer is a transformative experience, expressed in this work with honesty and with an immense amount of love. Not . . .

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RPCV Charles Kastner (Seychelles) at New York RunCenter

  Join author Charles B. Kastner to discuss the history of African-American runners through the lens of his new book, Race Across America. About this Event Join author Charles B. Kastner (Seychelles 1980-82) to discuss the history of African-American runners through the lens of Charles’ new book, Race Across America: Eddie Gardner and the Great Bunion Derbies. A book selling and signing will be held after the discussion. About Race Across America: Eddie Gardner and the Great Bunion Derbies Anyone who roots for the underdog — the guy trying to do something in spite of impossible odds — should read Race Across America. It shows that human limitations are there to be broken and speaks to the untapped potential for human achievement that rests within each of us. It also puts a spotlight on the heroism of one of Seattle’s greatest endurance athletes, Eddie “the Sheik” Gardner. In the late 1920s, Gardner competed in two . . .

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Review — QUEEN OF HEARTS edited by Leita Kaldi Davis (Senegal)

    Queen of Hearts: The Story of Anna Sipl Meyers Edited by Leita Kaldi Davis (Senegal 1993–96), Anna Sipl Meyers (Author) Self-published July 2018 248 pages $20.00 (paperback) Reviewed by D.W. Jefferson (El Salvador 1974-76 & Costa Rica 1976-77) • This is a life story worthy of a Horatio Alger novel, except that it is autobiographical rather than fiction, and the hero, Anna Sipl Meyers, continues her story after achieving her initial goal of owning a Las Vegas hotel and casino. In fact her ups and downs as a hotel and casino owner are among the most fascinating parts of her life story. The book is based on two years of interviews conducted by Claytee D. White, Director of the Oral History Research Center at UNLV (University of Nevada Las Vegas) Libraries. RPCV Leita Kaldi Davis organized the interviews and edited them into a book which is conversational, well organized, and . . .

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Review — FLORIDA LOST AND FOUND by Fran Palmeri (Benin)

    Florida Lost and Found: Nature in the Changing Landscape By Fran Palmeri (Benin 1967-68) Green Pilgrimage Press 200 pages January 2020 $29.98 (paperback) Reviewed by Leita Kaldi Davis (Senegal 1993-96) • Fran Palmeri and her husband Bob, who was with the USIA, were assigned to  Dahomey (now Benin) in 1967/68. When Sam Stokes, the Peace Corps Country Director, and Sam Longsworth, the Assistant Director came to Cotonou, the capital, to set up the Peace Corps program, Fran was there to help them. Volunteers arrived several months later.  “They were young and idealistic,” says Fran. “It was an exciting time to be in Africa. Many new countries had come into existence very recently, including Dahomey. It was an exciting time to be with the Peace Corps which also was relatively new.” Fran had been working in Washington for the Navy department as assistant editor of a magazine, and was . . .

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Milly Taylor’s New Novel (Ethiopia)

  Mildred D. Taylor (Ethiopia 1965-67) was an early PCV to the town of Yirgalem in Southern Ethiopia. She was in the Fifth Group of Volunteers, having trained at Utah. As a former Volunteer she has had a remarkable career as a novelist, publishing nine novels, including the 1976 Roll of Thunder, Heart My Cry, published by Dial Press that won the 1977 Newberry Award. This new novel, published last month, is entitled All The Days Past, All The Days To Come is a sweeping saga of the Mississippi Logan family that comes to a compelling conclusion. It is the story of Cassie Logan who we first meet as a eight-year-old and she is a witness to the now-historic events of the century: the Great Migration north, relentless racism of postwar America, the rise of the Civil Rights Movements, and the often violent confrontations that brought about change. The book . . .

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China Peace Corps Evacuated Safely

February 5, 2020 WASHINGTON – Due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and related school closures and travel constraints, all Peace Corps China volunteers were safely evacuated out of the country, the Peace Corps announced today, February 5. The 139 volunteers will close their service. The evacuation of current volunteers follows a recent decision by the Peace Corps to graduate its China program. Since Peace Corps China began in 1993, approximately 1,300 volunteers have worked alongside educators at more than 140 Chinese colleges, universities and technical schools to strengthen English language learning. “My heart goes out to the extraordinary volunteers and staff who are participating in the Close of Service conference and preparing for the next steps in their lives,” said Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen. “I am proud of their hard work and strong commitment to this program, which brought our two countries closer together and gave Chinese students and . . .

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Harvard Students Want to Keep Former PC Director Gearan “In House”

Harvard Solicits Nominations for Permanent Winthrop Deans Amid Student Calls to Keep Interim Leaders Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana announced the next stages of the search for new Winthrop House faculty deans in an email to Winthrop residents Tuesday. By Juliet E. Isselbacher and Declan J. Knieriem, Crimson Staff Writers Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana announced the next stages of the search for new Winthrop House faculty deans in an email to Winthrop residents Tuesday. In his email, Khurana said the College would soon begin accepting nominations for faculty dean candidates, a process he called a “critical first step.” Current interim faculty deans Mark D. Gearan ’78 and Mary Herlihy-Gearan have led the House since August, following the College’s decision to not renew former Winthrop faculty deans Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr. and Stephanie R. Robinson’s contract amid a controversy over Sullivan’s decision to represent Hollywood producer and accused sexual abuser Harvey Weinstein. Gearan and Herlihy-Gearan wrote in . . .

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