Archive - March 2020

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The Death of Idealism and Anti-Politics in the Peace Corps
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YouTube from The New Yorker: Coronavirus Evacuates Peace Corps Volunteers
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Review: ¿ERES TU? by Frank Tainter (Chile)
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From today’s NY Times (3/25)
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RPCV Courtney Eker writes “Devastated, not fired” (Panama)
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Paul Theroux Reviews “A Towering Task” (Malawi)
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Two Items Of Interest to RPCVs
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To the friends and family of recently evacuated Peace Corps volunteers — Katie Hamlin (Madagascar)
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Chicago Tribune interviewed evacuated PCVs . . . The Miami Herald has published the article
10
Peace Corps Volunteer comedy series — “Lost in Moldova”

The Death of Idealism and Anti-Politics in the Peace Corps

The Death of Idealism Development and Anti-Politics in the Peace Corps by Meghan Elizabeth Kallman Columbia University Press 320 pages $24.48 (Kindle), $110.00 (Hardback), $28.00 (paperback) April 21, 2020     Meghan Elizabeth Kallman is an assistant professor at the School for Global Inclusion and Social Development at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She is coauthor of The Third Sector: Community Organizations, NGOs, and Nonprofits (2016) and an elected official in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. A case study of the conflict between professionalization and idealism in the Peace Corps. Shows how organizational practices affect people’s ideas and values in ways that have long lasting consequences for their lives and careers. Based on interviews with over 140 current and returned Peace Corps volunteers, brings a new perspective on how people lose their idealism and why that matters. Peace Corps volunteers seem to exemplify the desire to make the world a better place. Yet . . .

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Review: ¿ERES TU? by Frank Tainter (Chile)

    ¿Eres tú?: A History of Lonquimay Frank Tainter (Chile 1964–66) Go to Publish December 2019 328 pages $17.80 (paperback), $2.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by David Mather (Chile 1968-70)   There are several reasons why I was eager to read “?Eres Tu?.”  The author and I were both forestry volunteers (different groups) in the mid to late ’60s in Chile. According to the jacket of the book, his time there, like mine, was “the most significant experience of his life.” We both ended up writing “novels” about ‘our’ Chile and both books have a young American fall in love with a campesina who was taller than most, had long black hair, and, of course, beautiful eyes. Even the consummations of the two love affairs are similar in that his takes place in a canelo(tree) grove whereas mine was in an alerce grove.  Finally, both of us used the love stories as the vehicle to demonstrate our . . .

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From today’s NY Times (3/25)

Go to the New York Times site for the article with pictures –     ‘None of Us Saw It Ending This Way’: Peace Corps Volunteers Evacuate Abruptly By Mariel Padilla for the New York Times March 25, 2020 Updated 2:12 p.m. ET • When the agency suspended all operations for the first time in its history, more than 7,000 volunteers in about 60 countries packed their bags, said their goodbyes and rushed to get home. The urgent update from the Peace Corps landed abruptly in the email inboxes of volunteers on March 15: It was time to evacuate. Miguel Garcia, a 27-year-old volunteer leader for the corps in the Dominican Republic, had just reassured someone that the corps would be staying on the job. With a sinking heart, he read the detailed instructions three times. The tears would come later. Now he had a job to do. He had 24 . . .

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RPCV Courtney Eker writes “Devastated, not fired” (Panama)

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Jim McCaffery (Ethiopia 1966-69)     Devastated, not fired March 23, 2020 by Courtney Eker (Panama) • It was 9 PM and I was sitting on a plastic lawn chair with my favorite family, barely able to communicate over the sound of loud accordion “típico” music, when my phone started buzzing out of control in my pocket. I remember thinking I did not want to take it out because I wanted to enjoy my evening, as it would be one of the last family gatherings I would have in my site before leaving the following Saturday. I was one week away from finishing my two years of service in Peace Corps Panama. I looked at the screen anyway, only to read the text, “You may pack two checked bags and one carry on. You must get on your earliest transport out of site whether . . .

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Paul Theroux Reviews “A Towering Task” (Malawi)

A Towering Task Reviewed by Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-65) “A Towering Task” puts a human face on the Peace Corps – and makes sense of its history of idealism, improvisation, politics, and at times its failings. It is the most coherent and satisfying documentary I know, of the Peace Corps, and I can’t imagine a better one. For its truth and its scope, its arc is complete – from the germ of an idea to help the world, spoken late at night by JFK on his presidential campaign, to its execution later, an Act signed into law and carried out – thousands of young women and men leaving for remote places, to teach, to advise, to inspire – and to be inspired themselves by their work. I was an early volunteer, my group was “Nyasaland III” (1963) – we went to Central Africa and saw Nyasaland become the independent republic of Malawi; . . .

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Two Items Of Interest to RPCVs

  The current issue of The New Yorker, March 30, 2020, has an article entitled, “Life on Lockdown” Forty-five days of avoiding the coronavirus in China by Peter Hessler (China 1996-98). Peter and his wife with their nine-year-old twin daughters, Ariel and Natasha, went to China in August where his next book will be set. And then came the virus. Two weeks ago Peter wrote about the China PCVs being terminated in his host country for The New Yorker. Peter Hessler joined The New Yorker as a staff writer in 2000. From 2000 until 2007, he was the magazine’s correspondent in China and, from 2011 to 2016, he was based in Cairo, where he covered the events of the Egyptian Arab Spring. His subjects have included archeology in both China and Egypt, a factory worker in Shenzhen, a garbage collector in Cairo, a small-town druggist in rural Colorado, and Chinese lingerie dealers . . .

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To the friends and family of recently evacuated Peace Corps volunteers — Katie Hamlin (Madagascar)

As seen on the Ethiopia and Eritrea RPCVs Facebook page —      To the friends and family of recently evacuated Peace Corps volunteers by Katie Hamlin (Madagascar) Midwest to Madagascar.blogspot • As most people know, this week Peace Corps worldwide made the difficult decision to evacuate and early COS (close of service) all volunteers around the world. Many of us only had a couple days to say our goodbyes while some didn’t even get the chance at all. The evacuation process isn’t easy and the processing of returning to America so abruptly is even harder. So many feelings and emotions are happening all at once along with the upcoming reverse culture shock. In general reverse culture shock is often the hardest part of people’s services and that is even when they have had time to prepare. This new group of volunteers were abruptly sent home and now we don’t . . .

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Chicago Tribune interviewed evacuated PCVs . . . The Miami Herald has published the article

For the first time, all Peace Corps volunteers are called back home: ‘It feels like a bad heartbreak’ by Grace Wong, CHICAGO TRIBUNE MARCH 22, 2020 04:00 AM Read more at the Miami Hearld website • Chicago On the eve of her one-year anniversary in the Peace Corps, 23-year-old Katie Bassett packed up the last year of her life in the northeastern Isan region of Thailand and prepared for emergency evacuation. Her last two days were filled with tearful goodbyes to teachers and students she had built deep relationships with and to her Peace Corps colleagues. She gave her blender and a three-pound bag of Sour Patch Kids to her neighbors – she had bought the candy during a recent trip home to Bourbonnais and was hoping to save it for a rainy day. Her nail polish, makeup brushes and headbands went to the girl across the street, and her game . . .

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Peace Corps Volunteer comedy series — “Lost in Moldova”

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Beatrice Hogan (Uzbekistan 1992-94) An American in Moldova: a Peace Corps volunteer is the subject of a new comedy series‎ The Calvert Journal Hi, my name is John E. Lewis, and I’m an RPCV from the Moldova III group (1995-97). I am also the creator, writer, and executive producer of the web series “Lost in Moldova”. I wrote the first few episodes while I was getting my MFA in TV and Screenwriting in LA. It’s loosely based on my own Peace Corps experience—as well as the experiences of my fellow volunteers and other RPCVs I’ve spoken to over the years. The story is about a guy named Diego, who joins the Peace Corps in a last-ditch effort to win back his ex-girlfriend. He goes expecting an exotic tropical paradise and ends up…”Lost in Moldova”. Strangely enough, while I was writing it, I ended up . . .

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