Archive - April 2020

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Your chance to see A Towering Task
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Promote the virtually screening of A Towering Task
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Peace Corps Volunteers Can Get Unemployment Benefits, Officials Say
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What about The Death of Idealism?
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One RPCV View — Elizabeth Kallman’s THE DEATH OF IDEALISM
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Talking with Meghan Elizabeth Kallman about THE DEATH OF IDEALISM
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EPCV Isabella Black: Pre-Pandemic Moments
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Peter James Caws, early Peace Corps supporter, passed away on April 20th
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“The Yang of Travel: Traveling Solo” by Mark D. Walker (Guatemala)
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Peace Corps Announces $1,500 Wellness Stipend For ERPCVS

Your chance to see A Towering Task

  First Run Features presents A TOWERING TASK The Story of the Peace Corps Virtual Theatrical Release Begins May 22 First Run Features is pleased to announce that A Towering Task: The Story of the Peace Corps will have virtual theatrical runs across the U.S. beginning May 22, 2020. After sold-out screenings at the Kennedy Center and the Denver Film Festival, numerous community screenings from Alaska to Washington, DC to Hawaii and Florida, not to mention international screenings in Colombia and Afghanistan, the film will finally be available to American cinema-goers…albeit via streaming. Directed by Alana DeJoseph and narrated by Annette Bening, the documentary features indelible interviews of current and Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, current and former staff, scholars and journalists, community members and leaders around the world (including Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf). Remarkable archival materials and stunning footage from around the globe by cinematographer Vanessa Carr bring to life an agency that . . .

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Promote the virtually screening of A Towering Task

Now, more than ever, Peace Corps needs to be kept in the public eye. RPCV Alana de Joseph, Producer of the Peace Corps Documentary, A Towering Task,  has a request. “RPCVs and friends of the Peace Corps can now approach their local movie theaters to virtually screen A Towering Task. Here is the link that can be sent to movie theaters: https://firstrunfeatures.activehosted.com/index.php?action=social&chash=5f2c22cb4a5380af7ca75622a6426917.912&s=f7dd23ab00b1845d65665ab7eef54a0a It’s a great way to support a local business and at the same time get the story out about the Peace Corps.”

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Peace Corps Volunteers Can Get Unemployment Benefits, Officials Say

Peace Corps Volunteers Can Get Unemployment Benefits, Officials Say New York Times By Mariel Padilla Published April 28, 2020 Updated April 29, 2020,  In previous years, returned volunteers were not eligible for unemployment benefits, but they will now be covered by the coronavirus relief plan. A mother welcoming her daughter home after she served one year with the Peace Corps and finished a two-week quarantine.Credit…Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press Peace Corps volunteers and other national service participants who lost their positions during the coronavirus pandemic will now be eligible for unemployment benefits as part of the $2 trillion economic relief plan, according to guidance released by the Department of Labor this week. In previous years, people returning from serving with the Peace Corps were not eligible for regular unemployment benefits because the Department of Labor considered them volunteers who were not in a legal employee-employer relationship. But the pandemic has caused the Peace Corps to temporarily suspend . . .

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What about The Death of Idealism?

  What about The Death of Idealism by John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962-64) • Meghan Kallman did do some research. Of the 240,000 + PCVs & RPCVs she managed to get 140 Vols to interview. She also sent a questionnaire to approximately 2,000 RPCVs. So, she had information on the Peace Corps from 1/2% of 1% of all PCVs over the last 59 years. That done, and the few books she listed as having read, plus, I’m sure, her brief touring of three third world countries, visiting PCVs and Peace Corps Staff made her, she believed, qualified to write a book about the Peace Corps published by a major university press. Good for you, Meghan! She did quote one of the architects of the agency, Harris Wofford . . . once. She also quoted Shriver . . .once. No one else among the founders who created the agency in 30 days . . .

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One RPCV View — Elizabeth Kallman’s THE DEATH OF IDEALISM

  The Death of Idealism: Development and Anti-Politics in the Peace Corps by Meghan Elizabeth Kallman (NPCV) Columbia University Press 293 pages April 2020 $28.00 (paperback); $15.39 (kindle); $110.00 (hardback) • ONE RPCVs VIEW Marnie Mueller (Ecuador 1963-65) As I read Meghan Elizabeth Kallman’s book, THE DEATH OF IDEALISM: Development and Anti-Politics in the Peace Corps, all I could think was, of course, idealism was challenged by the experience of being in the Peace Corps. It should have been, if you accept the definition of Idealism as: the practice of forming or pursuing an ideal unrealistically, as in the idealism of youth. Kallman’s book is an erudite, complex treatise on the many ways that idealism was “killed” in Peace Corps Volunteers over the organization’s six-decade history. I’m afraid I can only speak for myself and a few others of my early 1960s cohort in this review, a microcosm in relation to . . .

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Talking with Meghan Elizabeth Kallman about THE DEATH OF IDEALISM

    Meghan Elizabeth Kallman is a graduate of Smith College with an MA from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. from Brown. She lives in Pawtucket, RI where she is on the City Council, and where she lives with her husband Tim. (Neither of them were PCVs.) She is also an assistant professor at the School for Global Inclusion and Social Development at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. The Death of Idealism: Development and Anti-Politics in the Peace Corps is Meghan’s second academic book. It was published this April by Columbia University Press in New York. In her acknowledgment, she writes, “I deeply, deeply appreciate the many Peace Corps volunteers and staff who permitted me to sit in, take notes, observe, pry, and explore their experiences and their gatherings. In giving me access, you gave me a gift.” In her book, Meghan mentions that she visited three . . .

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EPCV Isabella Black: Pre-Pandemic Moments

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Dale Gilles (Liberia 1964-67)     When Life Felt Normal: Your Pre-Pandemic Peace Corps Moments New York Times, 4/25/2020 Readers share memories, images and videos from before the coronavirus became a pandemic, and reflect on what they mean now. . An early return home Isabella Black Reston, VAI   After my evacuation and termination from the Peace Corps, I feel for what could have been. We prepared for two years of service in Senegal, but we got only a moment of our host families, the language, the service, and the country. We had just begun training on how we could help to facilitate community economic development when we received word we had to go home. We had the chance to meet community leaders, families, and facilitators who were so eager for our continued service in the country. To return home so early from what I . . .

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Peter James Caws, early Peace Corps supporter, passed away on April 20th

    Peter James Caws never worked at the Peace Corps but he was an important person to help the agency in its early days. Late in 1962, when Pat Kennedy, first director of the Division of Volunteer Support (DVS),  began to think about how to support Volunteers when they were completing the service. Pat wanted to create a Career Information Service, but the new agency did not have money to establish such an office. Pat decided to look outside the government for funding. At the time Peter Caws, a British citizen, was at the Carnegie Corporation in New York. Pat went to meet Caws, who had his Ph.D. in philosophy from Yale and was an officer at the corporation. Caws liked Kennedy’s idea for helping returning Volunteers, knowing that many RPCVs would be entering graduate studies. Caws convinced Carnegie to give the agency $100,000 to establish the Career Center . . .

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“The Yang of Travel: Traveling Solo” by Mark D. Walker (Guatemala)

The Yang of Travel: Traveling Solo by Mark D. Walker (Guatemala 1971–73)   • “What is life but a series of inspired follies? The difficulty is to find them to do. Never lose a chance: it doesn’t come every day.” –George Bernard Shaw, Pygmalion   I began my global journey in the early ’70s as a Peace Corps Volunteer, training in Ponce, Puerto Rico. What better way to see the world and learn a new language than join the Peace Corps? A lifetime of travel would change me radically as well as those around me. But over the years my decisions on what and how to travel would be changed by the relationship with my wife Ligia. This dynamic was best reflected by the symbol of “Yin & Yang” where a balance is struck between two opposites. The one life lesson I’d come away with as a Peace Corps Volunteer was . . .

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Peace Corps Announces $1,500 Wellness Stipend For ERPCVS

  The advocacy efforts of  the NPCA and the RPCV Community on behalf of the evacuated Volunteers have been successful. https://www.peacecorps.gov/news/library/peace-corps-announces-wellness-stipend-evacuated-volunteers/?fbclid=IwAR1cXq7iOjaLIOqonbXs1MmWJecopuw6AI6SxWXyR1u_cWo81aw_QEXkY6s April 22, 2020 WASHINGTON – Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen announced the agency will provide additional financial support to the 7,000 volunteers and trainees who were evacuated from their posts last month due to the COVID-19 outbreak. “Our volunteers returned to the United States during a very challenging time, so I am pleased to announce this $1,500 wellness stipend,” said Director Olsen. “We are able to provide this one-time stipend thanks to the strong support of the Administration and Congress, which recently authorized a supplemental appropriation for the Peace Corps to cover costs associated with the evacuations and post-service benefits for volunteers.” The new stipend is intended to help returned volunteers and trainees cover near-term health and wellness costs. These funds will be provided in addition to the evacuation . . .

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