Archive - October 2020

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“Volunteer and Former Volunteer Future Health Care Issues”
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“Americans Helped My Family Emigrate From Iran. That Kindness Is What Makes This Country Great”
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Review — UNDER CONSTRUCTION: TECHNOLOGIES OF DEVELOPMENT IN URBAN ETHIOPIA by Daniel Mains (Ethiopia)
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“Bookmarks: Two Peace Corps Memoirs” by Craig Storti (Morocco)
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The group Decolonizing Peace Corps has started a petiton on the website Change. org
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“6 Reasons We Need to Reform the Peace Corps” by Tyler Anne Donohue (Tanzania)
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Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras) NEIGHBORS: ORAL HISTORY FROM MADERA CALIFORNIA, VOL.2
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RPCV initiative tops $1 Million in Microloans (Colombia)
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Memories of serving as last Peace Corps/Korea Director
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“Order and Progress: A Brazilian Peace Corps Saga” by Jack Epstein and Chuck Fortin

“Volunteer and Former Volunteer Future Health Care Issues”

  by Bill Josephson (PC/Washington 1961-66) The adequacy of health care for Peace Corps volunteers and former Peace Corps volunteers who have service connected health issues seems to be a recurrent and unresolved problem.  The following thoughts are based on memories from 1961 to 1966, and I’ve made no effort to fact check those memories. The early Peace Corps was fortunate in respect of its healthcare staff because Selective Service still existed, and as the Vietnam War began in 1965, Selective Service became an even more important source of physicians. A plan that I recall as the “Berry Plan” enabled physicians to meet their Selective Service obligations through public health and similar medical assignments in the public interest. This meant that the early Peace Corps was virtually assured of the availability of high-quality medical staff both overseas and in Washington. Moreover, the first Peace Corps medical director, whom I recall . . .

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“Americans Helped My Family Emigrate From Iran. That Kindness Is What Makes This Country Great”

  by Behrooz Alexander Moghaddam Hartford Courtant October 26, 2020 My first taste of American greatness was peanut butter. It was in 1965 or so, in Urmia, my hometown in northwest Iran. I was around 3 years old. The peanut butter was a gift from Penny and Richard, two of a handful of Peace Corps volunteers who worked in Urmia in the 1960s. Since President Donald Trump was elected, I have thought a lot about that gift of peanut butter and our president’s slogan, “Make America Great Again.” Had Trump’s policies existed when I was a child, I would not be who or what I am. My immigrant family would have failed our president’s admission test on all possible counts. We were poor, only one of us spoke passable English when we arrived in the U.S., and we were from a Muslim country. Thankfully, in 1969, and at least until . . .

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Review — UNDER CONSTRUCTION: TECHNOLOGIES OF DEVELOPMENT IN URBAN ETHIOPIA by Daniel Mains (Ethiopia)

  Under Construction: Technologies of Development in Urban Ethiopia By Daniel Mains (Ethiopia 1998-99) Duke University Press 240 pages September 2019 $24.65 (Kindle); $82.49 (Hardback); $25.95 (Paperback) Reviewed by Janet Lee (Ethiopia 1974-76) • Under Construction is a scholarly work about the intersection of various forms of technological infrastructure in Ethiopia, the Ethiopian state that governs and develop the technologies, and the human element that service and should be served by the technologies. Construction projects in this study include dams, specifically GERD (the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam), Bajaj transportation, asphalt road construction, and paving stones. Under Construction is an apt title, because as the author details, these projects appear to be perpetually under construction. Mains is Wick Cary Associate Professor of Anthropology and African Studies at the University of Oklahoma and the author of Hope is Cut: Youth, Unemployment, and the Future in Urban Ethiopia (2011), a fascinating culmination of . . .

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“Bookmarks: Two Peace Corps Memoirs” by Craig Storti (Morocco)

  BOOKMARKS: TWO PEACE CORPS MEMOIRS published in The Interculturalist, a periodical of SIETAR USA Two Peace Corps Memoirs: Nine Hills to Nambonkaha by Sarah Erdman; The Ponds of Kalambayi by Mike Tidwell. Reviewed by Craig Storti (Morocco 1970-72).   The column this month is the 2nd half of a two-part look at the writings of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs). We believe that the inherently cross-cultural nature of the Peace Corps experience—hence of the books RPCVs write—will be of interest to SIETAR members, many of whom are themselves RPCVs. In the September column we looked at the website that promotes, publicizes, and in some cases publishes the work of RPCVs; in this column we review two RPCV memoirs. The Peace Corps experience is about as close as you can get to the quintessential cross-cultural experience. The core elements of a classic Peace Corps assignment—you learn the local language (often very local), you get sent to . . .

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The group Decolonizing Peace Corps has started a petiton on the website Change. org

  The RPCVs Advocates who created this movement have named the petition, “Abolish the Peace Corps.”  But, in reading the petition, I note they offer many suggestions to “reform” the Peace Corps, not to abolish it.  In this regard, they may be surprised to realize they join other  RPCVs  from earlier eras, who also wanted to improve the Peace Corps. I think it would be worthwhile to read the petition and its proposed changes, because I think it would generate  discussion.  Here is the link to the petition.  Its content has been copied and follows. Abolish Peace Corps: A Movement Toward Ending Neocolonialism in International Development The Peace Corps prides itself on being fundamentally apolitical and consistently providing humanitarian efforts around the world. This is a facade in that the Peace Corps, like all U.S. government agencies, is subjected to change due to rotations in administration, which can greatly affect . . .

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“6 Reasons We Need to Reform the Peace Corps” by Tyler Anne Donohue (Tanzania)

    The Peace Corps is a form of systematic racism, for those it claims to serve and for those who serve. The words, “systematic racism,” seem to be everywhere these days. However, it is crucial that we acknowledge that the words, “systematic racism,” do not refer to a system filled with racists. Instead, these words, refer to a system that would uphold racism and disproportionately harm and subjugate people of certain races even if no racists were present. Those leading the effort to decolonize Peace Corps, @decolonizingpc discussed systematic racism, saying that, “Even after adding more volunteers of color, more anti-racism trainings, more reforms (including the ones [they] have proposed on [their] page), Peace Corps will still be a neocolonialist organization because of the imperialistic goals of U.S. foreign policy. Which brings us to Number 2 — Soft power imperialism, such as providing financial aid or human resources for development, functions best under the pretense . . .

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Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras) NEIGHBORS: ORAL HISTORY FROM MADERA CALIFORNIA, VOL.2

  There are all sorts of history books. Some are based upon numbers from old records, others discuss ideas and some review facts. This book is based upon testimony. Called oral history, it begins with an interview which is then transcribed. . . . All subjects had the opportunity to edit factual errors and/or omissions. Numbers can offer insights. For instance, Madera has been a Hispanic town for decades. According to the 2015 U.S. Census estimate, more than three quarters of the inhabitants were Hispanic (79.8%). Nearly one third (32.2%) were born in another country and of these, the vast majority were born in Latin America. At time of this printing (2020), more than half of the population speaks Spanish or Spanish and English. Only about one third speak English only. The population is younger, less educated and much poorer than the California average.— Lawrence F. Lihosit • Neighbors: Oral History From . . .

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RPCV initiative tops $1 Million in Microloans (Colombia)

  In 2000, when 25,000 families were displaced annually by violence in Colombia, RPCVs started The Colombia Project, a loan program to help families reestablish financial independence. It soon evolved to include any marginalized community and became TCP [The Colombia Project] Global in 2015, expanding to Niger, Guatemala and Peru. In October, this 100% volunteer effort achieved a significant milestone: $1 Million in loans issued. When 7,300 Peace Corps Volunteers were evacuated worldwide in March, due to the Corona Virus, six evacuees joined the TCP Global team, bringing new energy and creativity. The program went viral, adding thirty new sites, including five introduced by evacuees who worked with their counterparts virtually to introduce micro-loan programs. TCP Global currently serves fourteen countries in Asia, Africa, and the Americas.  An average loan is $210, ranging from $50 in Niger to $698 in Peru. While the program works anywhere, TCP focuses on underserved, . . .

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Memories of serving as last Peace Corps/Korea Director

    by James Mayer (Korea 1978-81) The Korea Times Friends of Korea   No one likes to be last. But I had that distinction as the Peace Corps Korea country director, and I am forever grateful that it happened. In early 1981, Peace Corps Headquarters made the difficult decision that the Peace Corps program in Korea had to be closed due to projected budget reductions to its worldwide programs. When the Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) were told that their service in Korea would be cut short, I truly didn’t know what to expect. I told them there were two basic choices: they could choose to get angry or go out with heads held high. Frankly, I wouldn’t have blamed them for choosing either option. Nonetheless, I was truly delighted by their response. Some PCVs chose to continue their service in other countries where Peace Corps had programs. Others immediately . . .

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“Order and Progress: A Brazilian Peace Corps Saga” by Jack Epstein and Chuck Fortin

Thanks for the ‘heads up” from Leita Kaldi (Senegal 1993-96)   Our RPCVGulf Coast Florida zoomed an extraordinary presentation last Saturday with the two authors of a “Brazilian Peace Corps Saga.”  I believe it would be of interest to PCW readers.  Here are the authors’ bios and an abstract.  It’s not in book form, but is an article that will be published in Brazil. — Leita Kaldi Jack Epstein (Brazil 1968-70) received a BA in Latin American Studies from UCLA. He is the foreign wire editor for the San Francisco Chronicle. He previously headed the newspaper’s foreign service department, overseeing coverage by freelancers and stringers from Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. In 1993, he moved to Rio de Janeiro where he worked until 1999 primarily for the Associated Press and TIME magazine. Charles Fortin (Brazil 1968-70) earned his doctoral degree through the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Sussex . . .

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