Archive - December 2020

1
Alana DeJoseph (Mali) wins Best Director Award at Mumbai Film Festival
2
Another Peace Corps Rhodes Scholar — Jackson Willis (Guinea)
3
New — AMERICA’S BURIED HISTORY by Kenneth R. Rutherford (Mauritania)
4
The Towering Task Newsletter: Updates
5
New York Peace Corps recruiter established the Franklin H. Williams Award in 1999
6
2021 AIA Gold Medal Award To RPCV Edward Mazria (Peru)
7
President Trump signs legislation funding the government through September
8
A Writer Writes — Reflections from a Simpler Time (Philippines)
9
Learning the Joy of Giving in Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains
10
Christmas Greetings To All RPCVs — Thank you for reading our website — Marian, Joanne and John

Alana DeJoseph (Mali) wins Best Director Award at Mumbai Film Festival

  From 1992 to 1994 Peace Corps Volunteer Alana DeJoseph was an enterprise development advisor in a small town in Mali, West Africa, consistently one of the 10 poorest nations in the world. Being a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer she understood that as walls are being built and nations are turning inward, a comprehensive documentary of this globally engaged American agency was urgently needed. Alana says: “In a time when the American public either has a very antiquated notion of the Peace Corps, informed by an almost mythological awe of the 60s, or is not even aware that the agency still exists, it is high time to bring this unique organization back into the public discourse, to raise the level of the discussion from quaint to crucial.” Alana has worked in video and film production for nearly 40 years. She began her career as a 10-year-old actress. Since then, she . . .

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Another Peace Corps Rhodes Scholar — Jackson Willis (Guinea)

Yale Undergrad Drops Out of School For Peace Corps Response Assignment By Divya Kumar Tampa Bay Times When Jackson Willis was a junior at Yale University, he regularly scouted postings for Peace Corps positions. Many required a college degree and professional experience. One night, on a whim, he applied for an opening that excited him — to work on youth unemployment in Guinea. He didn’t expect to hear back, but the Peace Corps called to say a position had opened. Yale granted Jackson a one-year leave between his junior and senior year to serve with the Peace Corps Response working in the politically destabilizing youth unemployment crisis in Guinea, West Africa. There, his team operated the country’s leading employment incubator and small business accelerator, testing the limits of social franchising for both emergency and long-term employment gain. Willis, 24, had already signed up for his senior year classes and moved into . . .

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New — AMERICA’S BURIED HISTORY by Kenneth R. Rutherford (Mauritania)

  Despite the thousands of books published on the American Civil War, one aspect that has never received the in-depth attention it deserves is the use of landmines and their effect on the war and beyond. Kenneth R. Rutherford rectifies this oversight with America’s Buried History: Landmines in the Civil War, the first book devoted to a comprehensive analysis and history of the fascinating and important topic of landmines. Modern mechanically fused high explosive and victim-activated landmines were used for the first time in the world’s history on a widespread basis in the American Civil War. The first American to die from a victim-activated landmine was on the Virginia peninsula in early 1862 during the siege of Yorktown. The controversial weapon, which was concealed on or beneath the ground, was built for one purpose: to kill or maim enemy troops. The weapon was the brainchild of Confederate General Gabriel J. Rains, . . .

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The Towering Task Newsletter: Updates

  Dear A Towering Task family, We know it had been a few months since we last wrote, and in case you missed our recent email, we wanted to make sure you get this one. We have been very busy, as you can see from our updates below. We also have work yet to do to make sure that the story of the Peace Corps reaches far more people. It’s a story of success and challenges, of relationships and common purpose. We want to express our deepest gratitude to you and the rest of the Peace Corps community for helping us make it through this challenging year and sharing this story of the Peace Corps. Your continued support is humbling. In solidarity, Director Alana DeJoseph & the Documentary Team Updates on our documentary Click here to play the trailer Here’s a snapshot of the past few months: Over 7,000 viewers: We’re thrilled to have reached so many . . .

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New York Peace Corps recruiter established the Franklin H. Williams Award in 1999

  The Peace Corps recently awarded the 2020 Franklin H. Williams Award that honors returned Peace Corps Volunteers of color who continue the Peace Corps mission through their commitment to community service and who further support the agency’s third goal of promoting a better understanding of other peoples and the countries they served through this work. The award was named for one of the first staff of the agency, former Peace Corps regional director for Africa, and U.S. ambassador to Ghana, Franklin H. Williams. And, what many people don’t know is that while this ceremony resides at Peace Corps HQ in Washington, D.C., the very first awards were given in 1999, at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. It developed from an idea by RPCV Recruiter Leslie Jean-Pierre (Guinea 1994-96.) Leslie was a community development and health Volunteer in Guinea and he strongly believed that something . . .

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2021 AIA Gold Medal Award To RPCV Edward Mazria (Peru)

  The Board of Directors and the Strategic Council of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) are honoring Edward Mazria (Peru 1964-66), FAIA, with the 2021 Gold Medal. The Gold Medal honors an individual whose significant body of work has had a lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture. Mazria is being recognized for his work sounding the alarm on climate change and motivating the profession to take action. A native New Yorker and graduate of the Pratt Institute, Mazria received his Bachelor of Architecture degree from the school and played on its basketball team, garnering attention from the New York Knicks. After being selected in the 11th round of the 1962 NBA draft, Mazria opted to serve in the Peace Corps in Peru, where he uncovered the notion that responsible architecture is the key to both social and environmental improvement. When he returned stateside to work in . . .

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President Trump signs legislation funding the government through September

  UPDATE:  Sunday Night, December 27, 2020. President Trump has signed the measure which funds the government through September 2021. The bill also provides  pandemic aid. A government shutdown has been averted. The National Peace Corps Association reports the budget includes funding for the Peace Corps and will: “Maintain level funding for the agency at $410.5 million, as it makes plans to begin redeploying Volunteers in 2021; this was the route recommended by the House of Representatives.”                          

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A Writer Writes — Reflections from a Simpler Time (Philippines)

Reflections from a Simpler Time By Ted Dieffenbacher (Philippines 1967-69) The covid-19 pandemic has forced people all over the world to change — to simplify daily living, to isolate themselves from friends, favorite places, and gatherings that had always enriched their lives. What follows is an odd COVID comparison, about a time when I had to make a dramatic lifestyle change during my time in the Philippines as a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) from 1967 to 1969. Single and 22 when I arrived in Santiago, Isabela, I was suddenly challenged to change not only my daily routine but also my way of thinking (and what language to think it in). Peace Corps gave each PCV a cardboard book locker — a few shelves in a sturdy cardboard box.  Each had about 60 books in it, and because no two lockers had an identical selection, I was able every so often . . .

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Learning the Joy of Giving in Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains

This short letter was posted yesterday by Rick Steves on his Travel Blog. It is a perfect Christmas Season Story. The writer is George Gorayeb, a former Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco, and now a realtor in Annapolis. George is an Arab-American Christian whose family emigrated from Syria. _____ Hello Rick,  In this season of gift-giving, I would like to share a personal story about the humblest yet most-appreciated gift that I have ever given to anyone.  Back in the spring of 1972, I was blessed to be serving as a Peace Corps volunteer, high school English teacher in Marrakesh, Morocco, in North Africa. One day, a half dozen of us volunteers went hiking in the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains. This scenic mountain range separates the city of Marrakesh from the northern edge of the Sahara Desert. For half of the year, these mountain peaks are covered in . . .

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