Archive - 2020

1
“Exceptionalism Redux” by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay)
2
“The Sunny Side” by Ryan Gahris (Ethiopia)
3
Sarge, Tell Us What To Do!
4
CD Doug Teschner’s (Ukraine & Guinea) Words of Wisdom — Leadership during a Pandemic
5
New from Clifford Garstang (Korea) — HOUSE OF THE ANCIENTS & OTHER STORIES
6
Common Sense Media Reviews “A Towering Task”
7
Julie R. Dargis’ (Morocco) book of poems SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS
8
David Wertime (China) new Editorial Director for China for POLITICO
9
The Mike McCaskey most didn’t know — far away from Soldier Field
10
Ross Anthony of the Hollywood Report Card reviews “A Towering Task” and interviews Alana deJospeh

“Exceptionalism Redux” by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay)

  by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay 1978–80) Evergreen Review   Sue McNally – Maroon Bells, CO (2014)   O, let America be America again — The land that never has been yet — And yet must be — the land where every man is free. — Langston Hughes from “Let America Be America Again”   In 1990, in the run-up to the first Gulf War, I did a long string of media interviews. I was working as embassy spokesman in Tegucigalpa, and interest in hearing the US case for intervention in Iraq was high. The State Department was regularly sending out updated talking points by cable to be used by people like me. I memorized those points, made them my own in Spanish, then went to the newspapers, the radio, and TV stations ready to be grilled. I was aware, of course, of anti-intervention sentiment in the US and did not dismiss the . . .

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“The Sunny Side” by Ryan Gahris (Ethiopia)

  Sitting just to be still, unknowingly, atop an ant hill — the spiders above were spinning their silk. Ahead was an untilled meadow, overgrown and waist-high with nettles. Hiding away microscopic marvels — things just being things. Left to be and compete for the simplest of needs. Predisposed to balance between extremes. Day and night. Hot and cold. Dry and wet. Here and there. But, who really cares? As I stared, my eyes unleashed the anti-abyss — the negative imprint of a tired mind, out sick. But once a lone cloud lured my vacant gaze, it bulldozed through the invisible maze. An ink blot set against a blinding blue blaze. Morphing to mirror my revolting cynical state. Inching closer, as if it had something wise to say… The wind whipped in advance to trigger a chill. Every hair was raised to a static standstill. The elevated scent of a . . .

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Sarge, Tell Us What To Do!

In these sad days of the virus, Donald Trump, and demonstrations and riots on our streets, I thought I might publish the speech given by Sarge Shriver at the second national conference of RPCVs held at Howard University. Thanks to Geri Gritchley (Senegal 1971-73) who had Sarge’s address to the packed auditorium, I am able to share his words of wisdom, hope, and common sense at this moment when our elected leaders appear to have few ideas of their own. Read what Sarge had to tell us that long-ago afternoon in D.C. when we listened to him and realized how fortunate JFK and the New Frontier had him to create the agency that changed all of our lives for the better. — JC Note. •     HONORABLE SARGENT SHRIVER SECOND NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF FORMER PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEERS AND STAFF SATURDAY, JUNE 20, 1981 HOWARD UNIVERSITY WASHINGTON, D.C.   It’s a . . .

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CD Doug Teschner’s (Ukraine & Guinea) Words of Wisdom — Leadership during a Pandemic

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Dan Campbell (El Salvador 1974-77)   Leadership during a Pandemic Will you be ready when a crisis strikes? June 3, 2020  Doug Teschner (Ukraine & Guinea 2008-16) NHBusiness Review   Watching the Covid-19 pandemic unfold has a déjà vu feeling for me. From 2008 to 2016, I was a Peace Corps country director and, in July 2014, transferred from Ukraine to Guinea in West Africa. Soon after I arrived, there was a spike of Ebola cases, and we evacuated the Peace Corps volunteers back to the United States. I stayed behind with the American and Guinean staff, and we collaborated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on an innovative community education effort that helped end the Ebola epidemic in 2016. Of course, I had moments of concern for my own health, fueled by “media optics” and pleas from some back in the U.S. . . .

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New from Clifford Garstang (Korea) — HOUSE OF THE ANCIENTS & OTHER STORIES

  Clifford Garstang is the author of the novel in stories, What the Zhang Boys Know, winner of the Library of Virginia Literary Award for Fiction, and the short story collection In an Uncharted Country. He is also the editor of Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet, a three-volume anthology of stories set around the world. A former Peace Corps volunteer in South Korea (1976-77) and an international lawyer, Garstang lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Nobody’s perfect, but some of us — mostly men —are blinded by our hubris and baser urges. Judgment is impeded. Mistakes are made. The stories in House of the Ancients and Other Stories, many of them set outside the U.S., explore some of the consequences of these common failings.   House of the Ancients & Other Stories by Clifford Garstang (Korea 1976-77) Press 53 Publisher 172 pages May 2020 $17.95 (paperback)   . . .

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Common Sense Media Reviews “A Towering Task”

The focus of Common Sense Media is information and recommendations for parents. There is also a comment section for children! From the Movie review by Lynnette Nicholas, Common Sense Media “This timely, informative (if slow) documentary sheds light on a truly unique American agency and the goal of using it to create global citizens striving to make an impact on future generations. The film’s overall tone is inspirational, and screenwriter Shana Kelly does a very detailed job of weaving together the personal experiences and testimonials of past and present volunteers, clearly creating correlations with the political climates of particular time periods and their direct impact on global cultures and communities. Not only does A Towering Task showcase the powerful function of the Peace Corps and its history, it also shares the agency’s many struggles, including its high leadership turnover. Vanessa Carr’s cinematography is a great asset to the film. Beautiful aerial shots capture unique locations around the world. A Towering . . .

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Julie R. Dargis’ (Morocco) book of poems SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS

  Julie R. Dargis (Morocco 1984-87) works internationally, supporting refugees and local communities affected by war and natural disasters. Her first book, Pit Stop in the Paris of Africa (2013), is a collection of narrative essays and verse, highlighting the profound personal connections she experienced overseas. She is also the author of White Moon in a Powder Blue Sky (2016), a book of poetry that includes “thought experiments” on the nature of reality. Borderland: An Exploration of States of Consciousness in New and Selected Sonnets (2018) explores how nature and science collide to create our collective consciousness. Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Dargis holds an M.A. in Education and Human Development from the Gorge Washington University in Washington, D.C., and a Ph.D. in Integral Health from the California Institute for Human Science, a research facility dedicated to the mind-body-spirit connection. “That Family” appears in  See You in My Dreams: A Daughter’s Journey with her Father through . . .

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David Wertime (China) new Editorial Director for China for POLITICO

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Steven Boyd Saum (Ukraine 1994-96)   David Wertime is POLITICO’s inaugural Editorial Director for China, and the author of China Watcher, its newsletter about the U.S.-China relationship. He is an honors graduate of Harvard Law School and Yale College who speaks and reads advanced Chinese (Mandarin) and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in China from 2001-03. Co-founder of Tea Leaf Nation, a website that tracked Chinese social media, David served as Senior Editor for China at Foreign Policy magazine, where he launched the first Chinese-language articles in the publication’s history. He was also Entrepreneur in Residence at the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, which owns the Philadelphia Inquirer. In 2019, David joined POLITICO’s parent company to launch its China service. David’s work has appeared in the Financial Times, the Washington Post, The Atlantic, Foreign Policy, POLITICO, and Slate.  

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The Mike McCaskey most didn’t know — far away from Soldier Field

The Mike McCaskey most didn’t know — far away from Soldier Field By JOHN COYNE CHICAGO TRIBUNE | MAY 26, 2020 | 5:23 PM Mike McCaskey with children in his Peace Corps village in Ethiopia. (Associated Press) I met Mike McCaskey in the fall of 1965, not at Soldier Field but in Fiche, Ethiopia, a small village perched high on the escarpment above the Blue Nile River, far from the shores of Lake Michigan. Mike was a Peace Corps volunteer assigned to teach in an elementary school. He would live for two years in a tin-roofed, whitewashed house made of dirt and dung and teach in a two-room school. Those two years, he later told me, gave him an entirely new perspective on the world, one for which he was profoundly grateful. At first, that change wasn’t obvious. After the Peace Corps, he returned to the U.S. and earned a doctorate, spending the next . . .

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Ross Anthony of the Hollywood Report Card reviews “A Towering Task” and interviews Alana deJospeh

  Anthony Ross reviews the Peace Corps Documentary, A Towering Task, and gives it an A-.  Ross also interviews  Producer/Director RPCV Alana deJoseph and the link to the interview is on the webpage.  During the interview, deJosph describes the process of producing the wide ranging documentary of the Peace Corps.  She also talks in depth about her Peace Corps expereience in Mali.  Finally, Alana deJospeh analyzes the Peace Corps at the crossroads today and the possible direction which it may take or may be forced to take. Here is the review by Anthony Ross. from his webpage. The Story of the Peace Corps A TOWERING TASK Review by Ross Anthony Full disclosure: I volunteered in Africa under an American NGO. I was not Peace Corps, but we served in similar ways. Additionally, on some weekend trips to the nearest city, we’d hang out with Peace Corps volunteers and trade stories and . . .

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