Archive - 2021

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AFGHANISTAN AT A TIME OF PEACE by Robin Varnum
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LAST BEST HOPE by George Packer (Togo) reviewed
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John Turnbull Ghana-3 Geology and Nyasaland/Malawi-2 Geology Assignment 1963, -64, -65.
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Reviews: THE INNOCENCE OF EDUCATION & IN THE CORAL REEF OF THE MARKET by Earl Carlton Huband (Oman)
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The Volunteer who became the founding Director of the National Afro-American Museum and Culture Center — Dr. John Fleming (Malawi)
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A TOWERING TASK — The Peace Corps Document You Have Never Read
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LAST BEST HOPE: America in Crisis and Renewal by George Packer (Togo)
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Read “Inside Peace Corps,” the new Peace Corps newsletter
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THIS COUNTRY: My Life in Politics and History by Chris Matthews (Swaziland)
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RPCVs partnering with Rotary International

AFGHANISTAN AT A TIME OF PEACE by Robin Varnum

  It is now difficult to imagine Afghanistan any otherwise than at war. In the early 1970s, however, when Robin Varnum  was serving there as a Peace Corps volunteer (1971–73), the country was enjoying an interlude of peace. Varnum was teaching English in a girls’ school, and since some girls were able to go to school in Afghanistan in those days, she hoped to help her students gain access to the kinds of opportunities that were available to other girls in other parts of the world. She admired the bravery of her students, and she took inspiration from the work of Dr. Khadija Akbar, the Afghan woman doctor who was running her community’s family planning clinic. Afghanistan at a Time of Peace is a memoir of Varnum’s Peace Corps experience. She was stationed in Ghazni, a small city some 85 miles southwest of Kabul, and she served there alongside Mark, . . .

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LAST BEST HOPE by George Packer (Togo) reviewed

  Speaking Truth to Both the Right and the Left by Emily Bazelon June 14, 2021 The Times Magazine • LAST BEST HOPE: America in Crisis and Renewal by George Packer THE CONSTITUTION OF KNOWLEDGE: A Defense of Truth by Jonathan Rauch Like many public intellectuals who are worth reading, George Packer and Jonathan Rauch don’t toe a predictable line in American political and intellectual debate. They despise Donald Trump and the disinformation-heavy discord he has spawned. But they don’t share all the views of progressives, either, as they’ve come to be defined in many left-leaning spaces. Packer and Rauch are here to defend the liberalism of the Enlightenment — equality and scientific rationality in an unapologetically Western-tradition sense. They see this belief system as the country’s great and unifying strength, and they’re worried about its future. Packer’s slim book, “Last Best Hope,” begins with patriotic despair. “The world’s pity has taken the place of admiration, hostility, awe, . . .

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John Turnbull Ghana-3 Geology and Nyasaland/Malawi-2 Geology Assignment 1963, -64, -65.

  John Turnbull passed away on April 4, 2021 at his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  John commented frequently on Peace Corps World Wide, about his Peace Corps experiences in Ghana and Malawi as a geologist in the early days of Peace Corps. Here is one of his commentaries in response to John Coyne’s review of Kallman’s Death of Idealism in the Peace Corps “A great commentary, John ! As you know I have been accused of over-romanticing my experiences as a geologist, in Africa. My conclusion concerning Ms. Kallman’s book, is that there is no single thing we can call “The Peace Corps Experience” There are MANY, and even in Africa, where I worked, the difference in cultural interaction between Ghana in West Africa, and then Nyasaland Protectorate in British Central Africa, was radically different. Even as early as 1967, the Peace Corps itself concluded that the experince in . . .

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Reviews: THE INNOCENCE OF EDUCATION & IN THE CORAL REEF OF THE MARKET by Earl Carlton Huband (Oman)

  Reviewed by D.W. Jefferson (El Salvador (1974–76), Costa Rica (1976–77) • The Innocence of Education by  Earl Carlton Huband (Oman 1975–78) (Peace Corps poetry) 31 pages Longleaf Press November 2018 $10.00 (paperback) • The author was a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) in the Sultanate of Oman from 1975 to 1978. He taught English in the remote fishing village of Bukha located in a then-restricted military zone at the mouth of the Persian Gulf for two years. During his third year, he worked in Salalah, the capital of Oman’s southern district, splitting his time between teaching English and serving as assistant to that region’s Chief English Inspector. This book of poems is based on Huband’s time in Bukha. The poems are compact gems of sly humor and universal humanity with an underpinning wisdom. An alternate title for the book might be The Education of Earl Huband. Like myself and many other PCVs, . . .

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The Volunteer who became the founding Director of the National Afro-American Museum and Culture Center — Dr. John Fleming (Malawi)

  A Profile in Citizenship — Jeremiah Norris (Colombia 1963-65) Dr. John Fleming graduated from Berea College, Berea, Kentucky, in 1966 and attended the University of Kentucky, then served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi from 1967 to 1969. While a volunteer, he attended the University of Malawi. Returning home, he attended Howard University graduating with a Ph. D. in American history in 1974. Prior to Peace Corps service, Dr. Fleming had wanted to become a missionary and thought that his Peace Corps experience would prepare him for work in Africa. Dr. Fleming was greatly disappointed to learn how missionaries of various religious persuasion treated Africans — and of how he as an African American, received the same treatment from them. Such treatment changed his mind about being a missionary. He recalled one incident when he was traveling to a friend’s village. He arrived late one evening when it . . .

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A TOWERING TASK — The Peace Corps Document You Have Never Read

    Unbeknownst to Sarge Shriver, who had been tasked by JFK to establish a new agency with the tentative title of “Peace Corps” in the first days of the Kennedy Administration, there were two officials in the Far Eastern division of the International Cooperation Administration (ICA) working on their “own” Peace Corps. Warren Wiggins deputy director of Far Eastern operations in ICA, still in his 30s,  with Bill Josephson, just 26, a lawyer at ICA. The paper they prepared detailing their recommendations for the new agency they called “A Towering Task,” taking the title from the phrase Kennedy had used in his State of the Union address: “The problems . . . are towering and unprecedented — and the response must be towering and unprecedented as well.” Shriver and Harris Wofford in early February 1961 set up a temporary, two-room headquarters in the Mayflower Hotel and a steady cast . . .

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LAST BEST HOPE: America in Crisis and Renewal by George Packer (Togo)

  In the year 2020, Americans suffered one rude blow after another to their health, livelihoods, and collective self-esteem. A ruthless pandemic, an inept and malign government response, polarizing protests, and an election marred by conspiracy theories left many citizens in despair about their country and its democratic experiment. With pitiless precision, the year exposed the nation’s underlying conditions — discredited elites, weakened institutions, blatant inequalities — and how difficult they are to remedy. In Last Best Hope, George Packer traces the shocks back to their sources. He explores the four narratives that now dominate American life: Free America, which imagines a nation of separate individuals and serves the interests of corporations and the wealthy; Smart America, the world view of Silicon Valley and the professional elite; Real America, the white Christian nationalism of the heartland; and Just America, which sees citizens as members of identity groups that inflict or suffer . . .

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Read “Inside Peace Corps,” the new Peace Corps newsletter

  Please read the Acting Director’s Message and then the Newsletter. Acting Director’s Message “Welcome to Inside Peace Corps where we share updates and news on our work at headquarters and in the countries where our Volunteers are invited to serve. We are so fortunate to have people around the globe who are invested in the Peace Corps and our mission of world peace and friendship. The aim of this publication is to provide information on issues that our stakeholders care about most. I cannot overstate my appreciation for your ongoing support as we prepare to return Volunteers to service abroad. Thank you for stepping Inside Peace Corps to walk side-by-side with us.” Here is the Link; https://analytics.clickdimensions.com//peacecorpsgov-aflq5/pages/b056c3c9c9c7eb11813a005056af48c9.html The newsletter is wide reaching as these topics indicate: Peace Corps Response Volunteers Sworn in for Three-Month Domestic Deployment  Staff to Complete Unconscious Bias in the Workplace Training by the End of . . .

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THIS COUNTRY: My Life in Politics and History by Chris Matthews (Swaziland)

  In This Country: My Life in Politics and History, Chris Matthews (Swaziland 1968-70) offers a panoramic portrait of post–World War II America through the story of his remarkable life and career. It is a story of risk and adventure, of self-reliance and service, of loyalty and friendship. It is a story-driven by an abiding faith in our country. Raised in a large Irish-Catholic family in Philadelphia at a time when kids hid under their desks in atomic war drills, Chris’s life etched a pattern: take a leap, live an adventure, then learn what it means. As a young returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Chris moved to DC and began knocking on doors on Capitol Hill. With dreams of becoming what Ted Sorensen had been for Jack Kennedy, Chris landed as a staffer to Utah Senator Frank Moss, where his eyes were opened to the game of big-league politics. In 1974, Matthews mounted . . .

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RPCVs partnering with Rotary International

  I think that Peace Corps Worldwide will be interested to learn about our RPCV Gulf Coast Florida recent meeting with several representatives of Rotary on June 5.  We learned a lot about Rotary activities and the program of partnering with Peace Corps Volunteers and RPCVs.  Attached is a report of our exhilarating conversation. Leita Kaldi Davis (Senegal 1993-96) Recipient Lillian Carter Award 2017 • Partnering for Peace:  Peace Corps / Rotary Partnership Did you know that the U.S. Peace Corps is an official partner of Rotary International?  Most do not, which is why the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) of Gulf Coast Florida hosted a Zoom meeting on June 5, 2021 (click to view).  Rotary and Peace Corps members were present, along with board members from Partnering for Peace, an organization that emerged to find and implement projects to strengthen the partnership. Rotarians Vana Prewitt and Kelsey Mitchell, both from Rotary District 6960 in . . .

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