Archive - April 2021

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Dear President Biden: Double the Peace Corps! — from former Peace Corps Directors
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An important opportunity in a “Pioneer” Peace Corps country
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YouTube Video on Peace Corps Failure to Protect PCV Women
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Reinvent the Peace Corps — Climate Change Volunteers
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The NPCA Publishes Article on the USA Report on Sexual Assault
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Here is the USA Today Report on Sexual Assault in the Peace Corps
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2021 Green Earth Book Award Winner — Josh Swiller (Zambia)
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Peace Corps Acting Director Carol Spahn Statement on USA Today Article
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Review — BRIGHT SHINING WORLD by Josh Swiller (Zambia)
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“Hurricane Greta” by Alan Jackson (Belize)

Dear President Biden: Double the Peace Corps! — from former Peace Corps Directors

Thanks for the heads up from Steven Saum (Ukraine 1994-96)  at the NPCA —  All eleven living former Peace Corps agency directors have signed on to a letter to President Biden with a ringing message: “Now is the right time for the Peace Corps to build back better than it ever was before.” Read the entire letter to POTUS from the former directors below. • April 26, 2021 President Joseph R. Biden The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20500 Dear President Biden, We write to you today as a bipartisan, unified group of former directors of the Peace Corps to express our full support for a revitalized Peace Corps, one that advances our nation’s critical foreign policy goal of world peace through international cooperation and service. We believe that now is the right time for the Peace Corps to build back better than it ever was before. We therefore . . .

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An important opportunity in a “Pioneer” Peace Corps country

by Steve Kaffen (Russia 1994–96) The United States has, to-date, missed a unique opportunity to provide critically urgent medical assistance to the world’s most populous democracy, and solidify our relationship with an important regional ally · India. Imagine a “Berlin airlift” by the U.S. and E.U. of vaccines, oxygen, beds, makeshift shelters and treatment centers (such as DOD provided to Ebola-stricken West Africa). This mobilization should have been initiated a week ago, and it is still possible. The outreach ideally should be regional and include its neighbors Pakistan and Bangladesh, which are in similar dire circumstances. India was an important Peace Corps “pioneer” country from 1961 to 1975, and its present demographics of a young population (median age under 30) and largely rural subsistence make it ideal for Peace Corps’ future return with programs geared to health, agriculture, the environment, and specialized education. The agency might be able to obtain . . .

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YouTube Video on Peace Corps Failure to Protect PCV Women

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Joanne Roll (Colombia 1963-65)   This video is brief but comprehensive.   The “professional” speaker is Meagan Kallman, who wrote the book on the Death of Idealism: Development and Anti-Politics in the Peace Corps. She wants to change Peace Corps into a cultural exchange program. She “offered the services of her university” to “help” Peace Corps transition.  She is now  Rhode Island State Senator.

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Reinvent the Peace Corps — Climate Change Volunteers

    Those of us who were around when the agency was created know why and how it was. Peace Corps was a hope and a vision for the developing world. We could help poorer nations of the world. And we did. The Peace Corps changed the lives of many host country nationals and it also changed our lives. Today, 60 years after the first PCVs went overseas, we have another world with new needs. One of those needs is the climate all of us are living with. It is a problem we have wherever we live in the world. President Biden has recently spoken about what must be done here at home. What he hasn’t done is link today’s Peace Corps Volunteers with the needs for  Climate Change in the developing world. This is the role, many of us think, that should be a new role for Volunteers in . . .

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The NPCA Publishes Article on the USA Report on Sexual Assault

An in-depth work of investigative journalism has shone light on a horrific problem. There are steps we can take now.” A statement from the Chair of the Board of Directors of National Peace Corps Association. By Maricarmen Smith-Martinez Today USA Today published an in-depth investigative piece chronicling the experiences of multiple women who have been victims of sexual assault while serving as Peace Corps Volunteers. Their stories are devastating. And the statistics cited in the article about the prevalence of sexual assault are profoundly disturbing. We owe it to these women to read their stories — and to truly hear what they are saying. Those of us who have been victims of sexual assault know firsthand that it takes immense courage to come forward, especially given how the initial reports of these women were handled. And let us be unequivocal: There must be zero tolerance when it comes to sexual . . .

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Here is the USA Today Report on Sexual Assault in the Peace Corps

  by Hannah Gaber, USA Today Three women tell their stories of sexual assault while volunteering in the Peace Corps, and how the agency’s bungled response compounded their trauma.   Emma Tremblay, then a 25-year-old Peace Corps volunteer from Seattle, was 4,000 miles from home on an exam table in Ecuador. A physician selected by the Peace Corps loomed over her and firmly placed his hand on her shoulder to keep her still. “Do you feel good?” he asked, then leaned in, pressing his erection against her arm. Tremblay feared he might go further. Half undressed, in pain and unsure whether she could fight him off, she stared him down. I’m fine, she said. When he backed away, Tremblay gathered her things and rushed onto Quito’s crowded streets. Then, another violation of her trust: The Peace Corps had been warned the doctor was a threat. Ashley Lipasek, a fellow volunteer, told . . .

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2021 Green Earth Book Award Winner — Josh Swiller (Zambia)

    The Nature Generation is pleased to announce our 2021 Green Earth Book Award winners. Each Earth Day, we bestow this award to children’s and young adult literature that best convey the message of environmental stewardship. We applaud the winning authors who continue to tell the stories about the environmental challenges we all face in a way that resonates with children and young adults. And the winner of the award for Young Adult Fiction 2021 is Bright Shining World by   Josh Swiller (Zambia 1994–96)  •

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Peace Corps Acting Director Carol Spahn Statement on USA Today Article

April 22, 2021 “USA Today recently published an article on sexual assault experienced by volunteers during their service. To those volunteers who have told their stories about sexual assault in the Peace Corps: I am so very sorry for the trauma you have experienced. You have each shown tremendous courage, and I am grateful that you have come forward. “These are devastating stories, and the agency is working to get to the root of the very serious issues that were raised. “As we approach the return to service of volunteers, we are intensifying and cementing our commitment to mitigating risk, wherever possible, and providing victim-centered and trauma-informed support to sexual assault survivors. We must always be an agency that empowers survivors and tears down barriers to reporting, services and care. “As the new Acting Director of the agency and a returned volunteer myself, I am personally committed to ensuring the following . . .

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Review — BRIGHT SHINING WORLD by Josh Swiller (Zambia)

  Bright Shining World by Josh Swiller (Zambia 1994-96) Knopf Children’s Book, grades 7-9 304 pages November 2020 $10.99 (Kindle); $14.99 (Hardcover) Reviewed by Peter Deekle (Iran 1968–70) • Josh Swiller credits his deafness for his resilience. A contributing asset — be it a reinforcement or trial — might be his service as a Peace Corps volunteer in Zambia that is evident in his perceptive insights into human nature. As a writer, Josh has demonstrated a “keen ear” for the internal motivations and interpersonal interactions of the characters in his new book. Bright Shining World (Knopf, 2020) is a novel about young people coming of age in a chaotic and disturbing world. Its publication could hardly be timelier, given the COVID-19 pandemic and the fraught social and political climate of today. The author recounts that “anyone could feel — how battered people were by the rising apocalyptic tide, how deeply they . . .

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“Hurricane Greta” by Alan Jackson (Belize)

    I was a Peace Corps Volunteer assigned to the Fisheries Unit Laboratory in Belize City from August 1976 to October 1978. Initially I stayed in a small boarding house on Prince Street during a four-week Peace Corps orientation. After that I was expected to find my own housing. My monthly stipend was BZ$300 (US$150) a month, which would have to cover all my living expenses. Most Peace Corps Volunteers in Belize City doubled or tripled up and shared flats wherever they could find reasonable rent. I had heard good things about a family that had just hosted two Volunteers during our orientation. One of those Volunteers decided to continue boarding with that family while the other was moving to his jobsite in San Antonio, Toledo District. I asked the family if I could board with them, and they welcomed me into their home. They were a young and . . .

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