Archive - June 2021

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Review — AFGHANISTAN AT A TIME OF PEACE by Robin Varnum
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NPR’s Rob Schmitz (China) — Listen to his recent broadcasts from Germany
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Chuck Woodard Passes—Early PC/W Staff
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NPCA ALERTS RPCV COMMUNITY: ACTION NEEDED TO SUPPORT INCREASE IN PEACE CORPS FUNDING
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An interview with Doris Rubenstein (Ecuador)
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Talking with Robin Varnum (Afghanistan)
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Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders welcome 11 new members for 2021 season — One an RPCV!
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The Volunteer Who Was a Pioneer in the Peaceful and Practical Uses of Outer Space — T. Stephen Cheston (Colombia)
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Remembering Ted Wells–The Old Man in the Bag
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RPCV MSU Law Professor Receives 2021 Elmer Fried Excellence in Teaching Award

Review — AFGHANISTAN AT A TIME OF PEACE by Robin Varnum

  Afghanistan at a Time of Peace by Robin Varnum (Afghanistan 1971–73) Peace Corps Writers June, 2021 201 pages $25.00 (paperback), $10.00 (Kindle) Reviewed by Will Irwin (Afghanistan 1966–67) • Robin Varnum tells the story of serving as a PCV in Ghazni, Afghanistan in 1972–73 with her husband Mark and another PCV, Juri Zagarins, fluidly and with engaging detail, from beginning to end. Afghanistan at a Time of Peace (Peace Corps Writers, 2021) is a nicely-designed volume, liberally illustrated with color photos taken by Juri when she was in her early 20s and newly married. Robin tells her story chronologically, from the invitation she and Mark received to go to Afghanistan in December 1971 as TEFLers through training, their assignment to teach in Ghazni, and the quotidian and unusual experiences they had living and teaching there until their departure in December 1973. A sampling of each: Bouts with amoebic dysentery for all . . .

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NPR’s Rob Schmitz (China) — Listen to his recent broadcasts from Germany

from WFAE 90.7 — Charlotte’s NPR News Source Rob Schmitz (China 1996-98) is NPR’s international correspondent based in Berlin, where he covers the human stories of a vast region reckoning with its past while it tries to guide the world toward a brighter future. From his base in the heart of Europe, Schmitz has covered Germany’s levelheaded management of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of right-wing nationalist politics in Poland and creeping Chinese government influence inside the Czech Republic. Prior to covering Europe, Schmitz provided award-winning coverage of China for a decade, reporting on the country’s economic rise and increasing global influence. His reporting on China’s impact beyond its borders took him to countries such as Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia, and New Zealand. Inside China, he’s interviewed elderly revolutionaries, young rappers, and live-streaming celebrity farmers who make up the diverse tapestry of one of the most fascinating countries on the planet. . . .

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Chuck Woodard Passes—Early PC/W Staff

Charles C. Woodard, Jr., “Chuck” of Medford, NJ and formerly of Hastings-on-Hudson, NY passed away on June 11, 2021. He was 97. Chuck Woodard was born in Los Angeles, CA in 1923. He enrolled at UCLA in 1941 and subsequently joined Army ROTC after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. While still at UCLA he renewed an acquaintance with Margaret McHaffie, his future wife. He famously asked her out and when she said she was interested in another man and asked why he would want a date he replied “you’re better than a blind date”. In January 1944 he was ordered to Fort Benning, Georgia for infantry officer training. While there he and Margaret became engaged and set a wedding date in June 1944. Chuck was unable to get enough leave to get back to Los Angeles for the planned wedding so they instead met in New Orleans, where they married . . .

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NPCA ALERTS RPCV COMMUNITY: ACTION NEEDED TO SUPPORT INCREASE IN PEACE CORPS FUNDING

Appropriations Subcommittee calls for a $430.5 million budget for 2022 – an increase of 5 percent. It points to the first meaningful increase in funding in six years. “By Jonathan Pearson (UPDATE – June 28, 2021, 8:30 PM Eastern Time): On a voice vote, the House Appropriations Subcommittee for State/Foreign Operations approved a $62.2 billion international affairs budget for Fiscal Year 2022. This represents a 12 percent, $6.7 billion increase over the current fiscal year. Included in this budget is $430.5 million for the Peace Corps, a $20 million increase over current funding. In brief remarks, Subcommittee Chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) referenced the Peace Corps as one of several programs that will provide “needed humanitarian assistance” around the world. No amendments to the bill were made, but that could possibly change when the full Appropriations Committee considers this funding package on Thursday morning.”   Here is the earlier Report from the National Peace Corps . . .

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An interview with Doris Rubenstein (Ecuador)

from Donald Levin’s Blog   This week’s guest: Doris Rubenstein (Ecuador 1971-73) I’m pleased to host award-winning author Doris Rubenstein. Doris is a native of Detroit and a graduate of the University of Michigan. After two years in Peace Corps/Ecuador, she started a long career with non-profit organizations and in the field of philanthropy. She is the author of five books besides her newest one. You’re Always Welcome at the Temple of Aaron won the 2009 USCJ Schechter Award, and The Journey of a Dollar was a Silver Franklin Award winner from the IBPA. Doris has lived in Minnesota since 1984 and received her M.A. from Augsburg University there in 1993; her thesis won a Kenneth Clark Award for Research in Leadership from the Center for Creative Leadership (N.C.).  She has been a regular contributor to numerous local and national publications on the subjects of Philanthropy and the Arts. This week Doris will talk . . .

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Talking with Robin Varnum (Afghanistan)

  In June, Robin Varnum published her Peace Corps memoir Afghanistan at a Time of Peace. Peace Corps Worldwide asked Robin about her service, and about the writing and promoting of her book. • Robin, where and when did you serve with the Peace Corps: I served in the Peace Corps in Afghanistan (1971-1973), and  taught English (grades 8-12) in a girls school. Where did you live and work? I lived in Ghazni, a small city around 85 miles southwest of Kabul. I taught at Lycée Jahan Malika, the only girls school in either the city or the province of Ghazni. At the time, it served around 400 girls from kindergarten through 12thgrade. What kind of work did you do? I taught English. Although I did not understand initially why my students needed to learn English, I soon saw that a knowledge of English could open doors for students with serious ambitions. It was necessary, for example, for those who wished . . .

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Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders welcome 11 new members for 2021 season — One an RPCV!

  The Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders are proud to announce their squad for the 2021 season. This year’s team features 11 new members, as well as 21 returning veterans. Hundreds of candidates auditioned, spanning across 24 states in addition to Japan, Taiwan, Mexico, and Canada. Over the course of three months and several elimination rounds, 48 contestants made it to the final audition, where they showcased their talent and individuality with a creative solo performance. The 11 new members feature a published author and historian, press secretary for the U.S. House of Representatives Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, and Operation Smile global partnerships coordinator who recently worked in Koforidua, Ghana to coordinate a cleft lip and cleft palate surgical program. “We are thrilled to announce our squad for the 2021 season,” said Barbara Zaun, Eagles Director of Entertainment Teams. “As ambassadors for the organization, the Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders embrace meaningful . . .

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The Volunteer Who Was a Pioneer in the Peaceful and Practical Uses of Outer Space — T. Stephen Cheston (Colombia)

A Profile in Citizenship by Jeremiah Norris — Colombia, 1963-65 • Following his graduation from Clark University in 1963, T. Stephen Cheston, Steve to his friends, served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Colombia through 1965 where he developed agricultural cooperatives. He worked in a small village with often illiterate campesinos. But with his superb command of Spanish since childhood when he lived in Brazil, Argentina and Mexico where his father worked for U. S. Steel, Steve’s easy and outgoing personality led him to use his Volunteer time for the accomplishment of mutual goals in a productive manner. After his return from Colombia, he began graduate studies at Georgetown University in 1966, while concurrently working as a volunteer in the Senate Office of Robert F. Kennedy. In 1972, he was awarded a Ph. D. in Russian and Latin American History. In the period from 1972 to 1983, he held consecutive posts . . .

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Remembering Ted Wells–The Old Man in the Bag

By David B. Levine (Ethiopia (1964-66) Ted Wells’  The Old Man in the Bag and Other True Stories of Good Intentions is a wonderful collection of reminisces from Helen and Ted Wells’ first two of their three years as Peace Corps Volunteers in Ethiopia (1968-1971). Each of the twelve chapters is preceded by a copy of a letter home from them and accompanied by extensive photographs. The letters and stories add up to an overview of what was an exciting, path-setting, exhilarating, frightening, emotionally fraught, and extraordinarily impactful two years, both atypical and unique Peace Corps experience! I knew Helen and Ted as PCV’s; in fact, I was instrumental in their receiving the assignment underlying the narrative and am actually named a time or two in the telling.  Here is that background. First, I was a PCV in Ethiopia myself, from 1964-66 (Eth IV) as a teacher in Emdeber, in . . .

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RPCV MSU Law Professor Receives 2021 Elmer Fried Excellence in Teaching Award

  The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has recognized David Thronson, the Alan S. Zekelman Professor of International Human Rights Law at the Michigan State University College of Law, and director of the Talsky Center for Human Rights of Women and Children, and co-founder of the Immigration Law Clinic, with the 2021 Elmer Fried Excellence in Teaching Award. Thronson previously served as MSU Law’s associate dean for academic affairs and as associate dean for experiential education. Since 2017, Thronson has taught Immigration and Nationality at the University of Michigan Law School. His research focuses on the intersection of family law and immigration law, in particular on the impact of immigration law on children. Thronson graduated from the University of Kansas with degrees in mathematics and education, then taught in Nepal as a Peace Corps volunteer. He completed a master’s degree at Teachers College, Columbia University and served for several years . . .

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