Archive - June 2021

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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
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Joshua Berman (Nicaragua) is a ‘tranquilo traveler’
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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

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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Joshua Berman (Nicaragua) is a ‘tranquilo traveler’

    By KELSEY HAMMON | Longmont Times-Call June 20, 2021 at 5:45 a.m. • Joshua Berman’s (Nicaragua 1998-2000) career as a writer has been anything but a 9-to-5 desk job. He’s tasted boa constrictor, climbed narrow mountain highways, sat in the back of a truck as he sped by volcanoes in Nicaragua, and blistered his feet on the Colorado Trail. Before he zoned in on writing about Colorado, he used his career to explore the globe and feed his passion for writing and exploring. His excursions today include passing that sense of adventure down to his three daughters, while teaching them how to respect and revel in the nature around them. Berman is an author of six travel books, a Denver Post columnist, an all-around expert adventurer, Longmont resident, and a “tranquilo (calm) traveler.” He uses this term to call on explorers like himself to remain open-minded and inquisitive, as . . .

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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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