Archive - October 2021

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Laurence Leamer writes: Capote’s Women: A True Story of Love, Betrayal, and a Swan Song for an Era
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The Volunteer Who Built a Railroad to the Sky — Jay Hersch (Colombia)
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Peace Corps’ 60th year marks US /Philippines’ partnership, amity
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Peace Corps film: “A Walk on the Moon”
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Peace Corps Moving Forward: A Series of Town Hall Meetings on Sex- and Gender-Based Violence
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INSIDE PEACE CORPS — Issue 3 Is posted
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Peace Corps Strengthens Sexual Assault Reduction and Response Efforts
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Roland Merullo writes: “What would happen if Jesus ran for president?” (Micronesia)
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Spotting the Peace Corps on T.V, and in the Movies
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Peace Corps Reauthorization Act of 2021

Laurence Leamer writes: Capote’s Women: A True Story of Love, Betrayal, and a Swan Song for an Era

  New York Times bestselling author Laurence Leamer (Nepal 1965-67) reveals the complex web of relationships and scandalous true stories behind Truman Capote’s never-published final novel, Answered Prayers–the dark secrets, tragic glamour, and Capote’s ultimate betrayal of the group of female friends he called his “swans.”   “There are certain women,” Truman Capote wrote, “who, though perhaps not born rich, are born to be rich.” Barbara “Babe” Paley, Gloria Guinness, Marella Agnelli, Slim Hayward, Pamela Churchill, C. Z. Guest, Lee Radziwill (Jackie Kennedy’s sister)—they were the toast of midcentury New York, each beautiful and distinguished in her own way. Capote befriended them, received their deepest confidences, and ingratiated himself into their lives. Then, in one fell swoop, he betrayed them in the most surprising and startling way possible. Bestselling biographer Laurence Leamer delves into the years following the acclaimed publication of Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1958 and In Cold Blood in 1966, when Capote . . .

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The Volunteer Who Built a Railroad to the Sky — Jay Hersch (Colombia)

  A Profile in Citizenship by Jeremiah Norris (Colombia 1963–65)   Back story: Imagine the improbable After serving in Colombia, 1964-66, RPCV Jay Hersch buys a farm in the Western Highlands of Virginia, starts a successful business, then fulfills a long-held dream: he lays down a road bed for 155 feet of track, builds a replica of an existing Train Station, finds a surplus caboose and coal car — and from dream to reality, creates a railroad on his property! Jay’s published book, Phantomrail: The Railroad that Never Was, available on Amazon, tells the complete story.   Since his boyhood days in Chicago, Jay remembers waiting with his grandfather at the end of the Kenzie Avenue line, fascinated as he watched rail workers push the streetcar around the turnstile until it was headed back toward downtown. He also recalled counting the cars as the freight trains rumbled past and last . . .

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Peace Corps’ 60th year marks US /Philippines’ partnership, amity

  by Philippines’ BUSINESS MIRROR OCTOBER 13, 2021   The first Peace Corps volunteers comprised of teachers arrived on October 12, 1961. THE United States Peace Corps, the US Embassy in the Philippines, the Philippine government and other partners held a virtual event to commemorate the American Peace Corps volunteers—more than 9,300 of them—who had served alongside Filipino host-communities across the country since October 1961. Hundreds of former volunteers, host organizations, Peace Corps staff, as well as youth and other beneficiaries gathered online on October 6, as they recognized contributions of American volunteers and their local partners working in education, fisheries, coastal resource management, youth development, and other sectors through the decades. Participants also reflected on the unique ability of Peace Corps volunteers to meaningfully impact and integrate into their host communities as they learned local Filipino languages and lived with Filipino host families. “Peace Corps volunteers have significantly advanced our . . .

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Peace Corps film: “A Walk on the Moon”

  Cohen Film Collection is working on a restoration of “A Walk on the Moon,” by the late Raphael D. Silver. The 1987 drama, about a Peace Corps volunteer who travels to a Colombian village, stars Kevin Anderson and Terry Kinney. The restoration was part of an agreement with filmmaker Joan Micklin Silver, Raphael D. Silver’s wife, who died last year. The story Everett Jones (Kevin Anderson) is a Peace Corps volunteer, bubbling o’er with idealism. To his surging delight, he learns he has been assigned to a remote, backward Colombian village. When Anderson arrives, he is confused by the cynical attitude of his predecessor (Terry Kinney). Even more confusing–though it won’t be for long–is that the villagers greet the ebullient Anderson’s arrival with silent, sullen indifference.

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Peace Corps Moving Forward: A Series of Town Hall Meetings on Sex- and Gender-Based Violence

In 2019, 1 out of every 3 Peace Corps Volunteers experienced sexual assault. Legislation like the Kate Puzey Act (2013) and the Farr/Castle Act (2018) were passed to protect Volunteers, but more work needs to be done to ensure the safety of everyone who serves in the Peace Corps. Join RPCVs of Washington D.C. and Boston Area RPCVs starting Wednesday, October 13 for a 4-part series of events on sex- and gender-based violence. These sessions will include storytelling and a community-building circle, a session specific to the experiences of BIPOC RPCVs, and the development of recommendations moving forward. Register below to receive one link for all four events. Please feel free to attend as many as you would like. The Zoom link will be provided by email and a calendar invite for each event. Wednesday, October 13th, 8:30-10 PM EDT: Storytelling and Community Building Thursday, October 21st, 5:30-7 PM EDT: BIPOC . . .

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INSIDE PEACE CORPS — Issue 3 Is posted

Acting Director’s Message Welcome back to Inside Peace Corps, where we share updates on our work, both at headquarters and in the countries where our Volunteers are invited to serve. We have celebrated the legacy of the Peace Corps over the past weeks with anniversaries of the signing of the Peace Corps Act and of 60-year partnerships with Ghana, Tanzania, Colombia, and the Philippines. After attending these events – surrounded by partners, host community members, returned Peace Corps Volunteers, staff, and other supporters – I am in awe of the strength of the Peace Corps network, the values we live by, and the power of service to unite. This network has stepped up in countless, innovative ways to advance the Peace Corps’ mission of promoting world peace and friendship during this historic time. Those efforts have included virtual engagements with host country partners, staff programming outreach, interagency collaborations, and above-and-beyond . . .

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Peace Corps Strengthens Sexual Assault Reduction and Response Efforts

  October 8, 2021 WASHINGTON – Today, the Peace Corps provided an update on the agency’s progress to strengthen its volunteer safety, and sexual assault risk reduction and response efforts over the last six months. “When I stepped into the role of Acting Director, I called for all Peace Corps staff to examine how our agency can better meet our service commitments to both volunteers and the community members we work alongside,” said Peace Corps Acting Director Carol Spahn. “This deep, structural work involves upgrading all of our systems, including and especially those related to sexual assault risk reduction and response. Peace Corps staff care deeply about the safety of our volunteers and, as an agency, we are continuously learning, wholeheartedly dedicated to reducing risk, wherever possible, and committed to providing victim-centered, trauma-informed care.” In the spring, the Peace Corps committed to making specific, systemic improvements to sexual-assault-related policies and . . .

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Roland Merullo writes: “What would happen if Jesus ran for president?” (Micronesia)

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Patricia Taylor Edmisten (Peru 1962-64)   What would happen if Jesus ran for president? Roland Merullo’s writing explores this provocative question (and others) by Mike Mastromatteo September 30, 2021 • A nasty bout of Covid-19 swept through the Merullo household in December 2020, making traditional Christmas celebrations a bit of a problem. The Merullo capofamiglia, the Massachusetts writer Roland Merullo, had some weary words of advice for me. “Don’t get Covid,” Merullo said by way of warning. “My wife and I were down for two full weeks and truly miserable. It’s a beast.” The experience may have ironically provided a moment of pause and reflection for Merullo before we spoke together over several weeks at the end of 2020 about his long and varied writing life. Since publishing his first work in 1991, Leaving Losapas, Merullo has written nearly two dozen novels, memoirs, travelogues and, not surprisingly, a . . .

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Spotting the Peace Corps on T.V, and in the Movies

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ idea from Alana DeJoseph’s (Mali 1992–94) Over the last 60 years that the Peace Corps has been a part of America (and the world) it has influenced our culture in many ways. One of the funniest experiences for us RPCVs is when we hear a popular movie or television character referring to the Peace Corps. So let’s have a challenge: In the comments below, please list any popular media mentions of the Peace Corps! To get you started, here are two: 1985 — American comedy film directed by Nicholas Meyer and starring Tom Hanks and John Candy: Volunteers 2018 — Animated TV series Rick and Morty: Season 4, Episode 8

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Peace Corps Reauthorization Act of 2021

 The House Foreign Affairs Committee passed Rep. Garamendi’s H.R.4996, with an amendment in the nature of a substitute, last Thursday (9/30) by a strong bipartisan vote of 44 to 4. The 4 GOP no votes were Reps. Scott Perry (R-PA), Tim Burchett (R-TN), Greg Steube (R-FL), and Ronny Jackson (R-TX). The Committee defeated the only other amendment to H.R.4996, offered by Rep. Perry, which would have effectively defunded the Peace Corps (indefinitely) and did not solve the problem it purported to solve. Here is Rep. Garamendi’s press release on Committee passage of his bill, which you are welcome to share: https://garamendi.house.gov/media/press-releases/house-foreign-affairs-committee-passes-garamendi-s-peace-corps-reauthorization The Committee’s ANS made some substantive changes to the bill necessary in order to earn the support of Ranking Member McCaul (R-TX) and also incorporate feedback from the Peace Corps on the overall reauthorization. Team Garamendi is still digesting those changes and hopes to send a more detailed update in the . . .

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