Archive - 2021

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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)
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Why the Peace Corps’ Mission Is Needed Now More Than Ever
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Volunteers to America: The Reverse Peace Corps
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Nominate the Best RPCV Books of 2020 — awards will be announced in August 2021
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Talking with poet Katie Speicher (Senegal)
10
Jody Olsen (Tunisia) to receive U of Md “President Award“

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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Why the Peace Corps’ Mission Is Needed Now More Than Ever

    On its 60th anniversary, a moment of reckoning arrives for the nation’s globe-trotting volunteers By Miranda Moore (Uganda 2009–11) SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE MAY 2021   In March 2020, at the start of Covid-19 lockdowns, as flights were grounded and people around the world sheltered in place, 7,000-odd Peace Corps volunteers serving in 61 nations came home to an uncertain future. Many worried that the Peace Corps might even have to shut down permanently. That hasn’t happened, but the nation’s foremost global volunteer organization has no volunteers in the field for the first time since its founding 60 years ago. Practicing a uniquely American blend of idealism and realpolitik, the agency was conceived in October 1960, when Senator John F. Kennedy made a 2 a.m. campaign speech at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Kennedy, then running for president, challenged 10,000 students assembled outside the Student Union to use their . . .

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Volunteers to America: The Reverse Peace Corps

  by Neil Boyer (Ethiopia 1962-64) April 18, 2021 • After I returned from Ethiopia, where I had served in the Peace Corps from 1962 to 1964, I went to work at Peace Corps headquarters on Lafayette Square in Washington. Harris Wofford had recruited some former volunteers in Ethiopia and other places to work with him on his seemingly limitless ideas. I helped him and others flesh out the idea of creating a “reverse peace corps” that would bring teachers and social workers from other countries to work in the United States. It was exactly a reverse of the Peace Corps concept, with volunteers selected by sending countries and supervised and administered by receiving agencies in the United States. Argentina would choose and send volunteers, for example, and US officials in OEO, the Department of Education and private agencies would supervise them. The program was called Volunteers TO America (VTA). . . .

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Nominate the Best RPCV Books of 2020 — awards will be announced in August 2021

  To further fulfill its goals to encourage, recognize and promote Peace Corps writers, RPCV Writers & Readers, the newsletter that was the precursor of PeaceCorpsWriters.org and PeaceCorpsWorldwide.org, presented its first annual awards for outstanding writing in 1990. Over 170 awards have been given since that time. The awards are: The Moritz Thomsen Peace Corps Experience Award The Paul Cowan Non-Fiction Award The Maria Thomas Fiction Award The Award for Best Peace Corps Memoir The Award for Best Book of Poetry The Award for Best Short Story Collection The Award for Best Travel Book The Rowland Scherman Award for Best Photography Book The Marian Haley Beil Award for the Best Book Review The Award for Best Children’s Book about a Peace Corps Country Other Awards Send your nomination(s) to John Coyne at jcoyneone@gmail.com (You may nominate your own book. Make sure you are nominating a book that was published in . . .

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Talking with poet Katie Speicher (Senegal)

  In her literary debut, Katie Speicher invites readers to join her in Senegal with her poems on beauty, strength, questioning, nostalgia, heartbreak, and contentment. Her poems have sprung from her Peace Corps service and from reaching deep into memory. Here Katie tells about herself and her writing. • Katie — where and when did you serve in the Peace Corps? Senegal 2016-2018 What was your Peace Corp project assignment? Agroforestry Specialist Tell us about where you lived and worked. I lived in Koumbidia Soce, a Mandinka village of about 700 people in the Kaffrine region of Senegal. What were your living conditions? I lived with a host family. I had my own hut within a family compound. At the time I was there we had no electricity, and water was pulled everyday from a well. During my service electricity went up in the village, but my family did not . . .

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Jody Olsen (Tunisia) to receive U of Md “President Award“

Thanks for heads up from Steve Kaffen — A CELEBRATION OF TERPS FEATURING THE MARYLAND AWARDS ABOUT THE EVENT HONOREES FRIDAY, APRIL 23, 2021 7:00 – 8:00 P.M. • Jody Olsen is to receive the University of Maryland Alumni Association’s “President” award. She is one of six recipients of “The Maryland Awards,” which celebrate and honor the achievements of outstanding Terps [(Terrapins) – graduates of the U. of Md.]. The virtual ceremony will be held April 23, 2021. The published bio accompanying the announcement (presented below) emphasizes her years of service with the Peace Corps and with the University of Maryland. Josephine (Jody) Olsen, Ph.D., MSW, was sworn into office as the 20th director of the Peace Corps in March 2018. Olsen began her career as a Peace Corps volunteer, serving in Tunisia from 1966 to 1968. She has since served the agency in multiple leadership positions:as acting director in 2009; . . .

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