Archive - 2021

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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
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Review — DRIVING JESUS TO LITTLE ROCK by Roland Merullo (Micronesia)
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Famous RPCV Journalists: The China Gang
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Review — A CROW’S WISP by Joseph Monninger (Burkina Faso)
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After the fall of Afghanistan, we need the rise of the Peace Corps
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The Inside Story of the Peace Corps in China
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My Encounters with Emperor Haile Selassie by William Seraile (Ethiopia)
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Review — JFK & RFK Made Me Do It 1960-1968 by Sweet William (Peru)
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From No. 1 to Persona Non Grata: A Peace Corps Story (Malawi)

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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Review — DRIVING JESUS TO LITTLE ROCK by Roland Merullo (Micronesia)

  Driving Jesus to Little Rock by Roland Merullo (Micronesia 1979-80) Pfp Publisher 280 pages September 2021 $9.85 (Kindle); $17,85 (Paperback); $28.00 (Hardcover)   Reviewed by Patricia Taylor Edmisten (Peru 1962-64) • Eddie Valpolicella, a successful novelist, and a Roman Catholic by birth, is the protagonist in this engaging novel. Eddie is invited to do a reading gig for a Methodist group in Little Rock. It is still slush time in the Northeast and Eddie chooses a road trip over air travel because he needs time for himself and wants to experience springtime greening as he heads south. Having said goodbye to his wife and family, Eddie rumbles along, grateful for this gift of time, surprised and content that people in Little Rock are familiar with his books. A good guy, Eddie stops to pick up a hitchhiker whose skin is much darker than most New Englanders. Maybe from the . . .

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Famous RPCV Journalists: The China Gang

This is a blog item I published in 2016. As we talk about China recently on our site I thought I would repost this blog item. After reading The Inside Story of the Peace Corps in China, I thought we should remember the first group of PCV who went from China into international careers in journalism. — JC Although the Peace Corps has given a start to many well-known writers — Paul Theroux, Maria Thomas, Philip Margolin, Mary-Ann Tirone Smith, among them — it has fostered relatively few journalists and editors. One of the first journalists was Al Kamen, a Volunteer in the Dominican Republic during the early 1960s. Recently retired after 35 years at the Washington Post, Kamen wrote a column, “In the Loop,” and also covered the State Department and local and federal courts. He assisted his Post colleague Bob Woodward with reporting for The Final Days and The Brethren. Other Peace Corps . . .

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Review — A CROW’S WISP by Joseph Monninger (Burkina Faso)

  A Crow’s Wisp by Joseph Monninger (Burkina Faso 1975-77) Wood Heat Publishing 321 pages January 2021 $4.99 (Kindle); $10.99 (Paperback)   Reviewed by Steve Foehr (Ethiopia 1965-67) • The crow has been a constant in eons of history, and a continuous thread through worldwide mythologies. In the Bible, the crow symbolizes divine providence. In China and Japan, crows are divine messengers, who show love and gratitude. For the ancient Celts, Romans, and Greeks, the crow could foretell the future. In the many Native American Crow Clans– Chippewa, Hopi, Absaroka, Tlingit, Pueblo, and many more tribes—the crow culture connects the past with the present and the future. Crows have the reputation for being gossipy, disobedient, curious, cautious, a bit stubborn, and want the world the way they want it. They are a trickster, a smart aleck, feared as the souls of people who had committed suicide, and harbingers of luck, . . .

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After the fall of Afghanistan, we need the rise of the Peace Corps

from THE HILL BY REED HASTINGS AND GLENN BLUMHORST, Opinion Contributors 09/30/21 Americans just spent the past two decades trying to rebuild Afghanistan from the top down. Our military led the way, with huge sacrifice, and the American people spent more than $2 trillion dollars on this effort. While hopes were raised, particularly for women, progress was fleeting. Our mission was not achieved. One could be forgiven then, for believing that American engagement overseas is a pointless task. And one could even be forgiven for thinking that Americans should choose to stop engaging the world because of what we’ve just gone through, and that instead, we should just retreat, self-isolate, and give up. Yet that would be a grievous mistake. Not only because it would undermine America’s security and prosperity, but because it just isn’t true. We’re writing this piece because we, as former Peace Corps volunteers, have seen the other side . . .

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The Inside Story of the Peace Corps in China

  By Daniel Schoolenberg (China 2013-15) SupChina Weekly September 30, 2021   When the Peace Corps pulled out of China early last year, it marked the end of a 27-year program that existed only thanks to the efforts of high-level American and Chinese diplomats. Could the program — with its ideals of U.S.-China cooperation — ever be restored?     On August 31, 1988, a small group of American officials arrived in Beijing for talks with Chinese officials. They were treated like high-level diplomats: received with the utmost formality, treated to endless banquets, given the same villa that had hosted Nixon and Kissinger years before to conduct meetings. Led by Jon Keeton, the regional director for the Peace Corps’s Asia programs, the small delegation was tasked with negotiating the details of a Peace Corps program in China. Keeton remembers the high ceilings, ornate pillars, the beautiful potted plants, and the . . .

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My Encounters with Emperor Haile Selassie by William Seraile (Ethiopia)

  By William Seraile (Ethiopia 1963-65)   I was among about 140 Peace Corps volunteers, mainly in our early twenties and graduates of Ivy League colleges, small never heard of private schools, a few large public universities, and a small number of historic black colleges and universities, went to Ethiopia as the second group of PCV teachers in the fall of 1963. Most of us had to examine our atlases to find Ethiopia on the map. Only one of us had ever been to Africa  — Haskell Ward (Ethiopia 1963-65) a graduate of Clark Atlanta University, who had spent a summer in Kenya with Operation Crossroads Africa, a model for the Peace Corps. We had two months of Peace Corps training at UCLA studying Ethiopian culture, history and Amharic, the Ethiopian language. Our Amharic instructors, all young graduate students studying in American universities initially assumed that I was one of . . .

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Review — JFK & RFK Made Me Do It 1960-1968 by Sweet William (Peru)

  JFK & RFK Made Me Do It: 1960–1968 By Sweet William (Peru 1964–66) Peace Corps Writers & Constitutional Capers August 2021 274 pages $25.00 (Paperback); $9.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by Marnie Mueller (Ecuador 1963-65) • I didn’t know what I was getting into when Marian Haley Beil asked me to review this book. My first thought was this would be a simple retelling of the Peace Corps experience and its aftermath. But JFK and RFK Made Me Do It: 1960 to 1968 is much more than that. In this recounting,  it becomes a young man’s sentimental education, akin to Gustave Flaubert’s novel of that title, though instead of  living through the revolution of 1848 and the founding of the Second French Empire, Sweet William takes us through the revolution wrought by JFK’s presidency and RFK’s attempt to carry on the calling of his fallen brother. JFK & RFK MADE ME DO IT, . . .

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From No. 1 to Persona Non Grata: A Peace Corps Story (Malawi)

  by Andy Trincia (Romania 2002-04) free-lance writer Carolina Alumni Review September/October ’21   Two days after graduation, Jack Allison ’66 and his fellow University of North Carolina Men’s Glee Club members flew to New York to appear on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” opening for the Dave Clark Five, the superstar British Invasion rock band. For Allison, who made a name for himself on campus as lead singer for The One-Eyed Jacks, the Sullivan appearance and the glee club’s European tour immediately thereafter were a dreamy signoff from Carolina. Just a year later, Allison recorded a song that went straight to No. 1 — in Africa. He reached the top of the charts after joining the Peace Corps, hoping the two-year stint would help him decide between a career in ministry or medicine. He was sent to Malawi, a narrow, landlocked nation in south-central Africa and one of the world’s . . .

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