Archive - 2021

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Ex-PCV (Albania) who saw deadly Capitol breach shooting charged in riot
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Review — FEVER! AND OTHER STORIES FROM THE LAND OF MOBUTU
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RPCV USAID official describes Capitol riot as largely peaceful, led by ‘a few violent people’ (Lesotho)
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Carol Spahn — Acting Peace Corps Director
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Carol Spahn will be Peace Corps Acting Director
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The Volunteer who was “Our Woman in Havana” — Vicki Huddleston (Peru)
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Talking With Paul Aertker (Mauritania)
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Peace Corps Gets 1 Country in NYTIMES Annual List of Cherish Places
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NPCA E-Newsletter: This Violence Cannot Stand
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Ex-PCV Tried To Assist Woman Who Was Killed At Capitol–And Also Participated in Mob Action

Ex-PCV (Albania) who saw deadly Capitol breach shooting charged in riot

  January 13, 2021 11:15 AM TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey man who said he was standing next to a woman when she was fatally shot during the U.S. Capitol riot is now charged in connection with last week’s breach. Thomas Baranyi, 28, was arrested Tuesday night by the FBI and charged with disorderly or disruptive conduct. He made his initial court appearance later that night via video conference, where bail was set at $100,000, but he was later released on an unsecured bond. Baranyi, who formerly served in the Peace Corps, gained attention on the day of the riots when he told a TV reporter that he was standing next to Ashli Babbitt when she was fatally shot inside the building, and held up his right hand to show blood that was still there. In a criminal affidavit, FBI Special Agent Cassidy Vreeland wrote that Baranyi’s identity . . .

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Review — FEVER! AND OTHER STORIES FROM THE LAND OF MOBUTU

  Fever! and other stories from The Land of Mobutu Peter Loan (Staff— CD Zaire 1976–79; Washington) Peace Corps Writers August 2020 100 pages $9.99 (paperback), $5.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by Larry Trouba (Togo 1988–90; staff/APCD Benin 1997–2000) • Ebola, insanity and physical insecurity are just a few of the themes that Peter Loan explores in Fever! and Other Stories from the Land of Mobutu. In his debut short story collection, Loan gives the reader a glimpse of life in 1970s Zaire for Peace Corps Volunteers and staff living in a county which perhaps more than any other typified the kleptocracy that was omnipresent in sub-Saharan Africa, but also a land that nevertheless engendered a fond affection for those dedicated enough to face the challenge. This collection illustrates some of the issues faced by Peace Corps administrators in overseeing a large program in a vast African country, third the size of the . . .

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RPCV USAID official describes Capitol riot as largely peaceful, led by ‘a few violent people’ (Lesotho)

Yeganeh Torbati, The Washington Post Jan. 12, 2021 • WASHINGTON – An outgoing Trump administration political appointee at the nation’s leading foreign aid agency told staff on Tuesday that the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol was the work of “a few violent people,” and added that “several million” others there were protesting peacefully for electoral reform, according to audio recordings of a staff meeting obtained by The Washington Post. Tim Meisburger (Lesotho 1988-90) is a Trump appointee and an outgoing deputy assistant administrator at the U.S. Agency for International Development’s bureau for development, democracy and innovation. Meisburger made the comments on a video call with approximately 70 to 80 USAID workers, according to one USAID official who was granted anonymity to describe internal communications at the agency. “What I saw was several million people demonstrating in the Capitol, peaceful protesters in the Capitol,” said Meisburger, according to an audio recording . . .

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Carol Spahn — Acting Peace Corps Director

  Update January 22, 2021:  Peace Corps reports that Carol Spahn has been appointed Acting Peace Corps Director by President Biden. Editors note: Before her recent years with the Peace Corps in DC and Malawi, Carol Spahn was Executive Director of Accordia Global Health Foundation (Accordia) responsible for implementing new strategies and forging new partnerships to expand the impact of healthcare capacity building efforts in Africa undertaken by the organization. Carol previously served Accordia as its Director of Finance and Administration. Prior to joining Accordia, she was Vice-President, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of Small Enterprise Assistance Funds, a non-profit private equity fund manager that invests in small and medium-sized companies in developing countries. Carol was a PCV as a Small Business Advisor in Romania shortly after the fall of communism and has also held several positions with financial service institutions, including GE Capital and KPMG Peat Marwick. She holds . . .

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Carol Spahn will be Peace Corps Acting Director

Updated January 22, 2021: Peace Corps reports that President Biden has appointed Carol Spahn as Acting Peace Corps Director. I wrote to Director Olsen about the transition planning and who would be “in charge” at Peace Corps until the new Director is confirmed.  Here is her response: Thank you for reaching out. The transition from one Executive branch administration to the next is a hallmark of our constitutional democracy. We have a succession plan in place to ensure a smooth and effective transition for the incoming administration. Our plan was shared previously with the General Services Administration (GSA), in accordance with government-wide guidance, and members of our Agency Review Team (ART). I can now share with you the name of the staff member who will be stepping in as our Acting Director pending an appointment by the new Administration. I am pleased to say that our ART members have been . . .

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The Volunteer who was “Our Woman in Havana” — Vicki Huddleston (Peru)

  A Profile of Citizenship By Jeremiah Norris Colombia (1963-65)  • The author of Our Woman in Havana, Vicki Huddleston, was raised in Hungry Horse, Montana. She graduated from the University of Montana, entered the Peace Corps as a Volunteer in Peru, 1964-65. After Peace Corps, she attended graduate school at the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies, followed by becoming a Fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics. Afterward, she went on to a distinguished career with the Department of State, serving as Ambassador to Madagascar, then under Presidents Bush and Clinton, as the Chief of the U. S. Interests Section in Havana, finally as Ambassador in Mali. In her book, Vicki chronicles several compelling memories of her official interventions with Fidel Castro, as well as some risky initiatives she undertook to allow Cubans an opportunity to bridge the differences between what their government was telling them and external events . . .

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Talking With Paul Aertker (Mauritania)

  Paul Aertker (ETT Kerr) is a children’s book writer, teacher, and a frequent speaker at elementary and middle schools. He began his teaching career in West Africa with the Peace Corps where he helped establish the town’s first public library. His first series, Crime Travelers, consistently ranks in the top spot in multiple Amazon categories. His newest book, Posthumous, has won the 2018 Foreword Reviews Indie Book of the Year Bronze Award, and the 2018 SCBWI Spark Award for “excellence in independent publishing for children.” The Crime Travelers series has sold more than 25,000 copies per year for the last three years and has been optioned for TV/Film. • Paul, where are you from? I grew up in Louisiana, surrounded by a kaleidoscope of African and Cajun cultures, and went to Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi. Why did you decide to join the Peace Corps? As cliché as it might seem, I wanted . . .

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Peace Corps Gets 1 Country in NYTIMES Annual List of Cherish Places

Note from the editor: At this time of year, The New York Times’ Travel desk usually publishes its lavish 52 Places to Go list, a compendium of suggestions for the destinations that are especially worth visiting in the coming year, accompanied by show-stopping photography. But this year, that was out of the question. Instead of its traditional list of destinations, the Travel desk asked readers about locales with special meaning to them. This is what Teresa Gotlin-Sheehan (Burkina Faso 2012-14) had to say.     Burkina Faso is a West African country of desert and baobab trees, where more than 60 languages are spoken. I had heard rumors of an abandoned cliff village, like Mesa Verde in the United States, not far from my host community. When a friend came to visit, we set off on a three-day bike tour to visit and view the Niansogoni Cliffs and the Sindou . . .

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NPCA E-Newsletter: This Violence Cannot Stand

  Please read the entire E-Newsletter, published Thursday, January 7, 2021. This violence cannot stand. Yesterday was a horrific day for our country. A violent mob stormed the United States Capitol, smashing windows and looting offices. They sent members of Congress and their staffs scrambling for their lives, barricading into offices and chambers, and huddling beneath chairs. Explosive devices were found. One of the extremists who stormed the building was fatally shot. Three other people died in related incidents. And today a Capitol Hill police officer who was assaulted by extremists died. We condemn these acts of violence and chaos in the strongest possible terms. The Peace Corps community is committed to building peace and friendship. When we are sworn in as Volunteers, we take an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. This was an attempted coup by domestic terrorists. Symbolically . . .

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Ex-PCV Tried To Assist Woman Who Was Killed At Capitol–And Also Participated in Mob Action

The man in a widely circulated news video from Wednesday’s ambush on the United States Capitol is Thomas Baranyi, a 28-year-old from New Jersey who served in the Peace Corps as recently as last year. In the video interview with a reporter from WKRG, a CBS affiliate, Baranyi holds up… The video has been taken down!  

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