Archive - 2021

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Acting PC Director Carol Spahn replies to Jerry Norris’ letter about the work of RPCV Maureen Orth
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Review — MICHAEL GOLD: THE PEOPLE’S WRITER by Patrick Chura (Lithuania)
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Dan Rooney (Niger) back in Africa . . . This time Madagascar
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Awesome Woman — Mae Jemison, Peace Corps Staff (Sierra Leone, Liberia)
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THE ADVOCACY — a ‘novel’ approach to civil engineering by Melissa Fischer (Ghana)
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Review — CREATIVE TYPES and Other Stories by Tom Bissell (Uzbekistan)
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RPCV Mary Bruce New Peace Corps Head of Recruitment & Selection (Morocco)
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“Ernesto” in Pamplona by Ron Arias (Peru)
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Identities Abroad | LGBTQ+ in the Peace Corps
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The Future of the Peace Corps in Guatemala

Acting PC Director Carol Spahn replies to Jerry Norris’ letter about the work of RPCV Maureen Orth

  Jerry Norris (Colombia 1963-65) has been researching efforts of RPCVs in pursuit of the Third Goal and posting them here as “Profiles in Courage.” Maureen Orth (Colombia 1964-66) was one such Profile. Jerry Norris wrote Acting Peace Corps Director Carol Spahn about the Orth Foundation which helps Colombian students become bilingual and skilled in computer technology. See: https://peacecorpsworldwide.org/a-profile-in-citizenship-colombia/ • He shares Spahn’s response here: Dear Mr. Norris: Thank you for reaching out to share the story of RPCV Maureen Orth and her inspiring work with the Marina Orth Foundation, as it relates to the Peace Corps’ domestic dividend. As you point out, both she and Donna Shalala have truly gone above and beyond when it comes to our Third Goal. It’s always nice to hear from Returned Volunteers and I so appreciate that you felt compelled to respond to my open letter. As you say, the full impact of the . . .

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Review — MICHAEL GOLD: THE PEOPLE’S WRITER by Patrick Chura (Lithuania)

  Michael Gold: The People’s Writer by Patrick Chura( Lithuania 1992-94) 354 pages SUNY Press December 2020 $33.95 (Kindle); $95.00 (Hardback) Reviewed by Marnie Mueller (Ecuador 1963-65) • Counterintuitively, the hardest to write book reviews are for ones you most admire.  And Patrick Chura’s biography, Michael Gold: The People’s Writer is one such book. Reading Chura’s text has been an intimate labor of love for me. In the very last pages of his story of the life of Michael Gold a sentence stood out to describe my deep attachment.  “. . . (Michael) Gold managed the challenge of proving the existence of another America, and how difficult it made his life.” In writing of Michael Gold, an avowed and uncompromising Marxist, a man who has fallen out of the literary canon, out of the political history of America, despite his major contributions and successes, Chura has told the story of . . .

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Dan Rooney (Niger) back in Africa . . . This time Madagascar

Dan Rooney in Africa Again by Colleen Jurkiewicz Catholic Herald CRS Rice Bowl is the annual Lenten program of Catholic Relief Services, which is the official relief and development agency of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Seventy-five percent of donations to CRS Rice Bowl supports the work of CRS around the world, while 25 percent stays in the local diocese to support hunger and poverty alleviation efforts. Since its inception in 1975, CRS Rice Bowl has raised nearly $300 million. • For Dan Rooney (Niger 2000-02), Lent was always synonymous with the Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl campaign. “If you were to ask almost anyone in my class, they would all remember it. It was a pretty poignant event for us every year, from kindergarten through eighth grade,” said Rooney, who was a student at Blessed Sacrament Parish School in the 1980s. “A couple of days before Lent . . .

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Awesome Woman — Mae Jemison, Peace Corps Staff (Sierra Leone, Liberia)

  How many Americans are multilingual, let alone fluent in Swahili, Japanese, and Russian? Mae Jemison is an engineer and physician as well as a U.S. astronaut – an exceptional achiever by any measure. She was born in 1956 in Decatur, Alabama; her family soon moved to Chicago, for a chance at better schools and jobs. As a child, she remembers assuming that she would one day escape terrestrial confines: “I thought by now we’d be going into space like you were going to work.” Though her teachers were not especially supportive of her interest in science, her parents encouraged her; she was also attracted to the art of the dance and studied ballet, jazz, modern, and African dance. She graduated early and started at Stanford University at age 16 on a National Achievement Scholarship, graduating in 1977 with a degree in chemical engineering; she also fulfilled the requirements for . . .

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THE ADVOCACY — a ‘novel’ approach to civil engineering by Melissa Fischer (Ghana)

  An interview by Ben Walpole Senior Manager, Content Development ASCE’S NEWS AND INFORMATION HUB American Society of Civil Engineers • Melissa Fischer’s first novel, The Advocacy, published in 2019, mixes all the human drama, emotional stakes, plot twists, and character development that you’d expect from a great work of fiction with a realistic portrayal of a working civil engineer. It’s not often that civil engineering and literature show up in the same sentence. Melissa Fischer, P.E., M.ASCE, is aiming to change that. Fischer, who identifies as nonbinary, is a supervising engineer for the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts, but lately they’re probably better known as a novelist. Fischer’s first novel, The Advocacy, published in 2019, mixes all the human drama, emotional stakes, plot twists, and character development that you’d expect from a great work of fiction with a realistic portrayal of a working civil engineer. Fischer discussed the book on a recent . . .

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Review — CREATIVE TYPES and Other Stories by Tom Bissell (Uzbekistan)

  Creative Types and Other Stories By Tom Bissell (Uzbekistan 1996) Pantheon 225 pages March 2021 $12.99 (Kindle); $25.95 (hardback), $14.70 (Audible) Reviewed by Tony D’Souza (Ivory Coast 2000-02, Madagascar 2002-03) • TOM BISSELL’S LATEST SHORT STORY COLLECTION, Creative Types and Other Stories is an absolute pleasure to read if you are a Tom Bissell fan. First time readers of Bissell, however, will be lost in a nerdy, introverted world where conflicted couples make self-flagellating and embarrassing attempts at sex, where all sex is generally intellectually over-analyzed and very, very bad, and the reader begins to wonder just a few stories in whether Bissell’s own sex life — he has tellingly and unnecessarily noted that ‘This is, emphatically, a work of fiction’ — is as horrible as all the pages of this book seem to suggest. That Bissell has profound and embarrassing issues with sex is no secret to anyone . . .

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RPCV Mary Bruce New Peace Corps Head of Recruitment & Selection (Morocco)

  Emme, as she was called as a PCV, writes: “It was a big day yesterday. I’ve been asked to serve in the Biden Harris Administration as an Associate Director of the Peace Corps! Alongside fellow appointees, I was sworn in by President Biden who shared “Very few times does an individual get to do something that can fundamentally positively impact other people’s lives, not only here but around the world.” I’m thrilled, humbled, and ready to contribute to the amazing team already hard at work at the Peace Corps. Together, we’re rebuilding the pipeline of 7,000 volunteers in 60+ countries annually, as Peace Corps relaunches its work after evacuating all volunteers in 2020.” For nearly two decades, Mary has supported the development and growth of young leaders and the scale and impact of social sector organizations, including work with America’s Promise Alliance, the Boston Public Schools, City Year, the . . .

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“Ernesto” in Pamplona by Ron Arias (Peru)

  NOTE: Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s HEMINGWAY will premiere April 5, 2021 on PBS. The three-part, six-hour film series explores the life and work of Ernest Hemingway. Voice actors include Jeff Daniels as Hemingway and  Meryl Streep, Keri Russell, Mary Louise Parker and Patricia Clarkson as Hemingway’s Four Wives. The Peace Corps has its own Hemingway Connection. Read artist and writer Ron Arias’s own story “Ernesto.”   Ernesto By Ron Arias (Peru 1963-64)   The English couple who picked me up outside Zaragoza said they were going to Pamplona to find Ernest Hemingway.“He brought us to Spain,” the woman said. “We’re here because of him.” “Bullfights she means,” the man said. “Hemingway’s the master on bullfights. We heard he was going to be in Pamplona for the fiesta, so we came on over.” “From Barcelona,”the woman explained. “We want to thank him for — ” “The corridas,” the man cut . . .

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Identities Abroad | LGBTQ+ in the Peace Corps

  Identities Abroad: Serving as an LGBTQ+ Volunteer February 25, 2021 – 5:00pm – 6:00pm   During this session, RPCVs identifying as LGBTQ+ will share stories of their lived experienced serving in the Peace Corps as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. By attending this webinar, you can learn how identities play a role in being abroad and in the Peace Corps service and connect with Returned Peace Corps Volunteers! Click here to register for the session: sessions.studentlife.umich.edu/track/event/session/38409 Livestream Available (Visible After Registration) Meet our Panelists: Katie Browne is a PhD candidate in the School for Environment and Sustainability. She served in the Peace Corps in Madagascar from 2009-2012, working with Madagascar National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Society on environmental education programs. She recently returned to Madagascar to conduct dissertation research on climate adaptation with the support of a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship. M.C. Moritz served in Peace Corps Panama from 2014-2016 as a Health . . .

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The Future of the Peace Corps in Guatemala

  by Mark Walker (Guatemala 1971-73) Revue Magazine, February 3, 2021 • Anna Zauner received the evacuation notice at 10 p.m. on March 15th, 2020: Have all of your things packed and ready in an hour. “I was 30 minutes from home with nothing packed,” according to Anna, “home” being the highlands of Guatemala where Anna was one of 165 Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) serving in the “Land of Eternal Spring.” Due to the global outbreak of Covid-19, over 7,300 PCVs were being evacuated from sixty-one countries. Departure for Anna was chaotic with many “stops and starts.” After saying goodbye to as many friends as possible in Santa Lucía Utatlán, Sololá, Anna headed to a hotel near the airport in Guatemala City to await a chartered flight that was to depart the next morning. After a sleepless night, Anna and her fellow Volunteers found out that the flight had been canceled . . .

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