Archive - June 2022

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Time Before Roe. Somewhere Worse by Jia Tolentina (Kyrgyzstan)
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JFK Service Award recipients embody commitment and connection
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NY Times hires Megan McCrea (Micronesia)
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BUILDING COMMUNITY by Harlan Russell Green (Turkey)
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THE GECKO IN THE BATHTUB by Nanina Marie Fuller (Philippines)
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BRIGHTEST SUN by Adrienne Benson (Nepal)
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Elaine Chao on the board of the Asian Pacific American Center
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The Peace Corps, RPCV Tom Scanlon, and the President of Notre Dame
9
The NPCA Answers…..
10
Review — THE WORLD AGAINST HER SKIN by John Thorndike (El Salvador)
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What Some Staff of NPCA are Saying…But Are Afraid to Tell Us Who They Are
12
Is Getting Rid of Glenn a Wise Decision?
13
Without Car–SIN CARRO
14
Farewell to RPCV Dick Lipez (Ethiopia)
15
Trouble Brewing for RPCVs–Bad Decision at the NPCA

Time Before Roe. Somewhere Worse by Jia Tolentina (Kyrgyzstan)

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Bill Preston (Thailand 1977-80) We’re Not Going Back to the Time Before Roe. We’re Going Somewhere Worse We are entering an era not just of unsafe abortions but of the widespread criminalization of pregnancy. By Jia Tolentina (Kyrgyzstan 2009) The New Yorker June 24, 2022 Illustration by Chloe Cushman In the weeks since a draft of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization—a case about a Mississippi law that bans abortion after fifteen weeks, with some health-related exceptions but none for rape or incest—was leaked, a slogan has been revived: “We won’t go back.” It has been chanted at marches, defiantly but also somewhat awkwardly, given that this is plainly an era of repression and regression, in which abortion rights are not the only rights disappearing. Now that the Supreme Court has issued its final decision, overturning Roe v. Wade and removing the constitutional right to . . .

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JFK Service Award recipients embody commitment and connection

WASHINGTON – In a ceremony at the United States Institute of Peace, Peace Corps Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Carol Spahn presented the John F. Kennedy (JFK) Service Awards to five exceptional Peace Corps staff and returned volunteers. The award, presented every five years, commemorates President Kennedy’s vision, leadership, and commitment to public service by recognizing members of the Peace Corps network who embody the spirit of service and help advance world peace and friendship. The event was attended by former Peace Corps directors, staff, members of the Peace Corps network, and returned volunteers. “Peace Corps was built on the premise that peace is not the exclusive mandate of politicians and world leaders,” said Spahn. “It requires each and every one of us, day in and day out, deeply connecting as individuals to people and nations around the world and contributing our unique cultures, identities, skills and passions.” The awards were given . . .

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NY Times hires Megan McCrea (Micronesia)

  The New York Times has tapped Megan McCrea (Micronesia 2007-09) as a senior staff editor for its Special Sections wing of the Print Hub. Recently, she freelanced as an editorial strategist for the book packager Connected Dots Media. Her work has appeared in Condé Nast Traveler, Better Homes & Gardens, the San Francisco Chronicle, Mabuhay, and Poetry Flash. She was a senior editor at Via, AAA’s award-winning travel and lifestyle magazine covering nine western states. There, she launched the magazine’s Arizona edition. She was also an assistant travel editor at Sunset magazine, overseeing coverage of the Southwest. Freshly back from the Peace Corps, she co-authored, with 6 other RPCVs, Other Places Publishing’s guidebook to her country of service, Federated States of Micronesia and Palau. McCrea has a BA from Duke University. She lives in Brooklyn with her boyfriend, her bicycle, and a whole lotta books.

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BUILDING COMMUNITY by Harlan Russell Green (Turkey)

Answering Kennedy’s Call   Building Community Answering Kennedy’s Call, Harlan Green’s memoir of his years working to build successful communities at home and abroad, shows what is possible when communities come together to improve their lives.  He describes his work as a Peace Corps Volunteer in a rural community development program in a Turkish village, teaching vocational skills and convincing the villagers to develop new agricultural methods.  Green also worked as a photographer and filmmaker for the USEPA in its earliest days lobbying communities to implement the Clean Air and Water Acts that were enacted to mitigate the growing air and water pollution. He joined Cesar Chavez and the United Farmworkers of America during its mid-1970s struggle organizing seasonal farm workers to better their living conditions; documenting the grape and lettuce boycotts, and Cesar’s charismatic leadership using non-violent methods to fight violent opposition by growers and the Teamsters Union. He . . .

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THE GECKO IN THE BATHTUB by Nanina Marie Fuller (Philippines)

Encounters with Marvelous Creatures   In encounters with an array of creatures, from both domesticated and wild animals inhabiting my Louisiana backyard to denizens of the Amazon  I present these stories to illuminate our inseparability from the life around us by capturing peak moments in the natural world. These experiences are chronicled in the context of my day-to-day life and relationships, from childhood to retirement, highlighting a few unique glimpses of animal lives as they have intersected with mine. I have been investigating my natural surroundings as long as I can remember, wherever my life and travels have taken me. From earthworms to egrets and from Indianapolis neighborhoods to the Amazon rainforest, I have paid careful attention to the creatures crossing my path, doing my best to respect each life and place as I do my own. Imagine a bee sting that results in a 4-day flu; wondering how to . . .

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BRIGHTEST SUN by Adrienne Benson (Nepal)

An illuminating debut novel following three women in sub-Saharan Africa as they search for home and family   Leona, an isolated American anthropologist, gives birth to a baby girl in a remote Maasai village and must decide how she can be a mother, in spite of her own grim childhood. Jane, a lonely expat wife, follows her husband to the tropics and learns just how fragile life is. Simi, a barren Maasai woman, must confront her infertility in a society in which females are valued by their reproductive roles. In this affecting debut novel, these three very different women grapple with motherhood, recalibrate their identities and confront unforeseen tragedies and triumphs. In beautiful, evocative prose, Adrienne Benson brings to life the striking Kenyan terrain as these women’s lives intertwine in unexpected ways. As they face their own challenges and heartbreaks, they find strength traversing the arid landscapes of tenuous human . . .

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Elaine Chao on the board of the Asian Pacific American Center

  West Wing Playbook has learned that former Secretary of Transportation ELAINE CHAO is set to join the board of the Smithsonian’s Asian Pacific American Center. APAC is the institution’s emerging hub for learning and study of Asian Americans, and Ms. Chao would likely help shape the future of the national museum.  

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The Peace Corps, RPCV Tom Scanlon, and the President of Notre Dame

  © 2022 University of Notre Dame June 15, 2022   In a speech to college summer interns in 1962, President John F. Kennedy stumped for the Peace Corps international volunteer organization he created by telling a motivational story about Tom Scanlon (Chile 1961-63), a graduate of Notre Dame University. The president didn’t mention that Scanlon was a 1960 Notre Dame graduate or that the “friend” who told him the tale was Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C.  President of Notre Dame. Nor does the history timeline on the Peace Corps website mention the 45 young people who trained at Notre Dame and landed in Chile about a month after another cohort (Ghana) is celebrated as the first group to serve. Ditto for a recent documentary celebrating the Peace Corps’ history, which didn’t mention the role Father Hesburgh played in helping Sargent Shriver make Kennedy’s vision possible. Even Father Hesburgh hints at some secrecy in his 1999 memoir. “Everybody . . .

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The NPCA Answers…..

    NPCA strives to be a trusted leader and convener within the Peace Corps community. Building and maintaining trust requires intentional listening. The Board takes concerns over the workplace environment very seriously and is working to address concerns among the staff and the community. We want to emphasize that NPCA is listening to the voices from all our stakeholders, and we hear that some members of our community are concerned that NPCA is not where we aim to be. No organization is perfect, but we wholly commit to be better. As such, the Board has taken action to address issues and evolve as needed. Three board task forces have been established to ensure we continue to act as an inclusive leader for the Peace Corps community. Each of these task forces, with clear time-bound objectives, is headed by a member of the NPCA Board of Directors. The three task forces . . .

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Review — THE WORLD AGAINST HER SKIN by John Thorndike (El Salvador)

  The World Against Her Skin: A Son’s Novel By John Thorndike (El Salvador 1967-68) Beck & Branch Publishers 306 Pages April 2022 $15.00 (Paperback); $4.99 (Kindle)   Reviewed by Marnie Mueller (Ecuador 1963-65) The World Against her Skin is an extraordinary work, written by a mature, highly published author. John Thorndike defines his book as a “Son’s Novel,” a hybrid memoir/novel or “biographical novel.” It is his endeavor to know his mother, as he openly states in his “Author’s Note, “I want to know everything about my mother,” especially the secrets that were kept from him as her son. He inhabits this woman character in order to know her. His are the height of literary goals; find truth through your imagination, cross boundaries through sympathy and empathy, and do it because you need to for survival. It beautifully flies in the face of current stricture to only write what . . .

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What Some Staff of NPCA are Saying…But Are Afraid to Tell Us Who They Are

Sexism is harming the Peace Corps Community. Let’s change that.  An Open Letter to the Peace Corps Community Dear Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, Peace Corps family and friends, Peace Corps Allies, Elected Officials, and Peace Corps Agency Staff, We are writing to you as former NPCA staff who want change. A strong Peace Corps is built on a strong Peace Corps Community. However, our opinion is that sexism and gender-based violence, including violence against women, is a culture and problem in the Peace Corps, as victims of sexual assault during Peace Corps service made publicly aware. However, sexism and gender-based violence, especially violence against women also permeate the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) community and the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA). NPCA – the organization that represents 230,000 RPCVs and advocates to Congress in support of Peace Corps – enables sexism through its actions with the Peace Corps community, internally . . .

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Is Getting Rid of Glenn a Wise Decision?

Gary Schulze says: June 21, 2022 at 1:49 pmEDIT As a member of the selection committee that originally picked Glenn to be President of NPCA, I was shocked to learn that the current Board has dismissed him as head of the organization. When Glenn took over the organization it was in financial trouble and had lost the respect of many RPCVs. Glenn rebuilt NPCA, recruited competent staff and gained the respect of the Peace Corps Directors and their staffs. He made a point of visiting regional RPCV groups to gain support for NPCA programs. As a former member of the Board I was personally aware of his many invaluable contributions. Why was he fired in a message which suggested a coup d’etat? And it raises questions about the guy who engineered Glenn’s termination and then made himself Interim President. Until the current Board comes up with a satisfactory explanation I will . . .

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Without Car–SIN CARRO

SIN CARRO by Bonnie Lee Black (Gabon 1996-98) JUNE 16, 2022 Ask any Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) what the biggest, longest-lasting personal benefit of their two-year service overseas has been, and my guess is most will answer in one word: adaptability. Spin RPCVs around, toss them in the air high enough to drop them into another country, and they’ll likely, like cats, land on their feet and adapt to that new culture in record time. Why? Because we’ve learned how. We learned how, I believe, early in our PC service, to let go of American expectations of what’s “normal.” That word quickly flies out the door of our cement-block houses or mud-and-wattle huts in towns and villages seldom shown on printed maps. “Normal” becomes a nonword, meaningless as a measure. My favorite example of this comes from my experience in the middle of the rainforest of Gabon, Central Africa, . . .

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Farewell to RPCV Dick Lipez (Ethiopia)

Dick’s husband, Joe Wheaton, and Dick’s two children–Sydney and Zachary–when married to RPCV Hedy Harris (Ethiopia 1964-67), held a memorial on June 19th, to celebrate the life of our RPCV legend. There was music, a pictorial romp, snacks and beverages, all under a tent on the lawn of Dick and Joe’s home in Becket, Massachusetts. A number of his friends were also asked to speak, and Joe asked me if I would say a few words about Dick’s Peace Corps years. It was surprising to me how many of his family, children and relatives, mentioned his Ethiopian years and when I stood up to address the gathering of about 200 friends and family, I was able to fill in some of the history of his life in Ethiopia as a PCV and later as Peace Corps staff in Washington, D.C.. Here is what I said, Sunday afternoon, on Father’s Day, . . .

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Trouble Brewing for RPCVs–Bad Decision at the NPCA

Today, we begin a new chapter at NPCA. The Board of Directors announces the departure of NPCA President and CEO, Glenn Blumhorst. We are grateful for Mr. Blumhorst’s years of leadership and dedication to the Peace Corps through service, advocacy, and support, and wish him well in his future endeavors. Kim Herman has been appointed as Interim President and CEO with full authority while an Executive search is conducted for NPCA’s next leader. Jed Meline, former Vice Chair of the Board, is serving as Interim Board Chair. New comment in discussion NPCA Leadership Transition Announcement Comment: As Co-Founder and (forever) Member of NPCA, RPCV/W (formerly AAAGWA), Friends of Nigeria, and Shriver Circle, plus current member of them + NorCal PCA, I am familiar with allegations against Glenn Blumhorst and–based on my personal interactions with some involved–I am quite saddened to learn that Glenn has become the victim of the Board’s dismissal. And for this to . . .

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