Archive - 2022

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The Day Bob Dylan Became BOB DYLAN
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A LIFE UNIMAGINED by Director Aaron Williams (Dominican Republic)
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RPCVs in Massachusetts collecting clothes, medial supplies and food for Ukraine
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The Volunteer Who Is one of the Most Prolific Writers of our Era — Larry Grobel (Ghana)
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What will Peace Corps Do in the Absence of Appropriations?
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Review — THE UNHEARD by Josh Swiller (Zambia)
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John Garamendi Speaks with Volodymyr Zelenskyy
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Review — TROPICAL ECSTASY by Norman Weeks (Brazil)
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Peace Corps to start sending volunteers overseas again
10
Putin Before He Retreated to the Far End of the Table by Maureen Orth (Colombia)
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Special Message from the Peace Corps
12
Ukraine: NPCA Offers Updates and What RPCVs Can Do
13
An improved Peace Corps for the next generation
14
10 new books by Peace Corps writers — January/February 2022
15
Happy Peace Corps Day from Sydney, Australia

The Day Bob Dylan Became BOB DYLAN

  by Rowland Scherman (PC Staff 1961-64)   In June, 1963, I was working in Washington DC shooting PR pictures for the Peace Corps. That may sound mundane, but I had been doing it since the inception of the new agency, and had literally traveled the world photographing the volunteers at work in their newly adopted countries. In his inaugural speech, President Kennedy asked us what we could do for the country. And I, like thousands of others, responded. I was what one might call an “advanced amateur.” I knew what an f-stop was, and the other basics, but not a hell of a lot more. By answering JFK’s call, my chosen career was importantly enabled. I had been to a Peter, Paul and Mary concert in the area and later heard that they were to be the headliners at the Newport Folk Festival, along with Pete Seeger, Theo Bikel, and Joan Baez. That sounded as if it might . . .

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A LIFE UNIMAGINED by Director Aaron Williams (Dominican Republic)

  Aaron Williams (Dominican Republic 1968-71) has devoted his life to public service and the betterment of others. His life story reveals fascinating glimpses into the complex interactions of international development and US foreign policy, but also into the American myth of anyone becoming anything through the power of hard work, determination, and drive. The remarkable journey of this leader in international development, foreign policy, and global business began on Chicago’s South Side. He attended Catholic schools, participated in the Boys Club and Boy Scouts, and read science fiction books at the Chicago Public Library. A graduate of Chicago State University and the University of Wisconsin–Madison, he spent time as a public school teacher before serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic. Finding his time there transformative, he turned his energies in direction, and joined the US Agency for International Development (USAID) working on projects in Honduras, . . .

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RPCVs in Massachusetts collecting clothes, medial supplies and food for Ukraine

About 1,500 pounds of supplies are on their way to Ukraine from Massachusetts. Three former Peace Corps volunteers in Stoughton collected clothing, medical supplies and food to send to two shelters in western Ukraine and a children’s hospital in Lviv. The group has also collected more than $3,500 in cash to help them ship the supplies overseas. “I thought it would be a few friends and family I bribed to help, and my house (Friday) had 800 pounds of boxes that we dropped off (Saturday),” said Norfolk resident Katie Yanosick, who helped organize the effort. Yanosick said 60 boxes totaling 1,500 pounds were shipped on Saturday. The group is going to keep collecting supplies to send to Ukraine. If you are interested in supporting their mission, click this link to reach their Amazon Wish List. Donations can also be made to @katherine-yanosick on Venmo. Yanosick said some of the donations will . . .

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The Volunteer Who Is one of the Most Prolific Writers of our Era — Larry Grobel (Ghana)

A Profile in Citizenship by Jeremiah Norris (Colombia 1963–65) • (This Profile is with appreciation to John Coyne for his recent informative interview with Lawrence [Larry] Grobel.) After graduating from UCLA, Larry was a Volunteer in Ghana 1968 to 1971. He worked in Ghana’s Institute of Journalism, teaching Literature, Creative Writing, and Current Events. In the next 36 years, Lawrence managed — somehow, to write two novels; 3 books of short stories; 2 novellas; 2 memories; a book of poems about celebrities; 2 volumes of 4 screen plays; 8 “conversations with” books; a satire on yoga; and 10 books of nonfiction! Within this literary output, Larry squeezed in interviews with international celebrities, creating in the process a veritable rogues’ gallery of contemporary icons.  One was with Marlon Brando for Playboy’s 25th Anniversary issue. Playboy called him “the interviewer’s interviewer.” Another for Playboy was with Truman Capote, that subsequently was turned . . .

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What will Peace Corps Do in the Absence of Appropriations?

March 11, 2022, UPDATE:  Late on the night of March 10, 2022, the Senate approved the Appropriations Bill funding the federal government until the end of this fiscal year, September 30, 2022.  The House had already passed the Government Funding Bill.  The Bill goes to President Biden for his signature, which he has promised.  No more  “Continuing Resolutions” are necessary.  There will be no government shutdown.  Peace Corps will be able to continue its intention to send Volunteers once more to host countries. Congress must approve a Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government. The deadline to pass the CR is this Friday,  March 11, 2022.  The Resolution must pass both Houses of Congress.  If no  Continuing Resolution is passed, the federal government would “shut down” in the absence of funding, until or unless a new budget is approved or a new Continuing Resolution is passed. Last September 27, 2021, . . .

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Review — THE UNHEARD by Josh Swiller (Zambia)

  The Unheard: A Memoir of Deafness and Africa by Josh  Swiller (Zambia 1994–96) Henry Holt Paperback 2007 265 pages $18.59 (paperback), $11.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by Christine Herbert (Zambia 2004–06) • I’ve read numerous memoirs by Peace Corps volunteers, and I can honestly say I’ve never read one as unabashedly gritty and truly eye-opening as this one. Unrelenting in its honesty, Josh Swiller’s narrative takes the reader on a tour of discovery: the life of a deaf Peace Corps volunteer serving in Africa. What can I say about the writing? In short, it is astounding. The narrative drifts between incisive prose, bite-size history lessons, quippy dialogue, sweeping poetry, locker room trash talk and back again with the nimbleness of a flying trapeze artist. Sometimes lilting like a lullaby, sometimes booming like a howler monkey, the words call you to experience his story with all your senses. Every scene is cinematic in . . .

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John Garamendi Speaks with Volodymyr Zelenskyy

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Marnie Mueller (Ecuador 1963-65) On Saturday, Rep. John Garamendi (Ethiopia 1966-68), a senior member of the armed services committee spoke with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to discuss Russia’s invasion. He joined a one-hour briefing with 50 members of Congress. Garamendi, who represents parts of Northern California between Sacramento and San Francisco, shared his candid conversation with Zelenskyy. “He knows that he is at the top of the kill list, and he knows that his life is in jeopardy but he has pushed that aside to lead this nation. An incredible man of courage and leadership,” Garamendi said. Garamendi said Ukraine’s president emphasized that Russian forces are moving away from targeting the Ukrainian military and are now attacking communities. “He went into detail about high schools, kindergarten schools, apartment buildings, government buildings, presumably with the intent of breaking the wheel of the Ukrainian people,” Garamendi . . .

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Review — TROPICAL ECSTASY by Norman Weeks (Brazil)

  Tropical Ecstasy: A nostalgic trip to Brazil Norman  Weeks (Brazil 1968-70) Independently published 2020 282 pages $12.00 (paperback); $4.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by Michael Varga (Chad 1977–79)  • How many RPCVs would like the opportunity to return to their place of service and survey the changes? That’s the premise of Norman Weeks’ memoir, Tropical Ecstasy. He returns to Brazil (in 1995) 25 years after his years as a Peace Corps Volunteer to his small city of Penedo. Language is an important part of his return, and he tries to communicate as often as he can in his dusty Portuguese. He wants to increase his encounters with locals, and knows that relying on English will not allow for a very deep understanding of the country so many years later. As he travels through Brazil — Manaus, Olinda, Recife, Maceio — on his way to his town, he laments that an oil slick, . . .

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Peace Corps to start sending volunteers overseas again

By LISA RATHKE Associated Press, March 5, 2022 The Peace Corps will start sending volunteers overseas again in mid-March after it evacuated them from posts around the world two years ago because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. government program announced Thursday. An initial group of new volunteers and those who were evacuated in March 2020 as the coronavirus began to spread across the globe will go to Zambia and the Dominican Republic this month, according to a Peace Corps statement. The Peace Corps plans to return volunteers to their posts throughout the year, based on the number of COVID-19 cases and hospital capacity in the host country and the Peace Corps’ ability to transport volunteers to medical evacuation centers if there’s an emergency. It is currently recruiting for 24 posts. Besides their primary work on local issues, volunteers will be involved in COVID-19 response and recovery, the Peace Corps . . .

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Putin Before He Retreated to the Far End of the Table by Maureen Orth (Colombia)

Putin’s Character Was Clear Long Before He Retreated to the Far End of the Table By Maureen Orth (Colombia 1964-66) Vanity Fair Magazine March 4, 2022 • Today, the world sees Vladimir Putin from a distance, isolated at the end of a very long table. When I first met him, in September 2000, he was at a very different table, in a private room at New York’s 21 Club, at a dinner hosted by Tom Brokaw for 20 or so media luminaries. Brokaw had interviewed the recently elected Russian president for NBC a few months earlier. I was invited because I had just closed a lengthy profile of Putin for Vanity Fair, and also because my late husband, Tim Russert, was the anchor of NBC’s Meet the Press.   The number one topic was why Putin had not interrupted his vacation when the Russian Kursk submarine sank, killing all 118 crew members. By then, Russians were fed up with . . .

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Special Message from the Peace Corps

Special Edition Chief Executive Officer’s Message In this special edition of Inside Peace Corps, I want to acknowledge the fear and heartache we all have for the people and the country of Ukraine. Ukraine has been a partner to the Peace Corps since 1992. In the 30 years since, nearly 3,500 Volunteers have been warmly welcomed into communities across the country. Our hearts go out to these community members and long-time members of the Peace Corps network as well as all Ukrainians. It has been so incredibly moving to witness the outpouring of support for Ukraine from around the world, including from within the Peace Corps network. I am forever in awe of how this group of global leaders comes together in moments like these to stand for world peace and friendship. In response to the refugees coming across the Ukrainian border, our Peace Corps/Moldova team has been working around the . . .

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Ukraine: NPCA Offers Updates and What RPCVs Can Do

This article was first published on February 24th and updated on the 26th. https://www.peacecorpsconnect.org/articles/2022-02-24-the-war-of-aggression-against-ukraine-must-stop The War of Aggression Against Ukraine Must Stop “We in the Peace Corps community stand in solidarity with the people and communities in Ukraine who are now in harm’s way. By Steven Boyd Saum, Jeffrey Janis, and Gretchen Upholt   Early this morning, Ukraine — a free and independent nation — became the victim of an unprovoked war of aggression launched by Vladimir Putin, who ordered tens of thousands of Russian troops to invade. Missiles and shells have fallen in cities across the country. Apartment buildings and hospitals have been hit. Civilians have been terrorized and killed, while many thousands huddle in bomb shelters and metro stations. Meanwhile, brave citizens are lining up to give blood, knowing that it will be needed in days to come. We in the Peace Corps community unequivocally condemn these acts . . .

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An improved Peace Corps for the next generation

Community Voices: An improved Peace Corps for the next generation by David Schaad (Iran 1971-73) The United States is on the verge of sending our most valued treasure — our people — overseas to serve as Peace Corps volunteers once again. For the past two years, the Peace Corps, like much of the world, has been grounded by COVID-19, with no volunteers currently serving abroad. This is about to change, and as the Peace Corps gets ready to relaunch, it’s my hope, as a returned Peace Corps volunteer who served in Iran from 1971 to 1973, that it does so even better than before. The good news is that this is possible. While nearly 7,000 Americans serving in some 60 countries came home in 2020, the 240,000 Americans who served since the agency’s founding in 1961 didn’t sit still. We organized, drew on the knowledge and experience of the community, . . .

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10 new books by Peace Corps writers — January/February 2022

To purchase any of these books from Amazon.com — CLICK on the book cover, the bold book title, or the publishing format you would like — and Peace Corps Worldwide, an Amazon Associate, will receive a small remittance from your purchase that will help support the site and the annual Peace Corps Writers awards. We now include a brief description  for the books listed here in hopes of encouraging readers  1) to order a book and 2) to VOLUNTEER TO REVIEW IT.  See a book you’d like to review for Peace Corps Worldwide? Send a note to Marian at marian@haleybeil.com, and we’ll send you a copy along with a few instructions. In addition to the books listed below, I have on my shelf a number of other books whose authors would love for you to review. Go to Books Available for Review to see what is on that shelf. Please, please join in our Third Goal effort!!!   . . .

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Happy Peace Corps Day from Sydney, Australia

    “Following up on the idea he launched at the University of Michigan, President Kennedy signed an executive order establishing the Peace Corps on March 1, 1961. Three days later, R. Sargent Shriver became its first Director. Deployment was rapid: Volunteers began serving in five countries in 1961. In just under six years, Director Shriver developed programs in 55 countries with more than 14,500 Volunteers.”   Peace Corps is one of President Kennedy’s greatest living legacies. I never had the privilege of serving as a PCV, but I did have the honor of working for Peace Corps HQs for four years — in the department that handles the recruitment and placement of Volunteers — and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I love that I am still connected to so many of my Peace Corps friends. Here I am in 1995 with the first Director . . .

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