Archive - 2022

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Three RPCV women in the news today
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The Peace Corps Third Goal by Kathleen Coskran (Ethiopia)
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A long-overdue change in benefits for returned Volunteers.
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Review — FEEDING THE KIDS TO THE SHARKS by J.J. Martin (Papua New Guinea)
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THE PLOT TO KILL LENIN by Joseph Theroux
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RPCV Samantha Croffut on DART team helping Ukraine
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ONE POTATO by Tyler McMahon (El Salvador)
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Tanzania President at the White House–PCVs mentioned
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BENJAMIN FRANKLIN’S LAST BET by Michael Meyer (China)
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Press Release-The Peace Corps Commits to Further Action to Foster More Equitable, Inclusive Agency
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Books that bred [and explain] the Peace Corps
12
“An Unexpected Love Story — The Women of Bati”
13
SO FAR by Kamaka Dias (Madagascar)
14
The Lion in the Gardens of the Guenet Hotel (Ethiopia)
15
Review — NEIGHBORS: Oral History from Madera, California, V.3 by Lawrence R. Lihosit (Honduras)

Three RPCV women in the news today

  Fanshen Cox (Cape Verde 1993-95) Award-winning playwright, actor, producer & educator, Fanshen Cox is the writer/producer/performer of One Drop of Love, which traveled across the U.S. and internationally from 2013-2020. Fanshen is also a Producer and Development Executive at Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s Pearl Street Films. She served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cape Verde, West Africa, and holds a BA in Spanish & Education, an MA in TESOL, and an MFA in TV, Film & Theatre. She has been honored with Distinguished Alumni Awards from CSULA and from Teachers College, Columbia University. She serves on the board of The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative and on the Kennedy Center’s Turnaround Arts Equity Advisory Committee. Fanshen is also a co-author of the Inclusion Rider which was announced at the 2018 Oscar awards by Frances McDormand. Julia Chang Bloch (Malaysia 1964-66) Ambassador Julia Chang Bloch is founding president of the . . .

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The Peace Corps Third Goal by Kathleen Coskran (Ethiopia)

The Third Goal by Kathleen Coskran (Ethiopia 1965-67) I left for Peace Corps training the week I graduated from college, equipped with uninformed idealism and a BA in English. In other words my few skills included the ability to write a decent sentence and the habit of losing myself in the sentences and paragraphs written by others. Four years earlier I had taken the memorable words of President Kennedy’s inaugural address to heart: “Ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country” and used that sentence as the first line of the essay on citizenship assigned by my English teacher. I don’t remember if she told the class that our essays would be entered in a county-wide contest sponsored by local Civitan Clubs. I do remember my surprise in winning first place in Hall County, getting my picture in the Gainesville Times, and . . .

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A long-overdue change in benefits for returned Volunteers.

  A long-overdue change in benefits for returned Volunteers. And a deadline tomorrow in the House of Representatives.   As we wrap up National Volunteer Week, here’s some news we’re delighted to share: Volunteers who serve in the Peace Corps and return home to Maryland will now be eligible for in-state tuition at public universities and colleges. Gov. Larry Hogan signed that into law earlier this month. We at NPCA played a key role in supporting this long-overdue legislation. Dozens of returned Volunteers submitted written testimony, and I joined former Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen in testifying before legislators. This is just one reminder of how we can make an impact when we work together. Right now, with Volunteers returning to service overseas, they need your support in the U.S. House of Representatives: RPCV Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) and Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA) are circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter calling for $450 million for the Peace Corps . . .

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Review — FEEDING THE KIDS TO THE SHARKS by J.J. Martin (Papua New Guinea)

  Feeding The Kids To The Sharks: A Stay-at-Island Dad Copes with Fighting, Biting, and Feeding Frenzies in Micronesia J.J. Martin (Papua New Guinea 1989-90) Maske Publishing July 2021 340 pages $14.99 (paperback), $4.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by Martin Ganzglass (Somalia 1966–68) • Feeding the Kids to the Sharks is a marvelous read on multiple levels, not only for the Peace Corps community but for anyone who wants to immerse themselves in the culture of Micronesia, complete with a cast of native islanders, crazy and dedicated ex-pats, elite champion surfers, Aussie naval personal, coral harvesters, biosecurity specialists, and PCVs. In September 2007, RPCV Jeff Martin, formerly a communications and public relations employee of an NGO in Washington, D.C., and the husband of Bette, the newly appointed Deputy Peace Corps Director for the Federated States of Micronesia, arrived with their daughters, Devon and Tess, in Kolonia, the capital of Pohnpei State. Micronesia, populated by . . .

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THE PLOT TO KILL LENIN by Joseph Theroux

  1917 — St. Petersburg has been renamed Petrograd. There are riots and breadlines, the rumblings of revolution. The secret police, the Cheka, and Red Guards roam the streets. Somerset Maugham and Lloyd Osbourne have been tasked with locating the Great Orlov, a stolen Imperial jewel — its value could fund the war effort against Germany. The Provisional Government President Alexander Kerensky has drawn them into an assassination plot. Maugham and Osbourne, in their roles as secret agents, encounter a remarkable number of characters. including Jack Reed the socialist reporter, the young poet Vladimir Nabokov, the novelist Hugh Walpole, a precocious Ayn Rand, the assassin Boris Savinkov and Thomas Masaryk the future president of Czechoslovakia. The pointe shoes of Anna Pavlova have appeared in a pawn shop. Maugham and Osbourne must negotiate a world of spies and double agents in order to take down the revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin, who has ordered . . .

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RPCV Samantha Croffut on DART team helping Ukraine

  On February 24, 2022, USAID immediately deployed an elite Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to address growing needs stemming from Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war on Ukraine.     The DART, made up of more than 30 disaster experts from USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, has worked in five countries to lead the U.S. humanitarian response to the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II. For the past seven weeks, the DART has been identifying critical needs, conducting up-to-the minute humanitarian assessments, and quickly ramping up aid for affected communities.   • In the second of a two-part series, we wanted to introduce you to three additional members of our DART, who have put their own lives on hold to save others thousands of miles away from home. One of the women is RPCV Samantha Croffut, a Seattle native, spends much of her days working with humanitarian . . .

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ONE POTATO by Tyler McMahon (El Salvador)

  Eddie Morales finds his lowly R&D life completely upended when his Boise-based biotech firm dispatches him to Puerto Malogrado, a tiny but tumultuous country in South America where the international media is accusing their experimental potatoes of causing a bizarre medical crisis.  Eddie unwillingly arrives in South America only to find his plans for a quick resolution thwarted when he gets caught between the two sides of an impending revolution, each hoping to capitalize on the potato scandal in order to seize power. Eddie stumbles into a conspiracy that reveals just how far his company will go to advance its potato empire. He is forced to make a choice: what—and who—will he sacrifice to preserve his own future in this brave new world of biotechnology? Darkly funny and compassionately rendered, One Potato charts the crooked line between nature and technology and takes a deep look into a future shaped by disasters . . .

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Tanzania President at the White House–PCVs mentioned

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Kitty Thuermer (Mali 1977-79)   President Samia Suluhu of Tanzania is in the United States for two-week official visit to meet Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House. In her opening statement, the Vice President mentions the Peace Corps’ going to Tanzania was one of the very first group of Volunteers in August 1961. The opening greeting in D.C.:

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BENJAMIN FRANKLIN’S LAST BET by Michael Meyer (China)

  The incredible story of Benjamin Franklin’s parting gift to the working-class people of Boston and Philadelphia — a deathbed wager that captures the Founder’s American Dream and his lessons for our current, conflicted age. Benjamin Franklin was not a gambling man. But at the end of his illustrious life, the Founder allowed himself a final wager on the survival of the United States: a gift of two thousand pounds to Boston and Philadelphia, to be lent out to tradesmen over the next two centuries to jump-start their careers. Each loan would be repaid with interest over ten years. If all went according to Franklin’s inventive scheme, the accrued final payout in 1991 would be a windfall. In Benjamin Franklin’s Last Bet, Michael Meyer traces the evolution of these twin funds as they age alongside America itself, bankrolling woodworkers and silversmiths, trade schools and space races. Over time, Franklin’s wager was . . .

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Press Release-The Peace Corps Commits to Further Action to Foster More Equitable, Inclusive Agency

Press Release The Peace Corps Commits to Further Action to Foster More Equitable, Inclusive Agency 4/14/2022 8:36 PM Today, the Peace Corps released three reports highlighting the agency’s commitment to Intercultural Competence, Diversity, Equity Inclusion and Accessibility (ICDEIA) at every level of the organization. “The Peace Corps’ very mission depends on fostering a deliberate practice and culture of ICDEIA until it is inseparable from our way of connecting, doing, and being,” said Carol Spahn, Chief Executive Officer of the Peace Corps. “Over the last two years, we have received thoughtful feedback and important ideas from the Peace Corps network about how we can better reflect the diversity in American society and be more inclusive for all who answer the call to serve.” This input from the Peace Corps network, combined with thoughtful planning and analysis by Peace Corps staff, created the building blocks to ensure that ICDEIA is incorporated in the . . .

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Books that bred [and explain] the Peace Corps

By John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962-64) • During the 1950s, two social and political impulses swept across the United States. One impulse that characterized the decade was detailed in two best-selling books of the times, the 1955 novel by Sloan Wilson, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, and the non-fiction The Organization Man, written by William H. Whyte and published in 1956. These books looked at the “American way of life” and how men got ahead on the job and in society. Both are bleak looks at the mores of the corporate world. These books were underscored by Ayn Rand’s philosophy as articulated in such novels as Atlas Shrugged, published in 1957. Every man, philosophized Rand, was an end in himself. He must work for rational self-interest, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself.   Then in 1958 came a second impulse first expressed in the novel . . .

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“An Unexpected Love Story — The Women of Bati”

 by John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962-64)   If the reader prefers, this may be regarded as fiction. But there is always the chance that such a piece of fiction may throw some light on what has been written as fact. — Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast • AT AN ELEVATION OF 4,000 FEET,  the town of Bati, Ethiopia, off the Dessie Road, is the last highland location before the Danakil Depression. A hard day’s drive from the Red Sea, it’s famous only for its Monday market days when the Afar women of the Danakil walk up the “Great Escarpment” to trade with the Oromos on the plateau. These women arrive late on Sunday, and with their camels and tents, they cover the grassy knob above the town. They trade early in the next morning for grain, cloth, livestock, and tinsels and trinkets imported from Addis Ababa, 277 kilometers to the south. Numbering as . . .

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SO FAR by Kamaka Dias (Madagascar)

  So Far is a  collection of writings, poems, pictures, and nonsense from Kamaka Diasʻs (Madagascar 2016-19) three years living in Madagascar serving in the Peace Corps. In this book, Kamaka shares his unique experiences and perspectives through his blog-style writing and brutal honesty. He promises to never use big words, only his big heart. As soon as you pick up this book youʻll be embarking on a journey unlike any other. No matter what walk of life you come from, youʻll find something that will resonate with you in So Far. Kamaka  is a native Hawaiian from Hilo, Hawaii. He grew up on the Big Island of Hawaii and attended a Hawaiian immersion school all of his life until his senior year when he moved to Oʻahu and graduated from Kaiser High School. He attended The University of Hawaii at Mānoa and studied abroad in Spain and Argentina. Immediately . . .

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The Lion in the Gardens of the Guenet Hotel (Ethiopia)

    by John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962–64) •   In the final days of our in-country Peace Corps training in Ethiopia, we had a celebration dinner at the Guenet Hotel in the Populari section of the capital, Addis Ababa. The Guenet Hotel, even in 1962, was one of the older hotels in Addis Ababa. It wasn’t in the center of town, but south of Smuts Street and down the hill from Mexico Square, several miles from where we were housed in the dormitories of Haile Selassie I University. While out of the way, this small, two-story rambling hotel, nevertheless, had a two-lane, American-style bowling alley, tennis courts, and a most surprising of all, an African lion in its lush, tropical gardens. At that time in the Empire, no Ethiopian was allowed to keep a lion, the symbol of the Emperor, Haile Selassie, whose full title was “By the Conquering Lion . . .

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Review — NEIGHBORS: Oral History from Madera, California, V.3 by Lawrence R. Lihosit (Honduras)

  Neighbors: Oral History from Madera, California – Volume 3 Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras 1975–77) Independently published February 2022 150 pages $16.00 (paperback) Reviewed by Stephen Foehr (Ethiopia 1965–66) • Madera, in California’s San Joaquin Valley, does not seem exceptional at first glance. The city (pop. 65,860) twenty-five miles north of Fresno straddles Rt. 99 on the flat plains of the Central Valley. There are no natural wonders or exceptional architecture. The population is a mix of Anglo-American, African, Native American, Asian, with Hispanic (78.4%) being the largest group. The median household income is $16,00 below the national average. But peel back the ordinary, and you find “bravery, loyalty, patience, persistence, what boxers call heart – the sheer will to get back up,” writes Lawrence Lihosit in his three-volume Madera trilogy. Lihosit, former Peace Corps volunteer (Honduras 1975-77) and travel writer, has lived in Madera since 1995. For the trilogy . . .

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