Archive - 2022

1
The Volunteer Who Brought China Home to America — Peter Hessler (China)
2
Peace Corps documentary lauds storied history and looks to the future
3
Review — THE PEACE CORPS AND LATIN AMERICA by Thomas J. Nisley (Dominican Republic)
4
Mark Walker in ELAND press writing about Moritz Thomsen (Ecuador)
5
Friends of Tonga founders raising funds for the Kingdom
6
RPCV Rob Schmitz (China) — NPR’s International Correspondent
7
What is Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Peace Corps connection?
8
Review — MY PEACE CORPS, MY VIETNAM WAR by Jack Boyd (Kenya)
9
US Ambassador Kelly Degnan’s Remembers the Peace Corps on 30th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations with Georgia
10
Review — GOATS and other stories by Martin Ganzglass (Somalia)
11
Legendary Peace Corps General Counsel Weighs In on Tanzania Car Accident
12
Inaugural Issue of the RPCV Oral History Project
13
Review — DISCOVERING TUNISIAN CUISINE by Judith Dwan Hallet (Tunisia) et al
14
FROM KALAMAZOO TO TIMBUKTU by Paul Guenette (Senegal)
15
“Climate Change & Wildlife Crime” — Jessica Kahler (Vanuatu) on ZOOM 1/27

The Volunteer Who Brought China Home to America — Peter Hessler (China)

   by Jeremiah Norris  (Colombia, 1963-65) Peter Hessler graduated from Princeton University in 1992 with an A. B. in English. The summer before graduation, he wrote an extensive ethnography about the small town of Sikeston, Missouri, which was published by the Journal for Applied Anthropology. After graduation, he received a Rhodes Scholarship to study English language and literature at Mansfield College, University of Oxford. Peter then served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in China from 1996 to 1998, teaching English at Fuling Teachers College, in a small city near the Yangtze River. After Peace Corps, Peter continued his work in China as a freelance writer for publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, The South China Morning Post, and National Geographic. He joined The New Yorker as a staff writer in 2000 and served as a foreign correspondent until 2007. Peter left China in 2007 and settled . . .

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Peace Corps documentary lauds storied history and looks to the future

  A former Peace Corps volunteer says the organization remains relevant 60 years after its founding during the Kennedy administration.   Other nations have development programs, yet the Peace Corps is unique, said Dane Myers, now the assistant director of the Stevenson Center for Community and Economic Development at Illinois State University. “A lot of the focus of the early Peace Corps years is sustainable agriculture, digging wells, and things like that. And it has evolved. Many of the areas where Peace Corps volunteers serve are undergoing vast economic, social, political, and technological changes,” said Myers. “But each location has such specific challenges, that the fact the Peace Corps sends volunteers directly into these communities where they are immersed for a period of two years, just helps them to understand the culture of the problems in a way other development efforts can’t.” The Peace Corps is celebrating six decades of . . .

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Review — THE PEACE CORPS AND LATIN AMERICA by Thomas J. Nisley (Dominican Republic)

  The Peace Corps and Latin America: In the Last Mile of U.S. Foreign Policy by Thomas J. Nisley (Dominican Republic 1989-91); Ph.D./University of Florida; professor of International Relations and Latin American Studies at Kennesaw State University, Georgia. Lexington Books, 2018 158 pages $95.00 (hardcover), $39.99 (paperback), $37.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by John Chromy (India 1963-65) • Reading Dr. Nisley’s book gives the reader a sense of his love and admiration for the Peace Corps, its enormous impact on his own life and somewhat more limited impact on the people in the community in which he served. With that in mind he sets off to examine the Peace Corps’ role in U.S. Foreign Policy, and specifically whether the Peace Corps “makes a difference” in U.S. Foreign Policy. Like it or not, Dr. Nisley points out that the Peace Corps was conceived as an extension of the U.S. foreign policy, and launched in a period of . . .

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Mark Walker in ELAND press writing about Moritz Thomsen (Ecuador)

Mark Walker (Guatemala 1971-73) has an essay in homage of Moritz Thomsen (Ecuador 1965-67)  in the February issue of ELAND press in London. ELAND Press follows the mantra, “Keeping the best travel writing alive” by republishing some of the best classic travel works which have been forgotten by the public. They’ve already republished Thomsen’s Living Poor and The Saddest Pleasure.  Walker learned about them from Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-65) who informed him they were republishing The Saddest Pleasure and asked to use his introduction, which Theroux did for free in honor of Thomsen who he considers a friend and one of the best travel writers in the U.S. Other authors they’ve published include Martha Gellhorn, Hemmingway’s third wife, and an accomplished war correspondent — who met Thomsen and wrote an obituary after he passed away in 1991. Read Walker’s essay and more in this February issue of Eland Newsletter.    

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Friends of Tonga founders raising funds for the Kingdom

  New Castle News by Renée Gendreau, Jan 28, 2022 • It wasn’t the way Michael Hassett wanted people to learn about Tonga. A 2007 graduate of Laurel High School, Hassett served for two years with the Peace Corps (Tonga 2012-14) in the South Pacific kingdom, which was devastated by a tsunami earlier this month. Together with his wife, Chiara Collette, a fellow Peace Corps volunteer who also served in Tonga, Hassett founded Friends of Tonga in 2018 to provide educational opportunities for the island nation’s children. Last summer, in partnership with Schools for Children of the World, the non-profit dedicated its first school in Ta’anga on the island of ‘Eua. Located northwest of New Zealand, Tonga is a constitutional monarchy comprised of 176 islands, of which 36 are inhabited by the nation’s 109,000 residents. When forming the organization, Hassett noted that one of the difficulties in raising funds was the . . .

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RPCV Rob Schmitz (China) — NPR’s International Correspondent

  Rob Schmitz is NPR’s international correspondent based in Berlin, where he covers the human stories of a vast region reckoning with its past while it tries to guide the world toward a brighter future. From his base in the heart of Europe, Schmitz has covered Germany’s levelheaded management of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of right-wing nationalist politics in Poland and creeping Chinese government influence inside the Czech Republic. Prior to covering Europe, Schmitz provided award-winning coverage of China for a decade, reporting on the country’s economic rise and increasing global influence. His reporting on China’s impact beyond its borders took him to countries such as Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia, and New Zealand. Inside China, he’s interviewed elderly revolutionaries, young rappers, and live-streaming celebrity farmers who make up the diverse tapestry of one of the most fascinating countries on the planet. He is the author of the critically . . .

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What is Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Peace Corps connection?

  What Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, a top contender for Biden Supreme Court pick, has revealed about her personal side. She has recounted in a 2017 speech that her parents, wanting to show pride in their African ancestry, asked her aunt, who was then in the Peace Corps in Africa, for a list of African girl names. Taking one of her suggestions, Jackson’s parents named her Ketanji Onyika, which she said they were told translates to”lovely one.”  

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Review — MY PEACE CORPS, MY VIETNAM WAR by Jack Boyd (Kenya)

  My Peace Corps, My Vietnam War Jack  Boyd (Kenya 1967–68) Independently published, 2020 186 pages $24.00 (paperback), $7.00 (Kindle) Reviewed by Kevin M. Denny (Malawi 1964-66) • I was eager to review Jack Boyd’s book My Peace Corps, My Vietnam to see how his experience with both Peace Corps and Vietnam compared with my own. I served in Malawi from 1964 to 1966 as a health educator while Boyd was in Kenya as a teacher from 1967 to 1968. What I came to appreciate was what a difference two years could make! In my case I had been accepted into the Peace Corps in Spring of 1964 and arrived in Malawi in July just when that the country was celebrating its new independence. from Queen Elizabeth II. At that time there was no consideration among male PCVs as to how the ongoing Vietnam war would alter our lives. I can . . .

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US Ambassador Kelly Degnan’s Remembers the Peace Corps on 30th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations with Georgia

  US Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan has released a statement on the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Georgia. In her statement, Ambassador Degnan talks about the relations between the two countries during this period and explains why Georgia is important to the United States. And she speaks about the contribution the Peace Corps has made in Georgia since 2001. Her remarks about the Peace Corps and Georgia reads as follows: Embassy Tbilisi currently implements one of the largest exchange programs in the region, with nearly 20 different programs a year, sending around 200 people to the United States who contribute to an incredibly rich exchange of ideas and culture. And of course, our wonderful Peace Corps Volunteers have played an important role in connecting America and Georgia for years. Since 2001, more than 500 Peace Corps volunteers who learned Georgian and have lived in communities throughout Georgia, making . . .

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Review — GOATS and other stories by Martin Ganzglass (Somalia)

  Goats: And Other Stories Martin Ganzglass (Somalia 1966–68) Peace Corps Writers March, 2021 305 pages $10.00 (paperback) Reviewed by D.W. Jefferson • Martin Ganzglass was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Somalia   from 1966 to 1968. He has published a number of works of fiction and nonfiction, including six in an American Revolutionary War series. This collection of short stories includes a wide range of characters, narrators, and settings. The title story, “Goats,” starts out appearing to be historical fiction but ends with a twist that is pure sci-fi. The first story, “Bridges,” is set in the era of the Viet Nam War, but others are set in the 21st century. In addition to the ten regular stories, there is a section called lagniappe (pronounced lan-yap) at the end of the book. According to the author, a lagniappe is an old Louisiana tradition in which shopkeepers give customers a . . .

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Legendary Peace Corps General Counsel Weighs In on Tanzania Car Accident

by William Josephson (Peace Corps staff 1961–1966) • Anyone who has read Tricia L. Nadolny, Donovan Slack, Nick Penzenstadler, and Kizito Makoye’s multi-page December 21, 2021, USA Today story about the Tanzanian Peace Corps staffer who killed a Tanzanian while dangerously driving his car in Dar es Salaam, has to have a sense of outrage not only at the staffer’s behavior the night before and the morning of the killing but at the Peace Corps’ apparent complicity in obtaining his release and getting him out of the country. If leaving the scene of a crime is a crime in Tanzania, the Peace Corps staffer committed that crime in addition to how Tanzania prescribes vehicular homicide. If aiding and abetting is a crime in Tanzania, then probably the Peace Corps staffers, including the Peace Corps country director, were aiders and abettors. Original and long-standing Peace Corps policy reflected in the Peace . . .

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Inaugural Issue of the RPCV Oral History Project

 Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Oral History Archive Project  January 2022 Newsletter  Welcome to the inaugural issue of the RPCV Oral History Archive Project (OHAP) newsletter. We plan to use the newsletter to keep you informed on OHAP developments. We will let you know about important ways in which you can help us achieve our mission to preserve Peace Corps experiences through in-depth oral interviews of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs), evacuated volunteers, Peace Corps staff and, we hope soon, host country counterparts.  2021 recap  Our numbers are soaring! As of the end of 2021, OHAP volunteers have conducted over 1300 oral history interviews with RPCVs and Peace Corps staff. Of these, about 800 audio interviews, conducted from 1990 through 2019, are archived at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, National Archives and Records Administration.  Since June 2020, more than 550 video interviews have been conducted remotely using a . . .

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Review — DISCOVERING TUNISIAN CUISINE by Judith Dwan Hallet (Tunisia) et al

  Discovering Tunisian Cuisine Judith Dwan Hallet (Tunisia 1964–66), Raoudha Guellali Ben Taarit, and Hasna Trabelsi; photographs by Judith Dwan Hallet and Stanley Ira Hallet (Tunisia 1964 – 1966) Spirit of Place/Spirit of Design, Inc December 2019 148 pages $36.00 (hardcover) Reviewed by Vana Prewitt (Liberia 1983–86; Peace Corps Response/S.t Lucia 2016 • Discovering Tunisian Cuisine is as much a table-top photo book as cookbook, and sized appropriately so at 9″x12″. One can see the artist’s eye in the exquisite photos of food, scenery, and people. The authors admitted to struggling over the photos until they got it right. It is a nice balance of interesting history, beautiful photos, family recipes, and stories. As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, I especially appreciated the insights to culture and history as it revolves around food. For example, there are three theories about the origins of Brik, a traditional dish of North Africa that looks a whole . . .

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FROM KALAMAZOO TO TIMBUKTU by Paul Guenette (Senegal)

  A young boy waves at passing cars on a dusty rural road in Upper Michigan, and dreams of the wide world. Then step by step he follows his dream, becoming his family’s first college graduate, and studies in Europe help him realize the excitement and diversity of the wide world. Peace Corps service brings him to Senegal on the edge of Africa’s Sahara Desert where he experiences first-hand the hardships of the world’s poorest people – who teach him important lessons about generosity, sufficiency and luxury. In Africa, he finds love and discovers a career that opens the world to him, eventually visiting 90 countries across Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, working to make the world a better place. His adventures lead him to ride wild stallions, camels, and elephants. He gets into and barely out of trouble in the Grand Canyon. He climbs mountains and . . .

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“Climate Change & Wildlife Crime” — Jessica Kahler (Vanuatu) on ZOOM 1/27

  Two of the greatest threats to biodiversity and sustainable development are climate change and wildlife crime. It has recently become apparent that these two threats are interrelated in complex ways with implications for human and wildlife security. However, the mechanisms driving these complex interactions are not well understood because the relevant bodies of literature are largely disparate. To address this gap, we propose a new conceptual framework for understanding complex interactions between climate change and wildlife crime that explicitly draws on climate change research in criminology, geography, sociology, and wildlife conservation.   Jessica Kahler (Vanuatu 2004-07) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminology & Law at the University of Florida, and affiliate faculty for the Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research, Center for African Studies, and the Tropical Conservation and Development Program. Prior to joining the university Dr. Kahler consulted on the Wildlife Crime . . .

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