Archive - 2024

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Looking for a publisher for your Peace Corps book?
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Guy Consolmagno (Kenya) found His “Home” in the African Night Sky
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“Photos from Afghanistan” by David Rodbourne
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RPCV Christophe Andre Tocco Nominated to be Ambassador (Morocco)
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PayJoy created by RPCV Doug Ricket (Gambia)
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New List of RPCV & Staff Authors, April 2024
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DARE TO SURVIVE: Hell has no fury like a woman conned by Carolyn V. Hamilton (Suriname)
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“April Showers” by Janet Sebastian-Coleman (Togo)
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School for International Training (SIT) | Trainer of first PCVs
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209th group of Peace Corps volunteers sworn-in in Nepal
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There’s an interagency or nongovernmental fix for our broken Peace Corps
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“Get That Man A Chair!” by Michael Varga (Chad)
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Guy Toby Marion (Afghanistan) offers look at ’70s Peace Corps service
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What we want to do with our Website
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Peter Hessler’s new book | OTHER RIVERS: A CHINESE EDUCATION

Guy Consolmagno (Kenya) found His “Home” in the African Night Sky

RPCVs in the news  . . .  ‘Pope’s Astronomer’ Explores Journey in Faith and Science at Fairfield U. Talk by Emilia Otte FAIRFIELD CT — In 1983, volunteer Guy Consolmagno lay in bed at a Peace Corps Training Facility in Kenya, feeling severely homesick. He had made up his mind to return to the United States the following day believing he wasn’t cut out to be an adventurer. But on his last night in Kenya, Consolmagno decided to take one final look at the night sky.  “I later counted there were 15 of the brightest stars in the sky visible at that moment. Most of them are old friends of mine — stars that my dad had taught me when I was a kid, growing up on the shores of Lake Huron,” said Consolmagno, who has a doctorate in planetary sciences. “And I’m looking at this sky, and I’m thinking to myself, . . .

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“Photos from Afghanistan” by David Rodbourne

  I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Afghanistan from December 1971 through early 1974. After training, my initial assignment didn’t materialize. In Fall 1972 I served with famine relief team in Ghor province. In Kabul I assisted the karakul sheep pelt export office with the English language correspondence. In 1974 after trekking with Peace Corps friends in Nepal, I took a distinctly not-Peace Corps summer job managing the pool at the USAID recreation compound in Kabul. After returning to the U.S. I worked as a recruiter for ACTION/Peace Corps/VISTA in Rochester, New York. A recent 2023 inspiring highlight of my life was the reunion in Denver for Peace Corps Afghanistan Volunteers.                    

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RPCV Christophe Andre Tocco Nominated to be Ambassador (Morocco)

Christophe Andre Tocco, Nominee to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania Christophe Andre Tocco (Morocco 1996-98), a career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Career Minister, is currently the Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator in the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Bureau for Planning, Learning and Resource Management where he oversees the Office of Policy, and the Program Office. Previously, he served as Senior Development Counselor and U.S. Delegate to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Development Assistance Committee. Other assignments include USAID Mission Director, Democratic Republic of Congo; Deputy Mission Director, Democratic Republic of Congo; and Deputy Regional Mission Director, USAID Senegal. Earlier assignments include Supervisory Program Officer for USAID Senegal and for USAID Rwanda and Morocco Country Desk Officer. Before joining the Foreign Service, Tocco was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco. A native of California, Tocco . . .

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PayJoy created by RPCV Doug Ricket (Gambia)

RPCVs in the news How PayJoy built a $300M business by letting the underserved use their smartphones as collateral for loans TechCrunch Mary Ann Azevedo Thu, April 11, 2024 at 7:34 AM PDT Lerato Motloung is a hardworking mother of two who is employed in a supermarket in Johannesburg, South Africa. But in February 2024, she found herself without a mobile phone after it was stolen and she could not afford to buy a new one. For nine months, Motloung had to go without the convenience and connectivity of a smartphone Then, a sign caught her eye – a sign about PayJoy, a startup that offers loans to the underserved in emerging markets. With the help of PayJoy, Motloung was able to purchase her first smartphone, becoming one of the millions of customers that the San Francisco-based company has helped since its inception in 2015. “She was its 10 millionth . . .

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New List of RPCV & Staff Authors, April 2024

Here is our new list of RPCV & staff authors we know of who have published two or more books of any type. Currently—in April 2024–the count is 538. If you know of someone who has and their name is not on this list, then please email: jcoyneone@gmail.com. We know we don’t have all such writers who have served over these past 63 years. Thank you.’ Jerome R. Adams (Colombia 1963–65) Tom Adams (Togo 1974-76) Thomas “Taj” Ainlay, Jr. (Malaysia 1973–75) Elizabeth (Letts) Alalou (Morocco 1983–86) Jane Albritton (India 1967-69) Robert Albritton (Ethiopia 1963-65) Usha Alexander (Vanuatu 1996–97) James G. Alinder (Somalia 1964-66) Richard Alleman (Morocco 1968-70) Hayward Allen (Ethiopia 1962-64) Diane Demuth Allensworth (Panama 1964–66) Paul E. Allaire (Ethiopia 1964–66) Jack Allison (Malawi 1967-69) Allman (Nepal 1966-68) Nancy Amidei (Nigeria 1964–65) Gary Amo (Malawi 1962–64) David C. Anderson (Costa Rica 1964-66) Lauri Anderson (Nigeria 1963-65) Peggy Anderson (Togo 1962-64) James . . .

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DARE TO SURVIVE: Hell has no fury like a woman conned by Carolyn V. Hamilton (Suriname)

  RPCVs in the news — Interview with author — Newschannel/Nebraska April 9, 2024  FINALIST IN INTERNATIONAL BOOK AWARDS CONTEST Dare to Survive, based on a true story of a woman conned and imprisoned in South America for drug trafficking recognized for its outstanding writing, design and overall market appeal out of thousands of books submitted into the Book Excellence Awards. • • •  Carolyn V. Hamilton (Suriname 1999-01)  is a multiple award-winning author, artist, workshop leader & success coach for memoir writers. As the author of over 20 books, Carolyn’s writing spans multiple genres including thriller, true crime, writing, editing, art, and more. For her literary prowess, she has been recognized with numerous international literary awards including two Readers’ Favorite Book Awards and a Book Excellence Award. A multi-faceted talent, Carolyn spent 30+ years in the real world of “Mad Men” as a graphic designer, copywriter and marketing executive. A graduate . . .

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“April Showers” by Janet Sebastian-Coleman (Togo)

  I woke up this morning to rain on the roof. It was nearing six a.m., which is usually the hour Zorro, my puppy, begins to make sad little whines and stares at me through the mosquito net. As the rain started Zorro got up, walked over to a more secure corner of the floor, and curled himself up into a little ball. I rolled over and let the rain ease me back into half-sleep. I love how slow a rainy morning is. Certainly no need to leap out of bed. And when the sound of rain on the roof softens, my body is still so relaxed that climbing out of bed is a long enjoyable stretch. The plans for the day haven’t yet set on my shoulders. This slowness is especially luxurious after a few months during which time seemed to grow faster by the day. I’m stunned to . . .

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School for International Training (SIT) | Trainer of first PCVs

Peace Corps history —   Celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2024, School for International Training (SIT) is kicking off a series of events spotlighting the institution’s unique history and its dynamic future as a 21st-century global university. As part of this series, SIT will hold a half-day event on the Brattleboro campus featuring special guest former Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy and his wife, Marcelle Leah. SIT was officially established in 1964, 32 years after the launch of World Learning’s foundational youth exchange program, The Experiment in International Living. When President John F. Kennedy tapped program alumnus Sargent Shriver to become the inaugural director of the Peace Corps, Shriver turned to the Experiment to train some of the first Peace Corps volunteers. Out of that activity, SIT was born.     Today, SIT is the only accredited institution of higher education in the United States that is part of an international . . .

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209th group of Peace Corps volunteers sworn-in in Nepal

April 4, 2024 • • • KATHMANDU: Today, twenty-two Peace Corps Volunteers were sworn in by Ambassador Dean R. Thompson and the Peace Corps/Nepal Country Director Troy Kofroth to begin their two-year service in Nepal. The new Volunteers join the nearly 4,000 Peace Corps Volunteers who have served in Nepal and are the 209th group of American Volunteers to come to Nepal since 1962 when the governments of Nepal and the United States of America signed an agreement to establish the Peace Corps program here in Nepal. “President Kennedy said at the program’s founding in 1961 that ‘Men and women will be expected to work and live alongside the nationals of the country in which they are stationed–doing the same work, eating the same food, talking the same language,” Ambassador Thompson recalled, adding, “It was true then and remains the same now – Peace Corps Volunteers live with Nepali host families, eating . . .

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There’s an interagency or nongovernmental fix for our broken Peace Corps

In the news — BY KEVIN QUIGLEY AND LEX RIEFFEL The Hill 4/03/24   Ask the next person you see what they know about the Peace Corps. Odds are the answer will be “never heard of it.” The Peace Corps is past middle age and losing its vigor. Its service model has hardly changed in a world vastly different from the 1960s Cold War era. In 1966, more than 15,000 volunteers served in more than 40 countries. By 2020, when volunteers were brought home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were barely 7,000. The number today is fewer than 3,000. We see three ways to make the Peace Corps more relevant: merge it into AmeriCorps, move it into the State Department, or transform it from a federal agency to a nongovernmental organization. Launched by President Kennedy in 1961, the Peace Corps is one of the boldest, most innovative foreign policy initiatives of the post-World War II period. Countries . . .

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“Get That Man A Chair!” by Michael Varga (Chad)

By Michael Varga (Chad 1977-79) 1995 In 1995 at the G-7 Summit in Halifax (Canada), Secretary of State Warren Christopher was meeting with the Japanese finance minister. Somehow the official notetaker did not show up, and I, lingering at the site as the control officer for U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, got pulled into the meeting to take notes. When I entered, the two delegations were already seated. I saw no vacant chairs, so I crouched down in a corner and opened my notebook. Secretary Christopher started to welcome the Japanese delegation, then stopped midsentence, and said in a loud voice, “Get that man a chair!” After the meeting ended, the two delegations marched off to their limousines, and I stood on the curb. I was unsure about my next step. I was serving as the economic officer at U.S. Consulate General/Toronto, and had been sent on temporary duty to . . .

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Guy Toby Marion (Afghanistan) offers look at ’70s Peace Corps service

RPCVs in the news   By Colleen Bidwill  cbidwill@marinij.com Marin Independent Journal April 1, 2024   • • •  When Guy Toby Marion joined the Peace Corps in 1971, it wasn’t his first choice to go to Afghanistan. In fact, the 22-year-old — whose previous travels were mainly family vacations to Mexico — wanted to go to South America to learn Spanish fluently. “I had a mentor in my college days who was from India,” he says. “I called him up and he said that the history of Afghanistan with Russia and India and all throughout from ancient times is fascinating. I was kind of swayed by that.” He took a position working as a high school science teacher trainer in Kapisa province, which he did for two school years, before teaching for three semesters on the faculty of engineering at Kabul University. He reflects on his experiences, from making moonshine out . . .

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What we want to do with our Website

What I know is that RPCVs return home and tell their Peace Corps tales to family and friends and then move onto grad schools, marriage, children and careers. We want RPCVs to do just that. And we want our Peace Corps history to be told and retold. It is what we all did as Americans to help developing nations. We made friends, learned a new language and culture, and for a short period of time lived a life that was special to us and the people we came to help. Marian Beil and I want our website to be a place where RPCVs can tell their stories as they remember what they did to help people of another culture enhanced their lives. Peace Corps service is our contribution to the developing world. It was two years away from the U.S. where we met strangers with a smile and a hand . . .

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Peter Hessler’s new book | OTHER RIVERS: A CHINESE EDUCATION

  An intimate and revelatory account of two generations of students in China’s heartland, by an author who has observed the country’s tumultuous changes over the past quarter century More than two decades after teaching English during the early part of China’s economic boom, Peter Hessler, an experience chronicler in his book River Town, returned to Sichuan Province to instruct students from the next generation. At the same time, Hessler and his wife enrolled their twin daughters in a local state-run elementary school, where they were the only Westerners. Over the years, Hessler had kept in close contact with many of the people he had taught in the 1990s, and by reconnecting with these individuals —members of China’s “Reform generation,” who were now in their forties — were teaching current undergrads,  and Hessler gained from them a unique perspective on China’s incredible transformation. In 1996, when Hessler arrived in China, . . .

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