Author - John Coyne

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Chuck Woodard Passes—Early PC/W Staff
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An interview with Doris Rubenstein (Ecuador)
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Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders welcome 11 new members for 2021 season — One an RPCV!
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Remembering Ted Wells–The Old Man in the Bag
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RPCV MSU Law Professor Receives 2021 Elmer Fried Excellence in Teaching Award
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Joshua Berman (Nicaragua) is a ‘tranquilo traveler’
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LAST BEST HOPE by George Packer (Togo) reviewed
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A TOWERING TASK — The Peace Corps Document You Have Never Read
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LAST BEST HOPE: America in Crisis and Renewal by George Packer (Togo)
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THIS COUNTRY: My Life in Politics and History by Chris Matthews (Swaziland)

Chuck Woodard Passes—Early PC/W Staff

Charles C. Woodard, Jr., “Chuck” of Medford, NJ and formerly of Hastings-on-Hudson, NY passed away on June 11, 2021. He was 97. Chuck Woodard was born in Los Angeles, CA in 1923. He enrolled at UCLA in 1941 and subsequently joined Army ROTC after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. While still at UCLA he renewed an acquaintance with Margaret McHaffie, his future wife. He famously asked her out and when she said she was interested in another man and asked why he would want a date he replied “you’re better than a blind date”. In January 1944 he was ordered to Fort Benning, Georgia for infantry officer training. While there he and Margaret became engaged and set a wedding date in June 1944. Chuck was unable to get enough leave to get back to Los Angeles for the planned wedding so they instead met in New Orleans, where they married . . .

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An interview with Doris Rubenstein (Ecuador)

from Donald Levin’s Blog   This week’s guest: Doris Rubenstein (Ecuador 1971-73) I’m pleased to host award-winning author Doris Rubenstein. Doris is a native of Detroit and a graduate of the University of Michigan. After two years in Peace Corps/Ecuador, she started a long career with non-profit organizations and in the field of philanthropy. She is the author of five books besides her newest one. You’re Always Welcome at the Temple of Aaron won the 2009 USCJ Schechter Award, and The Journey of a Dollar was a Silver Franklin Award winner from the IBPA. Doris has lived in Minnesota since 1984 and received her M.A. from Augsburg University there in 1993; her thesis won a Kenneth Clark Award for Research in Leadership from the Center for Creative Leadership (N.C.).  She has been a regular contributor to numerous local and national publications on the subjects of Philanthropy and the Arts. This week Doris will talk . . .

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Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders welcome 11 new members for 2021 season — One an RPCV!

  The Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders are proud to announce their squad for the 2021 season. This year’s team features 11 new members, as well as 21 returning veterans. Hundreds of candidates auditioned, spanning across 24 states in addition to Japan, Taiwan, Mexico, and Canada. Over the course of three months and several elimination rounds, 48 contestants made it to the final audition, where they showcased their talent and individuality with a creative solo performance. The 11 new members feature a published author and historian, press secretary for the U.S. House of Representatives Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, and Operation Smile global partnerships coordinator who recently worked in Koforidua, Ghana to coordinate a cleft lip and cleft palate surgical program. “We are thrilled to announce our squad for the 2021 season,” said Barbara Zaun, Eagles Director of Entertainment Teams. “As ambassadors for the organization, the Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders embrace meaningful . . .

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Remembering Ted Wells–The Old Man in the Bag

By David B. Levine (Ethiopia (1964-66) Ted Wells’  The Old Man in the Bag and Other True Stories of Good Intentions is a wonderful collection of reminisces from Helen and Ted Wells’ first two of their three years as Peace Corps Volunteers in Ethiopia (1968-1971). Each of the twelve chapters is preceded by a copy of a letter home from them and accompanied by extensive photographs. The letters and stories add up to an overview of what was an exciting, path-setting, exhilarating, frightening, emotionally fraught, and extraordinarily impactful two years, both atypical and unique Peace Corps experience! I knew Helen and Ted as PCV’s; in fact, I was instrumental in their receiving the assignment underlying the narrative and am actually named a time or two in the telling.  Here is that background. First, I was a PCV in Ethiopia myself, from 1964-66 (Eth IV) as a teacher in Emdeber, in . . .

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RPCV MSU Law Professor Receives 2021 Elmer Fried Excellence in Teaching Award

  The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has recognized David Thronson, the Alan S. Zekelman Professor of International Human Rights Law at the Michigan State University College of Law, and director of the Talsky Center for Human Rights of Women and Children, and co-founder of the Immigration Law Clinic, with the 2021 Elmer Fried Excellence in Teaching Award. Thronson previously served as MSU Law’s associate dean for academic affairs and as associate dean for experiential education. Since 2017, Thronson has taught Immigration and Nationality at the University of Michigan Law School. His research focuses on the intersection of family law and immigration law, in particular on the impact of immigration law on children. Thronson graduated from the University of Kansas with degrees in mathematics and education, then taught in Nepal as a Peace Corps volunteer. He completed a master’s degree at Teachers College, Columbia University and served for several years . . .

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Joshua Berman (Nicaragua) is a ‘tranquilo traveler’

    By KELSEY HAMMON | Longmont Times-Call June 20, 2021 at 5:45 a.m. • Joshua Berman’s (Nicaragua 1998-2000) career as a writer has been anything but a 9-to-5 desk job. He’s tasted boa constrictor, climbed narrow mountain highways, sat in the back of a truck as he sped by volcanoes in Nicaragua, and blistered his feet on the Colorado Trail. Before he zoned in on writing about Colorado, he used his career to explore the globe and feed his passion for writing and exploring. His excursions today include passing that sense of adventure down to his three daughters, while teaching them how to respect and revel in the nature around them. Berman is an author of six travel books, a Denver Post columnist, an all-around expert adventurer, Longmont resident, and a “tranquilo (calm) traveler.” He uses this term to call on explorers like himself to remain open-minded and inquisitive, as . . .

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LAST BEST HOPE by George Packer (Togo) reviewed

  Speaking Truth to Both the Right and the Left by Emily Bazelon June 14, 2021 The Times Magazine • LAST BEST HOPE: America in Crisis and Renewal by George Packer THE CONSTITUTION OF KNOWLEDGE: A Defense of Truth by Jonathan Rauch Like many public intellectuals who are worth reading, George Packer and Jonathan Rauch don’t toe a predictable line in American political and intellectual debate. They despise Donald Trump and the disinformation-heavy discord he has spawned. But they don’t share all the views of progressives, either, as they’ve come to be defined in many left-leaning spaces. Packer and Rauch are here to defend the liberalism of the Enlightenment — equality and scientific rationality in an unapologetically Western-tradition sense. They see this belief system as the country’s great and unifying strength, and they’re worried about its future. Packer’s slim book, “Last Best Hope,” begins with patriotic despair. “The world’s pity has taken the place of admiration, hostility, awe, . . .

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A TOWERING TASK — The Peace Corps Document You Have Never Read

    Unbeknownst to Sarge Shriver, who had been tasked by JFK to establish a new agency with the tentative title of “Peace Corps” in the first days of the Kennedy Administration, there were two officials in the Far Eastern division of the International Cooperation Administration (ICA) working on their “own” Peace Corps. Warren Wiggins deputy director of Far Eastern operations in ICA, still in his 30s,  with Bill Josephson, just 26, a lawyer at ICA. The paper they prepared detailing their recommendations for the new agency they called “A Towering Task,” taking the title from the phrase Kennedy had used in his State of the Union address: “The problems . . . are towering and unprecedented — and the response must be towering and unprecedented as well.” Shriver and Harris Wofford in early February 1961 set up a temporary, two-room headquarters in the Mayflower Hotel and a steady cast . . .

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LAST BEST HOPE: America in Crisis and Renewal by George Packer (Togo)

  In the year 2020, Americans suffered one rude blow after another to their health, livelihoods, and collective self-esteem. A ruthless pandemic, an inept and malign government response, polarizing protests, and an election marred by conspiracy theories left many citizens in despair about their country and its democratic experiment. With pitiless precision, the year exposed the nation’s underlying conditions — discredited elites, weakened institutions, blatant inequalities — and how difficult they are to remedy. In Last Best Hope, George Packer traces the shocks back to their sources. He explores the four narratives that now dominate American life: Free America, which imagines a nation of separate individuals and serves the interests of corporations and the wealthy; Smart America, the world view of Silicon Valley and the professional elite; Real America, the white Christian nationalism of the heartland; and Just America, which sees citizens as members of identity groups that inflict or suffer . . .

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THIS COUNTRY: My Life in Politics and History by Chris Matthews (Swaziland)

  In This Country: My Life in Politics and History, Chris Matthews (Swaziland 1968-70) offers a panoramic portrait of post–World War II America through the story of his remarkable life and career. It is a story of risk and adventure, of self-reliance and service, of loyalty and friendship. It is a story-driven by an abiding faith in our country. Raised in a large Irish-Catholic family in Philadelphia at a time when kids hid under their desks in atomic war drills, Chris’s life etched a pattern: take a leap, live an adventure, then learn what it means. As a young returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Chris moved to DC and began knocking on doors on Capitol Hill. With dreams of becoming what Ted Sorensen had been for Jack Kennedy, Chris landed as a staffer to Utah Senator Frank Moss, where his eyes were opened to the game of big-league politics. In 1974, Matthews mounted . . .

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