The Peace Corps

Agency history, current news and stories of the people who are/were both on staff and Volunteers.

1
Review–Brazilian Odyssey by Stephen Murphy (PC Staff)
2
Peace Corps Alumnus builds 42 schools in Sierra Leone
3
Naming the Peace Corps
4
Cold Mornings in Mongolia
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Glenn A. Blumhorst Says Goodby To The NPCA
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Doing the Blitz Peace Corps Recruitment in the ’60s
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Time Line of the NPCA Leadership Transition
8
Development Is Down This Road
9
Peace Corps celebrates 60 Years in Belize
10
Review — IT SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME by Tom Corbett (India)
11
NPCA Board Meeting Today, July 25, 2022
12
Journals of Peace by Tim Carroll (Nigeria)
13
Peaceworkers in Action — RPCVs from UMBC (Tonga)
14
Foreign Affairs Senate Committee approves Peace Corps Reauthrization Act of 2022
15
The Famous Peace Corps Test

Review–Brazilian Odyssey by Stephen Murphy (PC Staff)

Brazilian Odyssey By Stephen E. Murphy  (Regional Director, Inter-Americas Region, 2002-03) bookhouse publishing 246 pages 2022 $18.95 (Paperback)       Reviewed by Stephen Foehr (Ethiopia 1965-66) It’s a forever story, little guy armed with idealism takes on big, bad, and corrupt. This evergreen theme kindles, and rekindles, the flame of hope. We keep turning the pages to find out about Evil vs Good, the tag team Greed/Power against Humanity/Right. Can justice prevail? Is it possible that personal integrity need not be a sacrificial lamb on the altar of you lose, I win? Do the good guys have a fighting chance? The destruction of the Brazilian Amazon is a reoccurring headline of doom; the oxygen-giving rainforest decimated for profit; the indigenous peoples murdered for their land, their way of life transformed into poverty and cultural extermination. American professor Luke Shannon takes a group of students from Seattle University on a . . .

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Peace Corps Alumnus builds 42 schools in Sierra Leone

  By Concord Times 8 August 2022   Peace Corps Volunteers serve for two years and return to the US, but not Cindy Nofziger (Sierra Lierra 1984-86). After arriving in Sierra Leone from Maryland in 1984, her commitment to grassroots development in the West African nation continues to this day. Cindy has built 42 school buildings and three libraries and provided thousands of scholarships to children from low-income communities. In 2005 Cindy returned to Masanga, Northern Sierra Leone (the first time it was possible to do so since the end of the decade-long civil war), where she had worked as a volunteer at the district leprosy hospital. While there, she reconnected with John Sesay, an old friend from the ’80s. The war had rolled back all educational gains. Rural communities like Masanga were the worst hit. Schools were destroyed, or they just hadn’t been built. John asked Cindy to help . . .

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Naming the Peace Corps

Naming the Peace Corps by John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962–64) THOSE OF US WHO follow the history of the Peace Corps agency know the term “peace corps” came to public attention during the 1960 presidential election. In one of JFK’s last major speeches before the November election he called for the creation of a “Peace Corps” to send volunteers to work at the grass roots level in the developing world. However, the question remains: who said (or wrote) “peace corps” for the very first time? Was it Kennedy? Was it his famous speech writer Ted Sorensen? Or Sarge himself? But — as in most situations — the famous term came about because of some young kid, usually a writer, working quietly away in some back office that dreams up the language. In this case the kid was a graduate student between degrees who was working for the late senator Hubert Horatio Humphrey. . . .

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Cold Mornings in Mongolia

As we all suffer through the heat and humidity, I thought it might be fun to republish a piece about cold weather. A wonderful short essay by Matt Heller we published a few years ago. Cold Mornings in Mongolia by Matt Heller (Mongolia 1995-97) OUR FAMILY ALWAYS LIVED where we needed a snow shovel. I remember one snowstorm in particular when I was nine. My best friend, Bobby Frost, and I shoveled our entire driveway ourselves, which is no small feat for nine-year-olds. When we were done, my father was waiting in the kitchen to reward us with grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup, and a silver dollar for the work we had done. Dipping my grilled cheese into the steaming tomato soup (in my opinion, truly the best way to eat the two together), I am sure I was oblivious to how lucky I was; how Norman Rockwell-beautiful shoveling a . . .

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Glenn A. Blumhorst Says Goodby To The NPCA

  My Dear Friends, I’m writing to let you know that, after prayerful consideration, yesterday I reached a separation agreement with NPCA in order to bring closure to this matter. I owe my utmost gratitude to you – the Peace Corps family that has stood up, spoken up, and supported me now and throughout my tenure at NPCA. My family and I were both uplifted and humbled by your overwhelming kindness, care, and concern. We are especially grateful to NPCA board chair emeritus Tony Barclay, who organized and led a campaign on my behalf, and to all 160+ of you who signed on to his letter (and many more who voiced support) calling for either my reinstatement or an honorable parting of ways. Serving the Peace Corps community as NPCA President and CEO was my dream job and one of life’s greatest privileges. Cathy and I will forever hold fond . . .

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Doing the Blitz Peace Corps Recruitment in the ’60s

To Preserve and to Learn   by Hal Fleming (Staff: PC/W 1966–68; CD Cote d’Ivoire 1968–72) first published in 2008 at PeaceCorpsWriters.org IN 1966, I CAME DOWN TO WASHINGTON from New York. It was a time in our country when the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War divided the nation. I had been tapped to work as a staff member in the Public Affairs and Recruiting office for the Peace Corps. On my very first work day in Peace Corps/Washington, I was told to join Warren Wiggins, the Deputy Director of the Agency, in his government car for a one-hour ride to a conference for new campus recruiters at Tidewater Inn in Easton, Maryland. Wiggins, preoccupied with his opening speech to the conclave, said very little to me except to read out a phrase or two of buzz-word laden prose, mostly unintelligible to me as the new guy, and . . .

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Time Line of the NPCA Leadership Transition

Letter published May 22, 2022 Dear Members of the Peace Corps Community, National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) is dedicated to serving the Peace Corps community and supporting the mission of the Peace Corps. NPCA is committed to providing support, resources, and advocacy while promoting a spirit of respect and acceptance of all people. The Board of NPCA takes all allegations of an unsafe or hostile workplace environment for women or others very seriously and has not and will not condone such an environment at NPCA. The allegations referenced in the recent posts online are not new. The Board took action to engage an independent and qualified investigator to conduct a thorough examination of these charges when they were brought to the attention of the Board. The independent investigator concluded that the allegations of misconduct were not credible and that NPCA did not present an unsafe or hostile work environment for . . .

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Development Is Down This Road

by Abigail Calkins Aguirre (Cameroon 1987-90) In July 1992 we published this essay by Abigail. It remains one of my favorite essays by an RPCV writer. Note: JC    FEW RECOGNIZE ME without my trademark Suzuki. Now I have this red Yamaha DT they gave me to replace it. I’m still white, though, or so they keep insisting as I pass by the shouting voices trying to get me to stop to do a favor, chat, or taste the latest in palm wine. I know I have a bike, but how do you say “I’m not a taxi” in the local language? I’m late, I’m in a hurry, I’ve got to help a women’s group plant rows of plantains and pineapple in their community farm. This road could jostle my insides right out of me. My thighs are sore from being abused as non-stop shock absorbers. Yet, nothing beats a . . .

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Peace Corps celebrates 60 Years in Belize

Today, (July 29, 2022) the US Embassy swore in nine new Peace Corps Volunteers who will be serving in Belize. The Peace Corps project has been in Belize for the past 60 years and the group is a part of the first cohort of two-year Peace Corps Volunteers. The group is the first to be inducted since the  COVID-19 pandemic, which compelled the prior group of volunteers to depart. The volunteers will collaborate with primary school principals and teachers under the Youth Health and Well-Being Project to co-plan and co-teach health and physical education. Since arriving in Belize in May 2022, the nine U.S. citizens have received comprehensive intercultural, language, and technical training to foster greater cross-cultural understanding and effective integration in the communities they will serve. U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires, Leyla Moses-Ones stated at this morning’s ceremony that “The swearing-in of volunteers this year reaffirms the enduring U.S. commitment to . . .

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Review — IT SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME by Tom Corbett (India)

  It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time Tom Corbett (India 1966–68) Hancock Press 644 pages $14.99 (paperback), $24.99 (hardcover), $4.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by John Chromy (India 1963–65) Tom Corbett’s book, It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time, is well worth reading, mostly for the very thoughtful reflections of the India 44 RPCVs that arose at three reunions that started in 2009, forty years after their PC service in Rajasthan and Maharashtra. Drawn from Tom Corbett’s notes from the reunions, the narrative focuses not on all the problems or peculiarities of the host country, as many Peace Corps stories do, but rather these India RPCVs thoughtfully and often humorously reflect on: Some of the positive achievements, however small, each of them made during her/his PCV assignments, How much the PC/India experience changed their lives and forced them to become better people, The many achievements and progress . . .

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NPCA Board Meeting Today, July 25, 2022

July 25 at 8 PM Eastern / 5 PM Pacific: Join the NPCA Board of Directors and staff online for the 2022 NPCA Annual Board Meeting. Learn more about how you can engage with NPCA — and support the Peace Corps community. Contact boardassist@peacecorpsconnect.org for further assistance and to register. September 24 (time TBD): Join the 2022 Annual General Membership Meeting to hear a report on key achievements and initiatives at NPCA as well as engage in a membership forum discussing Board-proposed actions for what lies ahead for NPCA.

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Journals of Peace by Tim Carroll (Nigeria)

by Tim Carroll (Nigeria 1963–66) In 1988, as the first d Director of the National Council of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (NCRPCV), now the National Peace Corps Association, I felt a considerable part of my mandate was to bring our disparate numbers together, to gather us up to celebrate those feelings we had in common. A number of special events given under my tenure accomplished this in varying degrees of success, but none held the hearts of Peace Corps family as did the Journals of Peace. As the 25th anniversary of the death of President John Kennedy — the founder and much loved hero of early Volunteers — approached, I made a call to St. Matthew’s Cathedral, the church that had been the site of JFK’s funeral service, and asked if we might have a memorial Mass that would include not only the traditional Showing of the Colors, but a procession . . .

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Peaceworkers in Action — RPCVs from UMBC (Tonga)

Peaceworkers in Action Published: Jul 13, 2022 By: Catalina Sofia Dansberger Duque     Michael Hassett and Chiara Collette first met each other in 2014 at the Los Angeles International Airport before boarding a 17-hour flight to the Kingdom of Tonga in the middle of the southwestern Pacific Ocean. Hassett applied to the Peace Corps hoping to be placed in Eastern Europe focusing on rural development. As a certified teacher, Collette didn’t have a specific country in mind. She was more interested in being able to teach. Both were placed in Tonga in teaching positions. Little did they know that this shared placement would permanently intertwine their personal and professional lives. In 2018, the couple got married and co-founded an internationally recognized nonprofit, Friends of Tonga—which earned a 2021 Literacy Award from the Library of Congress. Since then, Hassett and Collette have used their literacy educational tools and public policy skills gained at UMBC, and connections . . .

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Foreign Affairs Senate Committee approves Peace Corps Reauthrization Act of 2022

  JULY 19, 2022 MENENDEZ, RISCH, COLLEAGUES CELEBRATE SFRC APPROVAL OF PEACE CORPS REAUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2022 WASHINGTON –  U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today were joined by Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) in releasing the below statements following the Committee’s passage of their legislation to reauthorize the Peace Corps for the first time in over 20 years. Authorizing the appropriation of more than $410,000,000 per year, the bipartisan Peace Corps Reauthorization Act of 2022 will extend Peace Corps Volunteers’ health care coverage, statutorily raise Volunteers’ readjustment allowance, expedite return-to-service opportunities for those impacted by COVID-19 and future comparable emergencies, and expand the agency’s Sexual Assault Advisory Council. “Today’s Committee approval of our bipartisan Peace Corps Reauthorization Act of 2022 is a momentous victory for those of us who appreciate the crucial role that the Peace Corps plays in . . .

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The Famous Peace Corps Test

In the early days of the Peace Corps there was a Placement Test given to all applicants. Actually, it was two tests. A 30-minute General Aptitude Test and a 30-minute Modern Language Aptitude Test. The areas of testing were in Verbal Aptitude, Agriculture, English, Health Sciences, Mechanical Skills, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, World History, Literature, United States History and Institutions, and Modern Language Aptitude. One-hour achievements tests in French and Spanish were also offered during the second hour. The instruction pamphlet that accompanied the tests said that the results would be used “to help find the most appropriate assignment for each applicant.” For those who missed the opportunity to take the tests, which were given –as best I can remember—from 1961 until around 1967, I am including a few of the questions. Let’s see if you could still get into the Peace Corps. 1. Verbal Aptitude The question below consists . . .

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