The Peace Corps

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

1
RPCV Guy Consolmagno Found His “Home” in the African Night Sky
2
RPCV Christophe Andre Tocco Nominated to be Ambassador (Morocco)
3
New List of RPCV & Staff Authors, April 2024
4
“April Showers” by Janet Sebastian-Coleman (Togo)
5
School for International Training (SIT) | Trainer of first PCVs
6
209th group of Peace Corps volunteers sworn-in in Nepal
7
There’s an interagency or nongovernmental fix for our broken Peace Corps
8
What we want to do with our Website
9
Peter Hessler’s new book | OTHER RIVERS: A CHINESE EDUCATION
10
Join in the conversation with Marnie Mueller (Ecuador)
11
Glenn Blumhorst (Guatemala) Reports on Peace Corps Park
12
Peace Corps make its Overseas Offices a Voter Center for U.S. Elections
13
Review | TALES OF AN IKUT SWAMI by Cristina Kessler (Honduras, Kenya, Seychelles)
14
Talking With Children’s Book Award Winning Writer Cristina Kessler
15
Sargent Shriver Peace Institute on ZOOM Monday!

RPCV Guy Consolmagno Found His “Home” in the African Night Sky

‘Pope’s Astronomer’ Explores Journey in Faith and Science at Fairfield U. Talk by Emilia Otte Guy Consolmagno (Kenya 1983-85) speaks at Fairfield University about his time working as head of the Vatican Observatory (CT Examiner). FAIRFIELD — 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 . . .

Read More

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 . . .

Read More

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 . . .

Read More

“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 . . .

Read More

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 . . .

Read More

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 . . .

Read More

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 . . .

Read More

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 . . .

Read More

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, . . .

Read More

Join in the conversation with Marnie Mueller (Ecuador)

Mark your calendars for an April 11, 2024 at 7:00pm(et) set for a virtual program: In Conversation with Marnie Mueller (Ecuador 1963-65). Marnie’s new book is a stunning story, a combined memoir and biography (maybe a new genre?) about her own life and a life-changing friendship. The book, The Showgirl and the Writer: A Friendship Forged in the Aftermath of the Japanese American Incarceration, tells the remarkable true story of two women, one white and one Asian, who forged a deep friendship based on the secrets they carried. Marnie Mueller, a Caucasian, was born in a Japanese incarceration camp during World War II, because her parents had moved there to help make life more tolerable for the internees. Later, when the family moved to New England, Marnie was scarred by anti-Semitism and learned not to reveal her religion and her birth in the internment camp. Which of these experiences defined Marnie? It . . .

Read More

Glenn Blumhorst (Guatemala) Reports on Peace Corps Park

I am excited to write today with some great news on our latest fundraising effort. Last month we announced a $500,000 gift commitment for Peace Corps Park from Ms. Jacqueline Mars, provided that we raise an equivalent amount to match. In the four weeks since, we have met the first $250,000 of the challenge and are well on our way to matching Ms. Mars’ entire gift! The Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation board of directors and advisory board led the way, with dozens of others responding enthusiastically and giving our campaign heightened momentum. Meanwhile, Foundation board directors and our Peace Corps Park design team convened in Washington, D.C. with the National Park Service, as the final design is refined to perfection. Details like the placement of inscriptions on the granite benches, selection of lettering font, and accessibility measures are now nearly finalized. We anticipate approval of the final design by the National Park . . .

Read More

Peace Corps make its Overseas Offices a Voter Center for U.S. Elections

Peace Corps Pushes Expanded Overseas Voting Fred Lucas / @FredLucasWH / March 25, 2024 The Peace Corps says it will comply with President Joe Biden’s order for federal agencies to help get out the vote by boosting voting overseas in U.S. elections. Pictured: A Peace Corps contingency marches last June 25 during the 53rd annual San Francisco Pride Parade and Celebration in San Francisco. (Photo: Miikka Skaffari/WireImage/Getty Images) FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL—To comply with an executive order from President Joe Biden, the Peace Corps pushed to make its headquarters a voter registration center, upped efforts to register U.S. citizens abroad, and moved to supply multilingual voter registration forms.  The Peace Corps, a federal agency, assigns volunteers to provide services and meet needs in over 60 countries. The agency released its plan to implement Biden’s order late last week in response to a request by The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project under the Freedom of . . .

Read More

Review | TALES OF AN IKUT SWAMI by Cristina Kessler (Honduras, Kenya, Seychelles)

  Tales of an Ikut Swami Cristina  Kessler (Honduras 1973–75, Kenya 1975–76, Seychelles 1976–78) [Cover design Frank Welffens; Photographs by Cristina Kessler] Self-published $12.00 (paperback) Reviewer — Leita Kaldi Davis (Senegal 1993–96) • • •  Cristina met her husband, Joe, in 1973 during training in Puerto Rico. As a volunteer, he was assigned to Peru and she to Honduras. Six months later he transferred to Honduras.  Peace Corps told them they could only serve together if they were married, so they agreed to risk it for a year.  That was 50 years ago this August!  They served from 1973 to 1978 in Honduras, Peru, Kenya and the Seychelles. Joe was later hired by CARE and they were sent to Sierra Leone. As an Ikut Swami — Malay for one who follows her husband — Cristina . . . and Joe spent twenty years in Africa, seven years in Latin America and two years in Asia, living . . .

Read More

Talking With Children’s Book Award Winning Writer Cristina Kessler

John interviews . . . Cristina Kessler   Cristina Kessler is an award-winning author of nine books set in Africa, where she lived for 19 years. She’s received the 2015 Lumen Award, given for “excellence in nonfiction for young readers” with Hope is Here!; She’s received the Henry Bergh Children’s Book Award from the ASPCA for Excellence in Humane Literature for Young Readers; the Africana Book Award, from the African Studies Association, honoring outstanding books about Africa for children and young adults; and has been included many times on the Notable Books for a Global Society list. She writes about nature and cross-cultural topics. I asked Cristina what she did before the Peace Corps. I graduated from California Polytechnic in San Luis Obispo, CA in 1972. I majored in Criminology and minored in Political Science. My first job upon graduating was working as a mushroom sorter in the Santa Cruz . . .

Read More

Sargent Shriver Peace Institute on ZOOM Monday!

A Conversation about The Call with Jamie Price & Judith Guskin     Join author Jamie Price and Judith Guskin in a dialogue followed by Q&A The Call looks at the role of the spirit in the life and work of one of the most accomplished American peacebuilders of the 20th twentieth century, Robert Sargent Shriver (1915-2011), founder of the Peace Corps and architect of the War on Poverty. Author Jamie Price knew Shriver personally and served as the Founding Director of several programs dedicated to understanding and advancing Shriver’s approach. On Monday, March 25 at 12:00 PM ET, we’re joining forces with Insight Collaborations International  for a conversation about SSPI Founding Director Jamie Price‘s latest book, The Call: The Spiritual Realism of Sargent Shriver. Try clicking https://icischedule.as.me/schedule/5ea46a71 Judith Guskin (Thailand 1961-64) Judith Guskin holds an MA in Comparative Literature and a PhD in Educational Psychology with a focus on history, anthropology, linguistics, and cultural . . .

Read More

Copyright © 2022. Peace Corps Worldwide.