The Peace Corps

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

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Review — Havana Odyssey by Stephen E. Murphy (HQ Staff)
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SWAHILI ON THE PRAIRIE — Talking with David Asher Goldenberg (Kenya)
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Should the US abolish the Peace Corps?
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New York City RPCVs Virtual Story Slam
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Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation approved
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Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Peace Corps Connection
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2020 National Book Awards non-fiction long list: OWLS OF THE EASTERN ICE by Jonathan C. Slaght (Russia)
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VEERING OFF: MY SEARCH FOR FREEDOM by Kevin Cromley (Nicaragua)
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The PCVs’ Descriptions of Service (DOS) document achievements of the First Goal
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The Museum of Our Peace Corps Experience Needs Your Help

Review — Havana Odyssey by Stephen E. Murphy (HQ Staff)

  Havana Odyssey: Chasing Ochoa’s Ghost by Stephen Murphy (HQ Staff 2002-03) Self Published 296 pages July 2020 $17.95 (Paperback), $8.49 (Kindle); Reviewed by Sean Sullivan (Liberia 1970-72; staff 1970-76) • It took Odysseus 10 years of incredible adventures to make his way back to his home in Ithaca after winning the Trojan War, as the ancient Greek writer Homer relates. It took Stephen Murphy 10 days to return home after his epic journey in Cuba, as he recounts in his fascinating new book, Havana Odyssey: Chasing Ochoa’s Ghost. Both books, the former written 2500 years ago, the latter 25 days ago, mix fact with fiction and hold the reader spellbound. Fact: Murphy had a brief affair in 1989 with Cuban dissident Ana Sanchez when they met while he was the U. S. Information Agency’s TV director in Washington DC. Ana was the niece of Arnaldo Ochoa, Cuba’s most decorated and . . .

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SWAHILI ON THE PRAIRIE — Talking with David Asher Goldenberg (Kenya)

  NOTE: I urge you to read this insightful interview and watch Dave Goldenberg’s wonderful documentary, Swahili on the Prairie. This film is what the Peace Corps has been about all these years. While this is not your story, it is your story. All of us where there. All of us went overseas to countries we could hardly find on a map and came home with stories to tell. We came home having done a job no one expected we could do. We came home with friendships made and friendships that continue today. We are the Peace Corps. We are the legacy of JFK and the New Frontier. We are what America is all about. Read Marnie Mueller’s wonderful interview of David Asher Goldenberg and his insightful film Swahili on the Prairie. Yes, it is about these guys who went to Kenya to work on farms, but it is also about . . .

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Should the US abolish the Peace Corps?

Thanks for the “heads up” from Concetta Anne Bencivenga (Thailand 1992-94) The story behind one group’s grassroots effort to do just that Shanna Loga (Morocco 2006-08) Medium.com Sep 20 · For many Americans, the Peace Corps is a treasured institution. It represents the idealism, generosity, and curiosity of our nation and symbolizes our spirit of humanitarianism. We imagine bright-eyed volunteers selflessly digging wells in Cameroon or teaching English in Ecuador. With its founding by JFK and its current mission of “promoting world peace and friendship,” the Peace Corps holds a special reverence in the national consciousness. Objectively, the Peace Corps is an independent US government agency and volunteer program. Peace Corps volunteers receive three months of in-country, international training before serving two-year terms abroad in sectors including agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health, and youth development. The population of volunteers skews young, white, and female: the average age is 26, 65% are female, and . . .

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New York City RPCVs Virtual Story Slam

The NYCPCA is excited to invite our community and their friends and family to the first installment of our 2020 Peace Corps Story Slam series happening on September 30! Like many things in 2020, the importance of social distancing has pushed our live storytelling event to the internet. We’re also expanding the program this year to include multiple events organized around specific themes that we’ll continue building on in 2021. See below for details and we’ll look forward to seeing you in a few weeks! Wednesday, September 30, 2020 7:30pm EST For our first event, we invite stories about volunteers’ experiences with race and identity during their service. Sign Up to Be a Storyteller RSVP 2020 Story Slam Program Thursday, October 22 and Thursday, November 19 7:30pm EST We’ll also be hosting two more exciting evenings of storytelling in 2020, where we’ll explore volunteers’ encounters with the political process during their service . . .

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Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation approved

  Honoring the historic founding of the Peace Corps and fundamental American ideals and values the Peace Corps symbolizes   P E A C E C O R P S  C O M M E M O R A T I V E  F O U N D A T I O N PeaceCorpsDesign The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), at its September 17 meeting, voted unanimously to approve the design concept for the national Peace Corps Commemorative, designed and presented by artist/sculptor Larry Kirkland and Michael Vergason of Michael Vergason Landscape Architects.   The PCCF will finance and build this commemorative work on a small, triangular National Park Service site facing Louisiana Avenue, NW, in the heart of Washington, DC, one block from the National Mall and the U.S. Capitol Building grounds, and three blocks from Union Station. CFA approval of the design concept is a positive step . . .

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Peace Corps Connection

    Sorrow and Gratitude: Remembering Ruth Bader Ginsburg She was committed to justice and equality. And a Peace Corps Volunteer helped the world see her in a new way.   by Steven Boyd Saum (Ukraine 1994-96)   “Ruth obviously changed the country, but she did it by convincing people to agree with her, instead of destroying the people who disagreed with her.” Those words were spoken two years ago by Daniel Stiepleman — nephew of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court who died yesterday at age 87. Stiepleman helped the world understand Ginsburg in a deeply personal way: He is author of the screenplay for “On the Basis of Sex,” the biographical film released in 2018 that chronicled both her commitment to justice and gender equality, and her marriage to attorney Martin Ginsburg, who died in 2010. It was at Martin Ginsburg’s funeral, hearing tributes . . .

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2020 National Book Awards non-fiction long list: OWLS OF THE EASTERN ICE by Jonathan C. Slaght (Russia)

  The 2020 National Book Awards Longlist: Nonfiction This week, The New Yorker will be announcing the longlists for the 2020 National Book Awards. So far, we’ve presented the lists for Young People’s Literature, Translated Literature, and Poetry. Check back tomorrow morning for Fiction. This year’s longlist for the National Book Award for Nonfiction includes: Jonathan C. Slaght, Owls of the Eastern Ice: A Quest to Find and Save the World’s Largest Owl, Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Macmillan Publishers • Owls of the Eastern Ice: A Quest to Find and Save the World’s Largest Owl By Jonathan Slaght (Russia 1999—02) Ferrar, Straus and Giroux August 2020 358 pages $28.00 (Hardcover) Reviewed by Fuller Torrey, MD (Staff/Ethiopia 1964-66) • For those of us whose Peace Corps experience involved villages in countries such as Bolivia, Ethiopia, India and Thailand, placing Peace Corps volunteers in Russia seems like a disconnect. But indeed between 1992 and 2003 722 Peace Corps . . .

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VEERING OFF: MY SEARCH FOR FREEDOM by Kevin Cromley (Nicaragua)

  From the sticks of Mississippi to the jungles of Nicaragua, Kevin Cromley escaped the chaos of a turbulent youth,  and finally reached a point in his life where order prevailed. The order he so desperately desired. He would soon be scaling the corporate ladder and setting off on a methodical life of routine and comfort. Why then did he have a sinking feeling that something was off, as if his life was skewed and out of balance? On a mission for answers, he chucks caution to the wind and joined the Peace Corps, finding himself thrust back into the throes of chaos yet again. Will the disorder and chaos overtake him, steer him back towards the perilous ways of his youth? Or will he learn to operate within the disarray and confusion of a new language, new culture, and a new way of looking at life? More importantly, will . . .

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The PCVs’ Descriptions of Service (DOS) document achievements of the First Goal

The Description of Service or DOS was originally designed as the Personnel record for  each  individual Peace Corp Volunteer’s service.  It was used to verify service for employment and university applications as well as other needs for documentation of service. Initially, in early days, all terminating Volunteers in a specific group, received the same general description of program activities.  However, at a certain time, which I have not yet been able to determine, the DOS became a  V0lunteer’s own record of his or her First Goal program activities. It was written by the Volunteer and countersigned by the Country Director. The Office of Freedom Information Act reports there are over 190,000 DOS electronically catalogued and are available  to the Volunteer and anyone else. For more information DOS policy, visit: https://files.peacecorps.gov/documents/MS-285-Policy.pdf?_ga=2.162855740.1630460103.1599702479-1120743076.1599057042 The detail now required proves how historically valuable these documents are. Here are the instructions for preparing such a detailed . . .

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The Museum of Our Peace Corps Experience Needs Your Help

  PEACE CORPS MUSEUM SEEKING VOLUNTEERS     The Museum of the Peace Corps Experience has accepted numerous objects and stories from Returned Peace Corps Volunteers — so many, in fact, that we are looking for more RPCVs to commit a few hours each week to curate Museum activities. Tasks in the following activities are waiting to be addressed as quickly as possible: MARKETING – reaching new audiences through newsletters, press relations and social media COLLECTIONS — managing and cataloging objects and curating exhibits WRITING/EDITING — editing stories for publication and creating outreach messages MULTIMEDIA — enhancing website and expanding virtual exhibits FUNDRAISING — researching and writing grant proposals and planning new fundraising methods BOARD — especially younger volunteers with leadership experience or service on other boards If you can offer assistance in any of these activities and can devote 2 – 5 hours/week, please send a description of your . . .

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