The Peace Corps

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

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For the Love of the Struggle by Andrew (Drew) McKinley (El Salvador)
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HISTORICAL BELGIUM by Steve Kaffen (Russia)
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Peace Corps at 60: Inside the Volunteer Experience 
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A Writer Writes — “Mr. Tidy” by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay)
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Smithsonian Folklife Festival Peace Corps Event OnLine
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Peace Corps Language Week — March 6
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Acting PC Director Carol Spahn replies to Jerry Norris’ letter about the work of RPCV Maureen Orth
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Dan Rooney (Niger) back in Africa . . . This time Madagascar
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Awesome Woman — Mae Jemison, Peace Corps Staff (Sierra Leone, Liberia)
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RPCV Mary Bruce New Peace Corps Head of Recruitment & Selection (Morocco)

For the Love of the Struggle by Andrew (Drew) McKinley (El Salvador)

From his home in El Salvador, the author shares an intimate personal and political memoir that follows his remarkable journey from the comfort and security of a picturesque New England town to a stirring and heroic engagement in common cause with the struggle for peace and justice in El Salvador. After four years as a Peace Corp worker in northern Liberia beginning in the late 1960’s, followed by a stretch back in the United States as a street worker in the ghettos of North Philadelphia, McKinley finds himself in Central America as an aid worker in 1978. He quickly becomes engulfed by the political violence of the region and engaged with the people and their struggles against five decades of military dictatorship, centuries of poverty and exploitation. The story is marked by terror, adventure and courage, by trials and tragedy redeemed by the beauty and transcendence of people in struggle. . . .

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HISTORICAL BELGIUM by Steve Kaffen (Russia)

  Belgium’s long and rich history is on display in its cities and towns. Join author Steve Kaffen on a photographic journey to historical Belgium. The capital Brussels is home to the magnificent Grand Place, a medieval square and open-air marketplace from the 11th century. It is surrounded by historic buildings, notably the Town Hall, the square’s centerpiece; King’s House, home of the Brussels City Museum and its fine tapestries; and ancient guild houses of artisans and merchants. Steve visits at a unique time when, on even years in mid-August, it is covered with begonias. The floral presentation, called the Flower Carpet, is created by volunteers using pre-determined designs. The adjacent pedestrian zone of cobblestone streets contains buildings of earlier eras, and street-level shops strive to outdo each other with elaborate window displays and inviting interiors. On a side street is an old Theatre de Vaudeville that is rentable for . . .

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Peace Corps at 60: Inside the Volunteer Experience 

March 3th at 7 pm ET Virtual Opening   We are pleased to announce the exhibition Peace Corps at 60: Inside the Volunteer Experience with links to register for the virtual opening event on Wed. March. 3 at 7 pm ET. We invite you to enjoy the exhibition catalog and attend the virtual opening. Read the exhibition catalog here.  Register for Wednesday, March 3, 7 pm ET virtual opening here. Numerous Volunteers in the Museum of the Peace Corps Experience partnered with Jack Rasmussen, Director of American University Museum and AU Museum staff to create this exhibit. Now available virtually, the physical exhibit is installed until August 2021 and will be viewable at American University Museum, Washington DC, when the pandemic situation allows the campus to open publicly. — Pat Wand (Colombia 1963-1965) — Nicola Dino (Ecuador 1994-1997)

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A Writer Writes — “Mr. Tidy” by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay)

    Mr. Tidy by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay 1978-80 • The first time Dean Birch watched Mr. Tidy rise up out of the swimming pool in the back yard, he thought it was odd. He assumed he had not read the manual thoroughly, another sin of omission Nancy could hold against him. Once the robot cleaned the pool to its own digitally imprinted standard, it climbed the steps, motored over to the flagstones, and waited for the command to clean again. Whoever had the marketing contract for Convenience Machines, which made the robot, had blown it. They should have advertised the self-parking feature. Dean was at the breakfast nook with a mugful of coffee. He stared through the sun-flooded window at Mr. Tidy; robot rest. He was glad they had sprung for the thing. Who had time to clean the pool? Nancy had left for work. She must have turned . . .

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Smithsonian Folklife Festival Peace Corps Event OnLine

  The Peace Corps at 60 and Beyond  A Towering Task Screening & Discussion     When: Thursday, March 4, 7–8 p.m. ET Where: Streaming online Category: Narrative Session Accessibility: ASL interpretation, real-time captioning available   The Smithsonian Folklife Festival began in 1967, not long after the Peace Corps, with many similar goals—especially to promote a greater understanding and appreciation of world cultures. In 2011, the Folklife Festival commemorated the agency’s fiftieth anniversary with a program that featured Peace Corps volunteers and their partners from sixteen countries. In 2021, the Festival once more explores the agency’s significance and impact through a panel discussion and a screening of the 2019 documentary film A Towering Task: The Story of the Peace Corps. Join us on March 4 at 7 p.m. ET for the discussion with Peace Corps acting director Carol Spahn, Rayna Green, Rahama Wright, and the film’s director, Alana DeJoseph, all Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. We offer two . . .

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Peace Corps Language Week — March 6

    Peace Corps Language Week, March 6, 2021 @PeaceCorps #PeaceCorpsLanguageWeek began in 2014 in recognition of the agency’s deep investment in language learning. This year, we’re starting our weeklong celebration with 11 facts you might not know about Peace Corps languages.    

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Acting PC Director Carol Spahn replies to Jerry Norris’ letter about the work of RPCV Maureen Orth

  Jerry Norris (Colombia 1963-65) has been researching efforts of RPCVs in pursuit of the Third Goal and posting them here as “Profiles in Courage.” Maureen Orth (Colombia 1964-66) was one such Profile. Jerry Norris wrote Acting Peace Corps Director Carol Spahn about the Orth Foundation which helps Colombian students become bilingual and skilled in computer technology. See: https://peacecorpsworldwide.org/a-profile-in-citizenship-colombia/ • He shares Spahn’s response here: Dear Mr. Norris: Thank you for reaching out to share the story of RPCV Maureen Orth and her inspiring work with the Marina Orth Foundation, as it relates to the Peace Corps’ domestic dividend. As you point out, both she and Donna Shalala have truly gone above and beyond when it comes to our Third Goal. It’s always nice to hear from Returned Volunteers and I so appreciate that you felt compelled to respond to my open letter. As you say, the full impact of the . . .

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Dan Rooney (Niger) back in Africa . . . This time Madagascar

Dan Rooney in Africa Again by Colleen Jurkiewicz Catholic Herald CRS Rice Bowl is the annual Lenten program of Catholic Relief Services, which is the official relief and development agency of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Seventy-five percent of donations to CRS Rice Bowl supports the work of CRS around the world, while 25 percent stays in the local diocese to support hunger and poverty alleviation efforts. Since its inception in 1975, CRS Rice Bowl has raised nearly $300 million. • For Dan Rooney (Niger 2000-02), Lent was always synonymous with the Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl campaign. “If you were to ask almost anyone in my class, they would all remember it. It was a pretty poignant event for us every year, from kindergarten through eighth grade,” said Rooney, who was a student at Blessed Sacrament Parish School in the 1980s. “A couple of days before Lent . . .

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Awesome Woman — Mae Jemison, Peace Corps Staff (Sierra Leone, Liberia)

  How many Americans are multilingual, let alone fluent in Swahili, Japanese, and Russian? Mae Jemison is an engineer and physician as well as a U.S. astronaut – an exceptional achiever by any measure. She was born in 1956 in Decatur, Alabama; her family soon moved to Chicago, for a chance at better schools and jobs. As a child, she remembers assuming that she would one day escape terrestrial confines: “I thought by now we’d be going into space like you were going to work.” Though her teachers were not especially supportive of her interest in science, her parents encouraged her; she was also attracted to the art of the dance and studied ballet, jazz, modern, and African dance. She graduated early and started at Stanford University at age 16 on a National Achievement Scholarship, graduating in 1977 with a degree in chemical engineering; she also fulfilled the requirements for . . .

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RPCV Mary Bruce New Peace Corps Head of Recruitment & Selection (Morocco)

  Emme, as she was called as a PCV, writes: “It was a big day yesterday. I’ve been asked to serve in the Biden Harris Administration as an Associate Director of the Peace Corps! Alongside fellow appointees, I was sworn in by President Biden who shared “Very few times does an individual get to do something that can fundamentally positively impact other people’s lives, not only here but around the world.” I’m thrilled, humbled, and ready to contribute to the amazing team already hard at work at the Peace Corps. Together, we’re rebuilding the pipeline of 7,000 volunteers in 60+ countries annually, as Peace Corps relaunches its work after evacuating all volunteers in 2020.” For nearly two decades, Mary has supported the development and growth of young leaders and the scale and impact of social sector organizations, including work with America’s Promise Alliance, the Boston Public Schools, City Year, the . . .

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