The Peace Corps

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

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Peace Corps Beginnings in An Unfinished Love Story by Doris Kearns Goodwin
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Review | SHIPS IN THE DESERT by Jeff Fearnside (Kazakhstan)
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RPCV Peter Navarro the MAGA Martyr Who Went to Prison for You (Thailand)
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Foreign Agents by Casey Michel (Kazakhstan)
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Looking East: Short Histories and More 2004 – 2023
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Review — WALKING WITH EVARISTO by Christian Nill (Guatemala)
7
Bye Bye Peace Corps?
8
Old DC Peace Corps Office now “Elle”
9
New solo exhibit celebrates the art of cartography — Michael Reagan (Ivory Coast)
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New PCVs to the Philippines
11
Lori Hartmann (Niger) | Scholar
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Tourism Redux by Joyce McClure (Yap)
13
Dan Campbell (El Salvador) shares some essays
14
Microsoft hack affected Veterans Affairs and State Departments, government says
15
Celeb Williams taking his skills to the Peace Corps (Cambodia)

Peace Corps Beginnings in An Unfinished Love Story by Doris Kearns Goodwin

I have been reading Doris Kearns Goodwin’s An Unfinished Love Story and I strongly recommend this “personal history of the 1960s” by her. First Doris Kearns Goodwin is a wonderful writer and has stories to tell about the first days of the Kennedy agency and the start of the Peace Corps–JFK’s famous introduction of the agency at 2 a.m. in the morning, for example, on the campus of the University of Michigan. He spoke for 3 minutes, Doris Kearns writes, “Yet something extraordinary transpired: The students took up the challenge he posed. They organized, they held meetings, they sent letters and telegrams to the campaign asking Kennedy to develop plans for a volunteer Peace Corps (it was not then called ‘Peace Corps’). They signed petitions pledging to give not two but three years of their lives to help people in developing countries.” During that week, she writes, “Dick met with two Michigan . . .

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Review | SHIPS IN THE DESERT by Jeff Fearnside (Kazakhstan)

  Ships In The Desert by Jeff Fearnside (Kazakhstan 2002–04) Santa Fe Writer’s Project 136 pages August, 2022 $14.95 (paperback), $8.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by Eugénie de Rosier (Philippines 2006-08) • • • Out of the massive spread of Central Asia — from the Caspian Sea moving east to northwest China — is the region’s “stan” countries: Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and the Uyghur (WEE-gur) autonomous region of Xinjiang, China. Historically, the area was known as “Land of the Turks” or Turkestan. It’s unrelated to Turkey. Jeff Fearnside’s slim volume of essays assesses his four years as guest educator and fellowship program manager for post-graduate study abroad. Most of his living happened on the Great Silk Road mainly in Kazakhstan. He addresses a stirring call to action about our responsibility to save our precious water resource globally after the Aral Sea disaster. He outpours his view of Kazakh people, their culture, . . .

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RPCV Peter Navarro the MAGA Martyr Who Went to Prison for You (Thailand)

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times Peter Navarro (Thailand 1965-68) walked out of federal prison Wednesday morning and walked into the Republican convention Wednesday evening to deliver a law-defying, teeth-baring, knife-wielding speech that was one of the more bizarre convention moments I’ve ever seen. Navarro, who was the trade representative in the Trump administration, spent the last four months in the Federal Correction Institute in Miami, having been convicted by a Washington jury in September of contempt of Congress for failing to respond to a subpoena from the Jan. 6 committee. To the audience here in Milwaukee, there is no badge of honor more awesome than a conviction for the sacred MAGA cause, and a prison term elevates that conviction to martyrdom, which is why the party instantly capitalized on his timely release. To the cheering crowd, Navarro milked every moment of suffering in the low-security tropical prison (where you can buy butter-pecan ice cream, . . .

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Foreign Agents by Casey Michel (Kazakhstan)

Foreign Agents: How American Lobbyists and Lawmakers Threaten Democracy Around the World by Casey Michel (Kazakstan 2011) St. Martins Press August 2024 $14.99 (Kindle); $17.71 (Audiobook); $27.90 (Hardcover)       For years, one group of Americans has worked as foot-soldiers for the most authoritarian regimes around the planet. In the process, they’ve not only entrenched dictatorships and spread kleptocratic networks, but they’ve secretly guided U.S. policy without the rest of America even being aware. And now, some of them have begun turning their sights on American democracy itself. These Americans are known as foreign lobbyists, and many of them spent years ushering dictatorships directly into the halls of Washington, all while laundering the reputations of the most heinous, repressive regimes in the process. These foreign lobbyists include figures like Ivy Lee, the inventor of the public relations industry—a man who whitewashed Mussolini, opened doors to the Soviets, and advised the . . .

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Looking East: Short Histories and More 2004 – 2023

Looking East: Short Histories and More 2004-2023 by Walter McClennen (Brazil 1967-69) Damianos Publishing June 2024 122 pages $19.95 (Paperback) Walter McClennen uses a “Short History” model to set forth a collection of his ideas reflecting on the deep past, and our more recent history, as well as the history we are making as we live our lives today. Looking East – Short Histories and More, 2004-2023, is a compact and thought-provoking read. From a ten page “Short History of the World,” to Peace Corps and Vietnam War impacts as felt five decades later, to the dual genius of the famous author, Harper Lee, and to some little-known history of his hometown, Holliston, Massachusetts, McClennen shares candid opinions and raises interesting questions that will challenge the reader. After graduating from Harvard in 1967 and serving in the Peace Corps in Brazil, Walter McClennen raised a family of four boys with his . . .

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Review — WALKING WITH EVARISTO by Christian Nill (Guatemala)

  Walking with Evaristo: A Memoir of Celebration and Tragedy in the Land of the AchÍ Maya Christian Nill (Guatemala 1978–82) Peace Corps Writers May 2024 383 pages $17.99 (paperback), $9.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by Mark Walker (Guatemala) • • • Fellow Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Christian Nill has written an engaging story about the impact and consequences of his experience as a volunteer in the highlands of Guatemala. He’s also made a timely contribution to our understanding of the devastating ten-year period of violence there. Although I was a volunteer five years before Nill, the similarities were amazing. I worked on a study for CARE identifying some of the management and conservation practices used for the Food-for-Work program implemented in conjunction with the group Nill worked with, INAFOR (National Forestry Institute). My second site was also in Baja Verapaz, where I found my bride. I raised money for the program in the . . .

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Bye Bye Peace Corps?

What’s Happening to the Peace Corps? As of July 8, 2024 there were roughly 2,840 Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) in service overseas. This figure includes Peace Corps Trainees (PCTs) and Peace Corps Response Volunteers (PCRVs). Those Volunteers are currently in 58 countries. What I’ve been hearing is that the agency is laying off host country staff as the Peace Corps cuts back on overseas employees. The agency doesn’t need staff. Fewer and fewer Volunteers are joining our Peace Corps. According to Lawrence Lihosit (Honduras 1975-77) informative book: Peace Corps Chronology 1961-2010 the last time we were as ‘close’ to these recent PCVs numbers was in June 1962 when there were even more PCVs– 2,940 in 27 countries. In the mid-sixties we had these numbers: 1966–15,556 1967–14,968 1968–13,823 By the year 2000 the number of PCVs grew to 7,164. The most PCVs for 10 countries back in the Sixties looked like this: . . .

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Old DC Peace Corps Office now “Elle”

Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) joined developer Gary Cohen to cut the ribbon at the Elle, which was formerly home to the U.S. Peace Corps. By Meagan Flynn July 11, 2024  The building had three lives, and Gary Cohen’s family had engineered all of them. His grandfather developed it into The Vanguard in 1965 — one of the first high-rise office buildings in the downtown neighborhood now known as the Golden Triangle. It housed the U.S. Department of Labor and then, until recently, the U.S. Peace Corps. On Thursday, Cohen ushered in its third life: a new 163-unit apartment building called the Elle — the first office-to-housing conversion project to be completed in the District. He joined Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) to cut the ribbon on the apartment building, which also comes with 8,000 square feet of retail space. A Canadian-based restaurant called Moxies is slated to move in, he . . .

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New solo exhibit celebrates the art of cartography — Michael Reagan (Ivory Coast)

by Lucas Britt Posted on July 10, 2024 by Xpress Contributor     Local artist Michael Francis Reagan (Ivory Coast 1977-78)  is a member of a small and dwindling group of cartographers. Just don’t call him that. “I think of myself as a map artist,” he says. “My goal is to create a work of art, first and foremost, and then second is to render an accurate delineation of geography.” Time and place On Saturday, July 13, 2-5 p.m., Grovewood Village, North Carolina will host the opening of Reagan’s latest exhibit, The Last Mapmaker. The show, which features works from across the internationally recognized artist’s career, will run through Sunday, Sept. 15. “The maps in this Grovewood exhibit are maps that I’ve held back in my own private collection. I felt it was time to offer them to the public and to collectors,” says Reagan, whose creations have appeared in publications such as The New Yorker, Harper’s . . .

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New PCVs to the Philippines

The US Peace Corps has deployed 48 new volunteers who will collaborate with Filipino community members on local projects aimed at fostering relationships and exchanging knowledge and skills. Donald James Gawe, Executive Director of the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency, extended a warm welcome to the 281st batch of US Peace Corps volunteers and expressed his optimism that they will “continue to serve as builders of hope and catalysts of change.” “U.S. Peace Corps Volunteers come from all over the United States and represent the diversity of the American people. They come with a variety of skills and experience to contribute during their service in the Philippines,” U.S. Ambassador MaryKay Carlson said.  

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Lori Hartmann (Niger) | Scholar

  LORI HARTMANN (Niger 1988-90) Professor of International Studies International StudiesPoliticsAfrican & African American Studies PhD, The University of Denver   Lori Hartmann joined the Centre College in Danville, Kentucky faculty in 1999. She was named director of the Center for Global Citizenship (CGC) in 2020, returning to the classroom and her program as a full-time faculty member in 2022. She was awarded the “Rookie of the Year” teaching award in 2000, and a Kirk Teaching Award in 2003. Since 2009 she has held the Frank B. and Virginia B. Hower endowed chair in international studies. During the CentreTerms of 2004, 2009, 2011, and 2015 she took groups of students to Cameroon to study politics and civil society in that Central African country. From 2006-07 and 2012, she was the director of Centre College’s program in Strasbourg, France. Hartmann’s scholarly interests have focused on African politics, women, and development in . . .

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Tourism Redux by Joyce McClure (Yap)

Inside the Reef Doing the same thing, expecting a different result By Joyce McClure   A few years before Covid slammed the door shut on tourism, I was working with the Yap Visitors Bureau and researched ways that Yap might promote the island to more than divers. The marketing director began to explore opportunities to attract special-interest groups interested in World War II. The result was a visit by a tour company that focuses on war buffs. It’s not a huge market, but big enough to warrant getting Yap on their schedule for visits by travelers who have never heard of the island where the Japanese surrendered and the wreckage of planes that were downed in dogfights during the last year of the war are memorials. Reading the stories about Guam and CNMI and their struggles to recapture the tourism market, I am struck by the effort being put toward . . .

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Dan Campbell (El Salvador) shares some essays

Essays —   Dear friends I hope your week is going well and i wanted to share some of my latest essays with you at the link below and i welcome your comments and suggestions for improvement. Take care and keep in touch! https://essaysbydan.wordpress.com/ Dan • • •  •   June 26, 2024 An essay on selling Bibles door to door As a student at N.C. State University many years ago, I embarked on a summer adventure that whisked me away to the picturesque and historic town of New Bern, North Carolina. My mission was to sell Bibles door-to-door. Little did I know, this venture would lead me down a path of unexpected lessons and memorable… Read more June 23, 2024 An essay on random acts of kindness Random Acts of Kindness: Nurturing Compassion and Connectivity Random acts of kindness are spontaneous, unplanned actions aimed at bringing joy or assistance to others without expecting . . .

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Microsoft hack affected Veterans Affairs and State Departments, government says

  The US Department of Veterans Affairs and an arm of the US State Department are among a growing list of Microsoft Corp. customers that have acknowledged they were impacted by a breach of the technology giant that was blamed on Russian state-sponsored hackers. The US Agency for Global Media, part of the State Department that provides news and information in countries where the press is restricted, was notified “a couple months ago” by Microsoft that some of its data may have been stolen, a spokesperson said in an emailed statement. No security or personally identifiable sensitive data was compromised, the spokesperson said. The agency is working closely with the Department of Homeland Security on the incident, the spokesperson said, declining to answer additional questions. A State Department spokesperson said, “We are aware that Microsoft is reaching out to agencies, both affected and unaffected, in the spirit of transparency.” Microsoft disclosed in January that a . . .

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Celeb Williams taking his skills to the Peace Corps (Cambodia)

  Caleb Williams has spent the last two years teaching ninth graders in Richardson, Texas Independent School District. But this August, he will be traveling to Cambodia to teach English as part of The Peace Corps. Williams is originally from Oklahoma, but said he was drawn to Texas schools by better pay and more diverse schools. In his time at Richardson ISD, he’s taught students from all over the world, including Nigeria, Iraq and Burma. He’s also had experience teaching across different achievement levels, having taught on-level, special education inclusion and AP English classes. “It has been great getting to teach the full range of freshman students,” Williams said. “Different kinds of students use different parts of your energy, so it doesn’t feel like doing the same thing over and over again each period.” Of course, finishing out this past school year was bittersweet for Williams after committing to the . . .

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