The Peace Corps

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

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 Upon this Rock … by Jeremiah Norris (Colombia)
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Finding the Right Image by RPCV Poet Ben Berman (Zimbabwe)
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Once Again The Torch is Passed: RPCV Joe Kennedy (DR)
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Bennett College Honors Former Peace Corps Director Carolyn Payton
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New Book on Sargent Shriver–THE CALL
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Writing from Our Peace Corps Experience
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Author Interview—Lucinda Jackson (Palau)
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Award goes to Jonathan Deenik (Cameroon, Nepal)
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Remembering the Murder of PCV Deborah Gardner (Tonga)
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Peace Corps Early Days by Gregory Barnes (Sierra Leone)
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Some Early Peace Corps Books You Might Have Missed
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Peace Corps Volunteers return to Armenia 
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“Up Close with Peter Sage” . . . writing about the Peace Corps
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5 Paying Literary Magazines to Submit to in March 2023
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“Peace Corps future is up in the air” — February 15, 1962

 Upon this Rock … by Jeremiah Norris (Colombia)

Upon this Rock … by Jeremiah Norris (Colombia 1963-65) My site as a Peace Corps Volunteer was in a village in the foothills of the Andean Mountains, called La Plata. It was located at about the 4,000 ft. level, and had about 3,000 residents.  One afternoon, there was a knock at my door. When answering it, I was greeted by three campesinos dressed in traditional garb with ruanas over their shoulders. They said that they were from the village of La Union, which was accessed only via a three hour bus/horseback ride up the mountains, and that their Mayor had recently given them permission to build their first school.  Would I come up to see its potential site? We agreed to meet in one week’s time if they could provide a horse for me. On the appointed time and date, we met at a road-head and rode up a steep . . .

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Finding the Right Image by RPCV Poet Ben Berman (Zimbabwe)

Why Finding the Right Image Can Be So Challenging March 20, 2023 By Ben Berman (Zimbabwe 1998-2000) I place the six-pack of beer on the counter. The clerk looks up at me, then down at the beer, then back up at me, then leans in and says, I thought I was gonna have to ID when you first walked in, but now that you’re up close I can see all the gray hairs on your head. I’m not sure whether to be flattered that he thinks I look twenty years younger than I actually am or upset that he’s noticed that I am starting to go gray. Although, after I get home and examine my head in the mirror, I realize that there is something about the word, gray, that feels off—as though it is too generic a word to capture the intricate blending of complementing colors sprouting from my head. Later, at . . .

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Once Again The Torch is Passed: RPCV Joe Kennedy (DR)

Once Again The Torch is Passed There is a new Kennedy associated with Irish affairs. With a nod to the past and a move toward the future, President Joe Biden recently selected 42-year-old Joseph Kennedy III as the latest Special Envoy to Northern Ireland. Who is this newest Kennedy? What does he confront in his new role? This generational passing of the family torch could impact the province’s future – and his own. Kennedy is the grandson of Senator and Attorney General Robert Kennedy, assassinated while running for president in 1968. His great-uncle, SenatorTed Kennedy, played a crucial role leading to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement (GFA), including supporting the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement (which provided an advisory role for the Republic’s government in Northern Ireland’s government). His great-aunt, Jean Kennedy Smith, U.S. ambassador to Ireland in the 1990s, was likewise an influential peace process player. And his father, Rep. Joe . . .

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Bennett College Honors Former Peace Corps Director Carolyn Payton

In honor of Women’s History Month, Bennett College is highlighting one of its notable and influential alumna, Carolyn Robertson Payton. Payton, a 1945 graduate of Bennett College, made history when she became both the first African American and first female  director of the Peace Corps in 1977. As director, Payton paved the way for Black women and people of color. She believed in diversifying Peace Corps volunteers and worked tirelessly to bring young people on board, aiming to attract more Black and Hispanic volunteers. Appointed by President Jimmy Carter, Payton was also the first psychologist to take on the role of Peace Corps Director. After graduating from Bennett College with a degree in home economics, Payton earned her Master of Science degree in clinical psychology from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and her doctorate in counseling and school administration from Columbia University Teachers College. Born in Norfolk, Va. in 1925, Payton’s . . .

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New Book on Sargent Shriver–THE CALL

On this day–March 21, 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed Sargent Shriver to be the first Director of the Peace Corps. To celebrate this anniversary, we’re pleased to announce the publication of a new book about Sargent Shriver. The Call: The Spiritual Leadership of Sargent Shriver explores the ways in which Shriver’s signature leadership style was fueled by his deep spirituality. Shriver’s approach to public service, while rooted in his devout Catholic faith, is an example for anyone who has felt the deeply human impulse to serve others. Written as a “true conversation that never happened”, the book is an imagined dialogue between a meticulously constructed Sargent Shriver and a fictional interviewer named Didymus. The book’s author, our Founding Director, Jamie Price, worked closely with Shriver for over 20 years. Informed by hundreds of Shriver’s speeches, philosophers and theologians who inspired him, and real-life conversations between Shriver and the author, The Call presents a . . .

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Writing from Our Peace Corps Experience

The first book to draw on the Peace Corps experience was written by Arnold Zeitlin (Ghana 1961), who had volunteered for the Peace Corps in 1961 after having been an Associated Press reporter. That book, To the Peace Corps, With Love (1965), detailed a year of Zeitlin’s life in Ghana as a PCV. Two years later, in 1967, Simon & Schuster published An African Season, by Leonard Levitt (Tanzania 1963-65), another journalist. This memoir covers Levitt’s first year (1964) of living and teaching in a rural upper-primary school in Tanzania. In 1969, Moritz Thomsen (Ecuador 1965-67) published what is considered by many to be the classic Peace Corps memoir: Living Poor: A Peace Corps Chronicle. Thomsen, who had a farm in the state of California, became a Peace Corps farmer in Ecuador at the age of 44, and lived out his life in that country. Paul Theroux served in Malawi from 1963 to 1965 and . . .

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Author Interview—Lucinda Jackson (Palau)

Interviewed by Heidi Eliason Lucinda Jackson–Palau 2016 Lucinda Jackson is the author of two memoirs: Just a Girl: Growing Up Female and Ambitious, about her struggles to succeed in the male-dominated work world, and Project Escape: Lessons for an Unscripted Life, an exploration of freedom after leaving a structured career. Jackson is a PhD scientist and global corporate executive who features on podcasts and radio and has published articles, book chapters, magazine columns, and patents. She is the founder of LJ Ventures, where she speaks and consults on energy, the environment, and empowering women in the workplace and in our Next Act. Connect with Jackson or find her books at: www.lucindajackson.com. Who or what inspires you to write?  I get inspired by having something to say. I feel this burning concept or thought inside me and I just have to get it out! It is this need to express myself, to make sense of something, . . .

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Award goes to Jonathan Deenik (Cameroon, Nepal)

Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research goes to RPCV Jonathan Deenik College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources University of Hawai’i at Manoa 17 March 2023   Jonathan Deenik received his BA in History and Art History (College of Wooster), and then joined the Peace Corps, where he served as a teacher and teacher trainer in a rural community in southern Cameroon (1985-87) and remote central Nepal (1987-91). He came to Hawaiʻi in 1992 and completed his MS and PhD degrees at UHM in Soil Science. Jonathan joined the Dept. of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences in 2003 with a three-way split (Extension, research and instruction). His work focuses on soil nutrient management and soil health across the spectrum of tropical agroecosystems. He works with farmers throughout the Hawaiian Islands and Micronesia. He enjoys collaborating with faculty from a range of disciplines with a history of large projects covering soils . . .

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Remembering the Murder of PCV Deborah Gardner (Tonga)

  In the late Nineties, shortly after I had taken over the job of manager of the New York Recruitment Office for the Peace Corps, I got a call from a reporter at the New York Observer newspaper. I thought he was calling to ask me about the Peace Corps and to write an article about the agency. Well, in a way he was, but he started by asking if I knew anything about the murder of a young PCV woman in Tonga in 1975. The reporter’s name was Philip Weiss and he didn’t realize he had stumbled on an RPCV who was fascinated by the history of the Peace Corps and obsessively collected PCV stories. Phil Weiss was also obsessed, but by the murder of this PCV in Tonga. In 1978, when he was 22 and backpacking around the world, he had crashed with a Peace Corps Volunteer in Samoa named . . .

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Peace Corps Early Days by Gregory Barnes (Sierra Leone)

The Peace Corps: Early Years by Gregory A. Barnes (Sierra Leone 1961-63) Friends Press 252 pages February 2023 $6.00 (Kindle); $12.00 (Paperback)       One of the most exciting developments in the United State of the 1960s was the founding of the Peace Corps: so ambitious, so popular, and so emblematic of John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier. Many thousands of Americans responded, volunteering to serve in the developing countries of the world, and Greg Barnes was among them—part of a group forever to be known as Sierra Leone One. Ultimately he worked as both volunteer and staffer from 1961 to 1966. Here are his memoirs of his time as volunteer in Sierra Leone and as staff member in both Nigeria and Washington. Titles of the initial chapters show some of the chaos reigning at the Peace Corps in its early days: Here We Are, So Take Us, a translation from “We’ve . . .

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Some Early Peace Corps Books You Might Have Missed

  The Early Years of Peace Corps in Afghanistan: A Promising Time by Frances Hopkins Irwin and Will A. Irwin | Feb 13, 201 The Peace Corps: The Early Years by Charles Jones and Keith Jones | Feb 7, 2015 My Years in the Early Peace Corps: Nigeria, 1964-1965, Volume 1 by Sonja Goodwin | Sep 17, 2021 My Years in the Early Peace Corps: Ethiopia, 1965-1966, Volume 2 by Sonja Goodwin Eradicating Smallpox in Ethiopia: Peace Corps Volunteers’ Accounts of Their Adventures, Challenges and Achievements by James W. Skelton Jr. , Alan Schnur, et al. | Nov 26, 2019 I Miss the Rain in Africa: Peace Corps as a Third Act by Nancy Daniel Wesson  | May 1, 2021 A Few Minor Adjustments: Two Years in Afghanistan: A Peace Corps Odyssey by Elana Hohl  | May 6, 2021 Mariantonia: The Lifetime Journey of a Peace Corps Volunteer by Robert L. Forster | Sep 22, 2021 BUILDING COMMUNITY : ANSWERING KENNEDY’S CALL by HARLAN RUSSELL GREEN | May 16, 2022 Moon over Sasova: One American’s Experience Teaching in Post-Cold War . . .

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Peace Corps Volunteers return to Armenia 

Peace Corps Volunteers return to Armenia by Siranush Ghazanchyan Last night, Peace Corps Armenia welcomed a new group of 16 American Peace Corps Volunteers to serve alongside the Armenian people in different regions of the country. This is the first group of Volunteers to arrive in Armenia since they were evacuated in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since that time, Peace Corps Armenia staff and former volunteers have continued to engage with schools and community groups through Virtual Service and training activities.   “We are very excited to witness this historic return of Volunteers to Armenia,” said Peace Corps Armenia Country Director, Joanne Fairley. “I know that the Volunteers will bring great passion and energy to their projects, and I am sure they will form new partnerships and friendship with the Armenian people.” At the request of the government of Armenia, Volunteers will work in schools and community groups . . .

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“Up Close with Peter Sage” . . . writing about the Peace Corps

Observations and commentary on American politics and culture. Tuesday, March 7, 2023   Public Service, continued: The Peace Corps  . . . Ask what you can do for your country. My wife Patti and I owe so much to our service in the Peace Corps. It inspired a lifetime of public service that began in Ethiopia during the late 1960s.  — U.S. Rep. John Garamendi, a returned Peace Corps volunteer, Co-Chair of the Congressional Peace Corps Caucus. I have encountered dozens of returned Peace Corps volunteers over the years. They have something in common: An uncommon commitment to public service. They are a self-selected cohort. Some entered the Peace Corps in midlife or as retirees, but most entered the Peace Corps as a young person, typically after college and before settling into the burdens and joys of career, family, home, mortgage–those entanglements that Zorba in the movie Zorba the Greek called “the full . . .

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5 Paying Literary Magazines to Submit to in March 2023

5 Paying Literary Magazines to Submit to in March 2023 These magazines pay for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry; they are a mix of literary and genre magazines. Not all of them are open through the month. Fantasy Magazine Fantasy is an award-winning fantasy and dark fantasy magazine, open for general submissions (i.e. submissions from all writers) for the first week of March. They’re open to submissions from BIPOC writers through 2023. All dates are subject to change. Reading period: 1-7 March 2023 for general submissions; BIPOC submissions open through 2023 Length: Up to 7,500 words for fiction, up to 6 poems Pay: $0.08/word for fiction, $40/poem Details here. (Also, Fusion Fragment will open for science fiction and SF-tinged literary fiction during 24th-31st March; send stories of 2,000-15,000 words; pay is 3.5 Canadian cents per word, up to CAD300. The submission portal will open during the reading period. And MetaStellar will be open for flash fiction submissions through March; they . . .

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“Peace Corps future is up in the air” — February 15, 1962

An editorial from the Norristown, Pennsylvania Times Herald February 15, 1962 WHEN THIS ADMINISTRATION entered office, one of its most novel proposals was for creation of the Peace Corps. The idea was, and is, that numbers of dedicated young people with particular talents and education would be sent to underdeveloped countries to aid them in becoming responsible nations. Members of the Corps would, so far as possible, live with the people, and accept a more or less comparable standard of living. The proposal was nonpartisan — and it was met with a nonpartisan response. Members of both parties greeted the plan with enthusiasm — and other members of both parties shook their heads in doubt. In any event, Congress approved, and the President appointed his brother-in-law, R. Sargent Shriver, to take over, on a non-paid basis. That happened about a year ago. Now numbers of Peace Corps young men and . . .

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