The Peace Corps

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

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RPCV Averill Strasser (Bolivia) co-founder of water charity
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Everywhere Stories edited by Clifford Garstang (Korea)
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Bob Arias Remembers Bobby Kennedy on June 6, 2016 (Colombia)
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Ambassador Stevens Mother’s letter in the NYTimes: “A Mother’s Complaint About a ‘Cynical Use’ of Benghazi”
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Marlboro College’s Writing Intensive: Words Against War
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The Wetback and Other Stories by Ron Arias (Peru)
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Kitty Thuermer Remembers Sydney Hillel Schanberg
8
Marlboro College reversing enrollment decline with Kevin Quigley (Thailand)
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$750,000 Breast Cancer Study Grant, Utilizing RPCV Women Fails To Obtain Adequate Data
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PCVs and RPCVs Tell Your Peace Corps Story & Earn an MFA

RPCV Averill Strasser (Bolivia) co-founder of water charity

Averill Strasser (Bolivia 1966–68), who lives in Mount Shasta, CA, is co-founder (with fellow Mount Shasta resident JahSun) and Chief Operating Officer of Water Charity. As a PCV Strasser taught engineering at the University of San Andres in La Paz. Averill received a JD degree in Law from University of West Los Angeles, and a BS in Mechanical Engineering and an MS in Systems Engineering from UCLA.  He worked as a lawyer in Beverly Hills for many years, before embarking on a new career as a businessman and philanthropist. As he says today, “The Peace Corps experience has had a profound influence on every aspect of my life, including educational and career pursuits. It continues to drive me today.” The following story is from MountShastaNews.com and quotes JahSun who teamed up with Strasser to create the non-profit, Water Charity. Thanks to Tony DeSouza for the “heads up” on the article — JC •     Mount Shastan’s . . .

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Everywhere Stories edited by Clifford Garstang (Korea)

  Clifford Garstang (Korea 1976-77) just announced the coming publication, on September 26, 2016, of Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet, Volume II. Like the first volume, this anthology includes 20 stories by 20 writers set in 20 countries, and features the work of several RPCVs: Mark Brazaitis (Guatemala 1990-93, staff 1995-96); Pamela Hartmann (South Korea, 1973-75); and editor Clifford Garstang. Cliff is the author of In an Uncharted Country and What the Zhang Boys Know (Winner of the 2013 Library of Virginia Award for Fiction) and Editor of Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet.  

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Bob Arias Remembers Bobby Kennedy on June 6, 2016 (Colombia)

A moment to remember a special individual of my youth shared with my beautiful Peace Corps Colombian wife Gloria. It began April 1968 during the riots in the District of Columbia after the death of the Reverend Martin Luther King. We were being posted to Colombia to be Peace Corps Colombia staff, I was to be a Regional Director for the North Coast. But, in order to accept the assignment, Gloria would have to become a US Citizen, State Department policy. Gloria was (is) very proud of Colombia, why should she change being Colombian? Being a strong Liberal, I convinced her that if she became a US Citizen, she would be able to vote for Bobby Kennedy in the California primary…she accepted! Because of the riots in DC and curfew, our stay would be shorten and we would be in Colombia by the end of the week. On our second . . .

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Ambassador Stevens Mother’s letter in the NYTimes: “A Mother’s Complaint About a ‘Cynical Use’ of Benghazi”

Ambassador Christopher J. Stevens was a Peace Corps Volunteer in from 1983 to 1985, he taught English in Morocco.  He joined the Foreign Service utilizing the cultural and skills he gained from his time in Morocco. He was assassinated at the Benghazi, Libya Outpost on September 11, 2012.  Three other Americans were also murdered. The terrorist attack at Benghazi was the subject of numerous Congressional Hearings, although no legislation was ever presented to  prevent such attacks on diplomatic posts in the future.  Now, the tragedy of the lost American lives at Benghazi has become a rallying cry for Republicans in their vendetta against Hillary Clinton.  One grieving mother even spoke at the Republican Convention.  Another, the mother of Ambassador Stevens has pleaded that her son’s death not be used in this manner.  Read her letter, here: To the Editor: As Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens’s mother, I am writing to object to . . .

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Marlboro College’s Writing Intensive: Words Against War

The Brattleboro Reformer newspaper yesterday carried an article about the summer program at Marlboro College and quoted former PCV Thailand 1976-79 and CD Thailand 2013-15, as well as the recent past president of the NPCA, and now President of Marlboro College, Kevin Quigley: “The Summer Writing Intensive grows out of Marlboro’s fundamental commitment to writing. Our Clear Writing Requirement stems from the belief that clear writing leads to clear thinking, and clear writing in all its forms is a constant focus in the intellectual, political, and social life of the Marlboro community. ” I’d ask Kevin who never was in the military–as many PCVs were–but built his career on Peace Corps service, why doesn’t he honor the many fine Peace Corps ‘vets’  writers and offer them grants to attend this writing intensive?–JC The Brattleboro Reformer article This summer, in collaboration with Words After War, Marlboro College will once again honor . . .

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The Wetback and Other Stories by Ron Arias (Peru)

The Wetback and Other Stories, by Ron Arias ISBN 978-1-55885-834-3 Publication date: September 30, 2016 Trade paperback, Arte Publico Press, University of Houston, $17.95 I felt reading these wonderful stories that I was admitted to an adjacent neighborhood, a rich culture that is another world—call it Amexica—both mysterious and magical, that is persuasive through its tenderness. My hope is that Ron Arias continues to write short stories that tell us who we are.                                                                              – Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-65) This collection brings together the short fiction of an acclaimed journalist and Chicano literature pioneer.  In the title story, Mrs. Rentería shouts, “David is mine!” as she and her neighbors gather about the dead but . . .

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Kitty Thuermer Remembers Sydney Hillel Schanberg

  Kitty Thuermer (Mali 1977-79) recalls Sydney Schanberg, who passed away recently, and his friendship with her father when she was a child growing up in New Delhi. Sydney Hillel Schanberg (January 17, 1934 – July 9, 2016) was an American journalist who was best known for his coverage of the war in Cambodia. He was the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize, two George Polk awards, two Overseas Press Club awards, and the Sigma Delta Chi prize for distinguished journalism. Schanberg was played by Sam Waterston in the 1984 film The Killing Fields based on the experiences of Schanberg and the Cambodian journalist Dith Pran in Cambodia. — JC • Kitty’s story . . . In the New York Times‘ obit of Sydney Schanberg — whose Cambodia stories inspired “The Killing Fields” movie — there is little to smile about. It describes him as tough and fearless, ready to pursue any story at any cost. Sure enough, back in 1970 while bureau chief in . . .

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Marlboro College reversing enrollment decline with Kevin Quigley (Thailand)

MARLBORO — After years of declining enrollment, a renaissance may be underway at Marlboro College. The number of new students submitting deposits for the upcoming fall term has increased by nearly 50 percent compared to last year, in part due to the success of a new “Renaissance Scholars” free tuition program aimed at drawing students from outside New England. Also, the college just finished what President Kevin Quigley (Thailand 1976-79 & CD Thailand 2013-15)  is calling the most successful annual fundraiser in its history. Marlboro raised more than $2 million, a 25 percent jump from last year’s total. While much work remains, college administrators say they’re seeing signs of progress — especially in addressing enrollment numbers that recently had dipped below 200. “From today’s vantage point, I think the future looks very good,” said Montpelier attorney Dick Saudek, chairman of the college’s board of trustees. “With any small liberal arts college, there . . .

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$750,000 Breast Cancer Study Grant, Utilizing RPCV Women Fails To Obtain Adequate Data

A $750,000 study designed to examine if taking the malaria prevention drug, chloroquine (Arlen) would reduce the risk of breast cancer among RPCV women did not attract sufficient number of respondents.  It is not clear if any further study will be done.  The research team needed between 14,000 t0 18,000 participants, but less than 500 RPCV women had responded by May of 2014. The three year study ended in 2015. Background: The  Research Team at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas received the  $750,000 grant from the Department of Defense to study, “A Translational Approach to Validate In Vivo Anti-Tumor Effects of Chloroquine on Breast Cancer Risk”. Animal studies had suggested that female mammals who were given chloroquine had a lifetime reduced risk of breast cancer. The grant was awarded to Baylor to investigate if this effect could be found in human females.  The Baylor team chose to study RPCV . . .

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PCVs and RPCVs Tell Your Peace Corps Story & Earn an MFA

Do you want to write a book about your Peace Corps experience and earn your Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing? The online MFA program at National University is recruiting special cohort of current or returned Peace Corps Volunteers who are interested in turning their Peace Corps experiences into books. The cohort of students will be led by former Peace Corps Volunteer and author of 26 books, John Coyne. Students in the cohort will take three classes together where they write about their Peace Corps experiences, then get to choose from a wide range of workshops with the experienced faculty and diverse student writers in the National University MFA program. The program culminates with the students writing a book-length manuscript of publishable quality. Current or returned Peace Corps volunteers who are members of the NPCA will receive a 15% tuition reduction for the entire MFA program. If you would . . .

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