The Peace Corps

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

1
The Privilege of Doing Development Work: Voluntourism and Its Limitations
2
Murder in the Peace Corps: Sky TV, July 29, 2016 (Tonga)
3
Peace Corps Evaluator Stan Meisler Dies at 85
4
Michelle Obama Pushes for Girls’ Education in Liberia with Peace Corps Director
5
A Remembrance of Richard “Dick” Irish by Tom Hebert (Nigeria)
6
Funeral Services for Dick Irish (Philippines)
7
RPCV Leo Cecchini (Ethiopia) writes “Why Support Trump”
8
Rob Schmitz (China) on NPR WNYC today, The Leonard Lopate Show
9
Nominations For Best Peace Corps Book of 2015
10
Poetry Books Nominated for 2016 Peace Corps Writers Book Awards

The Privilege of Doing Development Work: Voluntourism and Its Limitations

In early 2014, Mario Machado was a RPCV recently returned from a two years plus Peace Corps assignment in Paraguay. Machado wrote a thoughtful essay published in the Huffington Post about the importance of relationships in development, The Privilege of Doing Development Work: Voluntourism and Its Limitations. There are provocative observations about “volunteerism”.  It is an important article for the RPCV community and beyond.  Read it here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mario-machado/the-privilege-of-doing-de_b_4832836.html What do you think?

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Murder in the Peace Corps: Sky TV, July 29, 2016 (Tonga)

I heard recently from Jan Worth-Nelson (Tonga 1976-78) that she and Emile Hons (Tonga 1974-76) were interviewed by two UK freelance producers from Sky TV about the Deborah Gardner Peace Corps 1976 murder in Tonga. The documentary is part of a series called “Passport to Murder” produced for Discovery ID TV. Their segment is luridly titled “The Devil in Paradise.” It is scheduled to air on July 29, 2016. As Jan wrote me, “Its amazing how that brutal story keeps going and going and going. It affected me strongly to talk about it again and think about it again after 40 years. Jan Worth-Nelson is a writer and former writing professor at the University of Michigan–Flint. She has published in a wide variety of publications, from the Christian Science Monitor to Midwestern Gothic. Her “Beam, Arch, Pillar, Porch: a Love Story” appears in the new Happy Anyway: The Flint Anthology from Belt Publishing. Jan has an . . .

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Peace Corps Evaluator Stan Meisler Dies at 85

  Stanley Meisler, globe-trotting foreign correspondent, dies at 85 Stan Meisler was an early evaluator in Charlie Peters’ legendary Peace Corps Office of Evaluation. He did several evaluations for the agency in Ethiopia, where we first met. In 1969, five years after we had met, when I was traveling through Africa writing for the Dispatch News Service, I arrived in Kenya and was walking through a park in Nairobi at midday and spotted Stan. Seeing me, and without breaking step, Stan said, “John, how are you? How about lunch?” That was the way (then and now) Peace Corps people respond to each other. They are never surprised at seeing anyone anywhere in the Third World. Several years ago, Meisler wrote the most recent comprehensive book on the agency entitled, When The World Calls: The Inside Story of the Peace Corps and Its First Fifty Years. Meisler, one of the early Peace . . .

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Michelle Obama Pushes for Girls’ Education in Liberia with Peace Corps Director

  from a Voice of America Article U.S. first lady Michelle Obama visited a leadership camp for girls Monday in Liberia, part of an effort to promote girls’ education in Africa. Obama met with young women in Kakata at a project sponsored by the Peace Corps, after receiving a red-carpet welcome in Liberia’s capital that included traditional dancers. Earlier in the day, she met with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first elected woman head of state in Africa. The U.S. first lady is traveling with her daughters — Malia, 18, who graduated from high school this year, and Sasha, 15 — as well as the girls’ grandmother, Marian Robinson. Their six-day trip includes stops in Morocco and Spain, and will highlight Let Girls Learn, one of Michelle Obama’s core initiatives. The program addresses obstacles — such as forced marriage, poverty and violence — that keep more than 62 million girls . . .

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A Remembrance of Richard “Dick” Irish by Tom Hebert (Nigeria)

A Remembrance of Richard “Dick” Irish By Tom Hebert June 26, 2016 So many feel honored to have known Dick Irish, been with him, watched him at his work. But with not many old friends can I quickly make a list of my favorite encounters, stories of a friendship that I will never forget. None of us will forget Dick Irish. Arriving jobless and mostly penniless in Washington in early 1970 after a Biafran adventure and a job with Harris Wofford at SUNY-Old Westbury, got a job at the original TransCentury on 7th Street where I spent the day reviewing Confidential personnel files trying to divine how Peace Corps hired staff (interoffice politics). I worked for Dick and we got along. Then some time later… Lunch at his table at the Cosmos Club on Mass Ave. “This way Mr. Irish.” Then in 1976: Somewhere in the circle of desks between . . .

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Funeral Services for Dick Irish (Philippines)

DICK IRISH June 26, 1932 – June 17, 2016 Funeral Service Thursday, June 23 at 12 Noon Trinity Episcopal Church, Upperville, VA. Richard K. “Dick” Irish, 83, author Go Hire Yourself an Employer, a popular self-help book in the 1970s, died Friday at his home in Marshall Va. His wife, Pat Reilly, said he died of complications related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Mr. Irish was an early member of the Peace Corps, serving with his late wife, Sally Irish, in the Philippines between 1962 and 1964. They were teachers in a Muslim village in Mindanao, where Mr. Irish attained the honorific of Sultan of Raya. He later learned that meant a leader with no followers. He named his farm Raya. Prior to the Peace Corps, Mr. Irish had served in the U.S. Army in the 83rd Engineer Battalion, Bussac, France, as a German interpreter from 1954 to 1956. After a . . .

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RPCV Leo Cecchini (Ethiopia) writes “Why Support Trump”

The Peace Corps is always accused of being overrun with ‘bleeding heart liberals” since the first days of the agency when Eisenhower declared  the agency was a “juvenile experiment,” and Richard Nixon said it was another form of “draft evasion.”  This was when the Daughters of the American Revolution warned of a “yearly drain” of “brains and brawn”…for the benefit of backward, underdeveloped countries.” However, the following year, Time magazine declared in a cover story that the Peace Corps was “the greatest single success the Kennedy administration had produced.”  Still we had many good Americans who hated the agency. While Leo Cecchini, a good Republican, did not support Kennedy, (not sure he supported the Peace Corps) he did hastily join the agency to avoid being drafted in 1962 and went as a PCV to Eritrea from 1962-64, where he was a very successful PCV and returned home to a brief career at . . .

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Rob Schmitz (China) on NPR WNYC today, The Leonard Lopate Show

Rob Schmitz (China 1996-98) now China correspondent for APM’s Marketplace, embedded in a Shanghai neighborhood and spent time with ordinary residents who are dealing with the trials and triumphs of daily life in the city in pursuit of their dreams. In Street of Eternal Happiness: Big City Dreams Along a Shanghai Road, he writes about the deep relationships he formed and follows their stories to the end. Rob was on the Leonard Lopate Show.  Rob talks about how important his Peace Corps tour was in shaping his life and career. You can hear the broadcast at: www.wnyc.org/story/profiling-lives-and-aspirations-modern-shanghai/      

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Nominations For Best Peace Corps Book of 2015

It is time to nominate your favorite Peace Corps book published in 2015.  Send your nomination(s) to John Coyne at:jcoyneone@gmail.com. You may nominate your own book; books written by friends; books written by total strangers. The books can be about the Peace Corps or on any topic. The books must have been published in 2015. The awards will be announced at the NPCA Conference in September in Washington, D.C. Thank you for nominating your favorite book written by a PCV, RPCV or Peace Corps Staff. A framed certificate and small cash awards are given to the winners. Paul Cowan Non-Fiction Award First given in 1990, the Paul Cowan Non-Fiction Award was named to honor Paul Cowan, a Peace Corps Volunteer who served in Ecuador. Cowan wrote The Making of An Un-American about his experiences as a Volunteer in Latin America in the sixties. A longtime activist and political writer for The Village Voice, Cowan died of . . .

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