The Peace Corps

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

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Funeral Services for Dick Irish (Philippines)
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RPCV Leo Cecchini (Ethiopia) writes “Why Support Trump”
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Rob Schmitz (China) on NPR WNYC today, The Leonard Lopate Show
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Nominations For Best Peace Corps Book of 2015
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Poetry Books Nominated for 2016 Peace Corps Writers Book Awards
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Travel Books Nominated for 2016 Peace Corps Book Awards
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Early Termination Rates of Response Volunteers Compared – RPCVs to Non-RPCVs
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RPCV NYC Announces 5th Annual Story Slam Returned Peace Corps Volunteers take the stage to share true stories of service abroad
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Palma de Mallorca inspires another poem by John Coyne (Ethiopia)
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Famous RPCV Journalists: The China Gang

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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Travel Books Nominated for 2016 Peace Corps Book Awards

The Keys to the Congo: and Further Travels: Memoir of a 2x Peace Corps Volunteer Irene Brammertz (Zaire 1988–90; Malawi 2011–12) October 2015 A House in Trausse Leita  Kaldi Davis (Senegal 1993–96) December 2015 Ethiopian Vignettes: Seeing is Believing James Murren (Honduras 1997-99) November 2015 Travel Tales of a Feisty Fifty-something: All Roads Lead Home Joanne  Nussbaum (Mongolia 2010–12) January 2015 Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads Paul Thexoux (Malawi 1963-65) September 2015 Crocodile Love: Travel Tales from an Extended Honeymoon by Joshua Berman (Nicaragua 1998–2000) December 2015 Circling Sicily Leita Kaldi Davis (Senegal 1993–96) December 2015

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Early Termination Rates of Response Volunteers Compared – RPCVs to Non-RPCVs

One of the major changes made by Peace Corps in 2010 was to include non-RPCVs in the Peace Corps Response Program. The decision to include non-RPCVs was announced in the 2010 Peace Corps Comprehensive Agency Assessment Report. (https://s3.amazonaws.com/files.peacecorps.gov/multimedia/pdf/opengov/PC_Comprehensive_Agency_Assessment.pdf) Peace Corps Response had begun in 1995 as the Crisis Corps. It was designed to utilize the unique experience of RPCVs by deploying them to help in emergencies, almost always in foreign countries. Later, the name was changed to Peace Corps Response and the mandate was expanded to send RPCVS  on short term technical or professional  assignments. Today, Peace Corps Response is open to returned Volunteers or those with significant professional and technical experience willing to serve usually three to twelve months in host countries. The Response Volunteers do not receive the extensive 12 week cultural and language training that “traditional” Volunteers have received. The Responsive program has a week’s orientation program.  It . . .

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RPCV NYC Announces 5th Annual Story Slam Returned Peace Corps Volunteers take the stage to share true stories of service abroad

Join the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of New York City (RPCV NYC) on Saturday, June 25, 2016 when returned volunteers take the stage to tell stories of mischief, mayhem, and misadventure around the world. Doors open at 7 pm and the show begins at 7:30 pm at Hostelling International ­ NY located at 891 Amsterdam Avenue on the Upper Westside in Manhattan. Entry is donation based (suggested $5)  with refreshments also available by donation. Proceeds from the event will go towards an underfunded project through the Peace Corps Partnership Program which allows current volunteers  to fundraise for community led projects where they   serve. Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) have the unique experience of having lived and served  abroad for 27 months while integrating into the culture of their host communities. Far from the comforts and convenience of their lives in the U.S. and established family and friends they work at . . .

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Palma de Mallorca inspires another poem by John Coyne (Ethiopia)

  More than twice the size of my small island of Minorca is the island of  Majorca or Mallorca, the largest island in the Balearic Islands archipelago that also includes Ibiza and Formentera. I have been to all of them, and you should travel there as well. Here’s a poem that came out of one of my visits to the big island. Palma De Mallorca The woman in the hotel pool swam in steady lengths, mindless of the Mediterranean, the yellow sun on harbor walls, the dance of docked white yachts. Mindless as well of my gin and tonic, or Robert Graves, buried in the thick crust of Deya. Her blond hair combed the turquoise water. Beyond the high tips of palm trees, Palma de Mallorca rushed by, while she kept pace in her wet world. Swimmers know nothing but their breath, the pull of muscles, and coolness of flesh. She did not know us, watching her slight body, tan limbs . . .

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Famous RPCV Journalists: The China Gang

Although the Peace Corps has given a start to many well-known writers—Paul Theroux, Maria Thomas, Philip Margolin, Bob Shacochis, among them—it has fostered relatively few journalists and editors. One of the first journalist was Al Kamen, a Volunteer in the Dominican Republic during the early 1960s.Recently retired after 35 years at the Washington Post, Kamen wrote a column, “In the Loop,” and also covered the State Department and local and federal courts. He assisted his Post colleague Bob Woodward with reporting for The Final Days and The Brethren. Other Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) of the 1960s who became well-known journalists include Vanity Fair’s special correspondent Maureen Orth, an urban community development volunteer in Colombia, and one of the first women writers at Newsweek, and MSNBC HardBall host Chris Matthews, who served in Swaziland. There are more, of course, with that kind of media power who went into film and the arts . . .

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