The Peace Corps

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

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FROM ORPHAN TO GREATNESS —How A PCV Helped His Student
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RWANDA AND THE MOUNTAIN GORILLAS by Steve Kaffen (Russia)
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An open letter to all Ethiopia RPCVs from the Peace Corps
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Information for RPCVs Interested in the Virtual Service Program
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Living on the Edge: Paul Theroux (Malawi)
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Peace Corps Response Volunteers Begin Work With FEMA
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Student of Former PC Director Mark Gearan Joins Peace Corps–Her Story (Lesotho)
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The Non-Matrixed Wife (Venezuela)
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May 26th Deadline To Apply For The Virtual Service Pilot Project In RPCVs’ Country of Service
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The Fabulous Peace Corps Booklocker

FROM ORPHAN TO GREATNESS —How A PCV Helped His Student

  During one of his memorable speeches, President JFK declared, “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.” This speech marked the beginning of the Peace Corps program in the United States, which in turn led a young American to my small farming village of Agadji in Togo, West Africa. This young American sponsored me into the United States in June of 1989, a fulfillment in itself of my father’s secretly held dream to see one of his children educated in an English-speaking country, better yet in the United States of America. Education has always been very important to my father because he was denied that opportunity due to being an orphan at a very young age. He wished to attend school and become a lawyer or doctor, but instead, he was forced to become a farmer and eventually one of . . .

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RWANDA AND THE MOUNTAIN GORILLAS by Steve Kaffen (Russia)

  Rwanda is one of Africa’s smallest and most densely populated countries, and one of its most diverse. Nicknamed “Land of A Thousand Hills,” Rwanda is blanketed with rolling farmland that produces some of Africa’s best coffee and tea. Volcanoes National Park is home to mountain gorillas in the higher elevations and golden monkeys down below, while the Nyungwe National Park rainforest contains playful black-and-white colobus monkeys and sources of both the Nile and Congo Rivers. Close encounters with the gorillas and monkeys on treks led by park rangers are among Africa’s exhilarating wildlife experiences. Throughout the country are memorials to the victims of the genocide in spring 1994, during which up to a million residents, largely of the Tutsi ethnic group, were massacred by ethnic Hutu extremists. Offsetting the trauma that still exists is the resilience of Rwanda’s warm and outgoing population. Their desire for stability and solidarity is . . .

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An open letter to all Ethiopia RPCVs from the Peace Corps

  Peace Corps is excited to inform you of an opportunity to engage in virtual service. For the past six months, Peace Corps has been testing the feasibility of virtual service with great success.  To date, 100 Virtual Service Pilot Participants (VSPPs) have engaged in virtual service in 20 countries.  Participants and their Host Country Partners report high levels of accomplishment and satisfaction which has prompted Peace Corps to create more opportunities. The Virtual Service Pilot (VSP) is a distinct opportunity.  Participants in the VSP are not PCVs or PCRVs; rather participants are private citizens who donate their time by engaging virtually to contribute to the mission of the Peace Corps as private citizens while maintaining other commitments such as work or school. As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) or Returned Peace Corps Response Volunteer (RPCRV) from Ethiopia you are eligible to be considered for the opportunity to engage remotely . . .

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Information for RPCVs Interested in the Virtual Service Program

The Virtual Service application is specific for each different country.  Peace Corps is sending out the information  only  to RPCVs with current contact information with Peace Corps, who served in the specific country.   Not all countries have Virtual Service programs. RPCVs should check their contact information with Peace Corps or add their contact  information using this link: https://rpcvportal.peacecorps.gov“

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Living on the Edge: Paul Theroux (Malawi)

He went — in the way the Peace Corps rolls the dice of our lives — to Africa as a teacher. “My schoolroom is on the Great Rift, and in this schoolroom there is a line of children, heads shaved liked prisoners, muscles showing through their rags,” he wrote home in 1964. “These children appear in the morning out of the slowly drifting hoops of fog-wisp. It is chilly, almost cold. There is no visibility at six in the morning; only a fierce white-out where earth is the patch of dirt under their bare feet, a platform, and the sky is everything else.” How many of us stood in front of similar classrooms and saw those young faces arriving with the dawn? How many of us could have written the same sentiments — though not the same sentences — home? And how many of us wanted to be the writer . . .

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Peace Corps Response Volunteers Begin Work With FEMA

From Peace Corps “May 20, 2021 • 158 Peace Corps Response volunteers to begin service in five states, marking the second time in the agency’s history that volunteers will serve domestically DALLAS, TX – On Wednesday, 158 Peace Corps Response volunteers took the oath of office to assist the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in their vaccine distribution efforts. Following a week of training in Dallas, the volunteers have departed to begin their mission assignments with FEMA in Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey and Oregon. “COVID-19 has exposed gaping divides in privilege, access and opportunity – not only in the countries where the Peace Corps serves, but also in the U.S.” said Peace Corps Acting Director Carol Spahn. “Our Volunteers will use the skills, grit and passion for service they honed overseas to help reach underserved populations here at home. We are proud to partner with FEMA on this critical . . .

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Student of Former PC Director Mark Gearan Joins Peace Corps–Her Story (Lesotho)

  Shanelle France (H-WS ’11) Reflects on Peace Corps Service By Mary Warner ’21 on May 19th, 2021   In conjunction with the 60th anniversary of the Peace Corps, Shanelle France ’11 reflects on her service in Lesotho and her journey to becoming a teacher.     Even as a high school student, Shanelle France ’11 was interested in joining the Peace Corps. At Hobart and William Smith, she found a community dedicated to civic engagement, opportunities to become a civic leader, and support as she pursued her goal of global citizenship and service. France says her HWS mentors were instrumental in helping her prepare for the Peace Corps.  Surrounded by “a wealth of knowledge, experience and support” as a student at the Colleges, France says, she is grateful for the advice of President Emeritus and Former Director of the Peace Corps Mark D. Gearan L.H.D. ’17, P’21, Professor of Africana Studies Thelma . . .

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The Non-Matrixed Wife (Venezuela)

    When Joseph Blatchford was appointed director of the Peace Corps in May of 1969 he brought with him a set of “New Directions” to improve the agency. Whether these directors were new or not is endlessly argued, but what was clear was this: Blatchford wanted skilled Volunteers, i.e. “blue-collar workers, experienced teachers, businessman and farmers.” While the Peace Corps has always found it difficult to recruit large numbers of such “skilled” Volunteers, Blatchford and his staff came up with the novel idea of recruiting married couples with children. One of the couple would be a Volunteer and the other (usually the wife) would be — in Peace Corps jargon — the “non-matrixed” spouse. The kids would just be kids. It would be in this way, Blatchford thought, that the Peace Corps could recruit older, more mature, experienced, and skilled PCVs. And the Peace Corps would stop being just . . .

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May 26th Deadline To Apply For The Virtual Service Pilot Project In RPCVs’ Country of Service

Peace Corps is expanding the Virtual Service Pilot Project to include 25 countries.  The Virtual Service Pilot team reports it sent emails, with information specific to the host country, to RPCVS who served in each of these countries.   From the Virtual Service Pilot Project team: “As this is a pilot initiative, information is limited. We do have FAQs that provide some information. RPCVs from participating countries, of which there are 25, who have current/updated information in the Peace Corps database were sent the opportunities directly to their email addresses.  If you would like to encourage RPCVs to engage in virtual service please ask them to check their emails for virtual service opportunities.    If RPCVs are unsure if their information is current in the Peace Corps databased, please encourage them to update their contact information here.” The team also reported: “There are only a limited number of positions for virtual service available, and not all who . . .

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The Fabulous Peace Corps Booklocker

For a short period of time in the very first years of the Peace Corps all Volunteers were given booklockers by the agency. The lockers were meant to provide leisure reading for the PCVs and then to be left behind in schools, villages, and towns where they served. There is some mystery as to who first thought of the lockers and one rumor has it that the idea came from Sarge Shriver’s wife, Eunice. It is believed that the books were selected for the first locker by a young Foreign Service officer. A second selection was done in 1964, and that same year Jack Prebis (Ethiopia 1962-64) was made responsible for the 3rd edition of the locker that was assembled in the fall and winter of 1965. Here is the late Jack Prebis’ account of creating the locker for all PCVs at that time.   DEVELOPING THE Peace Corps booklocker . . .

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