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 Dennis Briskin “The Face of Iran Before…”
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The Fourth Goal of Former Peace Corps Volunteers
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RPVC Peter Navarro (Thailand) pisses off the White House staff (and everyone else)
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RPCV Gerry Krzic “We left Korea, but Korea never left us”
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MY LIFE ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM by Tracey Cohen (Namibia)
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See the Documentary, Support the Museum
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Tim McCollum (Madagascar) builds a chocolate factory
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THE UPSHAWS OF COUNTY LINE: An American Family by Richard S. Orton (Liberia)
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2020 Peace Corps Writers Award for Best Book of Poetry — STRANGE BEAUTY OF THE WORLD by Bill Preston (Thailand)
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Review — MARK TWAIN, DETECTIVE by Joseph Theroux (Western Samoa)

RPCV Dennis Briskin “The Face of Iran Before…”

Palo Alto photographer publishes images of pre-revolution Iran by Karla Kane / Palo Alto Weekly September 3, 2020 Palo Alto resident Dennis Briskin (Iran 1967-69) has published two books of photographs he took while serving in the Peace Corps in pre-revolution Iran. Courtesy Dennis Briskin. When Dennis Briskin was preparing to move to Iran for a few years in the late 1960s, he had a thought: “Maybe I should get a camera.” Though he didn’t have any prior photography experience, he read up a bit, got a basic camera and, fresh out of college and inspired by Life and Look magazines, was on his way. “The best advice I got was, ‘Film is cheap; take lots of photos,’” he recalled. The Palo Alto resident has now compiled many of his favorite photos and published two books: “Iran Before” (released in 2019) and “The Face of Iran Before” (focused on portraits, released this . . .

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The Fourth Goal of Former Peace Corps Volunteers

• What Have You Done (Lately) For Your Host Country? As you have read on this site, there are numerous RPCVs who have never forgotten the people of their Peace Corps countries. Recently we wrote about what several Ethiopia RPCVs have done, and are still doing today, for where they once served. We know there are many similar stories that can be told by all of you. We call this generous effort the Fourth Goal of the Peace Corps. A term suggested By David Arnold (Ethiopia 1963-65). It is how being a PCV does not end with the close of service conference. We ask you now — What have you done for your Peace Corps country since you came home? How have you helped one or more of your former students? What have you done for the family that adopted you, gave you a new name and all their love, . . .

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RPVC Peter Navarro (Thailand) pisses off the White House staff (and everyone else)

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Jim McCaffery (Ethiopia 1966-68   Tactics of fiery White House trade adviser draw new scrutiny as some of his pandemic moves unravel Peter Navarro has faced an internal investigation into his treatment of colleagues, and now two of his coronavirus-related actions are under internal scrutiny. by David J. Lynch, Carol D. Leonnig, Jeff Stein and Josh Dawsey The Washington Post, September 2, 2020   Amid the Trump administration’s troubled response to the coronavirus pandemic, senior White House aide Peter Navarro (Thailand 1972-75) has refashioned himself as a powerful government purchasing chief, operating far beyond his original role as an adviser on trade policy. But U.S. officials say the abrasive figure’s shortcomings as a manager could influence how well prepared the United States is for a second wave of coronavirus infections expected this fall. Navarro’s harsh manner and disregard for protocol have alienated numerous colleagues, corporate executives and . . .

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RPCV Gerry Krzic “We left Korea, but Korea never left us”

  By Gerry Krzic who teaches at Ohio University and serves as the president of Friends of Korea. He was a PCV in Korea from 1977 to 1980.  Gerry Krzic teaches at Daechang Middle School in Yecheon County, North Gyeongsang Province, in 1977. / Courtesy of Gerry Krzic   Anyone who has spent time in Korea has probably heard of “jeong,” a concept characterized as a collective emotion of caring, love, attachment ― an unspoken bond difficult to define but evident when seen in action. Jeong is usually described in different forms such as jeong between friends (woojeong) and between mother and child (mojeong). I would like to offer another form of jeong ― Peace Corps jeong ― permeating in a subset of American society. That is, Peace Corps Volunteers who served in Korea from 1966 to 1981. I returned in 2013 for a one-week Revisit Korea Program sponsored by . . .

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MY LIFE ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM by Tracey Cohen (Namibia)

  In her third book Tracey Cohen (Namibia 2003-05) gets more personal about her own journey living on the autism spectrum. Her goal of exposing herself so candidly is to help others know that they are not alone in their journey and to help smooth their path. She aims also to help neurotypicals more clearly understand life on the autism spectrum. Full of pictures from Tracey’s childhood and adult life, this book will help anyone gain a much greater understanding of people on the autism spectrum. Chapters Include: Bewilderment and Difficult Relationships; Institutionalized as a Preteen; Education and Employment — Challenges and Achievements; My Journey to Diagnosis; My Top Six Challenges; Running — My Heart and Soul; and Best Practices for People with Autism. Tracey’s other books are Six Word Lessons on Female Asperger Syndrome: 100 Lessons to Understand, and Support Girls and Women with Asperger’s and Six-Word Lessons on the Sport of . . .

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See the Documentary, Support the Museum

  The Museum of the Peace Corps Experience will host a screening of “A Towering Task,” the award-winning Peace Corps documentary, viewable September 18 – 30, 2020. Income from ticket sales will allow us to create Museum exhibits next year during the 60thAnniversary of Peace Corps. Please help us get the word out. Distribute this message as widely as possible. Help us expand public awareness of the Peace Corps and its history-making impact. By selling tickets for an online showing, Cinema 21 theater in Portland, Oregon will donate all its earnings to the Museum. Ticket purchases will begin after September 1. Then you’ll receive another message including links to purchase $10 tickets from Cinema 21 for online streaming. The message will also invite viewers to a Zoom panel discussion on September 30 with Alana DeJoseph, documentary Producer, Glenn Blumhorst, President, National Peace Corps Association, and other returned Peace Corps Volunteers. It’s a win-win proposition—but . . .

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Tim McCollum (Madagascar) builds a chocolate factory

  Breaking the mold: How Beyond Good is reinventing the chocolate business   Building a chocolate factory has been part of Tim McCollum’s  (Madagascar 1999-2011) plan since he founded Beyond Good, formerly Madécasse, in 2008. On its own that’s not an easy feat, but the location for the company’s first state-of-the-art production facility added another layer of difficulty. Beyond Good set up shop in Madagascar, where it sources rare, wonderfully fruity Criollo cacao directly from farmers. Though Africa — West Africa, in particular — supplies 70 percent of the world’s cocoa, the “statistical equivalent of 0 percent” of the world’s chocolate is produced there, McCollum says. There are several reasons for that, ranging from a lack of infrastructure, the need to ship and install manufacturing equipment, employee training, and ultimately, the distribution of profits. “They all add up to it being a very difficult proposition,” McCollum says. “But creating serious value . . .

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THE UPSHAWS OF COUNTY LINE: An American Family by Richard S. Orton (Liberia)

    Guss, Felix, and Jim Upshaw founded the community of County Line in the 1870s in northwest Nacogdoches County, in deep East Texas.  As with hundreds of other relatively autonomous black communities created at that time, the Upshaws sought a safe place to raise their children and create a livelihood during Reconstruction and Jim Crow Texas. In the late 1980s photographer, Richard Orton visited County Line for the first time and became aware of a world he did not know existed as a white man.  He met some remarkable people there who changed his life. The more than 50 duotone photographs and text convey the contemporary experience of growing up in a “freedom colony.” Covering a period of twenty-five years, photographer Richard Orton juxtaposes his images with text from people who grew up in and have remained connected to their birthplace.  Thad Sitton’s foreword sets the community in historical . . .

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2020 Peace Corps Writers Award for Best Book of Poetry — STRANGE BEAUTY OF THE WORLD by Bill Preston (Thailand)

  Strange Beauty of the World: Poems Bill Preston (Thailand 1977–80) Peace Corps Writers 148 pages August 2018 $14.00 (paperback), $9.99 (Kindle)   Reviewed by Peter V. Deekle (Iran 1968–70) Bill Preston (Thailand, 1977-1980) began his professional encounter with his native language, English, during his Peace Corps TEFL assignment, as did this reviewer. But Bill continued his formal engagement with English well beyond Peace Corps. This engagement has strengthened his expertise as a writer and poet. Strange Beauty of the World is a collection both personal and universal in its appeal, organized in broad sections of Bill’s experience and recollections. The universality of each poem enables the reader to find a unique voice and vision of the expressed sentiments and events. Regardless of style and form (mostly extended narrative forms, but a few, often playful, rhyming) the poems seem to this reviewer both appropriate to the themes and evocative of each subject’s meaning. . . .

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Review — MARK TWAIN, DETECTIVE by Joseph Theroux (Western Samoa)

  Mark Twain, Detective by Joseph Peter Theroux (Western Samoa 1975 – 78) Self Published 212 pages June 2020 $10.00 (paperback), $0.00 (Kindle)   Reviewed by Sue Hoyt Aiken (Ethiopia 1962-64)  • The author provides a look back to a period of history involving famous good guys and the famous not so good guys.  The Editors Note: Introductory is as interesting as the story itself leaving the reader eager to unearth more about Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson and the whole sugar-dominating force, the Speckles’ family. Their flamboyance is in stark contrast to the undercurrent of trafficking in human souls, opium and more. The mystery unfolds and plays out in Hawaii in the late 1800s when Twain sails to Hawaii to give a lecture. While a pandemic supposedly prevented him from coming ashore to deliver the lecture, materials later discovered would say otherwise. Did he join Lloyd Osborne, did he witness the Georgia . . .

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