The Peace Corps

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

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Review–George Packer on Richard Holbrooke, the Last Great Freewheeling Diplomat (Togo)
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New Peace Corps program in Montenegro
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Review —The Buried by Peter Hessler (China)
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Martha Cooper, Legendary Chronicler of Graffiti (Thailand)
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Peter Hessler on tour with his new book — THE BURIED, set in Egypt
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Peace Corps Manual Defines Current Drug Policy
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PCVs Booted from Sierra Leone by the Peace Corps for Smoking Marijuana
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Towering Task to be Narrated by Annette Bening
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The Most-Read Blog Item on our Site
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Happy Easter from Mother Martha Driscoll and the Community of Gedono (Ethiopia)

Review–George Packer on Richard Holbrooke, the Last Great Freewheeling Diplomat (Togo)

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Marian Haley Beil (Ethiopia 1962-64) Richard Holbrooke, and the End of the American Century by George Packer (Togo 1982-83) Reviewed by Walter Isaacson The New York Times May 9, 2019 Richard Holbrooke was a large man with gargantuan appetites — for food and women and movies and acclaim and, above all, diplomatic and undiplomatic maneuvering — appetites that struggled to feed an outsize ego that was matched only by his insecurities. As the last great freewheeling diplomat of the American Century, Holbrooke, with his turbocharged zeal and laughable lack of self-awareness, earned fervent admirers and fevered enemies, including a few longstanding colleagues who fell passionately and paradoxically into both camps. In fact, Holbrooke himself was caught in this duality of being his own most fervent admirer and worst enemy (although when someone once commented that he was his own worst enemy, a national security adviser . . .

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New Peace Corps program in Montenegro

      WASHINGTON – Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen (Tunisia 1966-68) and Montenegrin Deputy Prime Minister Zoran Pažin signed a historic agreement May 6 establishing a new Peace Corps program in Montenegro, the agency’s 142nd country of service. “Today’s signing is a testament to the close partnership between the United States and Montenegro,” said Olsen, who met with the deputy prime minister in the capital Podgorica. “And it is a testament to our commitment to a common vision of a brighter future for Montenegro and its neighbors in the Western Balkans.” Deputy Prime Minister Pažin said the Peace Corps program in Montenegro is another confirmation of the partnership, support and friendship of the U.S. Government and American people to Montenegro and its citizens. “We see the service of the U.S. Peace Corps volunteers in Montenegro as another opportunity for Montenegrin and U.S. citizens to enrich their lives and to . . .

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Review —The Buried by Peter Hessler (China)

 ‘The Buried’ Review: Digging Into a Revolution Journalist Peter Hessler moved to Cairo in the wake of Hosni Mubarak’s ouster and was a witness to Egypt’s recent political convulsions. ​By John Freeman Wall Street Journal May 7, 2019 6:41 p.m. ET Seen from afar, tectonic political shifts often look as if they consume a society. But have you ever been someplace in the middle of momentous political events and found everyone around you getting on with daily life? Few reporters seem better placed to fathom the complexities of this dynamic—ripples of disquiet permeating routine existence—than Peter Hessler (China 1996-98). For nearly a decade Mr. Hessler reported from China for the New Yorker, eventually writing four books about an ancient society undergoing great change. Having moved back to the U.S, he and his wife, Leslie Chang, a former China correspondent for this newspaper, decided that it was time for a change . . .

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Martha Cooper, Legendary Chronicler of Graffiti (Thailand)

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Marnie Mueller (Ecuador 1963-65) A Touching Portrait of Martha Cooper, a Legendary Chronicler of Graffiti Martha: A Picture Story, is the first documentary that focuses on the life and career of one of the most important urban photographers of the past half-century. by Christopher Lee Inoa May 1, 2019 Martha Cooper with young child in the 1970s (photo by Dan Brinzac) Martha Cooper didn’t set out to become a legend when she started taking photos of the graffiti-covered subways cars that made their way from the Bronx to the rest of New York City in the 1970’s and 80’s. She definitely didn’t think she would be considered an icon when she and fellow photographer Henry Chalfant presented what would become Subway Art to publishers in NYC. After many rejections, and later poor sales when it finally did get published, Cooper then thought that part of her life was . . .

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Peter Hessler on tour with his new book — THE BURIED, set in Egypt

    I had the pleasure of attending a pre-publication event this Monday evening in New York City for Peter Hessler’s (China 1996-98) new book, The Buried: An Archaeology of the Egyptian Revolution, set in Egypt. Drawn by a fascination with Egypt’s rich history and culture, Peter Hessler moved with his wife and twin daughters to Cairo in 2011. He wanted to learn Arabic, explore Cairo’s neighborhoods, and visit the legendary archaeological digs of Upper Egypt. After his years of covering China for The New Yorker, friends warned him Egypt would be a much quieter place. But not long before he arrived, the Egyptian Arab Spring had begun, and now the country was in chaos. In the midst of the revolution, Hessler often traveled to digs at Amarna and Abydos, where locals live beside the tombs of kings and courtiers, a landscape that they call simply al-Madfuna: “the Buried.” He . . .

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Peace Corps Manual Defines Current Drug Policy

    MS 204 Volunteer Conduct Effective Date: December 1, 2017 Responsible Office: Safety and Security (OSS); Counseling and Outreach Unit (OHS/COU)Supersedes: 09/08/17; 02/09/17; 06/25/15; 10/31/14; 7/10/14; 8/19/11; 06/28/11; 03/18/11; 5/20/05; 11/26/03; 2/04/93; 5/04/83; MS 237, 4/30/73 (Note:  I have copied the following section on drug use.  The link is to the entire section on T/V conduct.) “3.5 Drug Use 3.5.1 General Policy Except as described in section 3.5.2 below regarding Voluntary Self-Referral, a V/T found to be involved with drugs in a manner not authorized by the Peace Corps for medical purposes, in any way in any country, will be administratively separated immediately pursuant to section 3.5.4. The Peace Corps enforces this strict policy not only because the cultivation, manufacture, and traffic in and use of drugs, including marijuana, is illegal in most countries; but also because drug involvement by V/Ts in any country could seriously jeopardize the entire . . .

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PCVs Booted from Sierra Leone by the Peace Corps for Smoking Marijuana

Late last March approximately sixty plus of the seventy plus PCVs currently in-country in Sierra Leone were sent home from Freetown by the Peace Corps Office of the Inspector General for smoking marijuana in-country. Much of the information I have received is from two Sierra Leone RPCVs currently back in-country visiting their host county. A group of approximately 15 PCVs were partying on Bureh Beach outside of Freetown and were smoking pot, at least according to a woman working for the U.S. Embassy. She reported the PCVs to Peace Corps Washington and they sent an agent out from the Peace Corps Inspector General Office to investigate. According to the RPCV, who served in the early days in Sierra Leone and were in Freetown, this IG agent, demanded that all the PCVs, approximately 74, come to Freetown by the next day. Of course, given their remote locations and limited transportation, most . . .

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Towering Task to be Narrated by Annette Bening

Annette Bening to narrate A Towering Task. Bening is a four-time Academy Award nominee, two-time Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Award winner. The Towering Task, the Peace Corps Documentary, is a production by Alana deJoseph (Mali 1992-94). “It is incredibly important that we talk about how we as Americans engage with the rest of the world. The Peace Corps has been sending people to countries across the globe for almost 60 years, and many Americans don’t even know that it still exists. I am so glad that I can help tell this important story now when it feels more relevant than ever.”  ~ Annette Bening  

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The Most-Read Blog Item on our Site

      This is a sad and true and terrible story entitled “One mother’s story of how the Peace Corps failed her daughter.” It is also the most read blog post on our site. I first heard about what had happened to this Volunteer from Health Justice for Peace Corps Volunteers, an NPCA Affiliate group started by RPCV Nancy Tongue (Chile 1980-82). I uploaded the story on our site on April 26, 2016. Today, the story continues to catch the attention of readers. That tells me that when read, the reader mentions the story to other RPCVs who come to our site and read the sad account. When checking Google Analytics, I see recently published items usually have around 100 ‘hits’ in any seven day period. This story of how the Peace Corps failed a Volunteer has had 60 or more ‘hits’ every week since 2016. The majority of . . .

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Happy Easter from Mother Martha Driscoll and the Community of Gedono (Ethiopia)

May the flames that ravaged the Cathedral of Notre Dame – and our hearts – enkindle within the souls of the post-Christian World, through the pain of loss, a nostalgia for the True, the Good and the Beautiful, and the desire for New Life found through the death and resurrection Jesus Christ:  Surrexit Dominus! We also ask your prayers for the national elections in Indonesia today for President and Congress and its aftermath. It seems the present President will be reelected, as we hope. But the opposition which favors moving toward an Islamic State, has warned they will not accept defeat and threatens violent protests if their candidate doesn’t win. Some hard line, radical parties in that coalition are backed by more than 15.000.000 followers of ISIS. In deep comunion, Martha and the community of Gedono Mother Martha Driscoll, O.C.S. O., (Ethiopia 1965-67) graduated from Georgetown University School of Foreign . . .

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