The Peace Corps

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

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Alan Toth (South Africa 2010-12) Goes Free With Posh Corps
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Tino Calabia (Peru1963-65) Comments on "13 Hours: the Secret Soldiers of Benghazi"
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I Was Raped in Burkina Faso
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More on El Salvador and The Peace Corps
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Bill Moyers and Harris Wofford: A Conversation at the New York Public Library
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Talking with Aaron Kase (Burkina Faso 2006-08) about his book: MURDER IN BENIN
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A new name in the Peace Corps Director sweepstakes!
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Here today, Ghana Tomorrow

Alan Toth (South Africa 2010-12) Goes Free With Posh Corps

Three years ago, I started working on the Posh Corps project. The idea was simple: to discuss the modern Peace Corps experience honestly. I wanted to cut through the mythology and the marketing, and capture the experience of volunteering in a rapidly changing world. I spent three months in South Africa shooting the film. I returned to the United States and spent six months editing the film. In 2014, I started selling the film and screening it around the country. By the end of 2015, Posh Corps sales had almost recovered the production costs, and I started thinking about making a change. Today, if you visit poshcorps.com, you’ll find that all the feature films on the site are free. In fact, almost everything on poshcorps.com is now free, with theexception of licenses. I still ask people to pay for public screenings and educational licenses, as this helps cover the costs . . .

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Tino Calabia (Peru1963-65) Comments on "13 Hours: the Secret Soldiers of Benghazi"

Most RPCVs, new Volunteers, and staff know of RPCV Christopher Stevens’ model service as a PCV and then a U.S. Ambassador until he was slain in Libya in 2012.  Many may be curious to see how Hollywood would portray him.  Now we know.  In “13 Hours: the Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” Stevens is, in Hollywood-speak, “a bit player.” Nonetheless, “This is a true story” declares a typed preface rolling at the film’s start.  The name of Libya’s second biggest city has become an epithet of scorn meant by many to besmirch Hillary Clinton’s record as President’s Obama’s first Secretary of State.  The killing of Stevens and three colleagues had fanned the partisan flames of the 2012 Presidential campaign, and surely those flames will flare up again before this year’s Presidential election is over.  But little in this movie can be easily argued to derail Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The reason?  “13 Hours . . . .

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I Was Raped in Burkina Faso

Jezebel is a feminist blog. This piece by RPCV Yaara Zaslow was published on the site a few days ago. It is a profound and powerful account of what happened to her in Burkina Faso. It is also a sad story of what can happen to women in the Peace Corps. I’d served in Burkina Faso in West Africa with the United States Peace Corps. I was raped, and because I did everything “right” afterwards-I talked to the Peace Corps, talked to the Embassy, completed a rape kit-I didn’t understand the nausea that came over me whenever I did anything aside from hide in my bed. Soon after, I was evacuated from the country with a canvas backpack and a change of clothes. I stayed home, in Seattle, for three months, while the Peace Corps did a full investigation. In this investigation, the Peace Corps noted the three broken locks . . .

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More on El Salvador and The Peace Corps

Peace Corps suspends El Salvador program as violence surges Thanks to a ‘Heads Up’ from Barry Hillenbrand (Ethiopia 1963-65) By Jerry Markon January 14 at 5:14 PM Washington Post The Peace Corps has suspended its half-century-old program in El Salvador, highlighting the violence that has wracked the Central American nation and helped propel a wave of migration to the United States. In a statement, the agency begun by President John F. Kennedy said it is pulling out its 55 volunteers, who work on youth development and community economic development projects, “due to the ongoing security environment.” El Salvador has suffered a rash of gang and drug-related violence, though Peace Corps officials said no specific security incidents or threats triggered the suspension. The gang wars helped fuel a renewed surge in recent months of undocumented families with children flocking across America’s southwest border, the vast majority from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. That, in . . .

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Bill Moyers and Harris Wofford: A Conversation at the New York Public Library

On Wednesday night, January 13, 2016 at the New York Public Library there was a wonderful discussion between Bill Moyers, one of the founders of the Peace Corps and later deputy director of the Peace Corps, and Harris Wofford, former ‘everything’ in the government, including being the first Peace Corps Director to Ethiopia to then U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania. Two hundred plus attended the library event to support a new documentary film being made by Jacob Finkel (jsfinkel@civicdocumentaries.org). Driving in from Kuntzville, Pennsylvania to attend were Ethiopia I (1962-64)  Adrienne and Elton Katter. Among the Ethiopian RPCVs who attended the event were these Volunteers: (l-r) Margaret O’Brien Donohoe (1962-64); John Coyne (1962-64); Suzanne Wofford, Harris’ daughter, Dean of the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University. (Suzanne was ten when she went with her family to Addis Ababa); David Forster (1966-68); and Bill Donohoe (1962-64). Concetta Bencivenga (Thailand . . .

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Talking with Aaron Kase (Burkina Faso 2006-08) about his book: MURDER IN BENIN

  We all blame Peace Corps Staff for something, and sometimes we’re right, but what went particularly wrong with the administration, both in Africa and in Washington, D.C., was what they did (and didn’t do) involving the tragic murder of Kate Puzey in Benin in 2009. What is particularly galling is that the Acting Director of the agency at the time of the murder was an RPCV Jody Olsen (Tunisia 1966-68) who has made a career of working for the agency, mostly through Republican connections from Utah (So much for In, UP and Out!) and she should have known how to take care of PCVs and their families, but she didn’t. Olsen was followed in the job by Director Aaron William (Dominican Republic 1967-70) and while eventually he apologized to the Puzey Family, he was famous for hiding under his deck when asked to speak to news agency. At one . . .

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A new name in the Peace Corps Director sweepstakes!

Another name is floating around PC/HQ in the “who will be the next Peace Corps Director” Sweepstakes. It is the current Peace Corps Country Director  in Swaziland, Steve Driehaus. Steve was, and this is important to us, a PCV in Senegal from 1988 to ’90. After his tour in Senegal he went to work on the Hill as the Legislative Aide for Congressman Charles Luken, then was the Chief Legislative Aide for Council Member, Todd Portrune. He left Washington and returned to the mid-west and became the Assistant Director, Center for International Education and Development Assistance, at Indiana University for a couple years. (The guy moves around a lot.) While in this job, he coordinated the South African Internship Program sponsored by USIA that became the largest professional exchange program between the United States and South Africa. And along the way he picked up a Master of Public Administration from Indiana University. . . .

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Here today, Ghana Tomorrow

An article yesterday, June 30, about the Peace Corps in Ghana appeared in a Ghanaian newspaper written by RPCV Phillip Kurata . Kurata works for the State Department and writes for www.America.gov, a webiste of the State Department, that distributes news of the U.S. to the world. I thought you’d like to read what they are saying at State about us. Of course, Kurata is one of us. The first Peace Corps Volunteers arrived in Accra on the afternoon of September 1, 1961. The article has the arrival date in Ghana as August 30, but it was the afternoon of September1, 1961 according to John Demos, a member of the Ghana I. Fifty PCVs met Kennedy on the White House lawn, then went to a send-off party at the Ghanaian Embassy in Washington, D.C. on August 31. “Many libations were poured,” recalls Demos, a 1959 graduate of Harvard who had also done graduate work at Berkeley before . . .

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