The Peace Corps

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

1
Making Lemonade In The Maiatico Building, Part 6
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Brian Forde (Nicaragua): Tech can reshape the U.S. Peace Corps and bridge political divides
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Making Lemonade In The Maiatico Building–Part 5
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Making Lemonade In The Maiatico Building, Part 4
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Making Lemonade In The Maiatico Building, Part 3
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Writing from Mongolia, PCV Sally LaRue
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Review of Richard Lipez’s New Novel: www.Dropdead
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Making Lemonade In The Maiatico Building, Part 2
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RPCV Creates The America Team for Displaced Eritreans (Eritrea)
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Making Lemonade In The Maiatico Building, Part I

Making Lemonade In The Maiatico Building, Part 6

The question in 1961 at the Maiatico Building was: would anyone apply to the Peace Corps? Could the United States produce enough Americans of high quality and character to make the Peace Corps successful? Between March 1 and June 1, 1961, after the Peace Corps preliminary policies were set, approximately 10,000 Americans filled out and mailed in Peace Corps applications. From June to December 31, 1961, Americans volunteered at the rate of 1,000 per month. In those early months, the Peace Corps made little effort to attract Volunteers, preferring to wait until it had a clear mandate from the Congress both in terms of authorization and appropriation. That mandate came on September 22, 1961. With bipartisan national endorsement, the Peace Corps took the initiative in explaining its program and the opportunities for Peace Corps service. October and November 1961 were taken up in preparing an adequate public information and public . . .

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Brian Forde (Nicaragua): Tech can reshape the U.S. Peace Corps and bridge political divides

Brian Forde (Nicaragua 2003-05) co-founded the Digital Currency Initiative at the MIT Media Lab and was formerly a senior advisor at The White House.  Today he is co-founded the Digital Currency Initiative at the MIT Media Lab. • Earlier this week, President-elect Trump met with some of the top leaders of American tech companies. Some of these leaders are trying to find common ground after being on the receiving end of some of his sharp-worded tweets. Like many of my friends in the tech community, I’m faced with the reality of a Trump presidency and searching for a way to honor the calls of President Obama and Secretary Clinton for national unity and a chance for the president-elect to lead. My struggle comes from looking for common ground with a president-elect whose policy goals I largely do not support but recognizing from my time working in the Obama White House just how ineffective obstructionist politics . . .

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Making Lemonade In The Maiatico Building–Part 5

Scratch any RPCV or PCV and they’ll tell you the three goals of the Peace Corps. While the wording varies from one publication to the next, these are the goals: (1) Contribute to the development of critical countries and regions; (2) Promote international cooperation and goodwill toward the country; (3) Contribute to the education of America and to more intelligent American participation in the world.  Now, those are the stated goals, and I know that they have been tweaked with by staff and PCVs over the last 50 years. For example, “living at the level of the HCNs” is often stated as Goal # 2. But the question is, who came up with these goals and why three? Well, at the famous Mayflower Hotel in the winter months of 1961 when the task force of Shriver/Wofford/Wiggins/Josephson and a handful of others began to draft the proposal to give JFK that would define . . .

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Making Lemonade In The Maiatico Building, Part 4

The Peace Corps actually ‘started’ the day after Kennedy inauguration. Kennedy telephoned Shriver and asked him to form a presidential Task Force “to report how the Peace Corps could be organized and then to organize it.” Shriver telephoned Harris Wofford and they rented two rooms for offices in the Mayflower Hotel, downtown in Washington, D.C. They were the “Task Force.” They began to call people they thought might know something about international development and living in the developing world. One name led to another. Shriver says that he had no long-term, premeditated vision of what the Peace Corps might be. “My style was to get bright, informative, creative people and then pick their brains.” The first official meeting of the Task Force was scheduled for February 6. Kennedy had requested a report from Shriver by the end of February. Shriver would later say, “I needed help badly.” On Sunday night, . . .

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Making Lemonade In The Maiatico Building, Part 3

In Shriver’s memo to Kennedy, Sarge had written, “We have submitted to your Special Counsel legal memoranda showing how the Peace Corps can be created as a program agency in the State Department within the existing Mutual Security framework….Congress can consider the program fully when it deals with the requests for specific legislation and funds for FY 1962.” Shriver and the others who had drafted this memo and come up with the “idea of a Peace Corps” saw the new agency as being within the State Department so that it “can work closely with State and ICA, drawing on their personnel, services and facilities, particularly pending reorganization of the whole foreign aid program. But the Peace Corps should be a semi-autonomous entity with its own public face. This new wine should not be poured into the old ICA bottle.” While the Band of Boys in the Mayflower Hotel thought this . . .

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Writing from Mongolia, PCV Sally LaRue

Sally LaRue is one of the first PCVs to enroll in the online MFA program at California’s National University. It is the start, I hope, of a full class of PCVs and RPCVs getting MFAs in Creative Writing from the special MFA program I’m trying to start that focuses on Peace Corps writers. This writing MFA is sponsored by Peace Corps Writers and the NPCA. I asked Sally to write a short note about how it is going for her as she is in her second year in Mongolia as a TEFL teacher in a secondary school where, she also writes, “I spend a lot of time teaching students funny dances.” Sally writes: Only two classes into the MCW program at NU, I have written more and learned more about writing than ever before. I debated for some time about the benefits of a Master’s degree in Creative Writing. Would . . .

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Review of Richard Lipez’s New Novel: www.Dropdead

WWW.DROPDEAD by Richard Lipez (Ethiopia 1962-64) Writing as Richard Stevenson MLR Press Publisher November 2016 (Kindle) $6.99,  $14.99 (Paperback) Reviewed by Mark D. Walker (Guatemala 1971-73) • This book is part of “The Donald Strachey Mystery Series” which includes fourteen books, the first one being published in 2003. The author, Richard Lipez, AKA Richard Stevenson, is an openly gay author and RPCV Ethiopia, 1962-64. The mystery unfolds in the words of Detective Don Strachey, a droll, intrepid guide who takes the reader step by step in search of the killer of one of “KickAssQueer’s” young editors who have created a gay website for news, gossip and a forum to exchange opinions about GLBT life in America. As the plot artfully unfolds, PI Strachey must determine whether the murderer, and eventually kidnapper of the deceased editor’s companion, a harsh critic, gay or straight, is responsible for the young editor’s death and . . .

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Making Lemonade In The Maiatico Building, Part 2

The famous “Mayflower Gang” created the Peace Corps in 30 days in two rooms of the Mayflower Hotel on Connecticut Avenue several blocks from the White House in February 1961. The ‘Gang’ was led by Shriver, Harris Wofford, Warren Wiggins, Bill Josephson and a half dozen others giving suggestions and making their points. These were ‘advisors’ like the Secretary of State Dean Rush; Father Hesburgh, President of Notre Dame;  Gordon Boyce, President of the Experiment in International Living; Albert Sims of the Institute of International Education; George Carter, a campaign worker on civil rights issues; Franklin Williams, an organizer of the campaign for black voter registration and a student of African affairs; Adam Yarmolinsky, a foundation executive. These advisers came from all corners (if not both rooms in the suite) and most of them wanted one clear statement of what the Peace Corps would be, but Sarge Shriver held the position that Peace — not Development . . .

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RPCV Creates The America Team for Displaced Eritreans (Eritrea)

The America Team for Displaced Eritreans, based in Southeastern Pennsylvania, assists Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers in the United States and around the world – through resettlement services, policy advocacy, and life-saving interventions on behalf of Eritreans in perilous circumstances. We are the only organization in the United States dedicated specifically to that mission. We have developed working relationships with governmental, inter-governmental, and non-profit organizations in the U.S. and abroad, and those relationships aid materially in the effectiveness of our work. The America Team is an all-volunteer organization that subsists entirely on privately donated funds.  We are not aligned with any U.S., Eritrean, or expatriate Eritrean political parties or organizations. The America Team is registered as a Section 501(c)(3) public charity with the United States Internal Revenue Service. The tree depicted in The America Team’s logo is known as Daero, which grows south of the town of Segeneitti.  It is famous in Eritrea . . .

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Making Lemonade In The Maiatico Building, Part I

I had an email recently from a young PCV asking for more stories about the Mad Men and Women of the early days of the agency. Well, there are lots of stories to tell. In those first days of 1961, everyone who went to Washington wanted to be part of the New Frontier, and particularly part of that new agency, the Peace Corps.  The new agency attracted the best and the brightest, or so they claimed. An early document of the agency said that the staff in D.C. and those staffers around the world was composed of “skiers, mountain climbers, big-game hunters, prizefighters, football players, polo players and enough Ph.D.’s [30] to staff a liberal arts college.” There were 18 attorneys, of whom only four continue to work strictly as attorneys in the General Counsel’s office and the rest [including Sargent Shriver] did other jobs. Also, all of these employees . . .

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