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Volunteers may return to the Eastern Caribbean in January
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60 Years Ago Today — October 14, 1960 — THE UNKNOWN STORY OF THE PEACE CORPS SPEECH
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An Update to an Unofficial Guide to Some Resources of Peace Corps History
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“Peace Corps R.I.P.” by Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras)
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Paul Strasburg — “A life-changing lunch in Thailand”
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Review — FROM THESE BROKEN STREETS by Roland Merullo (Micronesia)
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SPLENDORS OF SYDNEY by Steve Kaffen (Russia)
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YOU TRY PAA: A LOVE SONG IN TRANSLATION by Cythia Ann Caul (Ghana)
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AROUND THE HORN AND BACK by Michael Banister (Ethiopia)
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Review — POETRY SKETCHES by Eldon Katter

Volunteers may return to the Eastern Caribbean in January

  October 14, 2020 WASHINGTON – Peace Corps Director Jody K. Olsen announced Volunteers will begin returning to service in January. Speaking to staff today during a town hall meeting launching the agency’s yearlong 60th anniversary celebration, Director Olsen said public health conditions permit the return of Volunteers to the Eastern Caribbean. The agency suspended global operations in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “I am thrilled to share this good news as we commemorate our founding moment, when then candidate John F. Kennedy planted the seed for what would become the Peace Corps during an early morning speech October 14, 1960 at the University of Michigan,” said Director Olsen. “Our decision to return to the field follows months of extensive preparations and review, and I am extremely grateful to the many staff and host country partners who contributed to this effort. I also salute the evacuated volunteers who . . .

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60 Years Ago Today — October 14, 1960 — THE UNKNOWN STORY OF THE PEACE CORPS SPEECH

    JFK AT THE UNION By James Tobin   Well after midnight on October 14, 1960, presidential candidate John F. Kennedy arrived at the steps of the Michigan Union. Legend has it that he first proposed the idea of the Peace Corps here. The truth is a little more complex, but far more interesting.   Senator John F. Kennedy’s motorcade rolled into Ann Arbor very early on the morning of Friday, October 14, 1960. The election was three and a half weeks away. The Democratic nominee for president and his staff had just flown into Willow Run Airport. A few hours earlier, in New York, Kennedy had fought Vice President Richard Nixon, the Republican nominee, in the third of their four nationally televised debates. The race was extremely close, and Michigan was up for grabs. Kennedy’s schedule called for a few hours of sleep, then a one-day whistle-stop train . . .

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An Update to an Unofficial Guide to Some Resources of Peace Corps History

  Here is the current list of unofficial Resources describing the history of the Peace Corps.  It is unofficial and incomplete. The public  documents are available but not necessarily easily accessible. Few are  digitalized. Most are the property of the institutional archives, public, private and certainly university. For example, the training documents for Colombia I, the first Peace Corps group to enter training in June of 1961, are archived at Rutgers University.  RPCVs may visit the university and review the materials, a privilege otherwise reserved for students and faculty of the university.   RESOURCES An unofficial guide to the locations of resources describing the Peace Corps, and its history.    This list is a cooperative effort with RPCV Alana deJoseph, producer of the documentary A Towering Task, her team and the many archivists and librarians at the places cited. Thank you to all .   This is the latest information we have. Please . . .

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“Peace Corps R.I.P.” by Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras)

  Between 1961 and 2018, about 230,000 American men and women representing all fifty states served in 140 countries around the world. We all learned a new language before unloading a duffle bag or a trunk, rolled up our sleeves and asked a local in his own native tongue, “How can I help?” Some of us dug latrines and wells. Others fished, built fish farms, planted crops, taught in schools. My group helped to build roads and schools. You might have comforted the sick in hospitals and clinics or helped to set up cooperatives and even businesses. Some of my buddies helped manage forests, museums and new national parks. Others advised about how to set up a touristic hot-spot. We did whatever we were asked for next to nothing which is why we were called volunteers. We trudged home after struggling to learn an alien tongue, adjusting to strange customs, . . .

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Paul Strasburg — “A life-changing lunch in Thailand”

How a young Peace Corps Volunteer’s chance encounter with a teacher in Thailand in 1966 touched over a million lives.   Thousand Currents By Bilen Mesfin Peace Corps’ Passport Blog   ONE HOT DAY in 1965, Paul Strasburg (Thailand 1964-66) was having lunch with his Thai counterparts near the village of Ban Nong Boa. A man in a civil service uniform approached the table. The man introduced himself as a teacher and told them his story. With no school, Boonthom Boonprasert was teaching his students outside. When it rained, school would be canceled. Cautiously and respectfully, Boonprasert asked Strasburg, then a young Peace Corps Volunteer, and his Thai colleagues: Could they help him build a school? Strasburg’s colleagues turned to him.“You are the American,” they said. “You guys have all the money.” In what would prove to be a pivotal moment, Strasburg agreed to find out what he could do. . . .

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Review — FROM THESE BROKEN STREETS by Roland Merullo (Micronesia)

  From These Broken Streets: A Novel Roland Merullo (Micronesia 1979-80) Lake Union Publishing 376 pages November 3, 2020 $14.95 (Paperback) Reviewed by Richard Lipez (Ethiopia 1962-64) • A gifted and versatile author of 24 books, including 18 works of fiction, Roland Merullo has now produced a historical novel that’s a humdinger, as suspenseful, revealing, and involving as any World War II fiction I’ve ever read. In his acknowledgments, Merullo describes visiting Naples with his family and being surprised to learn of a successful four-day uprising against Nazi occupation in 1943 and then being moved to write about this remarkable but little-known popular revolt. He created this deeply researched and powerfully told tale in under a year, an amazing feat. In September of 1943, Mussolini has been strung up, leading Fascists are in hiding, an armistice has been declared, and the Italian army is melting away.  But the Germans are . . .

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SPLENDORS OF SYDNEY by Steve Kaffen (Russia)

Steve’s latest travel book on Sydney, Australia (Russia)   Australia is a country of superlatives, and Sydney is its principal gateway. “The Everything City” has a vibrant city center; the stunning Opera House overlooking bustling Sydney Harbour; world-class fine arts, contemporary, and maritime museums; the country’s largest zoo and its oldest botanical garden; an excellent bus, train, light rail, and ferry transit network; a multicultural population; superb beaches and the striking Blue Mountains; a lively and casual lifestyle; and always within reach, the sea. Author Steve Kaffen (Russia 1994-96) uses a hundred original photos accompanied by informative descriptions and observations to spotlight this great city of splendors. Included are Sydney’s famed New Year’s Eve celebration, showtime in the Opera House, and renowned Bondi Beach, plus a side trip to Melbourne. “Splendors of Sydney” is fun to read and sufficiently detailed to plan a visit to “The Everything City.” NOTE: Amazon.com . . .

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YOU TRY PAA: A LOVE SONG IN TRANSLATION by Cythia Ann Caul (Ghana)

New memoir explores white saviorism and U.S. American exceptionalism in the Peace Corps   Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Cynthia Ann Caul published You Try Paa: A Love Song in Translation on October 8, 2020. The book is a Peace Corps memoir, detailing Caul’s time in Ghana in a series of episodic poems. The poems traverse a number of themes, including race, gender, and religion in relation to the Peace Corps, community and international development, and the author’s role in both. Caul’s everyday experiences raise questions about how white saviorism and U.S. American exceptionalism can be perpetuated and maintained by the Peace Corps and similar organizations, as well as how they were by the author herself during her time as a Peace Corps volunteer. The work invites a thoughtful examination of the Peace Corps and international development more broadly, as well as self-reflection among those who participate in these institutions. Caul was . . .

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AROUND THE HORN AND BACK by Michael Banister (Ethiopia)

  What would you do with your dad’s broken time machine, a modified “spherical astrolabe?” You could fix it if you had 21st century tools, but you’re both in the 15th century. You could pretend it’s a normal nautical device and offer it to the 15th century explorer Vasco da Gama. But what if the Great Admiral discovers the true function of the device? How will you edit your dad’s memoir to describe the astrolabe as nothing more than an ancient marine navigation device? Will your dad’s wannabe time-traveling companions find the astrolabe in the future? — Around the Horn and Back • I’ve always been a voracious reader, and in junior high I published two science fiction stories in my school’s creative writing magazine. After a long hiatus, I began writing again in my junior year of college at UC Berkeley. I joined a group of acquaintances in 1969 . . .

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Review — POETRY SKETCHES by Eldon Katter

  Poetry Sketches: A Peace Corps Memoir Eldon Katter (Ethiopia 1962 – 1964) Peace Corps Writers June 2020 266 pages $10.48 (paperback) Reviewed by Kathleen Coskran (Ethiopia 1965-67) • In his evocative memoir artist Eldon Katter  made me want to learn to sketch with a pen as well as with words. Katter is able to do both and has been doing so beautifully for the last 50 years or so. He had the foresight to chronicle his time in Ethiopia and his subsequent travels with short poems and line drawings, both his own drawings, and those of his students. Individually they are interesting, and together, the drawings paired with the poems, they are wonderful. Katter was in the first group of Peace Corps Volunteers to go to Ethiopia, and had the good fortune to be assigned to the Teacher Training School in Harar, Ethiopia, along with 19 other Volunteers, “doubling . . .

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