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The NPCA Answers…..
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Review — THE WORLD AGAINST HER SKIN by John Thorndike (El Salvador)
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What Some Staff of NPCA are Saying…But Are Afraid to Tell Us Who They Are
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Is Getting Rid of Glenn a Wise Decision?
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Without Car–SIN CARRO
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Farewell to RPCV Dick Lipez (Ethiopia)
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Trouble Brewing for RPCVs–Bad Decision at the NPCA
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Finding inspiration in NIGERIA — Stint in the Peace Corps results in novel 45 years later
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PCVs teach Spanish in the Dominican Republic
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Bill Josephson Has the Last Word
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Pets in Your Life by Tim Wall (Honduras)
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RPCV couple and their California “Singing Frogs Farm”(Gambia)
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RPCV Writer Tom Corbett (India)
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This week in Congress
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Inside Peace Corps Issue #6

The NPCA Answers…..

    NPCA strives to be a trusted leader and convener within the Peace Corps community. Building and maintaining trust requires intentional listening. The Board takes concerns over the workplace environment very seriously and is working to address concerns among the staff and the community. We want to emphasize that NPCA is listening to the voices from all our stakeholders, and we hear that some members of our community are concerned that NPCA is not where we aim to be. No organization is perfect, but we wholly commit to be better. As such, the Board has taken action to address issues and evolve as needed. Three board task forces have been established to ensure we continue to act as an inclusive leader for the Peace Corps community. Each of these task forces, with clear time-bound objectives, is headed by a member of the NPCA Board of Directors. The three task forces . . .

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Review — THE WORLD AGAINST HER SKIN by John Thorndike (El Salvador)

  The World Against Her Skin: A Son’s Novel By John Thorndike (El Salvador 1967-68) Beck & Branch Publishers 306 Pages April 2022 $15.00 (Paperback); $4.99 (Kindle)   Reviewed by Marnie Mueller (Ecuador 1963-65) The World Against her Skin is an extraordinary work, written by a mature, highly published author. John Thorndike defines his book as a “Son’s Novel,” a hybrid memoir/novel or “biographical novel.” It is his endeavor to know his mother, as he openly states in his “Author’s Note, “I want to know everything about my mother,” especially the secrets that were kept from him as her son. He inhabits this woman character in order to know her. His are the height of literary goals; find truth through your imagination, cross boundaries through sympathy and empathy, and do it because you need to for survival. It beautifully flies in the face of current stricture to only write what . . .

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What Some Staff of NPCA are Saying…But Are Afraid to Tell Us Who They Are

Sexism is harming the Peace Corps Community. Let’s change that.  An Open Letter to the Peace Corps Community Dear Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, Peace Corps family and friends, Peace Corps Allies, Elected Officials, and Peace Corps Agency Staff, We are writing to you as former NPCA staff who want change. A strong Peace Corps is built on a strong Peace Corps Community. However, our opinion is that sexism and gender-based violence, including violence against women, is a culture and problem in the Peace Corps, as victims of sexual assault during Peace Corps service made publicly aware. However, sexism and gender-based violence, especially violence against women also permeate the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) community and the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA). NPCA – the organization that represents 230,000 RPCVs and advocates to Congress in support of Peace Corps – enables sexism through its actions with the Peace Corps community, internally . . .

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Is Getting Rid of Glenn a Wise Decision?

Gary Schulze says: June 21, 2022 at 1:49 pmEDIT As a member of the selection committee that originally picked Glenn to be President of NPCA, I was shocked to learn that the current Board has dismissed him as head of the organization. When Glenn took over the organization it was in financial trouble and had lost the respect of many RPCVs. Glenn rebuilt NPCA, recruited competent staff and gained the respect of the Peace Corps Directors and their staffs. He made a point of visiting regional RPCV groups to gain support for NPCA programs. As a former member of the Board I was personally aware of his many invaluable contributions. Why was he fired in a message which suggested a coup d’etat? And it raises questions about the guy who engineered Glenn’s termination and then made himself Interim President. Until the current Board comes up with a satisfactory explanation I will . . .

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Without Car–SIN CARRO

SIN CARRO by Bonnie Lee Black (Gabon 1996-98) JUNE 16, 2022 Ask any Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) what the biggest, longest-lasting personal benefit of their two-year service overseas has been, and my guess is most will answer in one word: adaptability. Spin RPCVs around, toss them in the air high enough to drop them into another country, and they’ll likely, like cats, land on their feet and adapt to that new culture in record time. Why? Because we’ve learned how. We learned how, I believe, early in our PC service, to let go of American expectations of what’s “normal.” That word quickly flies out the door of our cement-block houses or mud-and-wattle huts in towns and villages seldom shown on printed maps. “Normal” becomes a nonword, meaningless as a measure. My favorite example of this comes from my experience in the middle of the rainforest of Gabon, Central Africa, . . .

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Farewell to RPCV Dick Lipez (Ethiopia)

Dick’s husband, Joe Wheaton, and Dick’s two children–Sydney and Zachary–when married to RPCV Hedy Harris (Ethiopia 1964-67), held a memorial on June 19th, to celebrate the life of our RPCV legend. There was music, a pictorial romp, snacks and beverages, all under a tent on the lawn of Dick and Joe’s home in Becket, Massachusetts. A number of his friends were also asked to speak, and Joe asked me if I would say a few words about Dick’s Peace Corps years. It was surprising to me how many of his family, children and relatives, mentioned his Ethiopian years and when I stood up to address the gathering of about 200 friends and family, I was able to fill in some of the history of his life in Ethiopia as a PCV and later as Peace Corps staff in Washington, D.C.. Here is what I said, Sunday afternoon, on Father’s Day, . . .

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Trouble Brewing for RPCVs–Bad Decision at the NPCA

Today, we begin a new chapter at NPCA. The Board of Directors announces the departure of NPCA President and CEO, Glenn Blumhorst. We are grateful for Mr. Blumhorst’s years of leadership and dedication to the Peace Corps through service, advocacy, and support, and wish him well in his future endeavors. Kim Herman has been appointed as Interim President and CEO with full authority while an Executive search is conducted for NPCA’s next leader. Jed Meline, former Vice Chair of the Board, is serving as Interim Board Chair. New comment in discussion NPCA Leadership Transition Announcement Comment: As Co-Founder and (forever) Member of NPCA, RPCV/W (formerly AAAGWA), Friends of Nigeria, and Shriver Circle, plus current member of them + NorCal PCA, I am familiar with allegations against Glenn Blumhorst and–based on my personal interactions with some involved–I am quite saddened to learn that Glenn has become the victim of the Board’s dismissal. And for this to . . .

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Finding inspiration in NIGERIA — Stint in the Peace Corps results in novel 45 years later

By DAVID JASPER The Bulletin, Bend OR Dec 26, 2019 Updated Jan 29, 2021 After Tom Wangler entered the Peace Corps as a 25-year-old in 1974, he thought he might write about his adventures in Africa. “I had full intentions of writing a book when I got back,” said Wangler, of Bend. “It took me a while.” Four decades later, Wangler has realized his dream with the publication of his first novel, Nigeria: An Ancient Secret Becomes the Adventure of a Lifetime, a thriller about a Peace Corps volunteer who goes missing while searching for a hidden oasis, triggering a desperate search and rescue mission. Inspired by events Wangler witnessed while in Africa 45 years ago, it was published earlier this month by Bend’s Dancing Moon Press. Today, Wangler serves as education program coordinator at the Oregon Youth Challenge Program, an alternative high school for at-risk youth run by the National Guard. . . .

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PCVs teach Spanish in the Dominican Republic

Peace Corps Dominican Republic is currently the only Peace Corps program with a program focused on Spanish literacy. Spanish Primary School Literacy Promoter Volunteers provide critical support to enhance Spanish literacy rates within the Dominican education system. Volunteers work in Spanish to support childhood literacy in the native language of the Dominican Republic. By strengthening childhood literacy programs, Volunteers strive to decrease the number of children who are over-age for their grade, repeat grades, or who drop out of school. The work of Volunteers and their Dominican counterparts helps to lay a foundation for students’ lifelong learning and supports communities’ development priorities through access to quality education, effective reading and writing skills. Continue reading HERE.

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Bill Josephson Has the Last Word

  Bill Josephson, who was the General Counsel at the agency,  sent me this email to correct some of the information I had included in my blogs about the establishment of the Peace Corps. When the Kennedy administration took over the White House in 1961, Josephson was at the International Cooperation Administration, an agency within the Department of State that had principal responsibility for foreign aid programs under the Mutual Security Acts of the 1950s. He had joined the ICA’s General Counsel’s office in the Fall of 1959 as Far East Regional Counsel. About the same time, Warren W. Wiggins, a career ICA economist (all but thesis from the Harvard Economics Department) became the Deputy Director of Far East Regional Programs. Wiggins had served in Norway, the Philippines and Bolivia in the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s. Josephson and Wiggins bonded. Having been bombarded by the New Frontiersmen with . . .

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Pets in Your Life by Tim Wall (Honduras)

  Tim Wall  covers the dog, cat and other pet food industries as a senior reporter for WATT Global Media. His work has appeared in Live Science, Discovery News, Scientific American, Honduras Weekly, Global Journalist and other outlets. He holds a journalism master’s degree from the University of Missouri–Columbia and a bachelor’s degree in biology. By Tim Wall (Honduras 2005-07)   Pet treat companies could be one tool for economic development in the United States and around the world. For low-income individuals, small-scale pet treat production allows entrepreneurs to start with utensils they may already have or can obtain inexpensively, ingredients from the grocery store and science-based recipes. While moving into retail outlets will require that pet food entrepreneurs consider larger legal and logistical issues, a start-up pet treat company could be within reach of many. If one is going to produce pet food, they should comply with the rules for labeling, . . .

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RPCV couple and their California “Singing Frogs Farm”(Gambia)

      The founders of Singing Frogs Farm, Elizabeth and Paul Kaiser, met in the Peace Corps in Gambia, West Africa in 2003. Paul has a background in Agroforestry and Sustainable Land Management and Elizabeth in Nursing and Public Health. They’ve been farming together since 2007 in Sebastopol, CA, where they’ve been raising their two children while developing their innovative no-till soil management system for intensive vegetable production. Singing Frogs is a small farm—just three cultivated acres—but they are reaping BIG results using Regenerative Farming methods. They’ve increased the organic matter in their soil by 400% in just six years, without nutrient leaching, while almost tripling the total microbial life in the soil. They’ve also dramatically reduced their water usage per crop, starting at three hours of drip irrigation every other day and now down to about 20-30 minutes per week (when they need to irrigate at all). But . . .

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RPCV Writer Tom Corbett (India)

  Tom Corbett (India 1966-68) is emeritus senior scientist and an affiliate of the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he served as associate and acting director for a decade before his retirement. He received a doctorate in Social Welfare from the University of Wisconsin and taught various social policy and program evaluation courses there for many years. During his long academic and policy career he consulted with government at the local, state, and national levels including a stint in Washington D.C. where he helped develop President Clinton’s welfare reform legislation. He has written dozens of articles and reports on poverty, social policy, and human services issues and given hundreds of talks across the nation on these topics. The author lives in Madison Wisconsin. Our Grand Adventure: The trials and triumphs of India-44 is a just out, improved upon, re-release of an earlier Peace Corps work  It Seemed . . .

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This week in Congress

Tuesday, June 14 House Foreign Affairs — 10 a.m. — 2172 Rayburn International Development budget State Department officials will testify on the fiscal 2023 budget request for the Peace Corps and U.S. International Development Finance Corporation.    

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Inside Peace Corps Issue #6

Published May 18, 2022 Chief Executive Officer’s Message   On March 15, 2022, two years after the Peace Corps’ first-ever global evacuation, our first group of Volunteers returned to service in Zambia! Since then, Volunteers and Trainees have arrived in nine countries and many more will depart for their countries of service in the coming months. This long-awaited return is about connecting across difference. It is also about taking action in the spirit of humble partnership and in the face of incredibly challenging and uncertain times. Over the past two years, we have seen staff, returned Peace Corps Volunteers, counterparts, and host families step up in so many remarkable ways to support each other, their communities, and their countries. The care and concern displayed by the Peace Corps network has so clearly demonstrated that the Peace Corps is much more than a service organization. It represents a lifetime of connection and solidarity. The . . .

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