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Melvin Foote (Ethiopia) – Foreign Policy Research Institute
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Celebrate babywearing and its African origins
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“And the Wall Came Tumbling Down” by John Chromy (India)
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The disappearance of Thomas and Eileen Lonergan (Fiji)
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“The Glamour” — a short story by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay)
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John McAuliff (Peru) | People of the Year Awards Winner
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Suffering isn’t mandatory. Bake a cake!
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“What am I doing in Paraguay?” by Troy Schneider
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“Overcoming Grief and Assault With 29 Marathons” by Summer Willis (Mexico)
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Charles Murray (Thailand) . . . “The Most Dangerous Conservative.”
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Review | FACE TO FACE WITH WAR by Leo Cecchini (Ethiopia)
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Peter Navarro (Thailand) sentenced to prison
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“RPCVs discover cohousing” by Evelyn Kohl LaTorre (Peru)
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Georgia among top 10 Peace Corps volunteer states in US
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AFGHANISTAN: CROSSROADS AND KINGDOMS by Guy Toby Marion (Afghanistan)

Melvin Foote (Ethiopia) – Foreign Policy Research Institute

INTERNATIONAL NEWS Melvin Foote – Foreign Policy Research Institute JANUARY 31, 2024   Melvin P. Foote (Ethiopia 1973-76) has worked on African issues for more than 40 years!  He is well known across Africa, and is highly respected by opinion-makers and decision-makers in Washington, D.C. for his work with Africa over many decades. Mr. Foote is the Founder and President of the Constituency for Africa, (CFA), a 32-years old Washington, D.C. based not-for-profit organization that advocates for Africa in the United States and throughout the Diaspora.  The mission of CFA is to educate the public about Africa and African development issues, and help to shape U.S. policies towards Africa.  Mr. Foote also is the founder of the African American Unity Caucus (AAUC), which was established in 2002.  The AAUC is a network of African-Americans, African immigrants, and others of African descent, who are leaders of Africa-focused organization or who are leaders . . .

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Celebrate babywearing and its African origins

 I would love for everyone this month in honor of Black History month to celebrate babywearing and its African origins writes Rachnel Nicks Here is a history of babywearing…As Black women, we have been wearing our babies for centuries. In fact, the first American version of a babywearing device was invented by a woman who had just returned from a trip to West Africa. She was traveling with the Peace Corps and had observed women in Togo carrying their babies on their bodies. She invented the “Snugli” when she got back to the United States and decades later, babywearing has boomed into an entire industry. There are so many reasons why this tradition has become a mainstream practice and we even have a week to celebrate its benefits; International Babywearing week is in the month of October.Necessity and convenience are likely what led to this creative innovation. Wearing their babies allowed them . . .

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“And the Wall Came Tumbling Down” by John Chromy (India)

  It was in June of 1964 when the “wall came tumbling down” during a sitdown dinner for 6 people. The setting was in a private home in the town of Zaheerabad in Andhra Pradesh State. Four of us Peace Corps Volunteers had been temporarily assigned to develop and teach a pilot health/nutrition/gardening curriculum to be used in training village school teachers throughout Andhra State (population 36 million). This experimental course was conducted at the Zaheerabad Basic Training Institute (BTI), where some 160 future primary school teachers were undergoing training. Amongst the faculty and students at the BTI there was considerable excitement to have Americans teaching at their school. In the 1960s America was mostly an admired country and there was much curiosity about the American people, their way of life and the work of these four American guest instructors. In fact, one of the faculty members very cautiously and . . .

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The disappearance of Thomas and Eileen Lonergan (Fiji)

  Thomas and Eileen Lonergan (Fiji 1996-98), a married couple hailing from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States, had recently completed a two-year tour of duty with the Peace Corps. Following their service, they embarked on a journey to Australia. On January 25, 1998, the Lonergans decided to indulge in their passion for scuba diving at St. Crispin’s Reef in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Despite being experienced divers with 80 dives each, tragedy struck during their outing. Accompanied by 26 fellow passengers and five crew members on the boat “Outer Edge,” the couple anticipated a fun day exploring the underwater wonders under the supervision of presumed experts. The final dive at “Fish City,” a vibrant reef teeming with marine life, began around 2:20PM. However, by 3:10PM, the engines of the Outer Edge roared to life, and the boat departed, unknowingly leaving Thomas and Eileen submerged beneath the waves. The Lonergans were . . .

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“The Glamour” — a short story by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay)

By Mark Jacobs (Paraguay 1978-80)   Lace likes how Deed touches her tits. His hands, cupping and brushing, send electric squigglies through her body. But it’s not just that, really it’s how the touch is like talking. Deed’s touch is part of the conversation they are always having about Sausalito. They’ll live on a boat, eat fish, get tanned, fuck under the stars. They’ll be their own avatars. The pictures are so vivid in Lace’s mind, she’s pretty sure she’ll slit her wrists if something goes wrong and they don’t go there. “So is Calhoun this son of a bitch’s first name or his last name?” “I don’t know. I don’t care.” Calhoun is Rhonda’s latest mistake. Rhonda is Lace’s mother. She specializes in getting things wrong. Rhonda won’t come out and say it, but she intends to invite Calhoun to move in. The dude has no job and even . . .

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John McAuliff (Peru) | People of the Year Awards Winner

  John McAuliff (Peru 1964-66) is Executive Director and Founder of the Fund for Reconciliation & Development, and has been a lifelong activist in student, civil rights, and peace movements. He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Peru. In 1985, he founded the Fund for Reconciliation and Development to achieve normal US diplomatic, educational, cultural, and economic relations with post-war Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. After that was achieved in the late 1990s, he changed the primary focus of the organization to obtaining similar normal US relations with Cuba, working especially in policy, travel, and educational and cultural exchange. The Times Review Media Group, publisher of The Suffolk Times, Riverhead News-Review, Shelter Island Reporter, Northforker and Southforker, recently gave John McAuliff one of its annual People of the Year Awards. John has been working since the early 1960s to promote reconciliation and healing and build commonality all over the world. John . . .

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Suffering isn’t mandatory. Bake a cake!

  by Troy Schneider (Paraguay 2023-)   Something that I’ve slowly started to realize about the Peace Corps is that it is not as terrible as some make it sound. From the outside, it seems like the Peace Corps is some kind of monastic tradition, where you leave all attachments, belongings, and comforts behind to live as an ascetic. This is just not true. Sure, a Peace Corps Volunteer goes to where there are far fewer modern comforts, and we definitely live a much humbler lifestyle, but this is not some strict rule. It is just the everyday reality of our service. For example, I went on a beach camping trip last weekend! It was for a music festival in the river town of Alberdí. I went with a group of around 6 other volunteers, and we all had a blast. We went out a couple of times, cooked our . . .

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“What am I doing in Paraguay?” by Troy Schneider

  by Troy Schneider (Paraguay 2024-)   At this point, I’ve probably been asked the question “Why did you join the Peace Corps?” a hundred times. Yet each time, I think I’ve given a different answer or at least a variation of an old answer. Truth is, there was no one reason why I sent off that application back in December of 2022. There was quite the variety. Peace Corps Volunteer Recipe: 2 cups of wanting to help people and make myself feel good (by the way, I’ve decided I’m going to be very honest in this blog) 1 cup of adventurous desire to see the world 1/2 cup of ability to be uncomfortable (add more later) 1 tbsp of restless spirit syndrome 1 tbsp of wanting to experience new cultures and ways of existing 1/2 tsp of language skills 3 cups of not wanting to get a 9-5 job . . .

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“Overcoming Grief and Assault With 29 Marathons” by Summer Willis (Mexico)

. . . and Now Helping Others Do the Same   Hello! Who are you? Hello, I’m Summer Willis (Mexico 2019-20). My journey has taken me from meeting my husband in the Peace Corps in Mexico, where we both served as volunteers, to impactful experiences in Teach for America in New Orleans. My passion for teaching also led me to Tanzania and Chile. Currently living in Lexington, Virginia, with my husband and two sons, Alfred and August, my life is a blend of family, adventure, and commitment to values like faith, health, and service. My endeavors have recently taken an exciting turn with a newfound joy in running. This year, I’m undertaking a remarkable challenge of running 29 marathons. As the founder of the nonprofit Strength Through Strides and a soon-to-be-published children’s book author, my life is a testament to pursuing passions and living by one’s values. My favorite cuisine, Mexican food, . . .

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Charles Murray (Thailand) . . . “The Most Dangerous Conservative.”

  The New York Times put Charles Murray on the cover of its Sunday Magazine, calling him “The Most Dangerous Conservative.”   That was after he co-wrote the book, The Bell Curve, which argued that different ethnic groups have, on average, different IQs. As Murray puts it in my video this week, “Blacks on average have a lower IQ than whites. However, whites are not at the top. East Asians, on average, have a higher IQ than whites. Ashkenazi Jews have higher IQs.” Other researchers agree. An article in ScienceDirect journal puts it this way, “East Asians and their descendants average an IQ of about 106, Europeans and their descendants about 100, and Africans and their descendants about 85.” But many people don’t believe it. Many don’t even want such topics discussed. Last time Murray tried speaking to college students, a mob shouted him down. “They’re angry at you because you’re . . .

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Review | FACE TO FACE WITH WAR by Leo Cecchini (Ethiopia)

  Face to Face with War by Leo Cecchini (Ethiopia 1962–64) Independently published October 2022 254 pages $15.00 (paperback), $9.00 (Kindle) Reviewed by Mike Donovan   • • •  Leo Cecchini, the author of Face to Face With War, has lead the kind of life most of us can only imagine. His book takes us from his Peace Corps experience as a geography teacher and soccer coach in Asmara, Ethiopia at the beginning of the 30 year struggle for Eritrean independence to his many experiences in the U.S. foreign service. His first assignment in the foreign service was in Panama where he met some decidedly shady characters trying to run weapons to Biafra during the breakaway war with Nigeria. He outsmarted them! From Panama he was sent to Vietnam during the period of heaviest fighting. He was part of a joint military/civilian program designed to help stabilize the country. Each of his new . . .

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Peter Navarro (Thailand) sentenced to prison

In the news —  Ex-Trump adviser sentenced to 4 months in prison   Former Trump adviser Peter Navarro (Thailand 1965-68) speaking outside a federal court in Washington, D.C., in September 2023. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images Former Trump adviser Peter Navarro was sentenced to four months in prison on Thursday for defying a 2022 congressional subpoena from the House committee that investigated the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Why it matters: Navarro is now the second Trump adviser to receive a prison sentence for refusing to testify before the panel and provide it documents related to attempts to overturn the 2020 election. In addition to his prison sentence, Navarro was ordered to pay a $9,500 fine. Catch up quickly: Navarro was accused by the Jan. 6 committee of working with fellow Trump adviser Steve Bannon and others to develop a plan to delay Congress’ certification of the 2020 election. Bannon was the first high-ranking Trump official to be sentenced . . .

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“RPCVs discover cohousing” by Evelyn Kohl LaTorre (Peru)

  What is it about Cohousing Communities that attract so many RPCVs to live in some of the 200 cohousing developments in the US? Scores of  Returned Peace Corps Volunteers have joined this growing movement toward a friendly, community-oriented, democratic lifestyle?  They gravitate to these purposeful neighborhoods designed for human interaction after having resided for two years in developing countries. Mission Peak Village cohousing For example, one-third of the current members of Mission Peak Village Cohousing (MPV) in Fremont, California (missionpeakcohousing.org) are RPCVs who joined other like-minded people and purchased 1.25 acres in the suburban setting, 25 miles south of San Francisco. They are designing the kind of supportive neighborhood of singles, families, and elders where they hope to live for the rest of their lives. “I didn’t understand what the word “community” meant until I was assigned to a village on a small island,” says Maria, who was in . . .

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Georgia among top 10 Peace Corps volunteer states in US

Georgia among top 10 Peace Corps volunteer states in US By WSBTV.com News Staff January 24, 2024 at 12:29 pm EST ATLANTA — Georgia as a state has a long history of service in the U.S. Military. In addition to its large population of service members, Georgia is also among the top 10 states for volunteering with the Peace Corps. According to the federal organization, Georgia and Pennsylvania are tied for No. 8 for states with the most volunteers for the Peace Corps. In 2023, both states contributed 54 volunteers each. The Peace Corps said close to 4,000 Georgians have volunteered since its founding in 1961. “I am grateful to all the states and communities across the U.S. represented on this list for inspiring the powerful sense of service that has led so many to join the Peace Corps,” Peace Corps Director Carol Spahn said in a statement. “While abroad, Peace . . .

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AFGHANISTAN: CROSSROADS AND KINGDOMS by Guy Toby Marion (Afghanistan)

  Afghanistan: Crossroads and Kingdoms — My 1970s Peace Corps Service and Recent Afghan History by Guy Toby Marion (Afghanistan 1971-75) Peace Corps Books January 2024 280 pages $21.95 (Paperback); $8.95 (Kindle)   In 1971, at age 22, Guy Toby Marion joined the Peace Corps. He was tasked with training high school science teachers in rural Afghanistan, and later with teaching in the Faculty of Engineering in Kabul. In text rich with description and detail, Toby relates his experiences living among a Farsi-speaking Muslim people, learning their language, their culture, their literature, their food. At the time Afghanistan was desperately poor, characterized by an ancient Islamic culture, a Pashtun monarchy and Farsi-speaking minorities descended from ancient Central Asian empires. The people readily accepted and welcomed American support. However, at this time towards the end of the Cold War, a revolution under the influence of the USSR was at hand. Toby’s . . .

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