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Review: A Peace Corps Memoir about Mongolia by Matthew Davis
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How Do You Say Nicholas D. Kristof In Your HCN Language?
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Peace Corps At Day One: #21 The Last Words From Warren Wiggins About The First Days of The Peace Corps
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Review Of Lucia St. Clair Robson (Venezuela 1964-66) Last Train To Cuernavaca
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The Peace Corps On Day One: #20 Who Contributed The Most To The Success of the Peace Corps
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The Peace Corps On Day One: #19 Famous Women And The Man Men At Peace Corps HQ
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To Support The Kate Puzey Girls' Camp Commemorative Fund
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Light A Candle For Kate
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The Murder Of Kate Puzey (Benin 2007-09) One Year Ago
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Mark Brazaitis (Guatemala 1991-93) Named 2010 Benedum Distinguished Scholar at WVU.
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Ann Lounsbery Owens (Ethiopia 1962-64) Remembers JFK
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The Peace Corps On Day One: #18 The Early Peace Corps Staff
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Teach For The World Says Nicholas Kristof In The New York Times
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Peace Corps At Day One: #17 If It's Thursday…It Must Be Malaysia
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Peace Corps At Day One: #16 Anybody Want Any PCVs?

Review: A Peace Corps Memoir about Mongolia by Matthew Davis

Aside from Peace Corps service in Honduras and years studying and working in Mexico, reviewer Lawrence F. Lihosit lived in a remote Alaskan fishing village for eighteen months. He has self-published seven books and as many pamphlets. Most recently, he partnered with iUniverse to publish Whispering Campaign; Stories from Mesoamerica. Within 60 days that same publisher will release his revised and expanded South of the Frontera; A Peace Corps Memoir. Both are available on Amazon.com. • When Things Get Dark: A Mongolian Winter’s Tale by Matthew Davis (Mongolia 2000—02) February, 2010 320 pages $31.99 Reviewed by Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras, 1975-77) Matthew Davis witnessed a quickly changing Mongolia. His memoir preserves a brief moment in history like a bee caught in amber. This is an honest memoir written in sparse American-lean. His journalism background served him well. Flown to Mongolia in the year 2000, a twenty-three year old Davis was . . .

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How Do You Say Nicholas D. Kristof In Your HCN Language?

This is a terrific piece by Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) that is on the website of  The New Yorker as of today,  March 15, 2010. Peter takes on NYTIMES writer Nicholas Kristof and his piece the other day that stirred a lot of  interest among RPCVs who have been there, done that, and know how to say more than “doorknob” in their host country language. Read it, and if you haven’t read Warren Wiggins’  comments about what the founders of the Peace Corps were trying to do 50 years ago, read his comments, too.  And also, if you are taking a class from John Brown at Georgetown University, give him an F. He’s like a lot of those foreign service officers we know overseas. You know, the ones we called, “dumb f****! in our host country language. Here’s Peter’s piece: “Here’s a one-word language test to measure whether someone really knows a foreign country and culture: . . .

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Peace Corps At Day One: #21 The Last Words From Warren Wiggins About The First Days of The Peace Corps

What continues to surprise me is how few people–since that morning in the Mayflower Hotel–have read “A Towering Task” which was the first draft of defining the Peace Corps; it was the bible for the future Peace Corps. When I asked Warren Wiggins about this, he commented, saying, “It’s marvelous that nobody has read it because, you see, in most ways I didn’t know what the hell I was talking about. In some ways I was dead on, but I did recommend that we ship air-conditioned trailers to the Philippines to house the Volunteers. It’s a far cry from the theology of the Peace Corps that evolved, but then, those were the early days.” What is clear now from the safety of time and distance is that being anti-establishment, amateurish, anti-professional was the reason for the success of the Peace Corps. This attitude by the staff permeated the whole organization . . .

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Review Of Lucia St. Clair Robson (Venezuela 1964-66) Last Train To Cuernavaca

Reviewer Leita Kaldi Davis worked for the United Nations and UNESCO, for Tufts’ Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and Harvard University. She worked with Roma (Gypsies) for fifteen years, became a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal at the age of fifty-five, then went on to work for the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Haiti for five years. She retired in Florida in 2002. She has written a memoir of Senegal, Roller Skating in the Desert, and is working on a memoir of Haiti. • Last Train from Cuernavaca by Lucia St. Clair Robson (Venezuela 1964-66) Forge Books $25.99 349 pages 2010 Reviewed Leita Kaldi Davis (Senegal 1993—96) Two very real women, Rosa King, an English widow, and Angelina Jimenez, a Mexican farm girl, inspired the characters of Grace Knight and Angela Sanchez in Lucia’s St. Clair’s fictionalized history, Last Train from Cuernavaca. During the early 1900s, after the ouster of . . .

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The Peace Corps On Day One: #20 Who Contributed The Most To The Success of the Peace Corps

“The list is long and it is hard to name a few when so many contributors would be left out, so let me just mention one person,” Warren Wiggins said in the winter of ’97 when I asked him who had made the most significant contribution (besides Shriver) to the creation of the Peace Corps. Wiggins went on: Bill Moyers deserves his special place in Peace Corps history. His work with Shriver to create full bipartisan support in the Congress that first year was critical. His role in the creation of the public service advertising campaign for the Peace Corps created a nationwide citizen constituency. These achievements were of unparalleled important. Moyers got Young and Rubicam to create ads. Moyers interpreted the Peace Corps to them. And those ads meant that all Americans read or heard on the radio or saw on television three or four good sentences about the Peace Corps. The . . .

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The Peace Corps On Day One: #19 Famous Women And The Man Men At Peace Corps HQ

Arriving for work on or before March 1, 1961, the day President Kennedy signed the executive order establishing the Peace Corps, were a few women who were early volunteer staffers and who would become famous in those first years of the agency. The majority of these women were well connected by family or friends to Shriver and eager to work at the Peace Corps, the shining star of Kennedy’s administration. The Peace Corps was the ‘hot’ agency and everyone, of course,  wanted to be connected to Kennedy–if they couldn’t be in the White House–they wanted to be with Shriver and the Peace Corps. The women at the time were mostly ‘second class’ citizens in the world-of-work. They were not, for example, sitting at the ‘big conference table” at Senior Staff meetings. Looking at old black-and-photos of Peace Corps HQ meetings, you might see that Elizabeth (Betty) Forsling Harris had wedged  herself into the group, but that . . .

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To Support The Kate Puzey Girls' Camp Commemorative Fund

[For those who want to contribute, here’s how] Contributions can be made online through the Benin Country Fund at “http://www.facebook.com/l/a08f8;www.peacecorps.gov“. Steps to donate: 1. Go to “http://www.facebook.com/l/a08f8;www.peacegorps.gov” 2. Click on “donations” 3. Click on “View all Country Funds” 4. Click on “Benin Country Fund” 5. Click on “Donate” 6. Please make your contribution, and in the comments section, it is IMPERATIVE to specify “Kate Puzey Girls’ Camp Commemorative Fund” in order for the funds to be routed to the appropriate account. The contribution process is anonymous. However, if you’d like, you can send an email to katepuzeyfund@gmail.com after you’ve donated and they will send an annual report once the camps have finished. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask at the email above.

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Light A Candle For Kate

[This is a message that is going around the Peace Corps Community and to the endless friends of Kate Puzey (Benini 2007-09)]  Dear RPCV Family, A dear friend and fellow member of the Peace Corps Community was tragically killed in Benin, West Africa on March 12, 2009.  Those of us who knew her miss the warmth, passion, and radiance that she so gracefully exuded.  She was a selfless individual who wanted nothing but to give, learn, and live life to its fullest.  Please join me in a day of service in Kate’s memory.  Where ever you may be, please take a moment to light a candle to honor her spirit, or take an hour or two to give back to your community.  Please view this YouTube link created by Kate’s uncle.  It highlights her spirit, powerful presence, and impact on this world during her time here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nv0veeAVFjQ

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The Murder Of Kate Puzey (Benin 2007-09) One Year Ago

A article today in the Forsyth County News in Georgia written by Julie Arrington talks about the family of Kate Puzey who was killed in March a year ago in Badjoude, Benin. Her mother, Lois Puzey, says that Kate discovered a co-teacher — not a Peace Corps Volunteer — was sexually abusing some of the female students at the school where they worked. “Co-teachers and other students were upset and they came to Kate to try to get some help, to contact someone and try to get him out of the school,” Mrs. Puzey told the reporter. “She [Kate] tried to do that anonymously and unfortunately the anonymity was broken.” Puzey said her daughter’s murder happened within days of her reporting the other teacher. Kate Puzey’s body was found March 12, 2009. She reportedly died the night before. A video about her has been posted online and Peace Corps Volunteers . . .

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Mark Brazaitis (Guatemala 1991-93) Named 2010 Benedum Distinguished Scholar at WVU.

Mark Brazaitis( Guatemala 1991-93)  Director of Creative Writing at West Virginia University has won that university’s 2010  Benedum Distinguished Scholar Award.  This award includes $5,000 and recognition at the University Honors Convocation. Mark has published four award-winning books, including The Other Language, winner of the 2008 ABZ Poetry Prize and An American Affair, winner of the 2004 George Garrett Fiction Prize, and the novel Steal My Heart which won the 2001 Maria Thomas Fiction Award from PeaceCorpsWriters. His work, including 40 short stories, 50 poems and numerous essays, has been published in a wide range of prominent literary magazines. He has also written pieces for top newspapers and was the screenwriter for the award-winning Peace Corps documentary, “How Far Are You Willing to Go to Make a Difference?” Mark also worked parttime as a writer for the New York Recruitment Office after earning his masters in Ohio. A recipient of the . . .

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Ann Lounsbery Owens (Ethiopia 1962-64) Remembers JFK

A couple days ago I mentioned that Ann Lounsbery Owens (Ethiopia 1962-64) had a letter home from Ethiopia to her mother that has just been published in a new book entitled,  Letters to Jackie: Condolences From a Grieving Nation. Ann lives in Seattle and a reporter for KING5 TV emailed me about where they might find Ann Owens.  I was able to help the station and last night, and again this morning, a short segment was broadcast about her letter, Kennedy, and being an Ethiopia PCV all those years ago. Here’s a link to their web site, KING5.com http://www.king5.com/video/featured-videos/Seattle-woman-reflects-on-letter-sent-to-Jackie-Kennedy-87289642.html

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The Peace Corps On Day One: #18 The Early Peace Corps Staff

I asked Warren to give me a quick summary of some of the famous early staffers, all men of course, from the first days of the ’60s. Charlie Peters, for example, who went onto start the Washington Monthly.   “Charlie,” said Wiggins, “was one of those insightful, appreciative, wonderful minds. We didn’t have many exceptional minds in the Peace Corps, but Charlie’s really is exceptional, and what he did with the evaluation function was what needed to be done and it was first rate.” What about Frank Mankiewicz? Frank would be hired by Bobby Kennedy to be his press person after the Peace Corps. “Frank, given all I’ve said about volunteerism and amateurism and anti-professionalism and all of that, he was willing to drop Volunteers by parachute, and he did it and made it go. He talked the success of it, and denounced the critics and always dealt with Shriver and . . .

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Teach For The World Says Nicholas Kristof In The New York Times

There is a terrific op-ed in the New York Times this morning, Thursday, March 11, 2010, by Nicholas Kristof on a new international program he is proposing, Teach for the World. Kristof says (rightly!) “A generation ago, the most thrilling program for young people was the Peace Corps. Today, it’s Teach for America, which this year has attracted 46,000 applicants who are competing for about 4,500 slots.” He goes onto say,”Peace Corps and Teach for America represent the best ethic of public service. But at a time when those programs can’t meet the demand from young people seeking to give back, we need a new initiative: Teach for the Wor The program would be open to Americans 18 and over. It could be used for a gap year between high school and college, but more commonly would offer a detour between college and graduate school or the real world.” The . . .

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Peace Corps At Day One: #17 If It's Thursday…It Must Be Malaysia

On April 22, 1961, Shriver and his band of brothers began their twenty-six-day venture in personal diplomacy that took them to Ghana, Nigeria, Pakistan, India, Burma, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines. It was not easy going.   When Shriver and the Senior Staff reached Accra, Ghana, their first stop in their round-the-world trip, he was sick. He had never been sick in his adult life, and now he had laryngitis and could bearly speak. That turned out to be a blessing. As everyone liked to say, the purpose of the Peace Corps was to listen and learn. Wofford  would write in his book  Of Kennedy & Kings,  Shriver’s laryngitis was providential. Ghana’s president, Nkrumah, was also known as Osagyefo, meaning “Savior.”  He could only be effectively addressed by the respectful attitude of listening. In Ghana, Kwama Nkrumah, then the leading spokesman for African nationalism, was concerned  about the Peace Corps being guises for CIA infiltration of his . . .

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Peace Corps At Day One: #16 Anybody Want Any PCVs?

Warren Wiggins would tell me in an interview I did with him in January 1997  that the greatest weakness of the original idea of the Peace Corps was that it didn’t have a constituency beyond “the youth of America.” The Peace Corps, Warren said, “was not an outgrowth of development experience. It didn’t have a constituency in the Congress, the press, or other leadership institutions in the U.S. nor did it have a constituency abroad.” This proved to be an immediate and immense problem. Kennedy had created a Peace Corps and no one wanted it! There were 25,000 potential PCVs waiting to go do something for America, but no Third World country asked for them. Getting requests for PCVs was a major problem. “Shriver almost terminated me in those early months,” Warren recalled in his interview. “He would never admit that, and I am not sure if it was conscious. Hell, . . .

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