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Peace Corps At Day One: #15 LBJ Saves The Peace Corps!
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Laurence Leamer (Nepal 1965-67): Obama Must Keep Peace Corps Pledge
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Peace Corps At Day One: #14 Yoo-hoo, yoo-hoo Peace Corps!
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Beth Oprisch (Sierra Leone 1984-86)
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Mary Anne Newell (Malaysia 1965-68)
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Peace Corps At Day One: #13 Seven Reasons For A Successful Peace Corps
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Review: New Novel By Joseph Monninger (Burkina Faso, 1975-77)
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Review: Mary E. Trimble's (The Gambia 1979-81) Tenderfoot
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Review of Kevin Daley's South Pacific Survivor
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Niger RPCVs Return to Africa To Make Documentary Film On Host Country And Themselves
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Having Failed To Interest Anyone With My Last Quiz, Let Me Try Again!
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And The Winner Is?…..Not
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James H. McAuley (Honduras 1962-64)
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Jay J. Levy & Sharon Levy (Brazil 1966–68)
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Mary Jane Manning (Lesotho 1976–78)

Peace Corps At Day One: #15 LBJ Saves The Peace Corps!

The signs that the special role for the Peace Corps in foreign aid was in trouble were all over Washington in March and April of ’61. Wofford ran into Ralph Dungan in the White House mess (Wofford was then a Special Assistant to the President on Civil Rights) and Dungan told him the Peace Corps would be a subdivision of the new AID. “Not if Sarge has anything to say about it,” Wofford tossed off, half joking, but also firmly believing Shriver walked on water. The truth was that all these “new guys” Shriver brought in to work for the Peace Corps believed Sarge could get anything he wanted from the White House. But Shriver was scheduled to leave D.C. and the U.S. Who would carry the fight that was developing in D.C.? Before leaving for his ’round the world trip to secure placements for PCVs, Shriver lobbied Sorensen, Dungan, and . . .

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Laurence Leamer (Nepal 1965-67): Obama Must Keep Peace Corps Pledge

[This article by Larry  Leamer appeared yesterday evening on www.newsmax; it is reprinted with Larry’s permission]  “This will be a cause of my presidency,” candidate Barack Obama said in a December 2007 speech about the Peace Corps at Cornell College in Iowa. “JFK made their service a bridge to the developing world. The Americans are not the problem, they are the answer.” In the following months, Obama wrapped the mantle of the Peace Corps around his campaign, reiterating his vow that, as president, he would double the number of Peace Corps volunteers. Born in the 1960s, the Peace Corps was one of the most important parts of President Kennedy’s vision of Camelot and the New Frontier. It was created at the height of the Cold War, and Kennedy envisioned an army of American volunteers helping people in other countries and promoting liberty and democracy abroad. At its height in 1966, there were 15,000 . . .

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Peace Corps At Day One: #14 Yoo-hoo, yoo-hoo Peace Corps!

At the time of Shriver’s February 22, 1961 memorandum to President Kennedy–stating that the Peace Corps should be established as a semi-autonomous agency–there was a lot of professional resistance to the whole idea of sending young Americans overseas to do good. Career diplomat like Elliot O. Briggs described the Peace Corps’ team cry as “Yoo-hoo, yoo-hoo. Let’s go out and wreak some good on the natives,” as Wofford reports in his book, Of Kennedys & Kings. Throughout the State Department diplomats were indifferent to hostile to the whole idea of a Peace Corps. But not Dean Rusk, Kennedy’s new Secretary of State.   He told Shriver that he thought the Peace Corps idea was “first-class.” (Rusk’s sister, during my time in Ethiopia, would serve as an APCD in the Empire.) Henry Labouisse, was appointed in 1961 head of ICA (International Cooperation Administration, Eisenhower’s foreign aid agency that had a policy . . .

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Beth Oprisch (Sierra Leone 1984-86)

Monday, November 21 7:30 pm MY NAME IS BETH OPRISCH. I live in Toronto, Ohio. I am a residential counselor at a group home for adolescent girls and currently working on my Master’s degree in Counseling. I was a Community Health Volunteer in Sierra Leone, West Africa from 1984 to 1986. What a difficult task. To talk for three minutes about one event that crystallizes my Peace Corps experience. How to select just one. I went through journals, read old letters, looked at pictures, watched my slides and finally a common theme emerged. That theme was Yeabul Kamara. I knew Yeabul was different from the start. She was spirited, feisty, sarcastic, assertive – not the typical characteristics of the women in the male dominated Sierra Leoneon society. Her firey temperament contradicted her slight, almost frail appearance. I’ll always remember her smile – those incredibly white, straight teeth, highlighted by her . . .

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Mary Anne Newell (Malaysia 1965-68)

Monday, November 21 3:42 pm 1959-1960. I was 20 and a college junior when I spent a school year abroad in Grenoble, France. Experiences of that year exposed me to conditions of poverty that my sheltered American life had prevented, and which left me with troubling questions about my life choices. Fall 1960. A young presidential candidate offered the possibility of an American “Youth Corps” that would be a source of aid to third world countries. Thousands like myself responded to the idea with an overwhelming enthusiasm. At Colorado State, my university, three professors were selected as an advance study team to s survey prospective governments in Asia, Africa and South America about their perceived needs for a “Youth Corps”; and I joined a student committee which distributed questionnaires soliciting attitudes about such an organization to many campuses. The vision that I had longed for had been articulated by John . . .

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Peace Corps At Day One: #13 Seven Reasons For A Successful Peace Corps

What strikes anyone reading about the creating of the Peace Corps are two points: 1) how creatively it was organized; 2) how fast it was put into operation. The reason was that the ‘founding fathers’ (and they were only fathers) took chances. Wofford remarks in Of Kennedys & Kings how a management consultant said to him one evening, “You guys had a good day today. You broke fourteen laws.” Then the consultant promised to straighten out the paper work and urged then all on, saying, “Keep it up, we’re making progress.” Wiggins in his interview with me listed 7 reasons why the Peace Corps was so successful in those early days of the Kennedy administration. 1)  They kept the idea of a “Peace Corps” simple. At first, the PCVs were only to teach English. As Wiggins told me, “Our cardinal rule in crafting ‘A Towering Task’ was to make the agency . . .

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Review: New Novel By Joseph Monninger (Burkina Faso, 1975-77)

Reviewer Jan Worth-Nelson is the author of Night Blind — a Peace Corps novel. Her most recent publication, “Ordinary Dirt,” was part of a Driftwood special issue featuring poems of exactly 100 words. Her works of more than 100 words — essays, fiction, poems and reviews — have appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, Los Angeles Times,  Detroit Free Press, East Village Magazine, Witness, Controlled Burn, Blaze, Dunes Review, Fourth Genre and others.  Her manuscript-in-progress is Lost at Angels Gate, a collection of poems attempting to capture her dual life in Flint and Los Angeles. She teaches writing at the University of Michigan/Flint. • Eternal on the Water by Joseph Monninger (Burkina Faso, 1975-77) February, 2010 368 pp. $15.00 Reviewed by Jan Worth-Nelson (Tonga 1976–78) In the past few years I’ve reviewed a number of books by RPCVs whose stories delivered compelling drama, but whose writing left something to be . . .

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Review: Mary E. Trimble's (The Gambia 1979-81) Tenderfoot

Kathleen Coskran, writer and teacher, has appeared in several anthologies and her collection of short stories, The High Price of Everything, won a Minnesota Book Award as did Tanzania on Tuesday: Writing by American Women Abroad which she co-edited. She is the recipient of numerous awards, fellowships and residencies including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Bush Artist’s Fellowship, and two grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board. • Tenderfoot by Mary E. Trimble (The Gambia 1979-81) Treble Heart Books, $13.50 289 Pages January 2010 Reviewed by Kathleen Coskran (Ethiopia 1965–67) Tenderfoot is set on a ranch in western Washington during the days leading up to the eruption of Mount St. Helens. Author Mary E. Trimble certainly knows the terrain and the language of ranching and riding, and the reader takes pleasure in learning how to saddle a horse, the unforeseen perils of crossing a muddy creek on . . .

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Review of Kevin Daley's South Pacific Survivor

Reviewer Don Messerschmidt (Nepal 1963-65) is an anthropologist, writer and magazine editor. Besides numerous articles in the academic and popular press, he has published five books including two biographies, Against the Current: The Life of Lain Singh Bangdel-Writer, Painter and Art Historian of Nepal (Orchid Press 2004), and Moran of Kathmandu: Priest, Educator and Ham Radio ‘Voice of the Himalayas’ (Orchid Press, 1997; rev. ed. in press, 2010). His next book, Discovering the Big Dogs of Tibet and the Himalayas (in press, 2010), combines memoir and essay. An anthology of his creative nonfiction is also forthcoming. Don writes from his home in Vancouver, Washington (near Portland, Oregon), when he’s not off trekking in the Himalayas. • South Pacific Survivor in Samoa by Kevin Daley (Samoa 1986–89) Boston: Novels Plus $16.95 435 pages January 2010 Reviewed by Don Messerschmidt (Nepal 1963-65) If you like intricately plotted political thrillers, in exotic cultural settings, this book . . .

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Niger RPCVs Return to Africa To Make Documentary Film On Host Country And Themselves

It begins this way: In the summer of 1966 a group of 65 Peace Corps Volunteers head for Africa and the heat-scorched desert of Niger. They stay for two years working in agriculture, digging wells and starting health clinics for women and their babies. In 2008 five of these RPCVs return to Niger to revisit the country, see our old friends and witness how their work has improved the lives of the people there. When they return to their host country, they also do a documentary film. You can see a short ten minute trailer of this film (now being finished as a full-length feature) at www.niger66.com. It is a wonderful treat. The film was produced and directed by Judy Irola (Niger 1966-68) who is an award winning cinematographer and a Full Professor at the University of Southern California. She also holds the Conrad Hall Chair in Cinematography (endowed by George Lucas . . .

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Having Failed To Interest Anyone With My Last Quiz, Let Me Try Again!

Okay, here are first lines from 10 Memoirs by RPCVs. I’ll make it easier and give you the names of the authors. You need only match the prose with the person. 1. The nicest thing anyone ever said to me came cloaked in an insult which, while essentially inaccurate, proved astute in its initial perceptiveness: “We all thought you’d fail.” 2. They took us in the Land Rover, Mike and me, with Kim Buck driving. We had planned to leave that morning, as it was a good four hours’ drive, although it was only about sixty miles from Mbeya. 3. A single lantern filled the room with flickering light, throwing Fanta’s shadow toward the door. The glow bronzed her tight cheekbone, her deflated breast, her moving stomach. 4. These were momentous times. Pope John died and the only clergyman with the guts to stare a television camera in the face . . .

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And The Winner Is?…..Not

Phil Damon (Ethiopia 1963-65) came close, but didn’t get all 10. He missed #6 and #8 Here is the correct list 1. Jack Kerouac, On the Road 2. John Knowles, A Separate Peace 3. F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby 4. James Jones, From Here to Eternity 5. William Faulkner, Light in August 6. Hamilton Basso, Th View From Pompey Head 7. Irwin Shaw, The Eighty Yard Run 8. John O’Hara, You Can Always Tell Newark 9. Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms 10. Frederick Exley, A Fan’s Notes

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James H. McAuley (Honduras 1962-64)

Monday, November 21 5:12 pm I AM JAMES H. McAULEY from Cleveland, Ohio. I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer from 6/62 to 6/65 in LaCeiba, Honduras with the Honduran National Social Welfare Agency. John F. Kennedy gave each of us as citizens of this (great) country and to each Peace Corps Volunteer a gift, his vision that people from around the world could interface with each other in a personal, human way for their mutual betterment. President Kennedy has given us an energetic, vibrant, living vision of hope that people who would dare to risk sharing divergent values and cultures could improve the human condition of all mankind by working to solve social/economic problems through relating to each other as other human beings. A vision of people of one country sharing with people of another country life’s joys and sorrows. A vision that people who stumble through language barriers . . .

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Jay J. Levy & Sharon Levy (Brazil 1966–68)

Monday, November 21 5:36 pm STEPPING OFF THE PLANE in Rio de Janeiro more than 20 years ago as newly trained Peace Corps Volunteers, most of us felt we were going to change things for the poor people of Brazil. After all, we had been trained in basic health skills and community development strategies. The formula for success was simple. All we had to do was make sure everyone boiled their water and sent their kids to school each day. And, of course, we would work to identify community leaders so that they could organize the poor to have a better life. Much, much later we would realize the formula for success was infinitely more complicated – that, in fact, the Brazilians had taught us much more about our own country than we had managed to teach them about overcoming poverty and powerless in theirs. After all, how could they . . .

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Mary Jane Manning (Lesotho 1976–78)

Monday, November 21 4:48 pm LESOTHO HIGH SCHOOL SEEMED to be a closely-knit community from 1976-1978. Girls with girls. Boys with boys. Clustered together in groups. They were happy and smiling mainly because they had each other’s support and friendship. For me they were a unique model of poverty of spirit . . . A distinguished feature of character well removed from the Greedy side of U.S. materialism and a learning experience I returned home with. A great many students, out of the two hundred and thirty assigned to my art classes, were capable & talented. It was exciting to work with them because their progress was remarkable. Toward the end of my two years teaching stay I could discern that some students began to realize their own potential for creating and discovering beauty. They were suddenly liberated from a suppressed feeling of being worthless. Some began to recognize proportion . . .

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