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What JFK Had To Say To Us On The White House Lawn
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New Chicken Soup Book Has RPCV Writer
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Establishing The Peace Corps: Tenor Of The Times, Post 22
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A Peace Corps Book Is A Journey
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Establishing The Peace Corps: Making Lemonade In The Maiatico Building, Post 21
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Development is Down This Road
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What I Say To RPCV Writers About Getting Published
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Establishing The Peace Corps: America Responds, Post 20
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Margaret Mead Weights In
10
Josephson and His Executive Order, Post 19

What JFK Had To Say To Us On The White House Lawn

A police escort with sirens blaring led our dozen Peace Corps buses in one long continuous caravan through every downtown light in Washington, D.C. It was high noon in the District the summer  of 1962, less than a year after the famous postcard dropped by a PCV had been found on the Ibadan campus that almost doomed the Peace Corps and we–the 300 Ethiopia-bound Peace Corps Trainees at Georgetown University–were on our way to meet John F. Kennedy at the White House.      There were other Peace Corps Trainees as well meeting the President that afternoon. Peace Corps Trainees at Howard, American, Catholic, George Washington universities, and the University of Maryland, over 600 in all, gathered in the August heat and humidity on the great lawn below the Truman Balcony.      Arriving at the White House, I walked with the others up the slope with the Washington Monument behind me and the White . . .

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New Chicken Soup Book Has RPCV Writer

Cristina T. Lopez – O’Keeffe ( Ukraine 2003-05) has an essay in the new Chicken Soup for the Soul:  Power Moms. These collection of  101 Stories “celebrate the power of choice for stay home, or work from home, while  raising their families.” These high-performing women are now called “Power Moms”! (We use to just call  them, ‘Mom.’) This latest book in the Chicken Soup series was published in March, 2009. RPCVs writers have had quite a few essays over the  years in this popular series. Perhaps all those writers should lobby for their own collection entitled, Chicken Soup For the Peace Corps Soul….just a thought.

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Establishing The Peace Corps: Tenor Of The Times, Post 22

What continues to surprise me is how few people–since that morning in the Mayflower Hotel–have read “A Towering Task.” It was the first draft of defining the Peace Corps; it was the bible of the Peace Corps. When I asked Warren Wiggins about this, he commented wryly, “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 permeated the whole organization and PCVs overseas expressed the same sort . . .

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A Peace Corps Book Is A Journey

A friend who is a successful writer/editor/creative writing professor has been reading my blogs sent me these wise words about what would-be Peace Corps writers should do and think about while writing their novels. Peace Corps writers should take writing courses from reputable instructors to learn the basics and to have the opportunity to workshop their writing among peers. They should also read lots of good How-To books on the craft. There are a gazillion of them out there. They should avoid at all costs: exclamation points, stereotyping, clichés, and all other proofs of lazy writing. They should plan on revising each chapter or piece at least ten times. Quality writing is all about revision. They should NOT confuse explicit, titillating, borderline-pornographic sex scenes with “intimacy” with the reader.  A writer of worthwhile prose must work harder and dig deeper to achieve emotional intimacy with his/her reader. I would add that a good . . .

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Establishing The Peace Corps: Making Lemonade In The Maiatico Building, Post 21

The third recommendation that Shriver made to Kennedy in his memorandum was the appointment of a Peace Corps Director. That is, someone besides himself. Shriver listed people he thought should be the Director. Included in this list where Eugene Rostow of Yale, Carroll Wilson of MIT, Gilbert White of the University of Chicago, and Clark Kerr of UCLA. All of these men had had experience with small overseas service programs involving the training or replacement of American students in the Third World. Kennedy rejected all of them. According to Gerard T. Rice in his book The Bold Experiment, Kennedy wanted “the Peace Corps to be an adventurous foreign policy initiative and he did not feel that a bookish type of leader would be consonant with that ethos.”      The Peace Corps in these heavy days was being covered closely by the press, especially by David Halberstam and Peter Braestrup of . . .

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Development is Down This Road

Since 1992 Peace Corps Writers has annually recognized the outstanding writing of Peace Corps Volunteers both returned and still in service. One of the awards is the Peace Corps Experience Award given to the writer of a short piece that best captures the experience of being a Peace Corps Volunteer. We will be sharing the past Peace Corps Experience Award winners with our Peace Corps Worldwide readers over the next few weeks and begin with the very first from 1992 by Abigail Calkins Aguirre. • • • Development Is Down This Road by Abigail Calkins Aguirre (Cameroon 1987–90) FEW RECOGNIZE ME without my trademark Suzuki. Now I have this red Yamaha DT they gave me to replace it. I’m still white, though, or so they keep insisting as I pass by the shouting voices trying to get me to stop to do a favor, chat, or taste the latest in . . .

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What I Say To RPCV Writers About Getting Published

Agents Yes, it is difficult to find an agent. But you can start here and have a list of names, addresses, and what these agents want to see. http://www.1000literaryagents.com. Remember, if an agent says he or she only publishes YA novels then don’t send them your Peace Corps story, unless, of course, it is written for Young Adults. Agents are in the business (and it is very much a business) of making money so if they think your book will sell, they will represent you. If they think your book is wonderful but won’t sell to a publisher, they won’t represent you. Very few agents are in the business of literature. They leave that work to the academics. Editors & Publishers You have heard, I’m sure, how Catch 22 went to more than 50 publishing houses before it was published back in 1960. That novel is still selling! There are . . .

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Establishing The Peace Corps: America Responds, Post 20

The question now was would anyone apply to the Peace Corps? Could the United States produce enough Americans of high quality and character to make the Peace Corps successful?      Between March 1 and June 1, 1961, after the Peace Corps preliminary policies were set, approximately 10,000 Americans filled out and mailed in Peace Corps applications. From June to December 31, 1961, Americans volunteered at the rate of 1,000 per month.      In those early months, the Peace Corps made little effort to attract Volunteers, preferring to wait until it had a clear mandate from the Congress both in terms of authorization and appropriation. That mandate came on September 22, 1961. With bipartisan national endorsement, the Peace Corps took the initiative in explaining its program and the opportunities for Peace Corps service. October and November 1961 were taken up in preparing an adequate public information and public affairs program for . . .

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Margaret Mead Weights In

One of the seminal books on the Peace Corps was published in 1966 and entitled Cultural Frontiers of the Peace Corps. It is a collection of fifteen essays by social scientists who visit Peace Corps projects to observe and write about Peace Corps activities. It was edited by Robert B. Textor, who was then an anthropologist at Stanford and a consultant to the Peace Corps. Textor is important in Peace Corps history and mythology if only for drafting the original memorandum that detailed the “In, Up & Out” personnel policy of the new agency. I’ll discuss that in a later blog, but now I just want to reprint a quote from the Foreword  written by Margaret Mead who at the time was in Aghios Nikolaos, Crete. This was July 1965, very early in the life of the Peace Corps. Mead writes in summing up her views of the Peace Corps: “…the Peace Corps . . .

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Josephson and His Executive Order, Post 19

Shriver created the Peace Corps in twenty-one days (from February 7, 1961–the day after he got The Towering Task– to March 1, 1961, when the Executive Order was signed by President Kennedy.) According to Wiggins, “That’s a record for a government agency. Something like a year or two is usually the case. But he got it together that fast; he created its laws, its principles, and he staffed it up.”      “Staffing up” meant appropriating three rooms on the sixth floor of 806 Connecticut Avenue, the Maiatico Building, [the first Peace Corps Office, now replaced by a slick building housing law firms, I’m sure] where Wiggins and Josephson already worked at ICA. Both of them soon would be working full time for the Peace Corps, Wiggins doing planning, and Josephson figuring out how to make the agency become a government agency. Josephson found the way in a little used President’s . . .

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