1
The Infamous Peace Corps Postcard, Part 1
2
Talking With RPCV author Robert Albritton
3
Obama Does It: An RPCV!
4
Capital Hill Chatter About The Peace Corps
5
Step # 10:Ten Steps For The Next Peace Corps Director To Take To Save Money, Improve The Agency, and Make All PCVs & RPCVs Happy!
6
Novelist Abraham Verghese Writes of Addis Ababa
7
In The New York Times Still 'Ugly After All These Years
8
So, What's with the NPCA?
9
Former CD Says What Is Right & Wrong About Step # 9
10
Winners Of Peace Corps Writers 2009 Books Awards

The Infamous Peace Corps Postcard, Part 1

A number of people have emailed me to ask about my mentioning of the “Marjorie Michelmore Peace Corps Postcard.” What was that, they asked, having never heard of it. Well, here’s the full story, in 10 blogs. Marjorie Michelmore was a twenty-three-year-old magna cum laude graduate of Smith College in 1961 when she became one of the first people to apply to the new Peace Corps. She was an attractive, funny, and smart woman who was selected to go to Nigeria. After seven weeks of training at Harvard, her group flew to Nigeria. There she was to complete the second phase of teacher training at University College at Ibadan, fifty miles north of the capital of Lagos. By all accounts, she was an outstanding Trainee. Then on the evening of October 13, 1961, she wrote a postcard to a boyfriend in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Here is what she had to say: Dear . . .

Read More

Talking With RPCV author Robert Albritton

A few weeks ago, Phil Damon (Ethiopia 1963–65) wrote a review of Let Them Eat Junk: How Capitalism Creates Hunger and Obesity by Robert Albritton (Ethiopia 1963–65) for Peace Corps Worldwide. Phil was nice enough to contact Robert again to interview him. Special thanks to both Robert and Phil, two RPCVs who are still doing their best. • Phil Damon: Well, Rob, since this interview is for PeaceCorpsWorldwide.org, maybe we should get this question taken care of right away: how did your Peace Corps experience shape your sensibility in directions that shaped your career and ultimately this admirable book? Robert Albritton: First I want to thank you for writing such a thoughtful review of my book, and for formulating the questions of this interview. There were three formative experiences that had particularly strong influences on my thinking as a young man. First, I studied at UC Berkeley and lived in the International . . .

Read More

Obama Does It: An RPCV!

THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 14, 2009 President Obama Announces Intent to Nominate Aaron Williams as Director of the Peace Corps WASHINGTON, DC – President Obama today announced his intent to nominate Aaron Williams to be Director of the Peace Corps. President Obama said, “America was built on a belief that the best progress comes from ordinary citizens working to bring about the change they believe in.  Through a lifetime of service, Aaron Williams has embodied the very best of that American ideal.  I am grateful for his service and honored to nominate him to direct the critical work of the Peace Corps.” The announcement comes as the President prepares to throw out the first pitch at tonight’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game and appear in a video with all five living presidents to spotlight the stories of five of Major League Baseball’s “All-Stars . . .

Read More

Capital Hill Chatter About The Peace Corps

A Washington friend of Babbles dropped us a note with some interesting, and unsubstantiated, gossip:  At a Washington dinner party over the weekend with journalists and Capital Hill staff types,  I heard two bits of gossip which intrigued me.   The first is that the $450 million Peace Corps appropriation may be in trouble because, as one staffer told me, “The director of the Peace Corps hasn’t made a personal visit to Senator Leahy asking for the money.” “Humm,” I replied, “There is no Director of the Peace Corps. Obama hasn’t appointed one yet. I’m not sure the acting director is expected to do that sort of thing.” This stumped my source who said he was just repeating Hill gossip that Leahy was somehow offended.  So never mind all the lofty arguments about Peace Corps needing a larger appropriation, it may come down to ego and a protocol misstep.  The second point has to do with lack of action on the Peace Corps director.  “If you think that is a problem, what about . . .

Read More

Step # 10:Ten Steps For The Next Peace Corps Director To Take To Save Money, Improve The Agency, and Make All PCVs & RPCVs Happy!

Step # 10: Ten Steps For The Next Peace Corps Director To Take To Save Money, Improve The Agency, and Make All PCVs & RPCVs Happy! Shriver Redux There is a story told that when Sarge Shriver was first presented with an organization chart of the new agency, he turned it upside down, placing the PCVs at the top and told his staff that in the Peace Corps everyone worked for the Volunteers. It has been a long time since the Peace Corps has been run this was. We have come, too, a long way from when Shriver ran the agency from the fifth floor of the old Maitatico Building drawing to him the best and the brightest of the young and talented arriving in Washington with John F. Kennedy’s administration, men and women like Harris Wofford, Warren Wiggins, Charlie Peters, Bill Josephson, Bill Haddad, Franklin Williams, Betty Harris, George . . .

Read More

Novelist Abraham Verghese Writes of Addis Ababa

This is an interview I did recently for the Ethiopia & Eritrea RPCVs  newsletter (The Herald) that I thought would-be writers would like to read. Dr. Abraham Verghese used aspects of his own life story to write this novel, setting his narrative in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and the U.S. Dr. Verghese is not only a noted doctor, he is also a well published writer of fiction and non-fiction. jc • Abraham Verghese was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and is the Professor for the Theory and Practice of Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Senior Associate Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine. In February 2009, Knopf published his first novel, Cutting for Stone. The novel is set in Addis Ababa. Dr. Verghese is also the author of two books of non-fiction, My Own Country and The Tennis Partner. Dr. Verghese began his medical training in Ethiopia, but his . . .

Read More

In The New York Times Still 'Ugly After All These Years

Still ‘Ugly’ After All These Years By MICHAEL MEYER In the annals of misunderstood titles, a special place belongs to William J. Lederer and Eugene Burdick’s novel “The Ugly American.” Today, the phrase is shorthand for our compatriots who wear tube tops to the Vatican or shout for Big Macs in Beijing. But as summer vacation season begins (at least for those who can still afford it), it’s worth recalling that the impolitic travelers in “The Ugly American” aren’t drunken backpackers or seniors sporting black socks, but the so-called educated elite of the diplomatic corps, whose insensitivity to local language and customs prompts observations like this: “The simple fact is, Mr. Ambassador, that average Americans, in their natural state, if you will excuse the phrase, are the best ambassadors a country can have,” a Filipino minister tells an American official. “They are not suspicious, they are eager to share their . . .

Read More

So, What's with the NPCA?

I have been around the Peace Corps so long that I remember the first RPCVs who organized against the Vietnam War back in 1965. This group managed, by the way, to take over the old Peace Corps offices in the Maiatico Building at 806 Connecticut Avenue during the Nixon years. Various local and county-of-service groups began to organize in the mid-sixties. One such group in Washington, D.C. iniated planned and launched the 25th anniversary conference on the Mall in 1986. At that same moment in time a national RPCV organization began, this time in Colorado at a reunion of RPCVs. They were spurred into action because Sam Brown, who was running ACTION and the Peace Corps for Jimmy Carter, told the RPCVs he wouldn’t have anything to do with them (yes, the distrust by the Peace Corps administration for RPCVs started way-back-then: disown the kid once he’s/she’s served!) The Colorado crowd of RPCVs didn’t want anything . . .

Read More

Former CD Says What Is Right & Wrong About Step # 9

I received an email today that I’d like to share with you. Dave Berlew, the Peace Corps CD in Ethiopia (1965-68), was in his professional life a PhD from Harvard in behavioral science and a management consultant in his career. He wrote to say what he thought of my Step #9 for the Peace Corps. Take a look. John, your list qualities for CD (Country Director) candidates, while on the one hand humorous, is also pretty close to the mark if you look at it as a Gestalt rather than item by item.  But there are more systematic ways of approaching the CD assessment problem.  In late 1964 I traveled to Washington to interview with Shriver for the Director of Selection position.  When I got there he told me had filled the position the day before with the head selection guy at Exxon Corporation.  When he offered me the job as Deputy Director of . . .

Read More

Winners Of Peace Corps Writers 2009 Books Awards

Publisher Marian Haley Beil (Ethiopia 1962–64) and I are pleased to announce the winners of the 2009 Peace Corps Writers Awards for books published during 2008. We have added two new awards to the six we have given in the past — one for Best Peace Corps Memoir, and one for Best Book of Photography. The winning books and authors are: Paul Cowan Non-Fiction Award The Last Days of Old Beijing Life in the Vanishing Backstreets of a City Transformed By Michael Meyer (China 1995-97) Walker & Company Maria Thomas Fiction Award The Baker’s Boy By Barry Kitterman (Belize 1975–77) Southern Methodist University Press Award for Best Travel Writing Travel Wise How to Be Safe, Savvy and Secure Abroad By Ray Leki (Nepal 1979-80; Staff: 1988–90; Pakistan 1990) Intercultural Press Award for Best Poetry Book The Book of Sleep By Eleanor Stanford (Cape Verde 1998–2000) Carnegie Mellon Press Award for . . .

Read More

Copyright © 2019. Peace Corps Worldwide.