The Springs of Namje:
A Ten-Year Journey from the Villages of Nepal to the Halls of Congress
by Rajeev Goyal (Nepal 2001-03)
$24.95 (hardcover), $13.72 (Kindle)
Reviewed by Ken Hill (Turkey 1965-67)
The jacket describes it as “A ten year journey from the villages of Nepal to the halls of Congress”. But “The Springs of Namje” goes beyond that, unveiling a relationship of deep dedication by an RPCV to “his village”. And, it chronicles what might be the most effective single effort yet at providing a substantive increase in funding for the Peace Corps.
This story transcends the more typical Peace Corps narrative. Since completing his PCV service in 2003, Rajeev has returned to Namje on 21 occasions – probably even again since the book was published. His close relationship with the people and his involvement in their lives, economic and social development is extraordinary.
Rajeev Goyal is a gifted writer! His unique narrative shares an interesting, insightful and refreshingly critical look at Peace Corps from the overseas experience and a “Washington” perspective. From Peace Corps Volunteer to a disappointing experience in Law School, as a novice yet successful lobbyist for Peace Corps budget increases and then back to Namje! This book entwines the reader – especially one with any interest in Peace Corps.
I should reveal that Rajeev is a friend and co-conspirator of mine. We worked together on the “MorePeaceCorps” and “Push4PeaceCorps” campaigns. My wife is also an RPCV from Nepal, having served there in the 60’s, and we have visited Nepal twice as both tourist and Peace Corps official.
In the war for resources, Peace Corps is barely visible as a player in the appropriation game. Typically eclipsed by the larger agencies and programs, since Kennedy, only Ronald Reagan effectively championed any significant increase in the Peace Corps budget. President Obama praised the Peace Corps and promised support, as have his predecessors. While it requested higher Peace Corps appropriations, the Obama Administration has not been an effective advocate for Peace Corps in the Congressional appropriations process.
Donald K. Ross (Nigeria 1962-64) decided to try to increase the Peace Corps appropriation. An advocate extraordinaire, Donald K. Ross put together a small team of principals, raised the required resources and hired Rajeev to lobby for more Peace Corps money. The MorePeaceCorps and Push4PeaceCorps campaigns were independent efforts not reliant on Peace Corps, the Obama Administration nor, effectively, the National Peace Corps Association.
Rajeev’s exploits in lobbying for more Peace Corps resources were unique; highly personal and surprisingly effective. Its all in the book, and it’s a fun, interesting and informative read!
Ken Hill was a PCV in Turkey (1965-67), later joining Peace Corps staff in Washington. In 2001 he was Chief of Staff at Peace Corps Headquarters before which he was Chief of Operations for Europe and Asia after serving as Country Director in the Russian Far East, Bulgaria and Macedonia. He was Chairman of the Board of the National Peace Corps Association for three years. Currently, Ken is on the Board of the Bulgarian-American Society and Friends of Turkey (Arkadaşlar). He has been an OSCE election observer in five countries and has interviewed candidates for Muskie Fellowships in four. He was also on the scholar selection panel at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars. An advisor to the Obama Transition Team for the Peace Corps and a principal of the MorePeaceCorps and Push4PeaceCorps campaigns, Ken remains active in the Peace Corps community. He organized the PC 50th Anniversary Staff Reunion which brought 1400 Peace Corps alums to the National Building Museum in Washington in September, 2011.