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Peace Corps Online: Family bitter in Death of PCV

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  • Debbie Anderson
    Peace Corps Daily News The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers Main December 27, 2006 The Family of Peace Corps Volunteer Tessa
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 28, 2006

      Peace Corps Daily News

      The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers

      December 27, 2006

      The Family of Peace Corps Volunteer Tessa Horan says the Peace Corps' handling of her death in a shark attack in Tonga in February left them with a bitter feeling

      TesshoranThe Family of Peace Corps Volunteer Tessa Horan says the Peace Corps' handling of her death in a shark attack in Tonga in February left them with a bitter feeling
      Horan's mother, Kristena Prater, said the Peace Corps refused to pay for the memorial service and misled the family about retrieving the body. Though Horan's family achieved a great deal of healing on a trip to Tonga to build a library in her name, the difficulties they encountered have pushed Prater to try to change Peace Corps guidelines. "My daughter was serving her country," Prater said. "I wrote to the Peace Corps, and they weren't receptive, so I've involved my congressman and my governor." Read more and leave your comments.
      Family finishes project after Peace Corps Volunteer Tessa Horan dies in shark attack in Tonga
      On Oct. 17, Tessa's parents, sister Jasmine, McDowell and boyfriend, Scott Jones, got on a plane to Tonga. "She left a year ago, and we basically retraced her steps," Prater said. "We stayed with the host families, met the Peace Corps people, flew into the airport. We went through what she did. Her fellow Peace Corps workers took time off their islands and spent all the time we were there getting the library together." The family was treated like dignitaries while in Tonga. People talked to them on the street, and they were accepted everywhere with grace. Even the crown prince met with the family, breaking a tradition wherein the royal family does not receive guests within 100 days of the death of a king. What may have struck Horan's family the strongest, however, was a healing similar to their own. After the shark attacked Horan, she called out for help. Tatafu, a 25-year-old villager, put fear aside and swam out to help her. "I don't think we realized," McDowell said, "if he hadn't been swimming with her that day ... we would not have known what happened to her."  Read more.
      Danequinoss Tess Horan's family traveled to Tonga to carry out her dream of establishing a library on the island
      They visited the school where she had taught, met the other volunteers in her Peace Corps group and visited the tiny house where she had lived. They took a boat to the spot in the ocean where she had been attacked by the shark and scattered her ashes and flowers over the water. Prater said she was touched by the reverence with which the villagers treated the family and the respect they seemed to have for Horan. "She had made notice of her integrity, intention, and sincerity so immediately in this small village,'' Prater wrote in a journal she kept of the trip. "In a way, she had lived there a lifetime, as far as they were concerned. The first day she arrived at her site, she went to every house and introduced herself to 60 different households.''  Read more.
      Caption: Dan Equinoss, a Peace Corps volunteer from Group 70, trained with Tessa Marie Horan during her time in the South Pacific. The new library was constructed using money from a memorial fund established in Tessa’s name and is now stocked with about 1,500 donated books.

      Nigeria RPCV John Sherman writes libretto for opera "Biafra"

      BiafratheoperaNigeria Returned Peace Corps Volunteer John Sherman writes libretto for opera "Biafra"
      The world premiere of the opera, "Biafra," was presented at the Artsgarden in downtown Indianapolis on December 6. Sherman wrote the libretto for the opera, based in part on his book, War Stories: A Memoir of Nigeria and Biafra, in which he provides details of his work with the International Committee of the Red Cross during the Nigerian Civil War in the late 1960s. This program fulfills the requirements for a presentation by Indianapolis resident John Sherman for his Creative Renewal Arts Fellowship received from the Arts Council of Indianapolis in 2005.
      A "stunning array of talent" has been assembled to bring the opera to life. The leading role of Mary Okonkwo, a Red Cross nurse, is portrayed by Paula Ingram who received rave reviews for her performances in London's West End and in the PBS production of "Porgy and Bess." In the opera, Ms. Ingram wore the actual Red Cross badge worn by Sherman during the months he served on the food/medical team near the front lines in what had been the Eastern Region of Nigeria, then Biafra, and, when he was there, once again a part of Nigeria. Also in the set was a full-sized reproduction of a Biafran propaganda poster that Sherman found in one of the former elementary schools where they held a clinic.  The sets have been lent for the performance by the Indianapolis Opera. A dozen dancers from the Kenyetta' Dance Company performed in a dream sequence, lending their talents to the setting in a clinic in an abandoned school in the heart of war-torn Biafra. The opera's logo is based on the Biafran flag – in that flag, the middle bar had a yellow "rising sun" that was the symbol of the secessionist republic that survived for 30 months before surrendering and becoming, once again, Nigeria.  Read more and comment on the story.
      Warstoriesaa The Opera is based on Sherman's Book "War Stories"
      John Sherman had been a Peace Corps teacher in the Eastern Region of Nigeria for nearly a year when the region seceded and became the Republic of Biafra. He spent his second year in the Peace Corps in Malawi, then returned to Nigeria to work with the Red Cross. War Stories is based on a diary he kept in the Red Cross, with flashbacks to his Peace Corps/Nigeria days. Sherman, now a resident of Indianapolis, is a freelance writer and the author of three books of poetry and two pictorial history books on Santa Fe and Taos.
      An Excerpt from "War Stories"
      Every night we approach the roadblocks at about the same time, and every night it is the same reaction from the men guarding them: Screaming soldiers holding loaded guns which probably have their safeties off (if they have such devices at all), surrounded by blinding lights and more soldiers. What's worse, too often the soldiers holding those guns are drunk, so that the weapons are waving wildly about in the air.

      I scream out, "Red Cross!  Red Cross!" when I am challenged, but the goddamned soldiers can't hear me because they're too busy shouting for me to identify myself. One night, a few weeks ago, I got out of my Land Rover (something I have to do most nights, anyway), walked up to the man who had finally realized who I was, and said loudly, "I come through here every bloody night!  At the same time, too, damnit! Why are you doing this?"

      December 26, 2006

      Returned Peace Corps Volunteers dispute Borat image of Kazakhstan

      Borat Ryan Morris who volunteered with the Peace Corps in Kazakhstan from 2000 to 2002, said he never saw anti-Semitism there
      "I don't recall them ever having any sort of difficulty at all about their religion or their heritage," said Morris, now a photographer and Peace Corps recruiter in Tampa, Fla. In an ironic turnabout, many Kazakhs have misimpressions about life in the U.S., he said, such as their tendency to believe that all Americans are rich, fat and happy. Ultimately, said Morris, the countries share similar patterns of regional variation. "Just like Appalachia, you find communities and families (in Kazakhstan) that don't have everything that's up to modern times," said Morris. The former Peace Corps volunteer said he was "humbled, almost intimidated" at times by Kazakhs' knowledge of history and geography. "By no means are they an uneducated group of people at any level," Morris reported.  Read more and leave your comments.
      Kazakhstan RPCV Bob Kellett says: I wish Borat would have chosen a fictional place instead of giving a bad name to a country that doesn’t deserve it
      "I am saddened by it. Most people know next to nothing about Kazakhstan and after they watch the movie they will think it is a backwards place with ignorant people. Nothing could be further from the truth. The country has its share of problems but it also has a 99% literacy rate. The people are warm, compassionate humans who in no way resemble the stumbling fools you see in the movie. I wish Borat would have chosen a fictional place instead of giving a bad name to a country that doesn’t deserve it."  Read more and leave your comments.

      December 25, 2006

      Ivory Coast RPCV Tony D'Souza writes: "Djamilla, the unmarried daughter"

      Peul03 Ivory Coast RPCV Tony D'Souza writes:  "Djamilla, the unmarried daughter"
      "The girl stopped in her tracks, surprised to see me. I had never before been alone in the village in this way: in the daytime, the time when the village belonged to women. She was tall and slender, old colonial coins hammered into a necklace that hung over her collarbones, strings of amber beads hanging from her long earlobes. Her lips were tattooed around with black ink, and her hair was woven into tight plaits, coins arranged again in them. Of course I knew who she was: Djamilla, the Peul patriarch’s unmarried daughter. She would have been considered beautiful anywhere." Read more.
      Laura Miller reviews "Whiteman" by Tony D'Souza
      Somehow, this novel beats the odds: It manages to be quirky, seductive and funny, but most of all it has captured a shard of the host country in a way that NGO novels rarely do. The Ivory Coast village that young Jack Diaz lives in for a couple of years feels more real than Jack himself -- which may sound like an artistic weakness, but it's not. Africa, or rather this small corner of Africa, gets so thoroughly under Jack's skin that he forgets to make this the story of how he was tested and learned the true nature of love, loss, want and independence, all those tedious lessons that would make the novel a routine coming-of-age saga about an earnest young man. Instead, "Whiteman" is really the story of an addict, a guy who gets hooked on a village, and of how he's finally forced to kick the habit. Read more.
      Ivorycoastevacuationaa Tony D'Souza writes: Ivory Coast, 2000
      "I was in Abidjan in 2000, shortly after General Robert Guei’s bloodless Christmas Eve coup, which eventually helped to usher in the bloodshed of the past six years in Ivory Coast. At the time, there was a small contingent of United States Marines in the city—the U.S. Embassy Guard. They were housed in a spacious apartment in a downtown high-rise in the Plateau district. I was in my first year with the Peace Corps, and whenever I was granted a break from my posting in the bush I’d travel to the city, to a Peace Corps-run hostel that was always crowded with volunteers. Now and again, eager to spend time with the white women among us, the marines would invite us over. They were well provisioned: alcohol, air-conditioning, and all the latest magazines, CDs, and DVDs. When they called, we’d round up a couple of cabfuls of the willing, and then happily dig into the marines’ top-shelf goods. The women needed little coercing—they enjoyed the Snickers bars, People magazines, and Bacardi as much as anybody." Read more.

      December 24, 2006

      Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: Questions you were afraid to ask about the Peace Corps

      MisslonelyheartsDear Miss Lonelyhearts: Can I ride a motorcyle in the Peace Corps?
      "No PCV ANYWHERE can operate a motorcycle unless it is a life/limb/sight emergency. Some PCVs in certain places are allowed to ride motorcycles if no other transportation is readily available...some Cameroonian PCVs and a lot (maybe all) Beninois PCVs have that privilege. Peace Corps provides them with motorcycle helmets. For most PCVs world-wide, riding a motorcycle is grounds for immediate administrative separation due to the HUGE safety risk. I cannot tell you how many motorcycle accidents I witnessed as a PCV in Chad. Bad ones too. Some volunteers choose to risk being ad-sep'd and take motorcycles, but it really is a pretty big risk." Read more.
      Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: How did 'Kumbaya' become a mocking metaphor?
      An extensive (and we do mean extensive) search of databases of newspapers, magazines and other sources turned up what may be the first ironic reference to "Kumbaya" in print, from Aug. 16, 1985. The line is from a Washington Post review by Rita Kempley of the comedy movie Volunteers: "Tom Hanks and John Candy make war on the Peace Corps in Volunteers, a belated lampoon of '60s altruism and the idealistic young Kumbayahoos who went off to save the Third World." How did she settle on "Kumbaya?" Had she heard others mocking it? Was it something about the cynicism felt by liberals under Reagan? A commentary about the religious theme of the song, at a time when the Moral Majority was making its name? Ms. Kempley can't remember. "I guess that song was the ultimate expression of people in the '60s who really cared," said Ms. Kemply (who accepted a buyout last year from the Post). "And then everyone decided, Let's just make fun of that."  Read more.
      Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: Has anyone had issues with blogs or personal websites in the peace corps, or do they really only care about what you say about them?
      Here is PCs official blog policy, garnered using the FoIA: http://peacecorpsjournals.com/rules.html. It's basically "you're welcome to maintain a blog/personal website, but you should do so with cultural sensitivity, discretion for private information/etc/etc". They don't care if you have a blog/website, but if you do, they want to know about it, and they want to make sure you're well, playing nice. Peace Corps maintains that it owns everything you create, write, design, or communicate during your service. They also maintain the right to kick you out if you reveal too much information about where you are posted, your work, etc. Read more.

      December 23, 2006

      RPCV Carl Pope writes: Renewable energy offers new jobs

      CarlpopeRPCV Carl Pope writes: Renewable energy offers new jobs
      "The fact that we buy wind turbines from Denmark and not from Cleveland may be absurd, but it is no accident because until now America as a whole hasn't really been serious about creating a new energy economy. Meanwhile, actions by individual states give some clue about how forward-thinking energy policies can create good jobs. " Sierra Club President Carl Pope served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in India in the 1960's. Read more.
      Sierra Club, Steelworkers to Announce Historic Strategic Alliance
      The Alliance will promote a new vision for American public policy -- creating jobs by promoting smart energy solutions to global warming; reducing the risks from toxic chemicals in the workplace and the community; and building a responsible trade policy for America. This unprecedented alliance will chart a new direction for the nation's labor and environmental movements, bringing together almost 2 million members around a shared vision of the future. Read more.
      Carl Pope writes: The Trickle-up response to global warming offers hope
      "We don't have the luxury of waiting for an administration in Washington that can read a thermometer. We can flex our muscle at the state and local levels, challenging our elected leaders to greater creativity and resourcefulness in cooling the planet. Global warming is a big challenge, but it's one each of us can do something about starting today." Read more.

      December 22, 2006

      Peace Corps Volunteers in Bolivia Are Safe

      SantacruzrallyPeace Corps Volunteers in Bolivia Are Safe
      Peace Corps Director Ron Tschetter announced that all Volunteers serving in Bolivia are safe and are returning to their working and living sites. Several Volunteers were consolidated last week following recent political events in the country. The Peace Corps staff in Bolivia remains in constant communication with Peace Corps headquarters in Washington, D.C. Each Peace Corps program has an Emergency Action Plan specific to that country and developed in cooperation with Peace Corps Washington and the local U.S. Embassy. The plans are evaluated and tested frequently and information is updated constantly. Volunteers are thoroughly trained in their roles and responsibilities, and posts are prepared for all emergencies.  Read more.

      PCVs were caught in street protest in Bolivia, Peace Corps withdrew volunteers from a violent neighborhood near the capital
      Caption: Demonstrators attend a rally in Santa Cruz December 15, 2006. Leaders in the eastern Santa Cruz region said they expected 1 million people to take to the streets of its main city, Santa Cruz, to press demands for greater autonomy from the central government and more control of local taxes but they denied wanting to create a breakaway state. Photo: Reuters/Stringer (Bolivia)
      An attack by a pro-government mob on a bus carrying an American Peace Corps worker has prompted the U.S. agency to temporarily withdraw from a violent neighborhood near the capital. "The Peace Corps has pulled out its contingent of about a dozen volunteers from the area. We expect to go back when the situation calms down," said Payne Huffman, 33, of Lexington, Ky. Mr. Huffman survived an attack last weekend by rock-throwing supporters of President Evo Morales, who were attempting to block anti-government protesters from reaching the capital, Santa Cruz.  "We lay for almost two hours between the seats as rocks crashed through the windows and pelted the roof above us," said Mr. Huffman, who was traveling by bus with his girlfriend, Mariela Ruiz, and her 2-year-old daughter when the assault took place in the town of San Julian. Read more.

      "Peace Corps Online" and NPCA collaborate on story "Snowshoe Bob" in Worldview Magazine

      Bobpaul_1 "Peace Corps Online" and NPCA collaborate on story "Snowshoe Bob" in Worldview Magazine
      Robert Paul died September 8 of this year when a suicide car-bomber struck his Humvee in Kabul, Afghanistan. Sgt. Paul was in his third year of active duty in the Army reserves and had completed two years in Iraq commanding a civil affairs unit in Baghdad. Paul had also served in Peace Corps in Kenya and last year, while studying Thai at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, joined a 2005 e-mail debate peacecorpsonline.com (sic) about Peace Corps as an incentive for military recruitment. Read more.
      He served with honor
      One year ago, Staff Sgt. Robert J. Paul (RPCV Kenya) carried on an ongoing dialog on "Peace Corps Online" on the military and the peace corps and his role as a member of a Civil Affairs Team in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have received a report that Sargeant Paul has been killed by a car bomb in Kabul. Words cannot express our feeling of loss for this tremendous injury to the entire RPCV community. Most of us didn't know him personally but we knew him from his words. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends. He was one of ours and he served with honor. Read the original discussion with Bob Paul on "Peace Corps Online" here.
      Friends and Family remembers Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Robert Paul killed in Afghanistan
      Paul's mother said her son never stopped charting his own path, whether it was taking German when French and Spanish were the only languages offered, or announcing over dinner that he had joined the Peace Corps. "His first year there, he learned Swahili, and that's a very hard language, I understand," she said. "Then when that year was up, he called and said he was staying another year."  When he left for Afghanistan "I asked, 'Is there anybody I can call to get you out,'" his mother recalled tearfully. "He said, 'You don't understand; I want to go.' Kenya RPCV Robert Paul worked in a Civil Affairs unit in Afghanistan.  He was killed in a car bombing in 2006. Read more.

      December 21, 2006

      John Nichols writes: Congressman Tom Petri ought to consider making a party switch from Republican to Democrat

      Thomaspetri_2 John Nichols writes: Congressman Tom Petri ought to consider making a party switch from Republican to Democrat
      Republican Tom Petri has been told by party bosses that they don't approve of his willingness to work with Democrats to address major issues. "Maybe I'm missing something," jokes Petri, perhaps a bit bitterly. "Sometimes I think you can be more effective by working with people." Petri's spokesman, Niel Wright, is blunter. After the Wisconsinite was passed over for the Transportation Committee chairmanship, Wright said, "It was pretty clear that those making the decision wanted a more confrontational and less bipartisan approach to the committee." It is, by now, abundantly clear that Tom Petri is not going to be given an opportunity to play a major role in Congress by his fellow Republicans. That's bad for his agenda, which is characterized by practical concern for advancing sound education and transportation policies. And it's bad for Wisconsin, since Petri is a senior member of the House who is being prevented from delivering for his home state. If Petri were a Democrat, he would be a committee chairman, and no doubt a highly effective and successful one. That's just one reason why the congressman ought to consider making a party switch. By crossing the aisle to the Democratic caucus, Petri could strike a powerful blow for bipartisanship. He would be welcomed by Democratic leaders, who would unquestionably treat him more respectfully than do the current Republican leaders. And he would be able to finish his tenure in Congress in a position to be a responsible and effective legislator, as opposed to just another victim of crude and increasingly dysfunctional Republican partisanship. Congressman Tom Petri of Wisconsin served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Somalia in the 1960's. Read more.
      The change in control of the House is a blow to senior Republican Representative Tom Petri who lost the opportunity to become committee chairman next year...but there is an upside
      Petri said after the November 2006 election that he expects a couple of his bipartisan higher education proposals to get more attention. One that he has co-sponsored with Democratic Rep. George Miller of California, who will become chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, is to encourage more colleges and universities to use the less-expensive direct student loan program and put those savings into more Pell grants for low-income students. Read more.
      Thomas Petri's Student Aid Reward Act of 2005 called for using $17 billion in savings from an expansion of the federal direct student loan program to increase Pell grants at colleges that participate in the program
      Pell grants for an estimated 1.7 million low-income college students would increase by $1,000 to $5,050 a year under bipartisan legislation unveiled in March 2005 by four House and Senate lawmakers.  The Student Aid Reward Act of 2005 calls for using $17 billion in savings from an expansion of the federal direct student loan program to increase Pell grants at colleges that participate in the program. “We have a tight budget this year,” said Rep. Tom Petri, R-Fond du Lac, who described the legislation as offering a way to increase federal support for low-income students without increasing spending. Petri and his three co-sponsors — Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., and Rep. George Miller, D-Calif. — said the $17 billion in estimated savings over 10 years would come from an increase in the percentage of colleges using the federal direct loan program. Read more.

      December 20, 2006

      Listen to new Peace Corps Director Ron Tschetter over the internet at 11 am EST on Thursday, December 21

      Tschetterhearings1Listen to new Peace Corps Director Ron Tschetter over the internet at 11 am EST on Thursday, December 21
      Tune into "the Intersection" with Rebecca Roberts on WETA 90.9FM at 11 a.m. EST on Thursday, December 21 to hear a discussion with new Peace Corps Director Ron Tschetter.  Calls and emails from returned volunteers and the Peace Corps community are welcome. You can listen to the program live over the internet by going to http://www.weta.org/theintersection/  and click the button that says "Listen live to 90.9FM." Read more.

      Tunisia RPCV Jeannie Ritter is new first lady of Colorado

      JeanneritterTunisia RPCV Jeannie Ritter is new first lady of Colorado
      Her expertise is special-needs children, a passion that manifested years ago when she worked at a center for the disabled in Tunisia as a Peace Corps volunteer. She moved to Tunisia without Bill, during a period in their 10-year-long, on-off courtship when they were on the outs. "She's a natural extrovert," says Theresa Peña, president of the Denver Public Schools Board of Education. "Parents really want to be part of their kids' education, and she's embraced them, inviting them to be part of the larger classroom. She has a natural ability to connect with people, adults and kids." This skill will translate to her new career as first lady, which starts in January.   Read more.
      Jeannie Ritter and her husband served in Zambia as Catholic Lay Missionaries
      With an 18-month-old son, the couple decided to go to Africa as Catholic missionaries. "It took courage for us to say 'let's sell everything, let's give it all up and not make money for 3 years while we're raising a family,'" Bill Ritter said. The couple described the time in Africa as rich. They enjoyed it so much, they tried to stay longer. Read more.
      Jeanneritterafrica_1 In 1987, Jeannie Ritter and her husband closed up their house, packed up their 1-year-old son and headed off to Zambia where they managed a food distribution and nutrition center
      As lay missionaries with the Catholic Church, they trucked 60 tons of food a month from the Zambian capital 400 miles to their depot in Mongu. They then distributed the food deep into the drought-stricken sub-Saharan bush. Bill and Jeannie also added poultry and fishery programs. They taught women the importance of good nutrition and food preparation for their families. And in a country ravaged by AIDS, malaria, leprosy and chronic malnourishment, Bill and Jeannie taught basic health care. Nearly 35 percent of children younger than 5 suffered from chronic malnourishment. Bill and Jeannie’s young son, August, became fast friends with the local children. Their second son, Abe, was born in Africa. Read more.

      December 19, 2006

      Spotlight on Peace Corps Guinea

      CosguineaRPCV Micah Schaffer has produced a feature length documentary called Death of Two Sons about Amadou Diallo's slaying and the car-crash death of Peace Corps volunteer Jesse Thyne, an American who lived with Diallo's family in Guinea
      Micah Schaffer's moving, stunningly shot documentary juxtaposes the deaths of a Guinean in America and an American in Guinea. The Guinean in "Death of Two Sons" was Amadou Diallo, senselessly gunned down by four New York City policemen with 41 bullets. The American was Peace Corps volunteer Jesse Thyne, who lived with Amadou's family in Guinea and died in a car crash there. The two men never met, but their destinies are intertwined in this unique film. Jesse's California family is mainly represented by his father, Rick, whose generosity spiritually allies him to the indomitable Kadiatou Diallo, Amadou's mother. Though the film contains TV coverage of the spontaneous protests that arose after Amadou's death, and many of his kinsmen weigh in on the injustice of the absence of punishment meted out to his killers (in contrast, the Guinean taxi driver whose speeding contributed to the accident killing Jesse was sentenced to three years in jail), it is Jesse's father who delivers the most telling political indictment: He states his son's death was a tragedy, but Amadou's was also a travesty caused by the "worst of our armed, racist, hostile culture." Read more.
      Guinea Peace Corps Volunteer Jennifer writes: What do you do when you are bed ridden for 4 days due to a painful sinus infection leading to a horrible earache?
      Go see a doctor. My doctor is a 10 hour taxi ride from Labe if I can get out of my non-car containing village. Call him. We have no telephones. Radio him. The radio is 5 km away. I didn't even attempt to. It was the weekend, a very difficult time to find access to the radio, very difficult to get an answer on the other end. It is under such conditions that self-made decisions, self-reliance, self-understanding, self peace and calm become extremely important. Panic is not the answer. Being able to meditate through pain and suffering to come to a good decision is. Read more.
      Peace Corps Volunteer Melinda writes: The Guinean Life
      "Trip to the Market: Walk past street venders seeing numerous items in search for what you need. All the while you are fighting mobs of people wanting you to buy their items. 1. Find what you need; 2. Bargain price which takes loads of patience; 3. Price still too high; 4. Move on to another vender; 5. Repeat steps 1-4 several times until you realize the first guy gave you the best price; 6. Humbly return."  Read more.
      Guinea Peace Corps Volunteer Andrea writes:   Riding on Taxis
      "The taxi pulls over, a few words are exchanged, I hoist my bike on top with the 2 other guys and I climb up the back of the car. The car takes off as I am finding a place to settle. I strike the pose of a cowboy trying to ride a bull. I grab the metal bar mounted on the top which happened to be in between my legs. As I am getting settled, I realize it is not a bull that I am sitting on but rather a live goat. The goat seems to agree with the situation so I settle in and enjoy the beautiful valley views for miles until I am forced out of my admiration to deal with the present." Read more.
      Guinea Peace Corps Volunteer Devon writes:  Middle America vs the African Bush
      Village life is laid back, relaxing and more slow paced than I have ever seen. Every day I see Guineans laughing and enjoying the simple pleasures of life; sitting in the shade of a front porch on a particularly hot day, chatting in the local tea bar or singing as they work in the rice fields. Yet the Guineans in my village live without electricity, refrigeration or plumbing. They have limited knowledge of French, no concept of sanitation or preventative health-care and yet they still function and live happy lives. I don’t mean to paint guinea as some kind of 3rd world utopia, or spout some back to nature Emersonian propaganda. There is certainly more than an ample amount of discontent and unhappiness here, as is dictated by human nature and socio-economic conditions. However, my goal is merely to illustrate the contrast between unhappiness that is justified and one borne out of a culture consumed by materialism. Read more.

      December 18, 2006

      Bob Taft plans to revisit Tanzania where he served as a Peace Corps Volunteer

      TaftTaft plans to revisit Tanzania where he served as a Peace Corps Volunteer
      Ohio Governor Bob Taft will go full circle in January when he leaves office and returns to the roots of his public service some 40 years ago. He said one of the first things he and his wife, Hope, plan to do is to visit Tanzania, the African country where Taft served as an idealistic Peace Corps volunteer teacher in the 1960s. A black-and-white picture of a younger, thinner Taft digging a ditch in Africa was used in Taft campaign ads and is prominently featured near the front of The Taft Years, a 128-page state-published book detailing his tenure as governor. Read more.
      History may recall Taft more fondly than polls
      He left an enduring mark on Ohio by funding the largest school construction program in history, establishing the Third Frontier job-creation program and overhauling the state’s antiquated tax code. "Fifteen, 20 years from now, I think Taft will go down as one of the smartest and most accomplished governors we’ve had," Ohio Republican Chairman Robert T. Bennett said Friday. Taft’s legal troubles resulted from his failure to report on his annual financial-disclosure forms 52 golf outings, meals, hockey tickets and other gifts worth almost $6,000 since 1998. By law, all gifts of $75 or more must be disclosed to the public. "Obviously, I made a mistake. ... I’m the governor. I’m the one that’s responsible for making sure it’s accurate, and it wasn’t. That’s why I took responsibility. It was the right thing to do."  Ohio Governor Robert Taft served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tanzania in the 1960's. Read more.
      Dayton Daily News says: Bob Taft deserves more respect
      Nobody thinks Bob Taft is corrupt. The violation was the result of sloppiness. A lot of Republicans did think the governor was too weak to be worth defending from his own mistakes. He was also hurt politically by the fact that, on his watch, the performance of the Ohio economy generally ran behind that of the nation. But the truth is that governors don't have much control over that sort of thing. The real case against Bob Taft is that he never emerged as a forceful leader on a wide range of subjects. There was little in the way of a Taft legislative program that was strikingly bold. He seldom used the governor's pulpit to get something important done -- or stopped. And yet, with nearly all said and done, there is a clear legacy. His baby -- the Third Frontier, his effort to use state money to seed high-tech research in a formerly blue-collar, low-tech state -- is in place. The task of getting it there did not go smoothly, and the size still isn't what he had hoped for. But it's there, with a high profile, and it could grow. Read more.

      Spotlight on Peace Corps China

      Wolongpandas_1China RPCV Craig Simons writes: Wolong today is home to the largest cluster of the world's remaining wild pandas
      Photo: tangtang Courtesy Flickr: Creative Commons
      Beautiful and Pure were tussling: Pure had just scampered up a 6-foot post when Beautiful charged over and locked her teeth around a clump of his hair. After some determined pulling, both fell in a pile on the grass below.Then the real melee began: Four other year-old giant pandas padded over and joined in the raucous play, tumbling over each other in a black-and-white ball that left me and a handful of overjoyed tourists guessing where one animal ended and the next began. A plethora of pandas is why most visitors journey to the Wolong Nature Reserve, an 800-square-mile park in China's southwestern Sichuan province. Set up in 1963 to protect giant pandas, Wolong today is home to 153 wild pandas (the largest cluster of the world's estimated remaining 1,590 wild pandas) and 69 captive pandas (of 212 worldwide).
      Wolong had some 80,000 visitors last year, about 20 percent of them foreigners, but fall is off-season and we shared the 64-acre center with only a few dozen other tourists. With aid from the World Wildlife Fund and American zoos -- including Zoo Atlanta, which works with researchers in Chengdu -- birthrates have soared as scientists have mastered using artificial insemination and raising young pandas abandoned by their mothers, which often give birth to twins but generally will raise only one cub. Read more.
      Peace Corps Volunteer Peter writes: The Beats in China
      It looks like I will be starting a reading group with some graduate students on the Beat Generation. This was my idea, not theirs. ...I think they will definitely get something about America out of studying the Beats, for I think there is something quintessentially American about the Beats, especially about Kerouac, with whom we will begin. One of the article I assigned described On the Road as a love poem to America, and I think that is right. Read more.
      China Peace Corps Volunteer Chinkfly writes: How much Mandarin can you expect to learn during your assignment?
      How much Mandarin you learn during your two years is completely up to the individual volunteer's ambition. Of our group of 50, about 10 had good Mandarin and the remaining 40 of us were starting from the very beginning. During PST, we started with the alphabet and learning the tonal sounds, and worked our way thru about 30 sections in the workbook on subjects like introductions, where we're from, what we do, direction, shopping for groceries, taking public transport, etc.. Basically, the how to get around in China stuff. We had a full 12 weeks of language training, and had a tough time (4+ hours a day, plus homework) getting thru it all---so due to your abridged training time, I'm not sure what the staff have planned for you. We learned a little bit of Hanzi (the Chinese characters), but most of that was left for us to learn on our own. Peace Corps does pay a certain amount for you to hire a tutor, up to a max per week(which I can't remember). It's up to you to find your own tutor when you get to site. You'll get guidelines for how much to pay your tutor---but it is really up to you to make your own deal. Some volunteers pay, some trade English lessons for Mandarin...you can be creative. If your tutor wants more than PC is willing to pay, you just have to make up the difference with your own monthly stipend. Read more.

      December 16, 2006

      Spotlight on Peace Corps Ethiopia

      CosethiopiaPeace Corps Volunteers to Return to Ethiopia
      Peace Corps Deputy Director Jody Olsen announced that volunteers will be returning to the African nation of Ethiopia, the second most populated country in sub-Saharan Africa, for the first time since 1999. The Peace Corps/Ethiopia program is scheduled to open in fiscal year 2007, with approximately 40 volunteers arriving next summer. The volunteers will be working in the field of health and HIV/AIDS education and prevention, with possible expansion into other sectors in the coming years. Read more.
      RPCV Ric Haas founded the Fistula Foundation to help women with fistula in Ethiopia
      Like most Americans at that time, Haas had no clue the problem existed. Then he and his daughter, Shaleece, visited the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, founded in 1974 by an Australian couple who were both physicians and missionaries. Dr. Catherine Hamlin, now in her 80s, is still performing surgeries there. Read more.
      Ashley Tsongas writes: Ethiopia lost World’s Focus, but Aid Needs Remain
      "Two decades after Live Aid drew millions of dollars in donations to help people starving in the Horn of Africa, hunger in Ethiopia is no longer headline news. The focus on other world crises — Darfur, the South Asian tsunami and a myriad of others — has obscured Ethiopia where four million people are in need of emergency assistance." Ashley Tsongas, daughter of Ethiopia RPCV and Presidential candidate Paul Tsongas, is an emergency media and advocacy officer for Oxfam America and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Madagascar. Read more.
      Craig Wilson writes: I was retracing the steps my partner, Jack, took almost 40 years ago in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia
      We went with few expectations. Jack assumed everyone he once knew would be dead. Life expectancy hovers around 48, and with wars, AIDS, famines and brutal dictatorships, hopes of finding anyone still alive were dim. But we hadn't been in Gorgora 10 minutes before someone yelled "Mr. Jack?'' His name was Tesfaye, a man who was only 6 when Jack lived there. His brother, now dead, was in Jack's class. But Tesfaye had his own memory: a Frisbee Jack had given him. Read more.
      In the 1960's Carl Purcell landed a job with the Peace Corps to document the work of volunteers - his first assignment was Ethiopia
      'The day after I was hired, I started on a round-the-world trip,' he says. First stop: Ethiopia. 'A Peace Corps worker had just been eaten by a crocodile in the Nile,' he remembers. 'I was granted an audience with Haile Selassie and was shocked to see that he had two full-grown lions posted outside his throne room.' Read more.
      Arthur  Goldblatt's passion for tennis began when he served as a teacher in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia in 1965
      He was approached by a man who was the tennis champion of Ethiopia. The man wanted to learn English and offered to give Goldblatt tennis lessons. "He gave me tennis lessons and I gave him the language lessons, but I think I got the better end of the deal," Goldblatt said. Read more.

      December 15, 2006

      President Dr. Thomas Boni Yayi of Benin Visits Peace Corps Headquarters

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