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Peace Corps Week & Peace Corps Online: RPCV announces for President

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  • Debbie Anderson
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    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 12, 2007
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      Sent: Friday, January 12, 2007 11:45:22 AM
      Subject: Peace Corps Online: RPCV announces for President

      Peace Corps News

      The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers

      « December 2006 | Main

      January 11, 2007

      Dodd declares candidacy in 2008 Presidential race

      Doddthinking_2Dodd declares candidacy in 2008 Presidential race
      Dodd scheduled an interview on the "Imus in the Morning" radio show to make the announcement. While the senator has indicated for months he was considering a White House bid, he had yet to formalize his intentions. Kathy Sullivan, the chairwoman of the Democratic Party in New Hampshire, said in an interview that she had spoken to Dodd and he said, "'I'm not going to do the exploratory thing. I'm going to plunge right in.'" "People really like him. He's very smart. He's also very articulate. And I think he might have the sharpest wit of anyone in the field," Sullivan said.

      Dodd voted in 2002 to authorize military intervention in Iraq, but has become an outspoken critic of the war and now calls his vote a mistake. He has said he would oppose an escalation of U.S. forces in Iraq and has said Congress should consider withholding funding for such a troop increase. Dodd has been politically active on behalf of other Democrats, raising money and campaigning for candidates across the country and headed the Democratic National Committee from 1995-96. Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic in the 1960's. Read more and leave your comments.

      Imus Dodd announces candidacy on "Imus in the Morning"
      The difficulty Dodd faces trying to breakthrough the public consciousness in a race that starts off dominated by political celebrities was underscored in a good-natured exchange with radio host Don Imus. "I'll tell you who I saw last night who was very impressive was Barack Obama," Imus told Dodd. "I'm not one of those Hollywood phonies jumping on the Barack Obama bandwagon — I'm going to vote for McCain at this point," Imus added, referring to Arizona Sen. John McCain, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination.

      "Now wait a minute, wait a minute," Dodd interjected. "I come on the program, I blow everybody else off, I announce here — at least leave the door open a little bit for me here. ... And I'm your pal — 14 years — you can't just walk away from me. You leave that door open a little bit." Chuckling, Imus responded: "I'm not walking away ... I'm not closing the door, senator."

      Matthewsanddodd RPCV Chris Mathews interviews RPCV Chris Dodd on Hardball
      "John Kennedy, when he sent off the first Peace Corps volunteers...said you know it’s going to be a great thing in 40 or 50 years from now there will have been a million young people in this country that will have served their nation in a foreign nation..That’s going to help us in the conduct of foreign policy with a better understanding of what’s going on. Well, there have only been 170,000 of us, Chris, that have come back as Peace Corps volunteers, but that experience was life altering and changing. You respected other people, you listened to them. It gives you a better perspective on your own country. I came back with a deeper appreciation of what the United States was and what it could do as a result of that experience."

      Read Senator Dodd's recent speech about his vision for the Peace Corps.

      Read about Senator Dodd's strong support for the Peace Corps over the years.

      Malawi RPCVs Garry Prime, Michael Hill, and Kevin Denny founded "Orphan Support" to foster effective and sustainable programs in Africa that improve the protection and well-being of orphans and vulnerable children

      Cosguineabissau Malawi RPCVs Garry Prime, Michael Hill, and Kevin Denny founded "Orphan Support" to foster effective and sustainable programs in Africa that improve the protection and well-being of orphans and vulnerable children
      The Mission of Orphan Support Africa is to support communities in Africa through WORKING WITH effective and sustainable programs, which improve the well being of orphans and vulnerable children and nurture these children to become self-reliant adults. By 2010 there will be 20 million OVC in Africa, while today only 10% are receiving any kind of service.

      In Malawi alone, the 4th poorest country in the world, with a population of under 12 million, There are nearly 1 million orphans.   Orphan Support Africa is making a difference. It developed from two successful OVC systems of care. The Malawi Children’s (MCV) began delivering comprehensive services ten years ago in a structure that was replicated by The Mango Tree Orphan Support Programme (TMT) in southern Tanzania three years ago. Currently these two organizations serve almost 8,000 OVC in 66 villages. Each delivers services at roughly $30 per orphan per year. Each has a staff made up mostly of volunteers.

      Orphan Support Africa is a new organization with deep roots. It's five founders have a combined history of over one hundred and fifty years of commitment to sub-Saharan Africa and have already established community based orphan care programs in Malawi and Tanzania which have become recognized as best practice models.

      The lessons that have accompanied this experience are many, but can be boiled down to a simple unifying principal: Orphan Support Africa is in the business of saying goodbye. Each time Orphan Support Africa commits to help a community, it does so with the firm understanding that our role is nurture, not to direct. We present community leaders the opportunity for three years of support and resources that will allow them to develop to the point of self-sufficiency. At the end of that period it is mutually understood that communities will have evolved the leadership skills and commitment that will allow them to continue on their own.

      Malawi Children's Village is a social services organization run collaboratively by American volunteers and local villagers
      Malawi Children's Village is a social services organization run collaboratively by American volunteers and local villagers. It is on the outskirts of Mangochi, one of the poorest districts in one of the smallest and most impoverished nations in Africa. Malawi Children's Village provides food, medical care and money for school to more than 3,500 AIDS orphans -- those who have lost one or both parents to the disease -- in dozens of surrounding villages. Medical personnel treat the sickest and most malnourished children at an infirmary on the compound, but most of the work is done as outreach so that children can remain in their own villages where relatives or neighbors can help raise them.

      To learn more about "Orphan Support" in Malawi visit their web site.

      January 08, 2007

      Ethiopia RPCV John Garamendi takes oath of office as California Lt. Governor

      Garamendioath Ethiopia RPCV John Garamendi takes oath of office as California Lt. Governor
      "Will history judge that we—in the early days of the 21st century -set the stage for the 22nd century California by design, or by default? Will our descendants honor our stewardship or regret the opportunities lost by short-sighted policies and selfish consumption? We can’t imagine the economy of the future. None of us can define the dimensions of the frontiers that will be conquered in the next ninety years or anticipate all the challenges to be faced. But the essential foundations of prosperity are no different today than they have been at any time in California’s past."

      "We must begin with mother earth. The California we envision depends on our deciding today to reverse the environmental trajectory on which we have placed our planet. Just as miners of the 19th and 20th century gnawed at and destroyed the land, the flawed energy policies of America and other advanced economies threatens to create an “Inconvenient Truth”. Now it is abundantly clear the that human activity is changing the climate of our world and foisting upon the next generations a far different environment and climate with challenges and effects far greater and more serious than any we have endured."

      "We all share deep concerns for our current state of affairs, However as Martin Luther King, once said, “The arc of history is long, but it trends toward justice.” Dr. King had occasion to see the worst instincts of the human heart, but he woke up every day with the confidence that the progress of human history was moving towards a better day."

      "Our Peace Corps experience in Africa many years ago taught Patti and me that we must row our small boat of hope against what appear to be overwhelming odds. If our effort could create one wave for peace and justice in this world, that wave might reach far and on some distant shore bring hope. I expect that Dr. King’s hope was rooted in the assurance of God’s amazing grace…an assurance kindled by the community who stood together, who marched together, and who believed together that justice would one day roll down like a river and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream."

      Caption: Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, center, is sworn in by State Supreme Court Justice Ronald George, left, as Garamendi's wife Patti, right, looks on during ceremonies held at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Sunday Jan. 7, 2007. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

      Read more about John Garamendi.

      Tunisia RPCV Lance Holter writes: 1st Lt. Ehren Watada risks it all in an act of moral conscience

      Ehrenwatada01Tunisia RPCV Lance Holter writes:  1st Lt. Ehren Watada risks it all in an act of moral conscience
      "I learned about the courage of conviction last week when I met with a courageous young American patriot. A leader who lives by example. An individual, who out of a decision of moral conscience, refuses to participate in a war that he believes (after much personal research) violates the U.S. Constitution, Geneva accords, Nuremberg principals, and the United Nations Charter.  First Lieutenant Ehren Watada, a 28 year old U.S. Army artillery officer from Hawaii, has become the first active duty military officer publicly to oppose the war in Iraq.  As a result of his act of conscience and challenging what we now know about the war in Iraq, Lt. Watada is facing military court martial at Ft. Lewis Washington this February 5, 2007."

      "I, for one, am outraged. If the past national election or national polls are any indication of America’s dissatisfaction and outrage with the Iraq war then I am in good company.   Seventy-two percent of the U.S. troops in a 2006 Zogby poll want the U.S. out Iraq in 12 months. So when an individual emerges with the integrity of Lt. Watada, all of us benefit, whether we agree with him or not. In the national debate on the Iraq war we have an island boy risking all that he has including his future to help us all arrive at the truth."  Read more and leave your comments.

      Caption: 1st Lt. Ehren Watada

      Ehrenwatada Lt. Ehren Watada, son of Peru RPCV Robert Watada, calls Iraq war illegal, refuses order to go
      "I feel that we have been lied to and betrayed by this administration," Watada said in a telephone interview from Fort Lewis. "It is the duty, the obligation of every soldier, and specifically the officers, to evaluate the legality, the truth behind every order — including the order to go to war." His father — Robert Watada, a retired Hawaii state official — was opposed to the war in Vietnam, and was able to do alternative service in the Peace Corps in Peru.

      In making his decision, Watada has reached out to peace groups, including clergy, students, some veterans opposed to Iraq and others. Some war critics are raising money for his legal defense as they seek to galvanize broader opposition to Bush administration policy in Iraq.  Read more and leave your comments.

      Caption: Lt. Ehren Watada, center, with his niece Kodie Watada and his father, Robert, who opposed the Vietnam War and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Peru.

      Spotlight on Peace Corps Writers

      JohnbrandiEcuador RPCV John Brandi is the author of more than three dozen poetry collections
      When John Brandi moved to New Mexico in 1971, he designed and built a small cottage near Guadalupita, north of Mora. Opposed to the Vietnam War, he had served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador and begun publishing poetry as part of what he calls South America's "mimeo revolution." Using a Rotary Neostyle hand-operated mimeograph machine, he founded Tooth of Time Press in his cabin and thus brought the revolution north. Brandi published the work of other writers in addition to his own, and his press became known for attractive books of poetry. From the beginning, he combined writing poetry with making art. Currently a resident of Rio Arriba County, Brandi is the author of more than three dozen poetry collections. He has also created many works in a format called broadside -- poems printed with artwork on large sheets of paper and designed for display. Born in California, Brandi began his creative endeavors early. "My parents encouraged me to draw and to write at a young age," he said. "My dad was an accountant for a newspaper in Los Angeles. At the end of the month, he would ask the pressmen to cut end rolls into 8-by-10 sheets for me. He gave me a coffee table to work on and said, 'Draw the places you've gone with your mother and me.' My mother would always add something like, 'Write about how you felt when you were standing on those rocks with all those waves crashing around you.'"   Read more about John Brandi.

      Fieldobservations Robert Davidson wrote short stories to pass the time while in the Peace Corps in Grenada, little knowing that would be the start of a new career
      Robert Davidson got his doctorate in American Literature in 2002 from Purdue University. Before that, he and his wife were in the Peace Corps, from 1990 to 1992. He joined because of Linda, who had more of an idealistic "do-good-in-the-world" mind-set. "I wanted to travel," he said. "My intentions weren't as noble." The couple spent two years in Grenada, a Caribbean island. While there, he taught students about reading and writing, but found there wasn't much to do in his spare time except read and write. He hadn't always wanted to be a writer--"It whetted my appetite, I guess." There, Davidson learned discipline. He would wake up at 5 a.m. and write for two or three hours almost every day before work. "At first, that sucked," he said, the experience still fresh in his mind 16 years later. "Then I realized I had to do it. I liked doing this every day." Davidson's Peace Corps experience changed how he wrote about people. He said he learned to "see with a new set of eyes." Having to live in the 13-square-mile country for two years made him adapt to their way of life, instead of them adapting to his. "I recognized I had biases, preconceptions I didn't know I had," he said. "It was really hard to let go of that." Read more about John Davidson.

      Nightblind Deborah Gardner's murder is impetus for Tonga RPCV Jan Worth's first novel and second marriage
      For years, the grizzly murder of a female Peace Corps volunteer in 1976 haunted Jan Worth of Flint, who served with the organization in Tonga in the South Pacific archipelago at the time. Worth came to grips with the tragedy by writing a novel loosely based on the real-life events. The task took more than a decade. Though she made up the characters in the novel, the main events are true, said Worth, who was 26 at the time of the murder. "I never wanted to tell a factual story. I wanted to be able to embroider it."  Peace Corps volunteer, Dennis Priven, confessed to the murder and was found not guilty by reason of insanity. He returned to America a free man, where he worked in a government job for years. Another outcome from the experience occurred when she married Ted Nelson, a man she'd known in Tonga, in July 2005. (She'd been divorced after 15 years of marriage.) Worth and Nelson reconnected through Philip Weiss, who had interviewed both of them for his book, "American Taboo." They e-mailed for months, spoke on the phone and eventually met in Flint. He lives part time in San Pedro, Calif., where he runs a trophy business. "Twenty-five years later, we got together," she said. "It clicked. That'll be the second novel."   Read more about Jan Worth.

      January 12, 2007

      PCVs to return to Nepal on their own after 2004 evacuation

      CosnepalPCVs to return to Nepal on their own after 2004 evacuation
      As the Peace Corps program was suspended on September 13, 2004 in the aftermath of the Maoist's attack at the American Center in Gyaneshwor, Kathmandu, the 84 volunteers working in different parts of the country were evacuated. The evacuated volunteers said that they had to leave all their work and projects unfinished. Some were in the planning phase. PC volunteer Andrew Huston was planning to build a library at Shree Ratna Rajya Secondary School at Ramkot, Bhaktapur. Shana Groseclose was developing a rural health initiative program with Nepal Red Cross Society in Chitwan. Ashish Basuray  was working for a training for science teachers in Langtang. He had to leave HIV/AIDs education training uncompleted. Like these volunteers, other evacuated volunteers had to leave Nepal with their work incomplete.

      Love of some of the evacuated PCVs of Nepal is so intense that they are raising funds in the United States to complete the projects they had begun before their evacuation. Evacuated volunteers Amy Clark and Gregory Clark, both now working at the PC Headquarters, said they have already collected $8,000 from the Rotary Club. They want to hand over the money to complete a library in Chhorpatan Higher Secondary School and Kanya Secondary School in Pokhara. "We want to visit Nepal to hand over the money ourselves and say good bye on a good note. But we have not been able to do so because of lack of funds for our travel. However, we are hopeful that we will be able to raise funds for our travel as well. We are planning to go to Nepal sometime next summer," the cheerful-looking and optimistic Clarks said mixing English with Nepali.

      The evacuated volunteers hope that peace can be restored in Nepal and that the Peace Corps can resume its program. However, Peace Corps says it has no present plans of resuming its program in Nepal. "Peace Corps would require an invitation from the Government of Nepal prior to making an assessment as to whether or not resuming the program would be feasible. .... We have not had an official assessment and, until one is made, the likelihood of resuming the program cannot be guessed," official Zalansky said. Amidst uncertainty of their return, they still cherish the people and communities where they worked, and also the Daal Bhaat. "People to me were as dearer as the mountains," commented Gregory Clark. Shana Groseclose sums up Nepali people's friendliness as, "Sabai janale aunos swagat chha khanos khanos bhanne".

      Read more about Peace Corps Nepal.

      January 10, 2007

      Every fall Botswana RPCV Amy Smith, a senior lecturer at MIT, joins her students in a one-week assignment to live on $2 a day, to prepare for field trips to remote villages in places like Ghana, Honduras, and Zambia

      Amysmith Every fall Botswana RPCV Amy Smith, a senior lecturer at MIT, joins her students in a one-week assignment to live on $2 a day, to prepare for field trips to remote villages in places like Ghana, Honduras, and Zambia
      "I want to create a generation of engineers who are doers and active problem solvers," she says. "There is a history in international development of people going into the field with little technical background and coming up with things that are not effective. More and more, people are starting to recognize that problem-solving under the severe constraints of the developing world is difficult [and requires] real engineering skills." Inventor Amy Smith teaches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Botswana.

      Smith's efforts to get students involved extend well beyond the classroom. Working with MIT's Public Service Center, Smith cofounded the IDEAS (Innovation, Development, Enterprise, Action, Service) Competition, whose cash awards encourage students to develop and implement projects that make a positive change in the world. She also helped organize the International Development Network at MIT and assists in its annual student fair. This year, a record 50 groups took part, only two of which were spawned by D-Lab or IDEAS. Now she's plotting a month-long design fest this summer to spur visiting community leaders from developing countries to collaborate with student teams from MIT and elsewhere.

      Smith's approach to saving the world is pragmatic, much like her engineering philosophy. "There is a certain kind of engineering that I like to do," she says. "I don't like electricity and gadgetry. I simplify and simplify. None of my designs are complex. I always try to eliminate another part." She reduces problems to basic principles, hoping to uncover an equally basic solution. By keeping things simple, she increases the odds that her inventions will be adopted in poor countries.

      Botswana RPCV Amy Smith won MacArthur 'Genius' Grant for her work in using technology to solve problems in the developing world
      Amy Smith, 41, is dedicated to using technology to solve problems in the developing world. Smith said the MacArthur award "is pretty exciting, though a little scary. I've always operated on a shoestring. It'll be odd to do it differently for a change."

      Smith is a mechanical engineer and inventor who designs "life-enhancing solutions and labor-saving technologies for people at the far end of dirt roads in the world's most remote societies -- people facing crises that erupt in health clinics with no electricity and in villages with no clean water," according to the MacArthur Foundation biography.

      "Striking in their simplicity and effectiveness, her inventions include grain-grinding hammer mills, water-purification devices and field incubators for biologic testing, each reflecting her inordinate creativity and ingenuity," the biography said.

      "I currently have very little funding for my projects, so this gives me a lot more flexibility," said Smith, who is working on two projects in Haiti. "I will be able to move forward a lot faster now. There's so much to do in Haiti, it's really nice to have the resources to keep these projects going, and start new projects, too."

      Read more about Engineer and Inventor Amy Smith.

      January 09, 2007

      Greg Van Kirk and his team of volunteers comprise Community Enterprise Solutions the not for profit he co-founded with fellow Guatemala Peace Corps Volunteer George Glickley to provide loans to rural constituents

      Cosguatemala Greg Van Kirk and his team of volunteers comprise Community Enterprise Solutions the not for profit he co-founded with fellow Guatemala Peace Corps Volunteer George Glickley to provide loans to rural constituents
      While working in investment banking in New York City in 2000,  Greg Van Kirk read about Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus’ micro-credit work providing loans to the poor of Bangledesh. “When I turned 30 and read about Mohammad Yunnus’ work, I knew it was now or never, so I joined the Peace Corps,” he said. Armed with his investment banking credibility, and accrued analytic and business skills, Van Kirk knew that what he needed was real field experience. His transformation from Peace Corps volunteer to social entrepreneur began in Nebaj, an indigenous, rural town in the mountains of Guatemala, where he found himself surrounded by nature and culture but with no facilities or centers for tourists to stay at or visit.

      Seeing an opportunity to help local people bring new money into the community and create new jobs, he donated his own money and solicited the support of family and friends and created five tourism-focused businesses: a restaurant, a Spanish language school, a guiding service, an Internet café, and an artisan store. Van Kirk said Jan. 16 will mark the fifth anniversary of the tourism business and said the businesses have received about $10,000 in total donations to date and are now all locally owned and operated, directly employ over 30 people and have average annual revenues approaching $100,000.

      When it came time to create his own venture to build on the success of the tourism businesses, Van Kirk took into consideration the whole picture, using his heart and his head. Since he co-founded Community Enterprise Solutions in 2004, Van Kirk’s work has had a concrete impact. For example, thousands of women weavers and rural merchants with bad eyesight are now able to continue making a living by buying eyeglasses from Community Enterprise (CE) Solutions. The company trained and equipped local entrepreneurs, as featured in November of 2005 in the NBC Nightly News “Making a Difference” segment. When summing up his work Van Kirk said, “It is the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, working with so many human, cultural, and societal issues, trying to come up with solutions to problems that have been around for thousands of years.” “In the end, my job is to drive myself out of business. We train people and get them to the point of self-sufficiency; to the point where they don’t need us anymore,” he said.

      Read more about the Peace Corps and Microfinance.

      January 05, 2007

      Louise M. Pascale is republishing the collection of Afghan children's songs that she had compiled as a Peace Corps volunteer in the late 1960s

      ChildrensmusicofafghanistanLouise M. Pascale is republishing the collection of Afghan children's songs that she had compiled as a Peace Corps volunteer in the late 1960s
      Rummaging through her bookshelf five years ago, Louise M. Pascale, an assistant professor of creative arts and learning at Lesley University in Cambridge, came upon the collection of Afghan children's songs that she had compiled as a Peace Corps volunteer in the late 1960s.

      It was sort of like finding an old yearbook, but instead of illustrating how hairstyles and skirt lengths had changed over the years, the tattered green songbook called attention to a greater change: The devastation reaped on Afghanistan after years of Taliban rule. Holding the relic, Pascale was certain that all remaining copies of the songbook, which she distributed in Kabul during her time in the Peace Corps, had been destroyed. She assumed they were lost, along with instruments and archives of local folk songs, when the Taliban outlawed music.

      "I said to myself, 'I want to give this back to the kids in Afghanistan,' " Pascale recalls. " 'It's not doing me any good in my bookcase.' "

      The songbook has come a long way from its creation nearly 40 years ago, when the 22-year-old Pascale realized, while traveling to Afghan schools to teach music, that students lacked books of songs. She worked with local poets and musicians to transcribe traditional songs.

      Pascale's goal, to return these songs to a country stripped of its music, will be realized in the coming months. But the project is not over yet. The Afghan minister of education has asked that songs now be gathered for adults, so a second book can be created. Pascale takes the request as a good sign: "It makes me feel that they see the importance of it, and they know that music is a way to solidify and connect the country."

      Learn more about "Children's Songs from Afghanistan."

      Husband remembers Niger RPCV Mary Ann Hobson

      Peacedoveaa_2Husband remembers Niger RPCV Mary Ann Hobson
      "She was a person of many accomplishments - an artist most of all, a teacher and linguist who served in the Peace Corps in Africa, taught immigrant children in Australia, sang and acted, and brought a great sense of personal discipline and concentration to everything she tried to do. After her death, I felt a great sadness that many people never knew her - and a fear that what she was might quickly slip away."

      "I am certain that many other families experienced the same sadness, the same fear after the deaths of their loved ones. But I am also certain that like me, they have come to realize that so much of those lives does not go away and cannot be negated, whatever we do or don't do to remember them. It is as though each of us contributes to a sort of "Butterfly Effect," by our actions subtly altering the world in ways we may never know or understand, but are real and indelible."

      "In Mary Ann's case, I like to think that there are now-grown former students of hers around the world, from Africa to California to Australia, who now and then remember "Miss Hobson" and the high standards she insisted upon. Or that a student or researcher going through the stacks at Cal State San Bernardino may gain a flash of insight from something she wrote in her thesis on Emily Dickinson's poetry. Or that one of her richly thoughtful canvases will stir the soul and the imagination of another artist - or a musician or writer or scientist or child, for that matter. And then there is our son, whom she will not see graduate from high school but who will carry much of her spirit and outlook into what he does with his own life."

      "Like these other Lives Remembered in 2006, she wasn't famous, but like them, she changed the world."

      Read the rest of the remembrance.

      January 04, 2007

      Malawi RPCV Paul Theroux writes: Remember the Cicadas and the Stars?

      PaultherouxPaul Theroux writes:  Remember the Cicadas and the Stars?
      A longing for a simpler world, for a glimpse of the past, is one of the motives in travel. But the rest of the world has fared no better in terms of population pressure, and in many places it is much worse, even catastrophic. The population of Malawi 40 years ago was small and sustainable. None of us Peace Corps volunteers there at that time thought in terms of rescuing the country but only of helping to improve it. Now Malawi can't feed itself; it's one of the many countries that people wish to flee, renowned for being hopeless, unjustly publicized as an enormous orphanage of desperate tots, needing to be saved, devoid of pride, lost without us. The notion that a pop singer (back then it would have been Elvis) would breeze through and scoop up a child in a condescending gesture of rescue was unthinkable then.

      Travel, except in almost inaccessible places, is no longer the answer to finding solitude. And this contraction of space on a shrinking planet suggests a time, not far off, when there will be no remoteness: nowhere to become lost, nothing to be discovered, no escape, no palpable concept of distance, no peculiarity of dress — frightening thoughts for a traveler.

      Yet some of the most populous countries manage to be habitable because they are societies with strict, and civilized, codes of conduct. India, China and Japan are convenient examples, but I would include many African and Middle Eastern countries, too. The vindictive stereotype of the Muslim as a xenophobe does not tally with my experience of wandering in the Muslim world, where I have been treated hospitably, welcomed by strangers as "dayf al Rahman," a guest of the Merciful One.

      We are passing through a confused period of aggression and fear, characterized by our confrontational government, the decline of diplomacy, a pugnacious foreign policy and a settled belief that the surest way to get people to tell the truth is to torture them. (And by the way, "water boarding" was a torture technique at the worst of the Khmer Rouge prisons.) It is no wonder we have begun to squint at strangers. This is a corrosive situation in a country where more and more people, most of them strangers, are a feature of daily life.

      One of the lessons of travel is that, though half the world is wearing T-shirts and sneakers, they manage to live in overpopulated cities because they have not abandoned their traditional modes of politeness. These grace notes, which make traveling in crowded countries bearable, are a lesson to us in a mobbed and jostling world.

      Read more by and about Paul Theroux.

      The Peace Corps and Globalization

      AmericanwayDominican Republic RPCV Mark Ridoff writes: Productivity doesn't aid middle class
      "Forty years ago, I began two years of service as a Peace Corps volunteer in Latin America. That experience left me with a great appreciation of the opportunities and advantages that I was given as a member of what was then a vibrant and growing American middle class. I have watched with increasing dismay the accelerating erosion of the American middle class. Indeed, I began to think that there was much about America of the late 20th century and the early 21st century that reminded of the highly class-stratified Latin America countries I saw as a Peace Corps volunteer.  It is again time for broad debate on a fundamental question: Why should the workers whose productivity makes greater wealth possible not share in the benefits of that wealth? How can America be America without a strong and stable middle class?"  Read more.

      Gabon RPCV Terez Rose writes: The Art of Being Globally Thrifty
      Sometimes I feel as if I haven't been able to draw a deep breath since the day my husband, our chief breadwinner, came home eight months ago and told me he'd lost his job. "No one's fault, no reflection on your work," he was told. Reorganizations, cost-cutting, downsizing-that kind of thing.

      We Americans will adapt-it's one of the things we do best. New jobs will be created and the economy will eventually recover. However, it won't happen tomorrow. But here's another thing I learned from the Africans: how to be patient and weather the storm of challenging times with dignity and grace. How to accept things the way they are, difficulties and all. When I remember this, I look around at what my family does have now: adequate savings to squeak by, a beautiful home and lots of quality time together. My husband and I have the opportunity to sit in the backyard every night and watch our son frolic around, as the sun sinks slowly into the trees. Like my days in Africa, I've ceased to expect or hunger for things that are no longer accessible. I'm simply enjoying the purity of the moment. I think of my African friends, still there, still struggling, but surely finding time to play music and celebrate life. If you ask me, they are the true Wise Men from the East. Read more.

      Thomas Rooney writes: When President Kennedy met Prime Minister Nehru, he told him about the educational benefits the Peace Corps would have in India. Nehru replied; "Yes, I'm sure your young people will learn a lot." Those young people are now running the country. And it is time we started learning.
      It is ironic that 25 years ago, the Indians put themselves on this course by discarding socialism, lowering taxes, and encouraging trade. They learned it from us, too. Now we must relearn it from them. And we have a lot to learn, considering that Republicans in Congress can barely get a majority of their own caucus to support free-trade agreements.

      Not competing is not an option for our company--or for our country. In our case, we may be laying off nine employees, but we are hiring at least 30 more. In India, we are not just transferring work, but finding new customers. We spent time talking to the water authorities there about cleaning up the holiest and dirtiest river in the world, the Ganges. And we held similar talks with customers and suppliers in Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, and other parts of Asia. As these countries grow, so does their demand for goods and services that we in America can provide better than anyone in the world. But only if we are willing to recognize what our value is, and, above all, if we are willing to be fiercely competitive to provide them. No one can make any guarantees to any American company, at home or abroad, other than this: If we do not compete and make our products and services better, faster, and less expensive, we can and will lose. Read more.

      Burkina Faso RPCV John Uniack Davis speaks on impoverished African countries
      John Uniack Davis, graduate with a political science degree, discussed the most complex of Africa's health and economic challenges after a unique welcome from political science professor, Charles Weed, who shared letters received by his former student 22 years prior, during the first of Davis's experiences in the Peace Corps in Africa. Davis spoke about Africa's extreme poverty and how it is responsible for Africa's challenges with education, social justice, international equality and most importantly, adequate healthcare. "At least 50 percent of Africans live on less than one dollar a day," he said. "That's one third lower than the world's next poorest country, South Asia." Davis explained the complexity of Africa's cyclical debt crisis and the role of The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its continued economic devastation. Since its impoverishment had made it impossible to borrow elsewhere, Africa had nowhere else to turn to for financial assistance. Davis said for the past two decades World Bank and IMF have kept Africa reliant, bound with irreversible debts, and ultimately helpless in the fight against diseases and poverty. "Africa has found itself on the losing side of globalization," said Davis. Read more.

      Read more about the Peace Corps and Globalization.

      January 03, 2007

      Father of PCV Stephen Lotti, killed in Plane Crash in Peru in 2005, is searching for Monica Glenn who survived on the same flight

      Help_1 Father of PCV Stephen Lotti,  killed in Plane Crash in Peru in 2005, is searching for Monica Glenn who survived on the same flight
      We received the following message which we have been asked to post on our Bulletin Board:

      "My name is David Lotti. Stephen Lotti was my son who died in the plane crash in Peru 8/23/05. My attorney would very much like to contact Ms. Monica Glenn and talk with her about that day. Since both Steve and Ms. Glenn served in the Peace Corps we feel that at some point in the flight they may have made a connection. If you have a means of contacting her, please have her contact me at jblotti AT comcast.net OR David M. Lotti 115 Ashton Park, Peachtree City, Ga 30269. Phone 770-486-8502. Thanks for your help in this matter."

      RPCVs Monica Glenn and Steve Lotti were traveling separately on a flight in Peru in 2005 that crashed near Pucallpa. Steve Lotti lost his life while Monica Glenn and her husband survived with second degree burns.

      Monica Glenn served as a volunteer in China, her family is from the Orange County area, and her husband William Zea-Palacios is Bolivian. They were living in Arequipa, Peru a year and a half ago. If anyone in the RPCV community knows how to get in touch with Monica Glenn, please pass this message on to them.

      Returned Peace Corps Volunteers support Fair Trade

      FairtradeNepal RPCV Damian Jones started Annapolis-based "Aid Through Trade" in 1993 to help provide good employment and fair wages to artisans and farmers in developing countries
      Since 2000, Aid Through Trade sales have returned more than $500,000 to the economies of Nepal and Vietnam. Workers from his Admiral Drive company visit either of the countries - sometimes both - each year. The visits allows Aid Through Trade officials to meet the workers, and see their conditions and the environment in which products are being made. "We have to make an assessment of the presence of human dignity, besides looking at wages and exterior conditions," Mr. Jones said. "From a business point of view, that's a big step in the business supply chain." Mr. Jones said he believes fair trade will soon become as popular as organic goods, which are now carried in such grocery stores as Giant and Safeway. "People want to know that their food came from a clean and healthy place," he said. "They also want to know their goods came from a good, healthy, fairly paid source." Read more and leave your comments.

      Guatemala RPCV Naren Sonpal Offers Fair Trade Coffee
      Naren Sonpal's two-year term of service as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala ended in 2001, but he's still working to make the world a better place, one cup of coffee at a time. He was 55 when he entered the Peace Corps, assigned to work with cooperatives of coffee and tea farmers in the Guatemalan highlands near Coban. On his return, Naren and his wife, Gun, built a business on his experience in Guatemala and a subsequent trip to India, becoming roasters and blenders of 100 percent organic, shade-grown, Fair Trade coffees and purveyors of organic Fair Trade teas. The Sonpals opened Coffee-Tea-Etc. in December of 2002 in the lower level of their Goshen home. Sacks of coffee beans from every corner of the globe are lined up near the couple's state-of-the-art drum roaster.

      "Our coffee comes from Mexico, Peru, Sumatra, Colombia, Nicaragua, Guatemala, New Guinea, Costa Rica and Ethiopia," Naren told Voices, "and we know the farms they are coming from. Most multinational companies won't pay what coffee producers need to survive." "The farmers suffer a lot," Naren said. "Right now, they're selling to the big corporations at below their cost of production. When farmers can't make money producing their coffee, they sometimes turn to the production of drugs - and who can blame them?"

      Central African Republic RPCV Katie Dyer is co-owner of Cadeaux du Monde, a fair trade shop that sells artwork and jewelry from all over the world
      Katie Dyer and Jane Perkins of Newport have done their share of traveling. The mother-daughter duo are the co-owners of Cadeaux du Monde, a fair trade shop in Newpor, Rhode Island that sells artwork and jewelry from all over the world, representing over 40 countries. What is Fair Trade? It's fairly traded folk art, directly from the village. There's not a lot of middle men. It's the same idea as fair trade coffee where the producers actually get a fair price. We buy directly from them so they're in control of their prices.

      Read more about Fair Trade and leave your comments.

      January 02, 2007

      Recent RPCV Obituaries

      Peacedoveaa_1Obituary for Colombia RPCV James W. Thomas
      He graduated from high school in Oakdale and went on to serve in the Peace Corps in Colombia. Jim is remembered by all who knew him as a man of few words. He never hesitated to lend a helping hand, whether it was moving equipment for a gymnastics meet, painting sets for plays, or going on stage as a pageant dad. He never complained about doing any ridiculous thing that the women in his life asked of him. He was a wonderful father, husband and friend. The real Jim left us several years ago, and he has been greatly missed by us all.

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