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Fwd: PC Online: Teresa Heinz Kerry praises PCVs at Convention

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  • Christine Chumbler
    ... Peace Corps Online The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers This Month s Issue: August 2004 Teresa Heinz Kerry celebrates the
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 3, 2004
      >>> "Peace Corps News" <PCNews@...> 8/2/04 8:06 PM >>>
      Peace Corps Online The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers

      This Month's Issue: August 2004
      Teresa Heinz Kerry celebrates the Peace Corps Volunteer as one of the best faces America has ever projected in a speech to the Democratic Convention. The National Review disagreed and said that Heinz's celebration of the PCV was "truly offensive." What's your opinion and who can come up with the funniest caption for our Current Events Funny?

      Exclusive: Director Vasquez speaks out in an op-ed published exclusively on the web by Peace Corps Online saying the Dayton Daily News' portrayal of Peace Corps "doesn't jibe with facts."

      In other news, the NPCA makes the case for improving governance and explains the challenges facing the organization, RPCV Bob Shaconis says Peace Corps has been a "sacred cow", RPCV Shaun McNally picks up support for his Aug 10 primary and has a plan to win in Connecticut, and the movie "Open Water" based on the negligent deaths of two RPCVs in Australia opens August 6. Op-ed's by RPCVs: Cops of the World is not a good goal and Peace Corps must emphasize community development. Peace Corps Online: One of America's best faces

      Welcome to Peace Corps Online - August 2, 2004

      A summary of Peace Corps News and Issues from around the world.

      One of America's best faces

      Teresa Heinz Kerry addressed the Democratic National Convention on July 27 and praised the Peace Corps with the following words:

      "To me, one of the best faces America has ever projected is the face of a Peace Corps volunteer. That face symbolizes this country: young, curious, brimming with idealism and hope - and a real, honest compassion. Those young people convey an idea of America that is all about - heart and creativity, generosity and confidence, a practical, can-do sense and a big, big smile."

      "For many generations of people around the globe, that is what America has represented. A symbol of hope, a beacon brightly lit by the optimism of its people - people coming from all over the world."

      Read what she has to say about growing up in Mozambique, witnessing the weight of apartheid in 1950's South Africa, and why she says there is a value in taking a stand whether or not anyone may be noticing and whether or not it is a risky thing to do at:

      One of America's best faces

      Was her celebration of the Peace Corps "truly offensive?"

      The National Review had a different take on her speech and said that "her celebration of the Peace Corps volunteer, as the great American face, was truly offensive." Read the rest of what they say and leave your opinion at:

      "Truly Offensive"

      Leave your comments

      Leave your comments on Teresa Heinz Kerry's speech and National Review's reaction to it at:

      Leave your comments

      Current Events Funnies

      In a new feature, Current Events Funnies, who can come up with the funniest caption or headline for the Teresa Heinz Kerry story and photo at:

      Current Events Funnies

      In this Issue

      1. Director Vasquez speaks out

      2. NPCA details proposed board changes

      3. RPCV Bob Shaconis says PC is "sacred cow"

      4. RPCV Shaun McNally picks up support, needs 7,500 votes on August 10

      5. Op-ed: Cops of the World is not a good goal

      6. Op-ed: PC must emphasize community development

      7. "Open Water" based on RPCV drownings opens August 6

      8. Peace Corps Funnies


      1. Director Vasquez speaks out

      Last month we reported on the Senate hearings on Peace Corps Safety and Security and Director Vasquez's statement that in his view there had been some distortions in the articles published by the Dayton Daily News on Safety and Security of Volunteers at:

      Senate Hearings

      This month Director Vasquez speaks out in an op-ed published exclusively on the web by "Peace Corps Online" in which he expands on his remarks and says that the portrayal of Peace Corps by the Dayton Daily News doesn't jibe with facts.

      Read his op-ed that details the inaccuracies in the newspaper coverage and explains why DDN owes it to its readers, the more than 171,000 Americans who have served as Peace Corps volunteers, and the Peace Corps to get the story straight - to be both fair and accurate at:

      Director Vasquez speaks out

      2. NPCA details proposed board changes

      As requested by the Presidents' Forum last summer in Portland OR, the NPCA Board has studied ways to improve its performance. The report of this effort is now available and will be discussed in Chicago, August 5-8. The proposals, if approved, would reduce the Board's size and change its composition, via an amendment to NPCA Bylaws to be placed before the NPCA membership in the fall. The number of Board committees has already been reduced and role of the Presidents' Forum and Group Leaders would be strengthened. Read the report by NPCA's Executive Committee on improving governance and leave your comments at:

      NPCA details proposed board changes

      NPCA Challenges Today and Tomorrow

      As a supporting document to their proposal for Board changes, the NCPA has provided their assessment of the challenges facing the organization:

      "While the total Peace Corps community is large and growing, the organized PC community is small and stagnating. For 5-6 years, membership growth in NPCA and many Groups has stalled. Although NPCA's services benefit many persons (NPCA President Kevin Quigley estimates 36,000), only about 10,000 support NPCA as Members!

      Beneficiaries of NPCA services number about 36,000. They include: dues-paying Members; about 7,500 PCVs serving abroad; about 2,000 new Returnees receiving one-year memberships free; about 700 non-members in our Advocacy, Global TeachNet, and Micro-Enterprise programs - not to mention non-member readers of WorldView; and about 15,000 Group Members who are not also NPCA Members but benefit indirectly! Unless we improve our governance, effectiveness, and growth now, the organized PC community will fail to realize its potential and wither into obscurity."

      Read the NPCA's self-assessment of the challenges facing the organization and leave your comments on how the NPCA can address these issues at:

      NPCA Challenges Today and Tomorrow

      3. RPCV Bob Shaconis says Peace Corps is a "sacred cow"

      Read an essay by RPCV Bob Shaconis who says that Peace Corps' treatment as a "sacred cow" has exempted it from public scrutiny over the past 40 years and that the agency has labored to preserve its shining reputation, sometimes at the expense of the very principles it is supposed to embody.

      Shaconis tells the story of how he pitched a story in 1983 of Peace Corps casualties (victims of violence, psychological burnouts, suicides, political scapegoats) to Playboy magazine and was given the assignment. He flew to Connecticut to meet with the family of Philip Cyr, a volunteer murdered in Nepal by bandits, but his interview with the grieving parents was interrupted, incredibly, by a phone call from the then-director of the Peace Corps, Loret Miller Ruppe, who advised the Cyrs not to talk.

      Peace Corps headquarters then issued a worldwide memo to its staff threatening disciplinary action against anyone who spoke with him, his sources (and friends) within the organization stopped taking his calls and his Freedom of Information Act request for documents was kicked back with a price tag of more than a million dollars.

      Despite Peace Corps stonewalling and obstruction, he completed the article but, beginning with Playboy, every major general-interest magazine in the country turned it down, a phenomenon later explained by an editor at the Atlantic Monthly, who had read the piece: Peace Corps was a sacred cow, and no editor wanted to be responsible for undermining its exalted image.

      Shaconis says his intention was never to take down or disparage the Peace Corps, but to air out structural flaws, with the hope that future volunteers would be better prepared to overcome the challenges that would confront them, physically, psychologically and emotionally, in the far-flung corners of the world.

      Read Shaconis' essay and leave your opinion on the following question: Should Returned Volunteers just keep their mouths shut and help preserve the Peace Corps' reputation or do they have a responsibility to speak out on issues that can help improve the Peace Corps? Leave your opinion at:

      Is the Peace Corps a "sacred cow"

      4. RPCV Shaun McNally picks up support, needs 7,500 votes on August 10

      Liberia RPCV Shaun McNally is a long shot in the August 10 primary in Connecticut's 2nd district but the long shot just got shorter last week when former Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr., one of Connecticut's most famous independents, told a crowd that he was throwing his support and his financial contributions behind McNally.

      "I think he's gutsy, and I think he's got courage, and I think that's exactly what the people of the 2nd District want," Weicker said of McNally in an interview. "I met him when he was a state rep. He was outspoken. He was nonpartisan. He was outstanding," Weicker said.

      McNally said last week that as few as 7,500 votes may be all that is necessary to win. Connecticut is already a Peace Corps state with RPCVs Chris Dodd and Chris Shays representing the state in the Senate and House of Representatives respectively. Read how one courageous RPCV is fighting for a seat in Congress at:

      McNally picks up support

      5. Op-ed: Cops of the World is not a wise goal

      Back in the 1950s, authors Eugene Burdick and William J. Lederer wrote a book called "The Ugly American" about the ineptitude of American diplomacy, and the arrogance that made others around the globe wonder about American values.

      The Peace Corps, begun in the early 1960s, was an effort to do something about that sorry state of affairs. It was an effort, historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., said, "to replace protocol- minded, striped-pants officials by reform-minded missionaries of democracy who mixed with the people, spoke the native dialects, ate the food, and involved themselves in local struggles against ignorance and want."

      Now read an op-ed by Philippines RPCV Allan M. Winkler who says that we lost sight of that approach in Vietnam, that we've lost sight of it again in Iraq, that the United States has behaved with unbelievable arrogance in its preemptive strike on Iraq and that the latest disclosures about the sad state of American and British intelligence make clear the bankruptcy of our political position, no matter how evil Saddam Hussein may have been. Read the op-ed and leave your comments at:

      Cops of the World is not a wise goal

      6. Op-ed: Peace Corps must emphasize community development

      Here is an argument that has been going on over the 40 year history of the Peace Corps that has been given a new twist by Morocco RPCV Jason Ben-Meir who says in an op-ed that the Peace Corps must make community development the primary goal of Volunteers and the vehicle they use in functioning as agents of cultural exchange.

      "All of the 7,500 Volunteers currently serving in 71 countries, including 3,500 school teachers, should be trained in facilitating and negotiating the process of community development. Though Peace Corps' training of its Volunteers (and staff) is exemplary on the whole, a relative few receive hands-on training in facilitation. Volunteers who receive the training significantly increase (at least double) the number of community projects they help to create. Peace Corps also needs to substantially increase its Small Projects Assistance budget to help implement these new projects. The current annual budget averages only a few hundred dollars per Volunteer."

      Read the op-ed and leave your comments at:

      Peace Corps must emphasize community development

      7. Movie "Open Water" based on RPCV drownings opens August 6

      In the movie "Open Water" opening in theatres August 6, a vacationing couple surfaces from a scuba dive to find their tour boat has vanished. Left for hours amid circling sharks, one of the divers finally vents his rage at having been abandoned. "Unbelievable!" he screams.

      The movie is loosely based on a real event: the 1998 stranding of Thomas and Eileen Lonergan, who traveled to Australia's Great Barrier Reef after three years as Peace Corps teachers on the islands of Fiji and Tuvalu.

      At the end of a 40-minute dive, the crew was supposed to log each person's dive and count heads before the boat left. But several crew members were inexperienced and uncertain of their responsibilities. Amid this confusion, the Lonergans' dives weren't recorded and the head count was botched. The captain, believing he had all passengers aboard, motored back to Port Douglas.

      The boat's captain was later charged with manslaughter due to criminal negligence. After hearing conflicting accounts of who had done what on board the boat, the jury acquitted him. The company was later fined for breaching workplace health and safety rules because of its sloppy practices on the day of the Lonergans' dive, and it went out of business.

      But six years after the Lonergans' stranding, many Queenslanders still question the couple's fate. At a scuba-diving trade show in July, Col McKenzie, a dive industry representative who testified at the trial, drew maps, chatted with shark experts and demonstrated scuba gear to illustrate his belief that the Longerans had intentionally stayed down too long, then swum to a dive platform. "Tom was on the pontoon thinking: `I don't want to go home. We can disappear and start a new life,' " Mr. McKenzie says. "I think it's far more likely they're still alive than that they were taken by sharks." Read the story and leave your opinion at:

      "Open Water" opens August 6

      8. Peace Corps Funnies

      Take a look at last month's first Peace Corps funnies "Monkey Business" at:

      Monkey Business

      Then go to our funny for this month and contribute your own caption at:

      This Month's Peace Corps Funnies

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