No More Than Two Degrees of Separation
By Kevin Quigley on Monday, November 1st, 2010
After the horrors of War World One, a Hungarian thinker named Frigyes Karinthy developed the idea that everyone was no further than six steps from another human being.
In the early 1990s, this idea was made in a play and then into a movie called “Six Degrees of Separation.” Like much in popular culture, this idea went viral when it got connected to a celebrity…. So, there is a now a Hollywood-related game that challenges individuals to find no more six degrees of separation to the actor Kevin Bacon.
In the Peace Corps community, it feels that our world is much smaller: there are usually no more than two degrees of separation between community members.
In late September I had the opportunity to visit Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina to give a talk on “global citizenship” as part of series of events on that theme throughout the academic year.
Before traveling to Furman, I emailed Peace Corps headquarters and the Atlanta regional office to let folks know that I was going to be at Furman and to ask if I could be helpful in any way.
Upon my arrival at Furman, I was surprised to get an email from the Peace Corps desk officer for the Kyrgyz Republic. In that email, I learned that the father of one of the students I would be meeting, Charlotte Holt, played an extremely important role related to Peace Corps Volunteers serving in the Kyrgyz Republic.
Until recently, Colonel Blaine Holt commanded the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing based in Manas, Kyrgyz Republic. Colonel Holt directed the aircraft that rescued volunteers from the ethnic violence between the Uzbecks and Kyrgyz that engulfed the southern part of the Kyrgyz Republic last spring. (Read some of the volunteers’ harrowing accounts in their blogposts…)
Despite considerable efforts to keep them safe and secure, from time to time volunteers end up in harm’s way. We are deeply grateful to the Colonel Holts and others who come to their timely assistance.
Before my lecture, I had a chance to talk with Charlotte Holt (who wants to join the Peace Corps!) and other students. And the next morning, I received an extremely gracious note from Colonel Holt—who currently is a military fellow a the Council on Foreign Relations where I had been an international affairs fellow. Again, demonstrating that in our Peace Corps world it is no more than two degrees of separation that binds us.