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South Africa

April 20, 2022

For “Hardball” Host Chris Matthews, a Life in Politics Began with the Nixon-Kennedy Battle in 1960

This Country My Life in Politics and History By Chris Matthews Simon & Schuster   Reviewed by Steven Boyd Saum   “I suppose everyone has a moment that wins them over to a lifelong enthusiasm,” Chris Matthews writes early on in This Country. “For me, it was the 1960 battle between Vice President Richard Nixon and Senator John F. Kennedy that got me truly excited about politics.” Matthews was 14, and from an Irish Catholic family in Philadelphia. He fell hard for JFK — at first. But his was a Republican family. Come GOP convention time, young Chris had swung around to his...

April 18, 2022

What Happens When Diplomats Fail to Understand the History of Nations Where They Serve — from the Perspective of the People in Those Nations?

History Shock When History Collides with Foreign Relations By John Dickson University of Kansas Press   Reviewed by Nathalie Vadnais   John Dickson gleans insights from 25 years as a foreign service officer, much of which included hard lessons that came from not having a deeper knowledge of a host country’s history. That leads time and again to what he terms “history shock,” wherein dramatically different interpretations of history have blocked diplomatic understanding and cooperation. Dickson served with the Peace Corps in Gabon 1976–79 before joining the U.S. Information Agency in 1984; he later served with the State Department when the two...

April 18, 2022

Understanding New Diasporas and Transnationality Through the Voices of African Immigrants to Kentucky

Voices of African Immigrants in Kentucky Migration, Identity, and Transnationality By Francis Musoni, Iddah Otieno, Angene Wilson, and Jack Wilson University Press of Kentucky   Reviewed by Steven Boyd Saum   The heart of this book is based on oral history interviews with nearly 50 Africa-born immigrants in Kentucky — of which there are now more than 22,000. From a former ambassador from The Gambia to a pharmacist from South Africa, from a restaurant owner from Guinea to a certified nursing assistant from the Democratic Republic of Congo, every immigrant has a unique and complex story of their life experiences and the decisions...

December 22, 2021

Peace Corps Safety and Security: Looking at a Decade of Legislation for Change

Progress, failures, and what’s on the horizon: a conversation convened for Peace Corps Connect 2021   Illustration by Anna + Elena = Balbusso     On September 26, 2011, as the Peace Corps community marked 50 years of Volunteers serving in communities around the world, the U.S. Senate passed the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act, which was signed into law later that year. Three years ago, Congress completed work on the Sam Farr and Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act. These two pieces of legislation were designed to bring about improvements and reforms pertaining to the health, safety, and security of Volunteers. What...

December 19, 2021

Evacuation: Service cut short by medical crisis, the draft, and COVID-19

Evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers: Then and Now, We Continue to Serve — a conversation convened as part of Peace Corps Connect 2021. Pictured: “Gül” in Turkish, “rose” in English. Margo Jones served as a Volunteer in the village of Asagisayak, then in the city of Bolu. Photo by Ken St. Louis   On September 25, 2021, Jodi Hammer hosted a panel of Volunteers who have been evacuated from the countries where they were serving — in the 1960s and in 2020. Hammer was a Volunteer in Ecuador 1994–97 and serves as Career Support Specialist at National Peace Corps Association. Here are edited excerpts...

December 19, 2021

A More Sustainable Food System

C.D. Glin takes on responsibilities as vice president, global head of philanthropy for the PepsiCo Foundation   By NPCA Staff   C.D. Glin (South Africa 1997–99) took on responsibilities as vice president, global head of philanthropy for the PepsiCo Foundation in May. He oversees daily management of the foundation and focuses work toward a more sustainable food system. Glin had been president and CEO of the U.S. African Development Foundation, an Africa-focused philanthropic organization established by Congress to invest grant capital, build capacity, and scale locally owned, sustainable solutions for underserved and agricultural-dependent populations. He was the first director of Intergovernmental Affairs for the...

September 3, 2021

Hilliard Hicks: Reviving Sustainable Aquaculture in the Philippines

Hilliard Hicks Peace Corps Volunteer in South Africa (2014–16) | Peace Corps Response Volunteer in the Philippines (2019–20)   By Hilliard Hicks   Photo: Marine biology students conduct quadrat seagrass surveys in the Philippines. Courtesy Hillard Hicks   In 2020 the world was thrust into a pandemic, which caused more than 7,000 Peace Corps Volunteers to suddenly return home from their adopted communities around the world. I was one of them. During my first Peace Corps assignment, I served as an education Volunteer in South Africa. After service, I went to graduate school at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in...

November 4, 2020

African Americans and the Future of the Peace Corps

Recruitment, support — and what next? It’s a conversation we’ve had again and again. Here are some ideas, insights, and hard truths. ON SEPTEMBER 15, 2020, THE CONSTITUENCY FOR AFRICA convened a group of past, present, and future Peace Corps leaders for the annual Ronald H. Brown African Affairs series. It’s a timely and needed conversation — with all Peace Corps Volunteers evacuated from around the world because of COVID-19, and as our nation grapples with pandemics of coronavirus and systemic racism. The conversation was moderated by educational consultant Eldridge “Skip” Gilbert, who served as a Volunteer in Sierra Leone (1967–69). Edited...

August 10, 2020

Groundbreaking Work: Richard Paul Thornell in memoriam

By Jonathan Pearson and Steven Boyd Saum Richard Paul Thornell was only 24 years old when Sargent Shriver and Harris Wofford sent him to Ghana as director of the Peace Corps Africa Regional Office. “For him, it was a lifelong sense of pride,” his son Paul Thornell told the Washington Post. “The Peace Corps is the thing that has lasted, in a meaningful way, longer than other things, and the fact that my dad had a central role in launching it, that meant a lot to him.” Yet that was only one of the groundbreaking roles Richard Paul Thornell played. A graduate...

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