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  • Orrin Luc posted an article
    News and updates from the Peace Corps community — across the country and around the world. see more

    News and updates from the Peace Corps community — across the country, around the world, and spanning generations of returned Volunteers and staff.

    By Peter V. Deekle (Iran 1968–70)
     

    Ambassador Donald Lu (pictured) confirmed as Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs. Gary M. Restaino nominated to be U.S. Attorney for Arizona. Women advancing in medicine and business. New books. Honoring an early Volunteer for outstanding contributions to the community. Nonprofit leaders research clean energy and financial empowerment.

    Have news to share with the Peace Corps community? Let us know.

     

    BOLIVIA

    Ken Culver (1965–67) has been inducted into the Central Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame, which recognizes persons over 60 who have made special contributions to their communities. In addition to his time on city council in Lancaster, Ohio, he works with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Fairfield County.  He is a founding member of the Lancaster Playhouse and served on the Fairfield Medical Center board, and has also worked with the Maywood Mission, Habitat for Humanity, the Lancaster Public Education Foundation, the Salvation Army, and the First Presbyterian Church Elder Mission.

     

     

     

    DOMINICA

    Jennifer Pritheeva Samuel (1999–01) is a photo editor at National Geographic. She serves as a judge for the Ocean Storytelling Grant and has edited stories in the magazine’s 2019–20 series highlighting women. She also contributed to the 2018 series on race and diversity. 

     

     

     

     

    ETHIOPIA

    Melvin Foote (1973–75) was recognized as one of the Top 500+ Annual Powerlist Influential Africans in the World by Tropics Magazine. He was honored with the Chevalier de l'Ordre du Mali—the Knight of the Order of Mali, for a foreign national. Foote is the founder and CEO of the Constituency for Africa. 

     

     

     

     

    FIJI

    Charles Blomquist (1988–90) has been appointed to the Baltimore City Circuit Court by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. He has spent his entire legal career as a prosecutor and is currently a deputy state prosecutor in the Office of State Prosecutor.

     

     

     

     

    GUATEMALA

    Chris Roesel (1973–75) is the founder and president of P2P, Inc. It is a nonprofit organization providing water, sanitation, hygiene, malaria-elimination, and income improvement in Uganda. The organization was named a 2021 Top-Rated Nonprofit. In August, his new book, How to Improve the World Quickly, was published by Peace Corps Writers. “After the Peace Corps, how to help those most in need was the question that drove me,” he noted. “So I searched out the best projects in the world, analyzed them, and then tested what and how to do it in more than 20 countries of Africa, Asia, and the Americas.”

     

     

     

    GUINEA

    Margaret Chell (2018–20) was more than a year into her service as a Volunteer when COVID-19 struck. Now she is completing medical school at Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine in Pasadena, California.

     

     

     

     

    GUINEA-BISSAU

    Adam Browning, co-founder and longtime executive director of Vote Solar, is leaving the organization that he began 20 years ago. Vote Solar was founded in 2002 and advocates for clean energy in legislative and regulatory arenas at the state level, where most decisions about electricity are made.

     

     

     

     

     

    Jessica Collins (1996–98) is executive director of the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts. Her wide-ranging professional leadership in building coalitions to tackle the pressing community issues has been recognized through her selection as a 2021 Woman of Impact by Business West.

     

     

     

     

    REPUBLIC OF KIRIBATI

    David Brummel (1998–2000) has been appointed (October 2021) Director of Washington County Department of Public Health and Environment in Minnesota. He served as deputy director beginning in 2014. 

     

     

     

     

    KOREA

    Clifford Garstang (197677) practiced international law before becoming an active writer of fiction. He recently published Oliver’s Travels (Regal House Publishing), a novel exploring the “folly of memory and life’s meaning” through Ollie Tucker, a recent college graduate and student of philosophy, who invents an alter ego, Oliver, who lives the adventurous and exotic existence Ollie cannot. 

     

     

     

    MICRONESIA

    Roland Merullo (1979–80) has published Driving Jesus to Little Rock (PFP Publishers), a quirky travelogue about a driver who picks up a passenger who claims to be Jesus. 

     

     

     

     

    NEPAL

    Lawrence Leamer (1965–67) has published Capote’s Women, which depicts Truman Capote’s relationship with notable women during his lifetime and is just out from Putnam. Leamer is the author of 18 books including five New York Times bestsellers and one off-Broadway play.

     

     

     

     

    NIGER

    Mike Mitchell (1983–85), founder of Project Play, was awarded Alumnus of the Year by De La Salle High School in Concord, California. The nonprofit organization provides universal access to basic social services; empowering people living in poverty and their organizations; progressively developing social protection systems to support those who cannot support themselves; addressing the disproportionate impact of poverty on women; intensifying international cooperation for poverty eradication.

     

     

     

    PARAGUAY

    Gary M. Restaino (1991–93) was appointed in October to be the United States Attorney for Arizona — the top federal law enforcement officer in the state. Restaino has been a federal prosecutor in Arizona since 2003 and was previously the chief of the criminal division and the white collar crime section. Restaino has also worked as a trial attorney for the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section and worked on some of the highest profile cases of the past decade in Arizona. Before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Restaino was a civil rights lawyer for the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and represented farmworkers for a Phoenix-based legal aid service. 

     

     

     

    SIERRA LEONE

    Donald Lu (1988–90) became Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs on September 15, 2021, after being confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Prior to this assignment, Assistant Secretary Lu served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic from 2018 to 2021 and the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Albania from 201518. Before his posting in Albania, Assistant Secretary Lu worked on the Ebola crisis in West Africa as the Deputy Coordinator for Ebola Response in the Department of State. Lu is a Foreign Service Officer with more than 30 years of U.S. government service. 

     

     

     

    SWAZILAND

    Lauren North (2010–12) is the newly-appointed staff attorney for the Jefferson County Family Court (KY) and the first recipient of Earlham College’s Outstanding Young Alumni Award (October 2021). 

  • Steven Saum posted an article
    Important and timely news about the Peace Corps community. see more

    Unemployment benefits, personal stories of evacuation, and Volunteers serving on the front lines to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic

    By NPCA Staff
     

    Here are the top stories of the week on the Peace Corps community across the United States — and around the world. And here’s a sampling of opinion pieces and coverage from states and communities that are home to some of the 7,300 evacuated Volunteers — and nearly a quarter million Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. Stay up to date throughout the week with our Flipboard stories, and subscribe to the National Peace Corps Association newsletter.  

       

     

     

    New York Times, The Hill Peace Corps Volunteers are eligible for unemployment assistance

    The U.S. Labor Department issued special unemployment guidelines which clarifies that evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers are eligible for this assistance.
    April 28, 2020
     

    New York TImes: “Peace Corps Volunteers Can Get Unemployment Benefits, Officials Say”

    The Hill: “Peace Corps, AmeriCorps volunteers eligible for stimulus unemployment benefits, Labor says”

    At the beginning of April, Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Congressman Dean Phillips (D-MN) issued a joint Senate/House letter to the Department of Labor asking to clarify that evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers would be eligible for benefits under the “Pandemic Unemployment Assistance” act. In a press release quoted in the stories, Senator Van Hollen said: “For decades, Peace Corps and AmeriCorps volunteers have served our country at home and abroad — promoting democracy, literacy, development and good will. Today, these men and women — thousands of whom have been recalled — deserve the same safety net provided to others at this moment of need. I’m glad to see the Department of Labor follow Congressional intent and provide the certainty of this relief.”

    Representative Phillips said in the release: “The Peace Corps represents the very best in American leadership on a global stage, with volunteers serving alongside communities in their fight against sickness, hunger, and economic insecurity. We must honor that commitment in this time of economic turmoil. I am thankful for the leadership of Senators Wyden and Van Hollen, and for the Department of Labor’s willingness to listen.”

     

     

    Associated PressFor Peace Corps evacuees, there wasn’t even time for goodbye

    April 25, 2020


    Associated Press published a story that was then carried around the world — from Time to Voice of America, the New York Times to digital and print media across the United States and internationally. 

    Peace Corps Volunteer Kelsea Mensh was in the Dominican Republic working on a school improvement project, applying for funding to install hand-washing stations. She was filled with purpose and looked forward to two years of service. Then came evacuation. Jakob Leicthman and Jack Cashmere, who were serving in Ecuador, share their stories as well. The closing quote in the story, from Mensh: “I know a lot of fellow Peace Corps volunteers are searching for jobs now and trying to enter the workforce at one of the worst times to find a job,” she said. “It’s not easy, but there’s a saying in the Dominican Republic, ‘Hay que seguir echando pa’ lante’ — ‘gotta keep moving forward’ — so that’s my mentality now.”

     


    Video: Business Insider Today
    More than 7,300 Peace Corps volunteers worldwide were evacuated because of the coronavirus — and many fear they'll never return

    April 28, 2020


    Business Insider Today produced video profiles of eight evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers. They speak of the communities and projects they left behind. M
    any are still holding out hope their service will be resumed. “We were just beginning to make connections with our families and our #community and starting to understand the local language,” said Michael Osorio, a Volunteer in the Philippines. As this story drives home, Volunteers who were serving around the world come from all across the country — so their story is America’s story.

      

     

    Radio: MarketplacePeace Corps volunteers return home to a dismal job market and a future in limbo

    April 27, 2020
     

    Among the millions of Americans whose lives have been upended by COVID-19 are the 7,300 who volunteer abroad through the Peace Corps. Profiles and stories from Adam Greenberg (Zambia), Stephanie Estrera (Philippines), Tim Feng (Thailand), and Madeline and Clint Kellner (Peru). One key takeaway, as reporter Andy Uhler notes: “For those that are struggling, there’s a network of former Peace Corps volunteers trying to help current volunteers when and where they can. Some have offered places to stay, job opportunities and emotional support.”

     


    Global Broadcast
    | The Call to Unite

    May 1-2, 2020
     

    The Call to Unite was a 24-hour global celebration of our collective humanity. Oprah Winfrey and Tim Shriver hosted preachers and artists, musicians and humanitarians for a series of conversations and performances. Former U.S. presidents Carter, Bush, and Clinton took part as well. The goal: transform pain into purpose in this time of social distancing through an unparalleled show of global solidarity. NPCA was a proud community partner of this event that featured evacuated Peace Corps Volunteer Sharmae Stringfield connecting via video with her counterpart, Chipiliro Ngwali in Mdeka, Malawi. The event also featured RPCV Meisha Robinson, and National Peace Corps Association President & CEO Glenn Blumhorst contributed a video welcome to spread the word for the event: "We see the Peace Corps community united to serve others,” Blumhorst said.The event was streamed live on Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Twitch, and unite.us.

     

     

    New Hampshire, Georgia, Texas Opinion Pieces from Returned and Evacuated Volunteers

    “Peace Corps exemplifies of what world needs now” |  New Hampshire Union-Leader  

    Physician and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Robert Englund writes: ”With the coronavirus pandemic turning the world upside down, it’s time we begin thinking about our best strategy — once the pandemic is over — for creating a nation that relies less on blame and finger-pointing and more on goodwill, diplomacy and mutual understanding. Fortunately, we already have an institution that has succeeded in doing just that. It’s called the Peace Corps.”

      

    “COVID-19 ended my Peace Corps service, but I'm still grateful” | The Red and the Black, Athens, Georgia

    Evacuated Peace Corps Volunteer Brun Beringer was pulled from his community in Georgia — and came home to “the other Georgia.” He writes: “We must remember to give thanks and strive to help each other, however we can, in a spirit of respect and compassion. This spirit is the essence of the Peace Corps, and it is so desperately needed in today’s environment of distrust and anger. Regardless of whether you have any connection to the Peace Corps – now, perhaps more than ever, it is critical to maintain the pursuit of mutual understanding that Peace Corps fosters across the world.”

     

    ”We’re all in this together: Be a super transformer” | DailyTrib.com, Texas

    Mary Kelly Green, an ophthalmologist who served in the Peace Corps more than two decades ago, reflects on lessons that experience taught for life amidst pandemic: ”Sometimes, in life, you gotta be a super transformer. That was the message the Peace Corps trainer gave us 24 years ago … I never imagined that my time as a Peace Corps volunteer was just a dress rehearsal for being a physician in a global viral pandemic. The ante has been upped.” 

     

     

    Michigan, Arkansas | Profiles of Evacuated Volunteers

    “Hear from 3 Metro Detroit Peace Corps volunteers forced to return to U.S. from remote villages” | ClickonDetroit.com

    Vaughn Thornton (Indonesia), Madelyn Celvosky (Panama), and Mariam Haidar (Tanzania) share their stories. “In Tanzania, community is a huge, huge, huge thing,” Haidar says. “I think something they are good at is they are selfless. I think we can learn to be selfless.” 

     

    “Peace Corps volunteer and Blytheville native returns to U.S. due to COVID-19” | KAIT, Blytheville, Arkansas

    Bethany Bell had to leave Rwanda so quickly that she did not get to say goodbye to her 500 students.

      


    California | COVID-19 Response

    ”UC Davis’ medical student response team collects PPE, machines for healthcare facilities” | The California Aggie, University of California, Davis

    Medical student Eve Solomon helps lead the COVID-19 UC Davis Medical Response team. Before starting medical school at UC Davis, Solomon spent two years in the Peace Corps in Costa Rica. “This project reminds me of that time, because it is a grassroots effort that requires partnering with community members and local groups to achieve a common goal,” Solomon said. “While COVID-19 and shelter-in-place has been a difficult and trying time for most of us, the high level of community action and the enthusiasm of our donors and recipients has inspired me and given me hope that we will get through this challenge together.”
     


     

    Stay up to date with the latest news about Peace Corps and COVID-19 global evacuation each day through our Flipboard stories. Here you’ll find a selection of stories from around the world about evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers, efforts to help them here at home, and how they’re helping the United States tackle the COVID-19 pandemic through community service, work as contact tracers, serving on the front lines in medicine, and more.