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Returned Peace Corps Volunteer

  • Steven Saum posted an article
    The Peace Corps Reauthorization Act now moves forward. see more

    The Peace Corps Reauthorization Act now moves forward. It would bring critical reforms to better protect Volunteers and put Peace Corps on the path toward a budget to bolster the number of Volunteers around the world. Though when it comes to health insurance and the Volunteer readjustment allowance, today’s changes provide a little less support.

    By Jonathan Pearson

     

    The Peace Corps Reauthorization Act (H.R. 1456), bipartisan legislation introduced by Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Representative John Garamendi (D-CA) and fellow Representative Garret Graves (R-LA), cleared its first significant hurdle on September 30th, when the House Foreign Affairs Committee moved the bill out of committee with a favorable vote.

    The committee advanced the bill with a strong bipartisan showing in a vote of 44 to 4. Eighteen Republicans joined all committee Democrats in supporting the legislation, which will next go to the House Education and Labor Committee for review and then to the House floor for further consideration.

    In bringing the legislation to the committee today, Garamendi noted that in communities across the globe, Volunteers have served in education, agriculture, and public health programs. “Peace Corps Volunteers are the face of America in these communities, building trust and goodwill,” he said. And the legislation would provide additional federal funding and resources “to advance the Peace Corps’ mission around the world and better support current, returning, and former Peace Corps Volunteers.”

     

     

    Committee Approves Amended Version of Legislation

    While the  Garamendi-Graves legislation was approved, it came in the form of a substitute amendment presented by Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-NY), which contained significant additions and other substantive changes in the bill’s original language. ( Read the original legislation here. And see the full amendment here.)

     

    “This bill helps realize President John F. Kennedy’s vision of Americans ready to serve their nation in new and innovative ways.”
    — Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY)

     

    In opening debate on the measure, Chairman Meeks said, “This bill helps realize President John F. Kennedy’s vision of Americans ready to serve their nation in new and innovative ways.” Meeks also spoke to the effort by the committee to engage various stakeholders in crafting the legislation, including National Peace Corps Association.

    The lead Republican filling in for Ranking Member Michael McCaul (who represents Texas and was attending to a family health matter) was Ann Wagner (R-MO), who also expressed support for the legislation. “Many members of this committee represent Peace Corps Volunteers,” Wagner said. “We are grateful for their service and we honor the many sacrifices they make in leaving behind their friends and their families to make the world a better place.”

     

    “H.R. 1456 makes long overdue changes and updates to one of America’s best diplomatic and humanitarian programs.”
    — Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY)

     

    Wagner was joined by fellow committee member Andy Barr (R-KY) in expressing support for the bill. “H.R. 1456 makes long overdue changes and updates to one of America’s best diplomatic and humanitarian programs,” Barr said. Barr also praised the robust work of the leaders of the Kentucky Peace Corps Association, an NPCA affiliate group of returned Volunteers. Barr singled out the impact of Jack and Angene Wilson, who both served in Liberia in the 1960s, and Will and Amy Glasscock, who both served in Indonesia within the past decade. “I am personally very much indebted to the Glasscocks and the Wilsons in particular for their engagement with my office and their advocacy for the Peace Corps,” Barr said. “They are really terrific ambassadors for our United States as they promote the Peace Corps and its mission.”

    In a  press release issued October 4, Rep. Garamendi thanked Chairman Meeks and members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee for passing this critically important legislation with strong bipartisan support — and he noted the powerful impact that serving as a Volunteer in Ethiopia had for him and his wife, Patti Garamendi, who also served in the Peace Corps.

     

    “Congress has not reauthorized the Peace Corps in over 20 years. It is vital for the ‘Peace Corps Reauthorization Act’ to become law so the Peace Corps can redeploy Volunteers worldwide once safe and prudent to do so and realize President Kennedy’s vision of generations of young Americans ready to serve their nation and make the world a better place.”
    —Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA)

     

    “Congress has not reauthorized the Peace Corps in over 20 years,” Garamendi noted. “It is vital for the ‘Peace Corps Reauthorization Act’ to become law so the Peace Corps can redeploy Volunteers worldwide once safe and prudent to do so and realize President Kennedy’s vision of generations of young Americans ready to serve their nation and make the world a better place … I will continue to work tirelessly until the ‘Peace Corps Reauthorization Act’ is on President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.”

     

     

    Sexual assault is a central concern — as it needs to be.

    Along with high praise and the importance of the Peace Corps, today’s debate also brought renewed focus to the deep concerns about Volunteers who have been victims of sexual assault.

    While lawmakers noted important reforms are included in the legislation, committee members cited recent journalistic investigations and Peace Corps Inspector General reports as far back as 2013 indicating that sexual assault in the agency remains as a serious problem — and that more needs to be done

    Citing the April 22, 2021 in-depth investigative story in USA Today on sexual assault within the Peace Corps, Rep. Wagner said, “Tragically, one out of every three Volunteers who finished service in 2019 reported experiencing a sexual assault; Volunteers have also reported a hesitancy to describe these cases to the Peace Corps due to fear of retaliation or criticism. This is devastating.”

     

    “Tragically, one out of every three Volunteers who finished service in 2019 reported experiencing a sexual assault; Volunteers have also reported a hesitancy to describe these cases to the Peace Corps due to fear of retaliation or criticism. This is devastating.”
    — Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO)

     

    An amendment introduced by Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) proposed withholding agency funding outlined in the legislation until the Peace Corps satisfied all recommendations made by the agency Inspector General to further address sexual assault mitigation strategies. Noting that no Volunteers are currently serving overseas, Perry said, “If we are going to do it, now is the time.”

    The Perry amendment was defeated by a vote of 26 to 21 along party lines. In opposing the amendment, Chairman Meeks noted the amendment was issued 10 minutes before the start of the committee meeting. He said staff reached out to the Office of the Inspector General for Peace Corps, which said in part that interruptions in funding could interfere with the agency’s ability to satisfy all IG recommendations. Meeks also cited reforms in the amended bill — such as language to protect Volunteers from reprisals or retaliation, and the extension of the Sexual Assault Advisory Council to continue its work through 2025 — as examples of reforms that further address Volunteer safety and security.

    The committee’s very necessary focus on addressing sexual assault in the Peace Corps comes just days after National Peace Corps Association hosted a global conference for the Peace Corps community that included a panel tackling safety and security for Volunteers 10 years after the passage of the Kate Puzey Volunteer Protection Act. A key takeaway in that panel discussion, too: Peace Corps needs to do better — but there is never a time when the agency can check off a box and say the work is done.

     


    A better and stronger Peace Corps

    Following Thursday’s committee action, National Peace Corps Association released this statement from President and CEO Glenn Blumhorst:

    “This is a very good day for the Peace Corps and its future. While we are continuing to review and consider some of the alterations made to the original version of the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act, all of the foundational elements of this landmark legislation remain. We want to thank Chairman Meeks, Ranking Member McCaul, Representative Wagner, committee staff, and all members of the committee who voted in favor of H.R. 1456 and took this first, critical step toward passing this legislation. From protecting whistleblowers to providing Peace Corps the robust funding it needs to help our country re-engage with the world, these are important reforms. 

     

    “To our community and other friends of the Peace Corps, make no mistake. Today’s action was a significant step, but it is only one step in a lengthy process to pass this legislation in both chambers of Congress and send the bill to the president for his signature. Every individual who believes in a stronger and better and well-resourced Peace Corps needs to help us pass H.R. 1456.”
    —Glenn Blumhorst, NPCA President & CEO

     

    “We are most grateful to our RPCV friend, Representative John Garamendi, his bipartisan counterpart Garret Graves, and their hardworking staff for their months-long dedication and determination in which they consulted, collaborated, and created this comprehensive Peace Corps legislation. Representative Garamendi has often noted that he wants his legislation to be about and for the Peace Corps Volunteer. In so many important ways related to health and safety, Volunteer and RPCV support, strengthened reporting guidelines and professional resources, and respecting and honoring Peace Corps service, this legislation advances those causes. It supports those Volunteers forced home prematurely by the pandemic who want to return to their service as soon as possible, and also supports the next wave of Peace Corps Volunteer recruits who anxiously await word on their opportunity to serve our nation.

    “To our community and other friends of the Peace Corps, make no mistake. Today’s action was a significant step, but it is only one step in a lengthy process to pass this legislation in both chambers of Congress and send the bill to the president for his signature. Every individual who believes in a stronger and better and well-resourced Peace Corps needs to help us pass H.R. 1456.”

     

     

    What has changed in the bill?

    The Peace Corps Reauthorization Act of 2021 was originally introduced in March. Today, items from the original bill that were altered include the following:

    Recommended Peace Corps Appropriations: While the amendment retains language supporting regular, annual calls for increased funding for the Peace Corps reaching $550 million through Fiscal Year 2024, the new language drops the recommended target of $600 million in funding by Fiscal Year 2025.

    Volunteer Readjustment Allowance: The amendment would set the current Volunteer readjustment allowance ($375/month) as the statutory minimum allowance for Volunteers going forward. It removes the proposal to mandate raising that minimum to $417, retaining the agency’s authority to determine when the allowance should be increased.

    Post-Service Health Coverage for Returned Volunteers: The traditional period in which the Peace Corps pays for post-service health insurance for returning Volunteers would be increased from 30 days to 60 days under the amendment. That’s one month less than the 90 days proposed in the original Garamendi-Graves bill.

    Protection of Peace Corps Volunteers Against Reprisals or Retaliation: Language in the Garamendi-Graves legislation pertaining to whistleblower protection has been amended so that it now outlines recommended procedures and policies to protect Volunteers from acts of reprisal or retaliation.

     

     

    What has not changed in the bill?

    Items from the original bill that were unchanged include the following:

    Workers Compensation Increase: The Meeks amendment retains language calling for an increase in the rate of compensation for RPCVs who come home and are unable to work due to service related illness or injury. This provision is a primary reason why the legislation will next be considered by the House Education and Labor Committee.

    GAO Reporting on Mental Health: The amendment retains language requesting a report by the Government Accountability Office on the status and possible improvements related to mental health services provided to RPCVs upon coming home from service. Better mental health support is one of the community-driven recommendations NPCA provides in the report “Peace Corps Connect to the Future.”

    Menstrual Equity Act: The amendment continues to include text of H.R. 1467, the Menstrual Equity in the Peace Corps Act, legislation introduced by Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY). This legislation requires the Peace Corps to ensure access to menstrual products for Volunteers who require them, either by increasing stipends or providing the products for affected Volunteers.

    Anti-Malarial Drugs: The amendment retains language stating that the Peace Corps shall consult with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on recommendations in prescribing malaria prophylaxis, and that the agency shall address training of medical personnel in malaria countries on side effects of such medications.

    Respect for Peace Corps Volunteers Act: The amendment continues to include text of H.R. 4188, the Respect for Peace Corps Volunteers Act, legislation introduced by Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ) and Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA). This would confirm that an allowable use of the Peace Corps name, official seal, and emblem would include its use at gravesites or in death notices.

     


    What’s been added to the bill?

    Items that were added to the original bill include the following:

    Increased Duration for Non-Competitive Eligibility (NCE): The amendment retains language in the Garamendi-Graves bill that would protect the full NCE benefit for new Volunteers should they be unable to work due to illness or injury upon returning home, or if there is a federal government shutdown or hiring freeze. The amendment would also extend the general length of NCE from one year to two years.

    Extension of Sexual Assault Advisory Council: The Kate Puzey Volunteer Protection Act of 2011 created  the Peace Corps’ Sexual Assault Advisory Council. In 2018, the Sam Farr and Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act extended the work of of the council through 2023. The Meeks amendment would extend the work of the council through 2025.

    Peace Corps Service Deployments in the U.S.: Given the emergency deployment of Peace Corps Volunteers in response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the service by Volunteers to assist the Federal Emergency Management Agency with COVID relief in 2021, the Meeks amendment would codify into law the allowance of future Volunteer deployment in the U.S. at the request of another federal agency.

    Expanded Language on Virtual Service Opportunities: The amendment expands language regarding virtual volunteer opportunities and incorporates it into the Peace Corps Act. It notes that this expands opportunities to recruit individuals who face barriers to serving physically in a country outside the U.S.

    Additional Reporting Requirements: Along with the reporting requirements already outlined in the Garamendi-Graves legislation, the amendment includes additional reporting requirements on Peace Corps guidelines and standards used to evaluate the mental health of Peace Corps applicants prior to service. It calls for more detailed information on the number of evacuations due to medical or mental health circumstances, and associated costs. 

     

    READ MORE: Text of the full amended version of H.R. 1456 approved by the Foreign Affairs Committee on September 30, 2021. 

    YOU MIGHT ALSO BE INTERESTED IN: Netflix founder and CEO Reed Hastings and NPCA President and CEO Glenn Blumhorst: “After the fall of Afghanistan, we need the rise the Peace Corps.” Guest essay in The Hill on September 30, 2021.

     

    Story published Sept. 30, 2021. Updated October 6, 2021 to include press release by John Garamendi.


    Jonathan Pearson is the Director of Advocacy for National Peace Corps Association. If you’d like to get involved in advocating for H.R. 1456, email him:  advocacy@peacecorpsconnect.org

     September 30, 2021
  • Orrin Luc posted an article
    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 Deekle (Iran 1968–70)

     

    Lisa Woodson (pictured) is working with Indigenous populations in the Amazon basin on health research. A new film produced by Bryn Mooser on the 2021 Refugee Olympic Team. Entrepreneurial success. Honoring an advocate for the land.

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

     

     

    AFGHANISTAN

    Dancing with Angels book coverW. Brunhofer has recently released Dancing with Angels: Songs and Poems from the Millennium. The exploration of poetry is produced by Christian Faith Publishing. From Shakespeare to Yeats, Brunhofer explores favorite poems of inspiration and presents a series of personal writing dating back to the 1970s.

     

     

     

     

     

    CHINA

    Andy Dieckhoff (2017–19) has joined the staff of the Madras Pioneer in Madras, Oregon, as its new sports editor. He is a lifelong Oregonian and was raised in Corvallis. 

     

     

     

     

     

    COLOMBIA

    Douglas and Cheryl Hunt were honored on September 1, 2021 by the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship with the Barstow Driver Award for Excellence in Nonviolent Direct Action in Retirement. They are both retired educators who have been peacemakers for most of their lives. They have devoted themselves to gun violence prevention, climate change, and efforts to support communities in Colombia.

     

     

     

     

    ETHIOPIA

    Stephen Foehr (1964–66) has published Warrior Love in July 2021. The novel is a murder mystery.

     

     

     

     

     

    Asian Trail Mix book coverEric Madeen has published Asian Trail Mix: True Tales from Borneo to Japan. He is an associate professor of modern literature at Tokyo City University and an adjunct professor at Keio University.

     

     

     

     

     

    THE GAMBIA

    Bryn MooserBryan Mooser (2001–04), an Oscar-nominated producer who founded the nonfiction film and television studio XTR in 2019, will produce with Waad Al-Kateab a documentary film on the 2021 Refugee Olympic Team. Al-Kateab is the director of the documentary. Mooser is also part of the inaugural NPCA “40 Under 40” cohort.

     

     

     

     

    GUINEA-BISSAU / CAPE VERDE

    Estela Divino (1988–90) is a McKnight Senior Living 2021 Women of Distinction honoree. She is the Palliative Care Coordinator at Flushing Hospital Medical Center in Queens County, New York.

     

     

     

     

     

    IRAN

    Harry Conklin (1968–71) died in 2021 and, in addition to a long career in law, served on the board of the Community Land Trust (BCLT) in the Southern Berkshires for more than four decades. The BCLT will honor his legacy through the establishment of the Harry Conklin Fund for Farmsteads. The purpose of the Fund is to support secure, long-term access to land for farmsteads for small-scale farmers, while retaining ownership of the land in a community organization.

     

     

     

     

    JORDAN

    Allison Monroe (2002) is the CEO at Language Learning Market (LLM) – Educational Resources in All Languages. LLM joined nonprofit accelerator Impact Ventures’ Spring 2021 cohort, later receiving a $10,000 prize at its 2021 showcase pitch competition. LLM comprises a marketplace to buy educational resources from businesses large and small and micro-entrepreneurs worldwide, a directory of resources and places to learn, and an education-focused media network.

     

     

     

     

    MACEDONIA

    Mary O’Connor (2006–08) is an architect, educator, and writer. She is the recent author of Free Rose Light (University of Akron Press, 2021), a story of Akron’s South Street Ministries and its founders Duane and Lisa Crabbs. Duane Crabbs was a Cuyahoga Falls firefighter disturbed by the lack of diversity in the department.

     

     

     

     

    NEPAL

    Ron Ryanson (1964–66) has produced “'Tattooed Trucks of Nepal – Horn Please” — a documentary film that draws on his own experience of traveling on the back of a truck from Kathmandu to villages 57 years ago. He was 23 years old at that time, and the film has knit together the varied stories of road travel in Nepal as well as the multi-dimensional cultural aspects of Nepal. 

     

     

     

     

    Lisa Woodson has received a Fulbright-Fogarty Fellowship toward a year in Peru where she will conduct research among an Indigenous population within the Amazon basin. Her research focuses on perceptions of health seeking behaviors and changes to those behaviors as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic consequences, as experienced by Indigenous Amazonian peoples.

     

     

     

     

    NICARAGUA

    Robert Frisch (2007–09) was awarded Cornell University’s Stein Family Prize in 2013 in the Cornell Hospitality Business Plan MBA Competition. He is the founder of Firelight Camps — inspiring adventure and getting more people outside by means of stylish, social, eco-friendly, and rejuvenating upscale campgrounds.

     

     

     

     

    PARAGUAY

    Laura Johnson, a board member of the Vermont Beekeepers Association, has been appointed University of Vermont’s new extension pollinator support specialist with the Applied Research and Education Pollinator Program. She started with the Migrant Education Program in 2017 before moving to an agronomy outreach role with the UVM Extension Center for Sustainable Agriculture.

     

     

     

     

    VANUATU

    Santiago Pardo Sanchez (2017–18) is now completing an MBA at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, focusing on sustainability and entrepreneurship. He is a managing editor of Harvard Mapping Past Societies, a digital atlas project within the Initiative for the Science of the Human Past at Harvard, where he focuses on climate change, and on economic and political projects.

     

     

     

     

    ZAIRE

    Charles Kosak photoCharles Kosak is presently the Department Of Energy Faculty Chair at the National Defense University’s College of International Security Affairs. In this role, he helps prepare U.S. and partner-nation national security professionals and future leaders to better understand emerging threats to peace and security and develop innovative approaches to strengthen U.S. and partner-nation capabilities and capacities.

     

     

     

  • Steven Saum posted an article
    Help shape this special 60th anniversary conference for the Peace Corps community see more

    An invitation for individuals and groups alike: Help shape this special 60th anniversary conference. Produce a video. Tell your story. Lead a discussion group. 

    By Evelyn Ganzglass


    The 2021 Peace Corps Connect Conference Program Planning Committee is seeking affiliate group and individual member participation in this year’s conference program. As we mark six decades since the founding of the Peace Corps, we’re putting together a conference that reflects the place of Peace Corps amid these unprecedented times.

    The conference will focus on four key themes:

    • Racial justice and how we can foster equity, diversity, and inclusion
    • Climate change and its impact
    • Refugees and forced migration 
    • Continuing service by Evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers and Returned Peace Corps Volunteers more broadly. 

    Read more about the conference here. And read on for how you can help guide the conversations at Peace Corps Connect 2021.

     

    Counterparts in the Community

    Who can speak to the impact of the Peace Corps better than Peace Corps counterparts in communities around the world? We are gathering five-minute videos made by returned Volunteers and their partners in communities that highlight the work they have done together — and the impact of these partnerships. If you’re interested in submitting a short video to be shown at the conference, please express your interest here.

     

    Evacuated Volunteers: Tell Your Story

    Are you an evacuated Peace Corps Volunteer who would like to share your story of service — and how you were part of the unprecedented global evacuation? We’re looking for participants to be part of a moderated panel with other evacuated Volunteers. We’ll discuss the work by Volunteers, how evacuation has affected you and your community, and how you are continuing to be involved in service.  Express your interest in being part of the evacuated Volunteer panel here.

     
    From Peace Corps to Black Lives Matter: Striving for Allyship at Home and Abroad

    Racial justice and a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is one of the key themes of the conference. For a session on “From Peace Corps to Black Lives Matter: Striving for Allyship at Home and Abroad,” conference attendees will have an opportunity to reflect on their own experiences of racism, unconscious bias, and allyship, both during and after their Peace Corps service. We are seeking Volunteers to act as small group facilitators during the session. These facilitators will receive training from a DEI professional prior to the conference — and they will meet with conference organizers and other facilitators for planning. The total time required to act as a DEI break-out facilitator will be 4 to 5 hours.  Express your interest in serving as a facilitator during this session here.

     

    Service Projects: Stories of Impact

    During the conference (and beyond!), we'll be highlighting affiliate group service projects and the stories of their impact on individuals and communities worldwide. Have a service project to highlight? Contact Affiliate Group Network Coordinator Hannah Wishart.


    Evelyn Ganzglass (Somalia 1966–68) serves on the Board of Directors for National Peace Corps Association, is on the leadership team of the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Oral History Archives Project, and is a member of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Washington, D.C. 

  • Communications Intern 2 posted an article
    From being taught by Peace Corps Volunteers to becoming a Volunteer see more

    In Moldova, my work partners and our host family weren’t expecting someone like me. Instead of being young and white, I was older and Asian. And born near Mount Everest.

    By Champa Jarmul

     

    When I was a girl growing up in Nepal, two of my teachers were Peace Corps Volunteers. After I became a teacher myself, I attended a training workshop with another Volunteer. Most important to me was the PCV who taught at our school a few years later. David and I fell in love and got married.

    More than 35 years later, after our two sons had grown, we signed up to serve as Volunteers together in Moldova. David worked in the local library and I taught English at a school. I wasn’t sure I would be a good Volunteer, but I was ready to be open-hearted and nonjudgmental, and to accept all of the challenges.

     

    Moldovan students with their Peace Corps teacher, Champa Jarmul, at far end of table. Photo courtesy of Champa and David Jarmul

     

    My work partners and our host family weren’t expecting someone like me. Instead of being young and white, I was older and Asian. Few Moldovans had ever heard of Nepal. When I told them I was born near Mount Everest, they were amazed. But they weren’t sure I was a “real American.” As we lived and worked together, though, they came to know me. 

     

    When I told them I was born near Mount Everest, they were amazed. But they weren’t sure I was a “real American.”

     

    We cooked each other our traditional foods — curried chicken and rice from Nepal, stuffed cabbage and pork from Moldova, and an American apple pie. We shared photos of our grandchildren. We celebrated each others’ birthdays and holidays, including a big turkey dinner on Thanksgiving.

     

    Peace Corps family: Champa and David Jarmul with their grandchildren. Photo courtesy of Champa and David Jarmul

     

    Our Peace Corps group included Americans born in other countries as well, from Panamá, Colombia, the Philippines, Myanmar, and Vietnam. We had American-born Volunteers of different ethnicities, ages, and sexual orientations. Many of us were not what Moldovans expected a Volunteer would look like. Together, we showed them that “American” includes many kinds of people.

    As Peace Corps looks to its future, its Volunteers need to fully reflect our country’s diversity. We are the faces of America. Our stories are America’s stories. 


    READ MORE: “Returning to Serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer a Second Time — 35 years Later” by David Jarmul 

  • Communications Intern 2 posted an article
    Evacuated Volunteers and one with half a century of leadership experience in conversation see more

    Evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers and one with half a century of leadership experience in conversation. The big question: How can we transform this moment in Peace Corps history?


    On July 18, 2020, National Peace Corps Association hosted Peace Corps Connect to the Future, a global ideas summit. Four Volunteers joined NPCA President Glenn Blumhorst in conversation to discuss their experiences — and tackle some questions about how the believe Peace Corps — and the Peace Corps community — needs to change. Here’s the discussion — with video highlights throughout. And a video of the full conversation.

     

    Marieme Foote, Evacuated RPCV | Benin 2018–20

    Rok Locksley, Evacuated RPCV | Philippines 2018–20

    Juana Bordas | RPCV Chile 1966–68

      In conversation with

    Glenn Blumhorst, President & CEO, NPCA | RPCV Guatemala 1988–91



    Marieme Foote: I'm a second generation Peace Corps Volunteer who was evacuated due to COVID-19 from Benin, where I served in the agricultural field from 2019-2020. First, as others have done before me today, I would like to start off by sharing condolences: Congressmen John Lewis and C.T. Vivian were giants during the Civil Rights Movement and should continue to serve as an inspiration for our current conversation. Congressman John Lewis said, "Never be afraid to make some noise and get in trouble, necessary trouble." 

    If you want NPCA and the Peace Corps to move into a better future, we need to push for radical shifts in order to continue to push the envelope. If not, we risk losing Peace Corps to time. 

    So to start off, I will also introduce some of the panelists that I've worked with. When we returned from getting evacuated, we formed a group with Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security (WCAPS) and we created a report that received over 450 responses on the experiences of evacuated Volunteers. And we’ve used this report to advocate to Congress on behalf of volunteers for PUA, healthcare, and other different topics. 

    I'm joined by Rok Locksley. Rok volunteered in the Philippines as a coral reef preservation Volunteer from 2018 to 2020. He also served in Moldova from 2005 to 2008, and was a Peace Corps recruiter from 2009 to 2016. And we're also joined by Juana Bordas. 


     

    Juana Bordas: Intergenerational leadership is a key thing in all communities of people of color. I'm Juana, and I served in the Peace Corps way back in the ’60s, 1964 to ’66. And I've had an illustrious career since, we might say. It's been 54 years since I was in the Peace Corps. So I do want to share all of the things that have kind of happened since then that were based on my decision, which is a decision all of us made: We made a decision to serve and to and to put our lives in the service of humanity. And I think that's what makes people powerful, has made me powerful, and Peace Corps powerful. I've spent my career building organizations for communities of color, particularly Latinos and Latina women, and also doing work in race and equity and trying to build the compassionate, good society.

     

    Glenn Blumhorst: First I just want to say thank you so much, Marieme. This panel is something I was really looking forward to. As we kind of started talking about this, it seemed like the right way to do this was just to say: This is your panel discussion and make it what you want, and put together something to reflect on all these big ideas that we have — and your thoughts as the next generation of Peace Corps Volunteers. I'm glad you invited me to be a part of the conversation, and I’m really looking forward to hearing your reflections. The questions you put together are really important — not just for you, but for all of us. And I'm looking forward to hearing your answers. This is directed to everyone for a brief response. As we envision the reentry process for Volunteers, what do you think are the most important things to consider when supporting Volunteers in the future post service?

     

    WATCH: Rok Locksley — Lessons from Reentry

     

    Difficulty Upon Reentry

    Rok Locksley: I'll take that one. I served in ’05-’08 and then I served again in ’18 to ’20, so I was evacuated. But the first time that I finished my service, I came back into the 2008 economic depression. I started doing a lot of research, especially when I went to work for the agency. (Thank you, Jody Olson, for helping me get a job, back when we had an RPCV Career Center, to make all that happen!) Peace Corps has known for a very long time that returned Volunteers have had more difficulty upon reentry, rather than going into service. In fact, the Peace Corps like itself termed “reentry” in a paper in the ’90s. They took it from the NASA program, because reentry is recognized as a very difficult process — as difficult as as leaving the earth.

    There was a paper written in the ’90s called "Psychological and Readjustment Problems Associated with Emergency Evacuation of Peace Corps Volunteers." That really nailed down what some of the problems were. This is where we started to see that Peace Corps, recognizing through its own surveys and own research, that Volunteers were having trouble with reentry to start with — but then evacuated Volunteers were seeing double the amount of difficulties. 

    So, 265 Volunteers were evacuated from Liberia, Philippines, and Yemen. The evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers coined the term that this was a "crisis of reentry." Fifty-one percent of all RPCVs found reentry very difficult, and that was the highest difficulty rating on the survey. All evacuees from this 1990s survey got a debriefing conference as part of Close of Service (COS), and that's how they got these surveys. Basically, the stats are: 30 percent of RPCVs experienced some sort of depression, where 60 percent of evacuated Volunteers experience depression. Then we see the stats doubling: 30 percent for a feeling of disorientation; 12 percent for periods of crying; 39 percent for a difficult transition back; 26 percent difficulty making decisions; 15 percent reported avoidance of thinking about Peace Corps as an experience; and 12 percent reported disturbing dreams. Take all those percentages and double them, and that's generally what evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers have been dealing with. 

     

    We are given three months of training to integrate into a community. At best we're given a three-day Close of Service conference to readjust to the States, but then no real support from the agency when we land.

     

    We are given three months of training to integrate into a community. At best we're given a three-day COS conference to readjust to the States, but then no real support from the agency when we land. And especially with the discontinuation of RPCV Career Center, pretty much all we have is our RPCV groups and NPCA to help us make this transition. What we need to do is really provide a landing pad for RPCVs — because we know it's difficult. The agency knows it's difficult. And I think there are two ways to do this. 

    The first is that we have to flood the world with our stories. We have to talk about return on investment on Volunteers, and how do we measure that. But our greatest return on investment is the stories of Peace Corps Volunteers. So, if you don't have the fact that you are a Peace Corps Volunteer in your staff file at work, put it in there. When I was interviewing people [as a recruiter], the most common response to my question "How did you hear about Peace Corps?" was: a teacher, my parents, or I had a friend that served, my uncle or aunt served. So people were coming to us not because of our recruitment efforts, commercials, or radio spots; they were coming to us because of one-on-one connections that they'd had with people who shared these very beautiful, very intimate stories. 

    Our stories are really our greatest resource. We need to be sharing those at all opportunities. That's so that we can both inspire people into service, and then when they return, they know to look for RPCV groups who can help them find jobs and help them make this transition, so we can start to minimize that trauma.


    WATCH: Juana Bordas — Peace Corps taught us leadership

     

    Peace Corps Taught Us Leadership

    Juana Bordas: I would take a little bit of a different perspective, I think. What I do today is I teach leadership, and I learned it in the Peace Corps. Futurists say there are two trends, two shifts, that we're going through. One is to become a global community, which we do by being in the Peace Corps. The second one is to create the inclusive, diverse, and equitable society. In other words, we're moving towards a multicultural society and world. The young millennials and the generation after them are already there. And I think we reframe the Peace Corps as something that taught us leadership, that made us global citizens, that made us inclusive and able to relate and embrace people of all cultures and ethnic groups and ages and generations, etc. 

    In the ’90s, I worked with National Peace Corps Association to do a leadership program for Peace Corps Volunteers that were re-entering. But I've been listening some, and I think one of the things that's so important is for us to empower ourselves to understand — because when I came back from the Peace Corps, I went to get my first job, and I had this portfolio because I had been doing micro-enterprise work with women way back then. I had all this stuff, and I go to get interviewed, and the guy stops me and he says, "I'm really sorry, but we only hire people that have a master's degree in social work." This was the state of Wisconsin. Well, this was absolutely bizarre to me. I'm the first person in my family to graduate from college. My mother had a fifth-grade education. I thought this was ridiculous. And I had just come back from the Third World where I thought I had made a contribution. So I slammed my papers on the floor, and I said, "You don't understand. I was born to be a social worker. I was born to do this." And he looks at me and he says, "We can go down to the University of Wisconsin, we'll help you get a master's degree if you'll come back to work for us." 

     

    “Guess what? I’m a global citizen. I’ve made contributions across this globe. I’m inclusive. I love culture. I’m here to build this new world that's coming.” 

     

    Now, I understand I had certain privilege there for the first time in my life, because I am Latina and I was able to speak Spanish, etc. But I had that sense of empowerment that I got through the Peace Corps. And I invite everyone just to stop for a minute to realize that, yes, it's difficult to come back, particularly under these circumstances. But I think the most important thing we can do as Peace Corps Volunteers is to have that banner that says: "Guess what? I'm a global citizen. I've made contributions across this globe. I'm inclusive. I love culture. I'm here to build this new world that's coming." 

    Especially today, with our problems in foreign policy, with our problems with the current administration, the work we need to do in the future is absolutely more critical. The other thing I'd like to say is that I've been at this for over 50 years. So it's not, I'm coming back from the Peace Corps and what I'm going to do. It's our lifelong commitment to building peace in the world.
     

    Marieme Foote: I think that what we've all realized, even when we created the WCAPS report: Facebook and social media was definitely huge for us, in terms of bridging those connections. In the future, looking at ways that we can formalize those places where we can get information — a lot of RPCVs were offering help, therapy sessions, all types of help. If you're not on Facebook, you wouldn't know; or if you're not in these specific chats, you wouldn't know. So figuring out how can we get all of this information to all of these groups of Volunteers that need it — I think is definitely something that will be important when considering reentry for the future.

     

     

     

    What does the future recruitment process look like?

    Glenn Blumhorst: Thank you all. It's really great how a community comes together like that organically and helps, and that's what we saw emerge during the evacuation: when the group started forming and talking amongst themselves, and then also speaking with us and helping share with us what their needs and expectations were from the community, from NPCA, and from Peace Corps. So, thank you. Shifting a little bit to recruitment now, the question here is: How were you recruited? What does the future recruitment process need to look like? We've heard some ideas earlier today, but from your perspectives, what would it look like? There is another question that's really mostly for Juana: How can Peace Corps focus its efforts to recruit members who may be experiencing the crab syndrome? I think we'll kick it over to Rok first, if you don't mind, and then go from there.

     

    Rok Locksley: I think, you know, it goes back to the question that was brought up earlier on one of the report outs: Where's the "peace" in Peace Corps, right? For me, peace is not like harmony and no conflict. It is absolutely a place of conflict, difficult questions, expanding our comfort zones, learning about other people and our world that we exist in — those are all peaceful things. What breaks the peace is when we have a disagreement that leads to some sort of violence. So I think that Peace Corps having healthy conversations about how they're going to recruit in the future — the question I was asked a lot as a recruiter was, “What is the Peace Corpse?” Right? So my thing is, like, let's not be the Peace Corpse, because that's not good! We're definitely the Peace Corps, right? 

     

    Let’s not be the Peace Corpse, because that’s not good! We’re definitely the Peace Corps, right? 

     

    I remember as a recruiter 10 years ago, when we first started our big initiative with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to recruit at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and start increasing our diversity numbers. I was sitting around in a conference room with a bunch of other recruiters; most of us were white, and there was one Black recruiter. And we were talking about strategies of: How do we recruit Black people? Or how do we recruit persons of color and Latino community members? How do we recruit these? How do we talk to these people? And then we were saying, We need to get this Black recruiter to come with us on campus to talk to the Divine Nine, or to talk to the different university groups. And he looks at us and he says, That is like — I recruit on white universities, right? You don't need to be a certain race or color to go recruit these people. But that, it was such an enlightening moment for me — and such a moment where I realized: Even in the Peace Corps, even working as a recruiter, my privileges, and my blinders are so on. Here is this guy — he was laughing at us, like, this is so ridiculous. And that was 10 years ago, when we first started doing it. So recruitment has a long way to go. And it's full of these difficult conversations and lots of apologies.

     

    Glenn Blumhorst: Marieme, you're a child of a Peace Corps Volunteer yourself. Can you share a little bit from that perspective?
     

    WATCH: Marieme Foote — How will Peace Corps and NPCA shift?

     

    Marieme Foote: For me, it's like Peace Corps has always been something that I've always considered as something that I would do, because my father served in Peace Corps in Ethiopia and in Eritrea. I'm one of the few that has that connection, I think. And the fact that there were lower numbers of Volunteers that are people of color, that are Black, Latina — they don't have that kind of connection as other white Volunteers might have. So it's really important to also see how that could affect recruitment. 

    The other question that I have in terms of recruitment is looking overall at the mission of Peace Corps. When Peace Corps was first created, it was an exciting thing. It was something that was radical, really. And as we go forward and the population in the U.S. changes and a new generation comes about — they're dual national, they're all types of different backgrounds. They also have different expectations, and what they want to do and what they want to be a part of. They're questioning neocolonialism. They're having a lot of questions about Peace Corps overall. So how will Peace Corps and NPCA shift? I know even questions about joining NPCA; a lot of Volunteers that I know that are Black or Asian, or people of color, don't feel like NPCA or Peace Corps is for them. So, how do we expand that discussion and make them also feel like they are a part of this as well? You know, even for me, without the work with WCAPS, I'm not sure if I would have been as involved with NPCA. So I feel like that is a concern that I have, at least for recruitment and getting people involved with NPCA and Peace Corps.
     

    Glenn Blumhorst: Thank you so much, Marieme. I really appreciate that, because I do believe that it's incumbent upon us to help create a more inclusive and welcoming community here on the part of NPCA for the Peace Corps, the greater Peace Corps community. Juana, did you have anything to add about the question specifically for you related to crab syndrome?


    Juana Bordas: Yeah, but I also wanted to go back to some of the discussion I was listening to, to talk about coalition building and partnerships, particularly with communities of color. Because I think the association itself, for example, the Hispanic Association for Colleges and Universities that serves Hispanic-serving organizations, or the NAACP or some of the other organizations and in our communities that serve people of color — because it's through those organizations, not only can you learn and exchange and grow your power base and your numbers, but it also gives you an entree into into young — well, they don't have to be young, but into people of color that want to serve in this way. The other thing I would like to say about it is that servant leadership — and leadership as service and as social change — are absolutely pivotal in communities of color. 

     

    Leadership as service and as social change are absolutely pivotal in communities of color. 

     

    When I joined the Peace Corps, I actually joined the year that John F. Kennedy was killed. There was this tremendous upheaval in our communities about what we could do to support this vision that he had: about young people going and learning about the world and contributing. Today we have similar kinds of reasons for us to be able to go global and to try to help and work with communities. Of course, we all know we learn more than we get. 

    The crab syndrome, for people that don't know what it is: It's when when you grow up marginalized when you grow up in a society that does not validate your people, your history, your background, who you are, your incredible contributions to this country — you develop what's called the psychology of oppression. In other words, you begin to internalize the negative messages that society has put forth. And that's why identity building and learning our history — we have Black History Month and Hispanic Heritage Month, and all of that, because you have to integrate that into the American fabric if we're truly going to have a multicultural society. Where it comes in with the Peace Corps — well, first of all, I want to say that if you have that sense of ... All I wanted to do when I graduated from college was to give back, because I've been given so much. I'm an immigrant. I came here, I became educated. And so I had that sense of service, which I think is pivotal in communities of color. That's how we've gotten where we are, is to collaborate to help one another, and to serve.

    This whole idea of service is a key thing for communities of color. Growing up, I didn't know I was smart; how could I know I was smart if I didn't know the language when I entered school? If I didn't understand the system? (And I do now, by the way.) So you begin to think everybody in your community is not smart — because I didn't have professors, teachers, Congresspeople. So that's the crab syndrome. What can I do? And am I good enough? Are my people not capable of doing it? Identity building becomes really important. 

    There are so many issues in communities of color that we're kind of caught in the crossfire. So the Peace Corps, in order to be able to really attract leaders in communities of color — for example, DACA students, which would be another political thing, but they're brilliant young people that are dealing with so many issues, and when they come to school, they are so talented. But then they’ve got to deal with immigration in this country. They've got to deal with homelessness. They have to deal with low-income wages, they have to deal with the cost of college education for kids. Somehow the Peace Corps has to be relevant to the many dynamic, critical issues that we face — and connect. 

    What I learned in Chile I was able to bring back and help start a center for Latina women that had a business center; that followed the micro-enterprise principles I worked on in Peace Corps. So it's that weaving together of the needs and challenges in communities of color. It's building those partnerships. It's making the Peace Corps relevant, and an experience that you can bring back to enrich your own community. And at the same time, for Anglos that come back from the Peace Corps, you need to join organizations and become multicultural yourself so that we can start building those bridges across communities and and fulfill our Third Goal.

     

     

    What will future generations need?

    Glenn Blumhorst: Absolutely, thank you so much, Juana. We've touched a lot here already on diversity and inclusion. But let's drill down on that a little bit more. For each of you, how will diversity and inclusion impact the Peace Corps in the future? And in that, what will the future generation need? How can you answer that?


    WATCH: Marieme Foote — How do we not just recruit but retain Volunteers of color?

     

    Marieme Foote: We're looking at stats for Peace Corps. You see diversity — at least the rates of Volunteers that are serving from different backgrounds — are going up and up. However, there isn't really any support in place for a lot of them. And we're also seeing that ET [early termination] rates for those volunteers of color are significantly higher than their white counterparts. So these are the questions that we really we need to be looking at and saying, Why is this the case? It's not just about recruitment. It's about how do we also retain these volunteers? How do we keep them interested? How do we get them involved with NPCA? And how do we do all of that? 

    Right now, there's great work that Volunteers are doing. I know that there are letters that Volunteers have written to their country offices on racism and discrimination that are going around in the community. Volunteers of color are creating group chats — WhatsApp chats, Facebook groups. They have all of these resources, but they're not compiled in one place. So it's hard for volunteers to have access to all of these things. And it's important for us as well. So I'm thinking about creating seminars, creating spaces for these Volunteers to meet each other, to meet other people who are older, other RPCVs who are working in different types of fields, so that they can get also motivated and feel like Peace Corps and NPCA are for them. So pushing for that, I think and holding NPCA and Peace Corps accountable for that, is something that we all have to do and be responsible for. Which is why it's also so important for Volunteers to get organized and actually advocate — and push these institutions.


    Glenn Blumhorst: A great point, Marieme, thank you so much. Because that's what we are — a community-driven organization. And all we do, it should respond to the community and the expectations that you set for us. We're going to move on to the next question — penultimate question. What are the potential barriers you see to joining the Peace Corps or NPCA? How can that impact future Volunteers? So, Rok, do you want to start it off with that one?


    WATCH: Rok Locksley — “For me to clear medical cost $6,000.” 

     

    Rok Locksley: There's a lot of barriers. For me, personally coming in at 40 years old, for me to clear medical cost $6,000. At the point I had quit my job to join Peace Corps. So I was unemployed and pretty much homeless. I was one backpacking through different countries, but I had no home of record in the United States. So getting back to the States and having to rely on other services, because I had no medical insurance: It was a $6,000 that we just put on our credit cards and then paid off with our readjustment allowance. So that's a major barrier. I know I'm older, I've had some medical issues, but the costs involved with the medical application alone is is prohibitive.


    Glenn Blumhorst: Thank you, Rok. I think that's something we don't think much about — the cost involved for many individuals, particularly if we're not young and as healthy as we were before. Thank you for bringing that perspective to this. Let me ask just for one another person maybe to chime in on that question, and then we'll move to the last question.


    Juana Bordas: Well, if I had had to pay $6,000 for medical, I wouldn't have been in the Peace Corps. You know, I had no money. Now students are graduating with debt. So, again, going back to leadership and communities of color, we need to dedicate ourselves to public change, public policy change. This cannot be — that people have to pay. When I found out that happened, because two of my Latino friends joined, I was shocked that it — and that it took so long, because the process wasn't like that in the past. And I think some of these barriers are just ways to not expand the Peace Corps to where it should be at this time, in this multicultural age.

     

    Financial barriers are one of the most significant things that we need to look at — to remove them so that anybody and everybody who wants to serve can, regardless of their economic situation.


    Glenn Blumhorst: Thank you Juana. Financial barriers are, I think, one of the most significant things that we need to look at — to remove them so that anybody and everybody who wants to serve can, regardless of their economic situation. The question we want to ask all of you is: What do you envision the future Peace Corps Volunteer values to be?


    WATCH: Marieme Foote — “If we really, really do care about Peace Corps … we also have to be open to changing Peace Corps.”

     

    Marieme Foote: If you look at the next generation, you see even the Black Lives Matter movement, you saw, at least when I went, you saw a huge amount of the next generation there present. And they're calling for change. They're calling for accountability, and all of these things. And if Peace Corps and NPCA and these organizations don't shift, they won't exist.

     

    If Peace Corps and NPCA don’t shift, they won’t exist.

     

    So, if we really, really do care about Peace Corps, we want Peace Corps to exist and to continue, and we care about the mission, we also have to be open to changing Peace Corps and making these radical changes — or also we'll not exist, because the next generation won't accept it. Even when I was joining Peace Corps, I had a lot of questions from my friends: “Why are you joining this organization? You know, there's not a lot of people of color there. It's mostly white people.” There was a lot of just preconceived ideas of what my Peace Corps experience would be. And there was a lot of fear of joining it, and being a part of a neocolonialist [enterprise] — and so if Peace Corps really does want to exist, I think that it does need to shift from the foundation in terms of its mission statement and what it does — and how it does it — is my opinion.


    Glenn Blumhorst: Thanks, Marieme, that's a really powerful statement. And I take that to heart, because I think you're absolutely right: If we don't shift, we will not exist. And that's food for thought, very important for us. 


    WATCH: Rok Locksley — “If Peace Corps wants to remain this cutting edge social justice thing, it cannot remain reactive, as it has been.”

     

    Rok Locksley: OK Peace Corps, the first groups were Kennedy's kids, right? Shriver's kids. And if Kennedy was building Camelot, then Peace Corps is his Excalibur. It was the best thing that was created, and it was on the edge of social justice and change. Now, we know like it's sort of steeped in neocolonialism, white savior complex, those sort of things. But you know, most people didn't have those terminologies back then. But if Peace Corps wants to remain this cutting edge social justice thing, it cannot remain reactive, as it has been. It can't just wait for and prepare for the worst case scenario and be quiet. And during our evacuation, that's all the EPCVs have experienced, is quietness. Our main source of our cutting edge Excalibur has been Facebook. I mean, we need the agency; we want to support you. This thing has hurt us. We gave our lives to this organization, and our hearts are in it. And we believe in social justice and change. So I just want to see Peace Corps return to its roots of being this cutting edge of social justice and change. And I think embracing that would lead to a revolutionary new wave of applicants whose hearts are full, who are young and active and ready to serve — and really, really get to the core of the agency, which is world peace and friendship.

     

    If Kennedy was building Camelot, then Peace Corps is his Excalibur. It was the best thing that was created, and it was on the edge of social justice and change



    Glenn Blumhorst: Juana, I'm going to ask if you have any last words of wisdom or wisdom for us.


    Juana Bordas: I just want to say is that we are the association. We are the Peace Corps. You know, I served on the board of NPCA for six years, I developed the leadership program for the association. We want to continue engaging; it's not somebody doing it for us. It's each one of us making that long-term commitment. I want to say it for everybody who's been out in the demonstrations, who's been out there trying to make this change: Keep it up. Because as an elder, I did that in the ’60s. You know, I did that for women, for the Vietnam War, for civil rights, and then there weren't that many people marching. 

    My last thing is: We have to do this. It's a lifelong commitment. It's up to each one of us. The Peace Corps has prepared us to be leaders in this new global and international and multicultural age. So I would like to see us say, Yes, each one of us is going to step up our commitment. Yes, each one of us decides we're going to do this, we're going to reach out to other communities, we're going to join organizations that aren't white, if we're white; we're going to join different organizations from different perspectives. And we're going to keep this going. And I think it does take an advocacy commitment for all of us to do our part in creating the future.


    Glenn Blumhorst: Thank you so much, Juana. That's a great way to end this conversation. I want to thank especially the evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers for organizing this panel, and inviting Juana and myself to be a part of it as well. I've really enjoyed getting to know all of you over the last several weeks and working with you and a number of other evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers. This has just really been a highlight for me. Though I am pained with the way that your service was interrupted and you had to come home, I'm just really amazed at how you have rallied around as a community and supported each other and helped drive the conversations that we're having today. So thank you all so much.

     

     WATCH: The full panel discussion: Reimagining a Peace Corps for the Future

    MORE from Peace Corps Connect to the Future here.

     

    Story updated November 9, 2020.

    • Rand Robinson The issues of inclusion and financial barriers and other important themes are cited here, yes, but whatever became of PC's clarion call for Redesigning PC from top to bottom, how to make vols more... see more The issues of inclusion and financial barriers and other important themes are cited here, yes, but whatever became of PC's clarion call for Redesigning PC from top to bottom, how to make vols more effective as extensionists, better supported, etc...the recent contemporary Uproar over racial justice and inclusion and these type of issues are entirely important but they are Not sufficient to reimagine and design PC in a manner than could be much more effective..I had tried to write a blog about this months ago on the NPCA cite, offering myself to join a working group of others who would look at this this, but there's been no answer at all...this is in spite of recent calls to Abolish the Peace Corps, and for reasons that are Not entirely unfounded or specious..I have just Found this remark I'd make earlier about what needs to be addressed, posted somewhere on the NPCA site, but never answered: Respective to positioning PC for the future and better addressing social justice and racial equality, what could be Extremely helpful is ensure that Every three Months orientation and training program addresses Development Ethics which is an entirely Foundational but now nearly lost and forgotten aspect of raising great awareness about the Approaches change agents, such as PCVs, must always remember as they engage with communities. These principles were best laid out be Dennis Goulet, Paulo Freire, Peter Berger, Robert Chambers---some international development graduate schools still teach these but..nowadays..often not, preferring to teach harder skills like conducting surveys etc..The foundational concepts are too rich and detailed to present and discuss here but I propose, as part of the Redesign effort for Peace Corps, a task/working group be established among a handful of relative subject matter experts and PC trainers to consider how these Entirely, Centrally Important ideas about interacting and serving in host populations, and as outsiders, should be treated as a very delicate affair--but these pioneering development ethicists understood Very well how these must be incorporated into any development professionals training and orientation for the design, implementation and evaluation of effective programming. I hope this is the right place to offer this suggestion because i am surprised to see so few postings here."----Anyway, maybe such efforts will really continue in the months ahead, and while Peace Corps is presumably trying to regroup after bringing back all vols weeks ago..
      11 months ago
  • Communications Intern posted an article
    News and updates from the Peace Corps community 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 Deekle (Iran 1968–70)

     

    Carol Anne “Aziza” Reid (Moldova and Eswatini, pictured) honored with the Lillian Carter Award. Writer George Packer (Togo) serves up a stark and compelling analysis of the state of American politics. Doris Rubenstein (Ecuador) tells a remarkable tale of a Jewish family’s flight to Latin America to escape the Nazis. Kim Mansaray, country director for Peace Corps Mongolia, is presented with that nation’s highest honor, the Order of Polar Star. Honors for a librarian, a sustainable kids clothing line, and a new beat for a journalist — and much more.

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

     

    BURKINA FASO

    Tyler LeClear Vachta (2009–11) has been recently appointed Human Resources Systems and Data Analyst at Augsburg University (Minneapolis).

     

     

     

     

     

      

    ECUADOR

    Moses Manning (2016–18) has been appointed a policy intern at the World Resources Institute (June 2021). He is a graduate student in Duke University’s Master of Public Policy, Energy and Environmental Policy program.

     

     

     

     

    Doris Rubenstein (1971–73) is an author and journalist who recently published The Boy with Four Names (iUniverse, 2021). The book is the story of one Jewish family who left Europe and what was an almost certain death by the Nazis to find freedom and safety in Ecuador.

     

     

     

     

     

    ETHIOPIA

    Janet Lee (1974–76) has been named the 2021 recipient of the American Library Association (ALA) International Relations Committee’s John Ames Humphry/OCLC/Forest Press Award, presented to a librarian or person who has made significant contributions to international librarianship. The award consists of $1,000 and a plaque presented at the ALA 2021 Annual Conference. Following her tenure as dean at Regis University, Lee received a Fulbright Scholarship (2017–18) to study in Ethiopia.

     

     

     

     

    GHANA

    Kayla Canne (2018–20) has taken on a new beat with the Asbury Park Press, covering the affordable housing shortage at the Jersey Shore and the Garden State. 

     

     

     

     

    GUATEMALA

    Chris Jage (1993–96) joined the staff of the Adirondack Land Trust in July 2021 as conservation program director, overseeing its land protection and land stewardship teams. Since 2016, he has worked as land protection manager with the Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy.
     

     

     

     

     

    HONDURAS

    Raymond Limon is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Capital and Diversity, and Chief Human Capital Officer with the U.S. Department of the Interior. He has been recently nominated for vice chair of the Merit Systems Protection Board of Directors.
     

     

     

     

     

    HUNGARY

    Cordes Lindow (1991–93) has been selected as one of five participants in C-SPAN’s 2021 Teacher Fellowship Program. She will collaborate with C-SPAN's Education Relations team for four weeks to create content for C-SPAN Classroom, a free online teaching resource for educators. She is piloting International Relations Honors at Allen D. Nease High School (Ponte Vedra, Florida) in the upcoming school year.

     

     

      

     

    MOLDOVA

    Carol Anne “Aziza” Reid (2016–18) was recognized with the 2021 Lillian Carter Award. The Lillian Carter Award honors outstanding returned Peace Corps Volunteers who served at age 50 or older. Reid served as a  community organizational development volunteer in Moldova from 2016 to 2018, and later as youth education volunteer in Eswatini from 2018 to 2020. Her projects centered on organizing community programs to empower women and youth through both African dance classes and social justice. She is now starting a new position as a Peace Corps Recruiter.
     

     

     

     

    MONGOLIA

    Kimberly Mansaray (2018–present) is Peace Corps Mongolia Country Director. On June 24, 2021 she was presented the Order of Polar Star, the highest state honor. This honor was awarded by Mongolia’s president to Peace Corps and its leadership, including Kim Mansaray, for their invaluable contribution to advancing the friendly relations and cooperation between Mongolia and the United States.

     

     

     

     

    Katie Murray (2003–05) is the executive director of the nonprofit food and fiber trade organization Oregonians for Food and Shelter. She has led the organization since December 2020. 

     

     

     

     

     

    NIGER

    Gordon Brown (1996–98) was appointed in July 2021 to serve as director of legislative affairs for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development. He served as a Peace Corps Country Director in Ghana (2018–21) and Benin (2015–18).

     

     

     

     

     

    PARAGUAY

    Brian Washburn (1998–2000) has published What’s Your Formula? Combine Learning Elements for Impactful Training. His new publication offers a “periodic table of learning elements” modeled on the original periodic table of chemical properties providing metaphors for the tools and strategies of the field of learning design. Brian is the co-founder and CEO of Endurance Learning, a boutique instructional design company.

     

     

      

     

    PHILIPPINES

    Kya O’Donnell (2019–20) is a legislative aide at the Connecticut State Capitol. She was recently hired as head coach of field hockey at Cheshire High School.

     

     

      

     

     

     

    RWANDA

    Nicholas Sung (2016–18) published a research paper exploring Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the U.S. Ambassador Corps for the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School. He graduated with a master’s degree in public policy from the school this year. With Peace Corps, he served as an education coordinator in Rwanda 2016–18 and a food security specialist in Nepal 2012–14.

     

     

     

     

    TOGO

    George Packer (1982–83) published Last Best Hope: America in Crisis and Renewal in summer 2021, recognized as an editor’s choice by the New York Times Book Review. As a journalist, novelist, and playwright, Packer has covered a broad range of of U.S. foreign and domestic policies through his work. Last Best Hope offers an examination of the conflicting interests that define contemporary American politics, free agency, morality, meritocracy, and justice. 

     

     

     

     

    TONGA

    Seth Hershberger (2004–06) was appointed in July 2021 as executive director of Wicomico Public Libraries in Maryland. He previously served as public diplomacy professional associate and community liaison office coordinator at the U.S. Embassy in Georgetown, Guyana.

     

     

     

     

     

    UKRAINE

    Emmery Brakke (2017–20) is a candidate at Brown University for a master of public affairs degree. Her career focus has been refined by the domestic challenges associated with COVID-19.

     

     

     

     

     

    UZBEKISTAN

    John Mark King (2001) is the co-founder of Muse Threads, a bamboo children’s clothing line based in Washington, D.C. Alongside his wife and co-founder, he has turned what started as a pandemic passion project inspired by his newborn daughter into a successful, sustainable kids’ clothing line with a growing cult following. He is also a professional voice actor and music producer/songwriter.

     

     

     

      

  • Molly O'Brien posted an article
    We remember those within our Peace Corps community who recently passed away. see more

    As we mourn the loss of members of the Peace Corps community, we celebrate the lives they led with a commitment to service.

    By Molly O’Brien and Caitlin Nemeth

     

    Photo: Jan Knippers Black — scholar and activist whose work influenced generations of students. Photo courtesy Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

     

    Our tributes include a prominent scholar and a foreign correspondent. An award-winning research ecologist and a lifelong educator. A former medical director of Peace Corps and a dedicated physician who delivered over one thousand babies. A notable chemist and a civil rights lawyer. Several civil servants and many teachers.


    We honor the wide range of contributions made by members of the Peace Corps community who recently passed away.

     

    Jan Knippers Black, Ph.D. (1940–2021), professor emerita, world traveler, most beloved role model and mentor to thousands of students, singer and songwriter, advocate and ally: these are just some of the many terms one could use to describe Black, a prominent scholar and human rights activist. She wrote the definitive book on U.S. interference in post-colonial Brazil—some years after she was invited to play piano in Elvis Presley’s bandBlack was well known for her expertise on political dynamics within Latin America, specifically about the intersection of American affairs in the region and the relationships between America and several of the Latin American countries. Black's first degree was a B.A. in art and Spanish from the University of Tennessee. She then served among the first group of Peace Corps Volunteers in Chile in 1961. When she returned stateside, Black earned her M.A. in Latin American studies from American University’s School of International Service, as well as her Ph.D. in international studies. Black's career took her all over the United States, as she went on to work as a public administration research professor at the University of New Mexico, an editor for American University's Foreign Area Studies division, and as part of the faculty for University of Pittsburgh's Semester-at-Sea Program. In addition to her research and teaching, Black held many grants and fellowships, including Fulbright and Mellon, which led her to visit and hold honorary faculty positions in countries within the Caribbean and Latin America, as well as India and England. In 1991, Black became a professor of the Monterey Institute of International Studies (now known as the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey), and she would continue to teach and mentor students at MIIS until she retired in 2018. Black was well known for organizing and facilitating immersive overseas programs for her students all over, including Cuba, Chile, Bhutan, Iran, and the Balkans. Upon her retirement at the school, Black established the Jan Knippers Black Fund for Human Rights in order to financially support student work and speakers within the human rights field. In addition to Black's work in education, she was elected to the National Board of Directors of Amnesty International USA in 2011, one of over 20 advisory and governing positions she took on throughout her life. She carried on her father’s commitment to politics; she served on the Monterey County Democratic Central Committee and as an elected member of the executive board of the California Democratic Party for over 20 years. Black had an incredible life that touched many people; her wit and wisdom will be missed.

     

    Paulette L. Ford, Ph.D. (1965–2021) was an award-winning research ecologist, humanitarian, and lifelong volunteer. Ford attended the University of New Mexico for her undergraduate degrees in biology and psychology; there she discovered her interest in field biology, and would go on to seize every opportunity to work on mammalogy and marine biology field trips, including the notable all-female field crew in charge of trapping mammals for the Museum of Southwestern Biology in Bolivia. In 1989, Ford served in Peace Corps Paraguay before returning to stateside for her master's in biology. Ford briefly worked with the Partners in Flight exchange program before she began her nearly 30-year long career with the U.S. Forest Service within the cooperative education program at Rocky Mountain Research Station. In addition to her work with the the forest service, she co-led the Southern Plains USDA Climate Hub, served on the Natural Inquirer Board of Directors and The Wildlife Society's Technical Review, edited the journals BioScience and Rangeland Ecology and Management, and mentored students for the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates program at the University of New Mexico. Ford’s volunteer work included assisting with Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts; working with local sponsors to host conservation events and provide educational supplies to underserved communities; volunteering for Habitat for Humanity; and participating in long-distance cycling fundraisers for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. After completing her doctorate in 2000 at the University of Arizona, Ford became a full-time research ecologist focused on climate and climate variability. Ford’s dedication to mentoring students went beyond her official position; she hosted and mentored dozens of undergraduate students from numerous Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Colleges and Universities, including the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute and Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, as well as graduate students from the University of New Mexico, Highlands University, New Mexico State University, and Northern Arizona University. Other notable moments from Ford’s illustrious career include her 25 awards for merit, achievement, and civil rights from the Rocky Mountain Research Station; two accolades for her work on grasslands and drought for the forest service; and her undergraduate research on eight new species of parasites – one of which was named in her honor, Eimeria paulettefordae.

     

    Richard B. Vierling, Ph.D. (1945–2021) had an adventurous and active spirit. As a young man, he worked in a hardware store and was a drummer in a band before deciding to pursue a teaching degree from California State University, Fullerton. After a few years of teaching, Vierling decided to join the Peace Corps and served in St. Kitts, Eastern Caribbean 1969–71. As a Volunteer, Vierling wrote original plays for his students to act out and built the first library on the island. Upon his return to the U.S., he taught grades four through 12 in California and Arizona. Vierling earned his doctorate in education from Arizona State University, driving long distances to attend school while teaching. A passionate educator, Vierling strongly believed in education for everyone. One of his greatest achievements was spearheading the creation of the Globe Alternative School for at-risk students in Globe, Arizona. Vierling's career in education included being principal of Globe High School and assistant superintendent for the Globe Unified School District. Even in retirement, Vierling was active in education. He was a consultant to the Gila County School Superintendent’s Office as associate superintendent and director of Juvenile Detention and Jail Education. Vierling was a remarkable educator who will be remembered by his many students.

     

    Steven M. Weinberg, M.D. (1942–2021) had a knack for learning from a young age and was considered to be a renaissance man with various interests and talents. Weinberg began his studies at the University of Oklahoma, then earned his M.D. from the University of Iowa. He trained at UT Southwestern Medical center and practiced as a general surgeon for several years. Later, Weinberg began a second career as an attorney, studying at Oxford and earning his law degree from SMU. His interests were varied, and Weinberg spent time teaching at Tarrant County College; working in real estate development, oil and gas, ranching, and private equity. He was the Associate Director and Medical Director of Peace Corps, the Chief of Surgical Services at Ramey AFB in the U.S. Air Force, and was part of the TX Alcohol and Beverage Commission. Outside of work, Weinberg was a long-time church member, making several mission trips. He also was a Rotarian and served as the President of the Hurst, Euless, and Bedford Rotary Club. When not working or volunteering, Weinberg loved spending time with his family, being active through activities like golfing, hunting and fishing, skiing, piloting, and getting behind a microphone.


    Judith A. Hofrichter, M.D. (1946–2021) was a phenomenal physician who delivered over 1,000 babies over the course of her career. Hofrichter grew up in North Madison, Connecticut where she was the valedictorian of Daniel Hand High School class of ’64. She continued her education at Pembroke College at Brown University and earned her degree in English. After graduating, Hofrichter became a Peace Corps Volunteer in Turkey 1968–69. After her return to the U.S., she assisted in the birth of a friend’s son and realized that she wanted to be a physician. To be able to enroll in medical school, Hofrichter had to take all of the pre-med courses she hadn’t taken in college, but that did not deter her. In 1985, she enrolled in Wesleyan University’s graduate liberal studies program, completing her required courses. Then she joined the University of Connecticut Medical School as the oldest person to be accepted at that time. After graduation, she completed her residency in OB-GYN at SUNY Health Science Center in Syracuse, New York. Hofrichter became board certified and joined the Women’s Health Group of Manchester, where she would work until she retired in 2016. In retirement, she enjoyed producing award-winning country wines and spending time with her husband.

     

    Ronald C. Burger (1948–2021) led a team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention into ground zero at the World Trade Center on the afternoon of Sept. 11, 2001. He spent 88 days working in the remains of the towers, watching first responders for signs of secondary diseases that may have come from the dust and smoke of the wreckage. Burger’s career in public health was inspired by his Peace Corps service in Ghana. After obtaining a teaching certificate in biology from Millersville University, Burger taught science for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer. At the end of his service, there was a severe outbreak of a gastrointestinal disease. This crisis prompted Burger to become a field leader for the Ghanian Ministry of Health team that was trying to contain the outbreak. Upon his return from service, Burger took on a variety of roles at the New York City Department of Health, the Florida Department of Health, the Department of Homeland Security, and the CDC. His work saw him traveling to work in large-scale disasters, including the smallpox outbreak in Southeast Asia in the 1970s, Deepwater Horizon, the Flint water crisis, and several hurricanes. Burger’s dedication to serving his country will not be forgotten by the many he helped.

     

    Matthew J. Briggs (1989–2021) was an engaging teacher, prolific poet, loving husband, playful uncle, and caring friend. Briggs graduated from East Longmeadow High School, and he received both his B.A. in English literature and his M.A. in education with a concentration in urban education from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. While Briggs loved literature, his true passion was connecting with his students and helping them understand the material, learning from them just as much as they learned from him. His path to becoming a teacher began when he was student teaching at Chestnut Middle School in Massachusetts, eventually working full time at various schools including the Commonwealth Academy in Virginia and Archbishop Carroll High School in D.C. In 2011, Briggs met his future wife Victoria during their college tenure. After they married in 2015, they went on to serve in Peace Corps Uganda for the next two years within the education sector. Just a few years after their return stateside, Briggs was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer. Until his death, he kept making connections and learning from others, sharing and accepting love and strength from so many people around him. Briggs leaves behind a legacy of radical acceptance and humility.

     

    Curtis B. Stuckey (1946–2021) was a civil rights lawyer, a supportive family man, and a loyal and accepting person. He graduated from Indiana University Bloomington in 1967, and then served in Peace Corps Venezuela 1967–69. Following his return to the U.S., Stuckey went to law school at his alma mater in Bloomington. He would go on to teach at the University of Tennessee College of Law, where in 1975 he met his wife Brenda. Stuckey led a notable career as a civil rights lawyer, winning several major cases, including the first jury trial victory related to the Fair Housing Act in East Texas and Kendall v. True, the class action suit in Kentucky that struck down involuntary commitment of individuals to mental hospitals without proof of dangerous intent. In 1982, Stuckey founded the civil rights firm now called Stuckey & Garrigan Law Offices, PPC, representing community members who were discriminated against because of their race; individuals whose rights had been violated by police; and people who suffered under cruel conditions within the prison system. Stuckey retired in 2014 which allowed more time for him to enjoy watching ball games and old movies, as well as spending time with his family.

     

    Virginia “Ginger” C. Greene, Ph.D. (1934–2021) graduated from Sweet Briar College in 1955 with high honors in chemistry. She continued her education in chemistry, earning a M.S. from Tulane University in 1957 and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in 1963. Greene began a career in chemistry, supervising a clinical laboratory at the University of Virginia and teaching at Longwood College. In 1969, she accepted a position as a research chemist with the FBI laboratory in Washington, D.C. She was the first member of their newly-established research department and was instrumental in organizing and overseeing the unit. Greene finished out her illustrious career as an intelligence analyst with the Foreign Science and Technology Center (now the National Ground Intelligence Center) before retiring in 1994. However, she remained active in retirement, bringing her expertise in chemistry to her Peace Corps service in South Africa. From 2007–09, she served as a high school teacher where she organized and supervised a chemistry lab and trained teachers how to perform and teach laboratory experiments. Greene was involved in her community throughout retirement, volunteering in many places, including at Charlottesville Area Riding Therapy stable.

     

    Scott Smith (1971–2021) was a dedicated journalist, even working until he passed away, planning for future jobs while still sick in the hospital. After graduating from California State University Chico with a master’s in literature, Smith volunteered for the Peace Corps and served in Uzbekistan 1996–98. He taught English and facilitated a training for Uzbek journalists on gathering information and news without government interference. Smith returned to the U.S. and spent over 10 years at The Record in Stockton, California. His reporting was instrumental in uncovering facts about the “Speed Freak” serial killer. In 2014, Smith joined the Associated Press and began reporting from Fresno, California on farmers and neighbors battling drought and its impact on local communities. In 2017, Smith moved to Caracas as a foreign correspondent for AP. His curiosity and drive won over Venezuelan government supporters and opponents alike. Smith’s dedication to hearing from many different people led to his coverage of fishermen working in a polluted lake, street gangsters hurting from rising bullet prices, and families of the victims of a prison fire. Smith’s humor, bravery, and devotion will be sorely missed.

     

    Edwon G. Yedlik (1945–2021) was a man with many skills and passions. Yedlik pursued a degree in radio technology from Brown Institute in Minneapolis. He began a career as a radio announcer, engineer, newsman, and program consultant for various radio stations in Colorado. In 1972, Yedlik joined Peace Corps and served as a Volunteer in Afghanistan. After his service, he returned to Colorado and worked for the U.S. Postal Service and also served as a director and actor for the Leadville Civic Theater and Crystal Comedy Theater. Later, Yedlik returned to Iowa and continued working as an actor and director in the local theater. He also spent time as an organic agriculture and environmental design consultant. Yedlik loved working with students as a substitute teacher, encouraging them to become “addicted to learning” much like he was. Yedlik didn’t pause his pursuit of learning over the course of his life, earning several more degrees from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science; Permaculture Institute in Australia; and Iowa State University. Outside of his active career, Yedlik was a master gardener, clerk of Maplewood Cemetery, and a member of the Iowa Pyrotechnics Association.

     

    PEACE CORPS STAFF

    Marilyn R. (Medley) Long (Founding staff member of Peace Corps), 8/11/21 

    Steven M. Weinberg (Associate Director and Medical Director of Peace Corps), 8/20/21

    George Zeidenstein (Nepal Country Director from 1965–68), 8/21/21

     

    MULTIPLE COUNTRIES

    Timothy A. Burr (Nigeria 1962–64, U.S. Staff 1965), 9/8/21

    Willie M. Donovan (Samoa 1978–80, Yemen 1982–84), 8/19/21

    Laurence E. Eubank (India 1970–72, Russia), 9/1/21

    Homer M. Hayes III (Ethiopia 1966–69, U.S. Staff, Volunteer Placement Officer, Ethiopia/Uganda Desk Officer 1969–75), 9/12/21

    Joshua L. Johnson (Romania 2007–09, Ukraine 2011–12), 6/21/21

    John M. Schwartzbauer (Azerbaijan 2005–09, Moldova 2010–14), 8/21/21

     

    AFGHANISTAN

    Barbara “Barb” B. Hammes (1972), 8/12/21

    Edwon G. Yedlik (1972–74), 8/27/21

     

    BRAZIL

    Adele L. (Maechling) Alsop (1968–70), 9/2/21

     

    CAMEROON

    Thomas M. Donnellan (1962–64), 9/3/21

    Gerard “Jerry” Gorman (1969–71), 8/12/21

     

    CHILE

    Jan C. (Knippers) Black, Ph.D. (1962–64), 8/15/21

     

    COLOMBIA

    Leila G. (Goldfinch) Bass (1964–66), 9/9/21

    Steve L. Burgess (1964–66), 8/10/21

     

    COTE D'IVOIRE

    John W. Ainsworth (1963–64), 8/30/12

    Terrence “Terry” M. McGovern (1970–72), 8/24/21

     

    DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

    Luther Wilson (1966), 8/5/21

     

    EASTERN CARIBBEAN

    Thomas W. Hobbs (1978–79), 8/17/21

    Robert “Rob” D. Skelley II (1974), 7/4/21

    Richard B. Vierling, Ph.D. (1969–71), 8/4/21

     

    ECUADOR

    Joseph “Jay” H. Casey (1971–75), 8/13/21

     

    ETHIOPIA

    David L. Withers (1972), 8/21/21

     

    GHANA

    Ronald C. Burger (1970–71), 8/21/21

    Newell Flather (1961–63), 8/30/21

    Jeanne G. Wisner (1977), 8/28/21

     

    HONDURAS

    Jeff M. Benik (1975–77), 8/26/21

     

    HUNGARY

    Carol A. Baker (1993–95), 8/2021

     

    INDIA

    Mary “Fran” F. Kennedy (1966–68), 8/31/21

     

    IRAN

    Donna J. (Zimmerman) Patterson (1968–69), 8/28/21

     

    LESOTHO

    Luke Pfeiffer (2020 Invitee), 8/25/21

     

    MALAWI

    Laird A. Scott Jr. (1965–68), 8/29/21

     

    MALAYSIA

    Marcella A. (Fallon) Jenkins (1974–75), 8/30/21

     

    NAMIBIA

    Marie P. Shockley (2002–04), 5/10/21

     

    NIGER

    Theodore W. Clarke (1974–79), 8/29/21

     

    PARAGUAY

    Paulette L. Ford, Ph.D. (1989), 8/28/21

     

    PHILIPPINES

    Steven T. Queen (1973–75), 8/26/21

     

    POLAND

    Jeanne M. (Ford) Poliachik Cross (1999–2001), 8/16/21

     

    SIERRA LEONE

    Joy E. Marburger (1969–72), 7/19/21

     

    SOUTH AFRICA

    Virginia “Ginger” C. Greene (2007–09), 8/12/21

     

    SOUTH KOREA

    Ross N. Wiggins (1967–69), 7/31/21

     

    THAILAND

    Jean “Dee” B. (Ficken) Smith (1965–67), 8/25/21

     

    TURKEY

    Judith A. Hofrichter, Ph.D. (1969–70), 8/23/21

    James W. Pritchard (1962–64), 8/6/21

     

    UGANDA

    Matthew J. Briggs (2015–17), 8/25/21

     

    UZBEKISTAN

    Scott Smith (1996–98), 8/19/21

     

    VENEZUELA

    Gerald “Jerry” R. Shaye (1966–70), 8/22/21

    Curtis B. Stuckey (1967–69), 8/10/21

     

    COUNTRY OF SERVICE NOT SPECIFIED

    Lenore M. Frey, 8/24/21

     

     

     

    If you have information you would like to share for our monthly In Memoriam post, please reach out to us at obituary@peacecorpsconnect.org

     

     September 16, 2021
  • Orrin Luc posted an article
    For the first time women lead the Poetry Foundation and the YMCA of the USA see more

    Meet the new presidents of the Poetry Foundation and the YMCA of the USA. For the first time at both of these venerable institutions, there’s a woman at the helm.

     

    Michelle Boone

    President of the Poetry Foundation

    CHAD | 1994–96

    Photo courtesy the Poetry Foundation

     

    Named in April as the new president of the Poetry Foundation, Michelle Boone is the first woman of color to lead the storied Chicago-based institution, which publishes the century-old journal Poetry, one of the most prominent literary journals in the United States. Along with her Peace Corps service, Boone brings over 20 years of experience to the new role, including prominent positions at the Navy Pier; the Joyce Foundation; and Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

    During her tenure at DCASE, she helped facilitate the Chicago Cultural Plan and also championed the Chicago Architectural Biennial in 2015. Boone told The New York Times that she was heavily influenced by poetry while growing up in Chicago in the 1970s, when the Black Arts Movement saw the emergence of poets like Gwendolyn Brooks and Oscar Brown Jr. 

     

     

    Suzanne McCormickSuzanne McCormick 

    President and CEO, YMCA of the USA

    THAILAND | 1989–91

    Photo courtesy YMCA

     

    The YMCA of the USA announced its new president and CEO in August: Suzanne McCormick, who becomes the first woman to lead the Y in the United States. McCormick brings more than 27 years of experience as a senior and executive leader, most recently serving as U.S. President of United Way Worldwide. She has been responsible for helping the 1,100 local United Ways across the U.S. address communities’ most pressing challenges.

    Prior to assuming this national role, she spent five years as president and CEO for United Way Suncoast and 13 years at United Way of Greater Portland in Maine — including four as president and CEO — during which she set strategic direction for Let’s Go, a preventative childhood obesity project, and three school district community-based partnerships focused on school success. McCormick was just recognized by The NonProfit Times as one of 2021’s NPT Power & Influence Top 50.

  • Molly O'Brien posted an article
    We remember those within our Peace Corps community who recently passed away. see more

    As we mourn the loss of members of the Peace Corps community, we celebrate the lives they led with a commitment to service.

    By Molly O’Brien and Caitlin Nemeth

     

    Photo: William B. Robertson — Peace Corps country director and the first Black senior decision-maker in any governor’s office in the South. By John Frischkorn, Virginia Department of Highways. Courtesy of the William B. Robertson Library, Bluefield State College, West Virginia.

     

    Our tributes include a lifelong nurse and teacher. A talented architect and public servant devoted to education. One of the founders of the Museum of the Peace Corps Experience and a strong Peace Corps supporter.  A well-traveled teacher-scholar and veteran.

    We honor the wide range of contributions made by members of the Peace Corps community who recently passed away.

     

    William B. Robertson (1933–2021) was the first Black American to serve as an aide to a Virginia governor and went on to serve presidents in international affairs. Before his passing, he was finishing work on his memoir, Lifting Every Voice: My Journey from Segregated Roanoke to the Corridors of Power, to be published in spring 2022 by the University of Virginia Press. One historian notes that his book, like his life, serves as a rallying cry for continued activism to bring about justice and equity for all. He was born in 1933 in Roanoke, Virginia. He earned two degrees in education from Bluefield State College, a historically Black college in West Virginia. In the 1960s he became well-known as an educational leader and active in civic affairs. He was then approached by a Republican candidate for governor, Linwood Holton, to run for office — and help defeat the segregationist, conservative Democrat “Byrd Machine” that had dominated Virginia politics for decades. Robertson initially demurred; but in 1969 he switched his party to Republican and ran for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. He lost, but Holton won — and Holton asked Robertson to serve on his staff. Robertson broke ground as the first Black man to serve as a senior advisor to any governor in the South. He was a man of courage and compassion; when a mental patient took one of his guards hostage — this, shortly after 43 prisoners and guards died in the Attica prison rebellion in New York — Robertson offered himself as a hostage to replace the guard and negotiated a settlement. He went on to serve presidents — from Ford to Carter to Reagan to Bush I: as country director for the Peace Corps in Kenya and the Seychelles, as assistant secretary of state for African affairs, as co-chair of a task force. When he retired, he returned to the classroom to teach in an inner city school in Tampa, Florida. For many years he brought groups of young students to visit his alma mater and encourage them to pursue a college education. “Only in recent years,” noted one remembrance, “did the racialization of the GOP and Robertson’s passionate support for Black Lives Matter drive him out of the Party of Lincoln.” He died on June 23. He was 88 years old.

     

    Sally F. Fitch (1940–2021) grew up in Washington and was an active member of her high school as a teen. She was the salutatorian and part of the first class to graduate from Davis High School in 1958. She remained active in social life during college at the University of Washington and participated in many clubs while earning her bachelor’s degree in history and language. Fitch was married after graduation and joined Peace Corps with her husband in 1966. They served in Chile, where Fitch taught villagers how to use sewing machines and her husband, Jim, taught them to better their wine grape production. They deeply loved their Peace Corps experience and it influenced their lives for many years. Fitch’s main passions were travel, textiles, and teaching. Fitch was awarded a Rockefeller fellowship to study Mayan culture in Guatemala and later to study the Aymara and Quechua in Bolivia. She also received a Fulbright fellowship to study Pakistani culture. It was a great honor for her to experience other cultures and share them with those back home. She would often bring home textiles from the places she traveled and created wearable art to share with her friends and family. Not only did Fitch get to experience much of the world, but she shared it with her students as a teacher of 30 years. She taught various subjects, but particularly enjoyed Spanish and world history. She was recognized with a National Endowment for the Humanities Award as Washington State’s Outstanding Teacher-Scholar. Her stories and impact will live on through her students, friends, and family.

     

    T. James “Jim” Truby (1942–2021) was a community leader and talented architect. He attended Carnegie Mellon University where he received a bachelor of architecture degree. Truby continued his education and pursued a M.A. in social anthropology from the American University in Washington, D.C. In 1965, Truby left to serve in Tunisia as a Peace Corps volunteer. He applied his background in architecture to improve housing in his country of service. His passion for architecture would continue on after service. Truby joined the Maryland Aviation Administration in 1972 and helped plan the expansion of Baltimore’s airport into Baltimore Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport (BWI). Later he would continue his work at BWI as he planned and opened an Amtrak station at the airport. In 1994, Truby founded a consulting firm that helped nonprofits develop buildings for their use. The firm managed development of buildings for education and senior housing, arts programs, medical practices, and museums. Many of the projects have won awards for design, construction, and historic preservation. Some examples of projects and clients include: the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Phillip Merrill Environmental Center (the first building in the United States to receive LEED Platinum Certification), the Baltimore Museum of Art, and the Maryland Science Center. Truby also served on various community boards in the formative years of his town, New Town of Colombia, MD. His commitment to his community made a lasting impact on the town and its organizations. Outside of work, Truby loved to spend time with his family and stay active through travel and his many hobbies, though he never lost his passion for his community.

     

    Tammy J. Lind (1966–2021) was inspired by her Peace Corps service to pursue a long career in healthcare. Lind grew up in a very large family in Minnesota. She was the valedictorian of Rush City High School class of 1984 and attended St. Olaf College, where she earned a degree in chemistry. After graduation, she joined Peace Corps and served as a Volunteer in Samoa. Lind was inspired by her service to help others and become a nurse. She decided to go back to school and received a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Winona State. As a nurse, Lind worked for several years at Mayo Clinic Hospitals in Rochester, Minnesota. Still wanting to help others, Lind decided to pursue missionary work. She went back to school again to pursue biblical studies at Columbia International University. She then served as a nurse in Cambodia for three years through Overseas Missionaries Fellowship International (OMF). When she returned to the United States, Lind worked as a hospice nurse, before finishing her career as a home health nurse. Lind cared passionately for others as a nurse and as a friend. She loved to travel and spend time with family and friends. Gone too soon, she passed away after a long battle with an autoimmune disease. She will be remembered for her kind spirit and love for others.

     

    Martin L. Kaplan (1935–2021) was a passionate supporter of Peace Corps his entire life. Kaplan was born in New York City and attended City College of New York. He graduated in 1956 with a degree in chemistry. He obtained his master’s from Florida State University where he also met his future wife. Kaplan joined Peace Corps in 1962 and served for two years in the Somali Republic. It was a powerfully formative experience, and he remained active in the Peace Corps community for the rest of his life. Upon his return from service, Kaplan started what would be a 53 year marriage. After his Peace Corps service, he worked as a research chemist for Bell Laboratories in New Jersey for 30 years. In his spare time, he also earned a Juris Doctorate and practiced law. He co-founded the organization working to create the Museum of the Peace Corps Experience. In retirement, Kaplan moved to Oregon and became a teacher once again, teaching chemistry at a community college. He will be remembered through his many scientific publications and the lives he touched, including those in the Peace Corps community.

     

    Nancy R. Jiracek (1945–2021) was a lifelong public servant devoted to helping her community. Jiracek grew up in Wisconsin and earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. After her graduation, she joined Peace Corps and served as a volunteer in Honduras. This began a life of travel and working in other countries. Jiracek moved to Tasmania in Australia, where she would remain for the next 50 years. Her career in public service involved managing family and social planning with adult education at Technical and Further Education (TAFE), which is similar to community colleges in the U.S. In retirement, Jiracek accepted a two-year position with UNICEF to assist with unexploded ordnance issues in Cambodia and Laos. Jiracek also cared deeply about Native American issues and the arts. She and her partner had a summer residence in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where they were actively engaged in supporting native culture. Jiracek told her story in the book Building Up: Tales from Below, which described her early life growing up in a basement-house in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

     

    Peter J. Cryan (1944–2021) was a dedicated servicemember, family man, volunteer, coach. After completing his B.S. from Boston College and MBA from Suffolk University, he went on to join the Peace Corps and serve in Puerto Montt in southern Chile. He returned to the U.S. and joined the U.S. Army in 1968. He fought in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division and earned a Bronze Star; he was discharged with the rank of captain. Cryan began his professional career in healthcare administration at Children’s Hospital Boston. Later on he and his wife co-founded and co-led Cryan Associates, a small organization managing professional associations. After retirement Cryan continued to do consulting work as a trade show manager. Cryan participated in many organizations throughout his life, including Rotary International through the Sudbury chapter and a Paul Harris fellowship; he coached many sports teams; led several mission trips to Honduras; volunteered with Mobile Ministries; and was a proud member of the Padanaram Wharf Rats, the local men’s group.

     

    Delores A. (Primus) Orman (1943–2021) grew up in Iowa and was active in her community from a young age. She was involved in 4-H, her church youth group, helping at her parents’ appliance store, and worked as a lifeguard as a teen. Orman earned a bachelor’s degree in home economics and interior design from Iowa State University Ames in 1965. After graduation, she served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Niger. During her service she met and married her husband, Paul. Upon their return home, Orman began teaching art and home economics in Nome, Alaska. They remained there for 18 years, raising their family. Orman was an active member of her church and volunteer with 4-H. She was also a talented gardener and would frequently share her produce with friends and neighbors. In 1985, Orman and her family moved to Nebraska, where she continued to make a great impact in her community through teaching and volunteer work.

     

    Edward J. Budi (1955–2021) was a devout family man who loved traveling the world. Budi was born and raised in Illinois and graduated from Saint Mary’s University with a B.A. in accounting. He was known for believing the journey was always the destination. He enjoyed his time in Fiji as a Peace Corps Volunteer immensely, and he passed on his passion for adventure to the next generation, encouraging his children to experience the world. Budi and his wife met in Fiji and they eventually settled down as a family in Glen Allen, Virginia, where Budi worked as an international tax specialist with the IRS and was a member of the Knights of Columbus. He was also very involved with Friends of Fiji, and his dedication to service continued throughout his life.

     

    PEACE CORPS STAFF

    Walter Cuskey (Trainer in Puerto Rico), 5/10/21

    Nancy K. (Henney) Elsea (Sierra Leone), 7/22/21

    Jerry A. Harrold (Malawi), 7/18/21

    William B. Robertson (Country Director of Kenya and Seychelles), 6/23/21

     

    MULTIPLE COUNTRIES

    Sally A. DeCicco (Ghana 1978—80, Philippines 1989—90), 8/4/21

     

    AFGHANISTAN

    Helen M. (Herrick) Michoud (196365), 7/24/21

     

    BOLIVIA

    George "Don" Donald Beck (1967—69)

     

    CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

    Rev. Thomas G. Schaefer (1974—77), 7/3/21

     

    CHILE

    Peter J. Cryan (1965—67), 8/4/21

    Sally F. Fitch (1965—67), 7/7/21

     

    CHINA

    Robert Joseph Eller (1999—2001), 8/4/21

     

    COSTA RICA

    Michael James Parcher (1980—83), 6/16/21

     

    DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

    Ernest C. Conry (1989—91), 6/8/21

    Mary "Gail Marie" Gail (McDonough) Forte (1979—82), 7/21/21

    Helena E. (Mokray) Reed (1964—66), 7/8/21

    Danny "Dan" M. Thibault (1973—74), 7/21

     

    EASTERN CARIBBEAN

    Rolfe A. Leary, PhD (1961—63), 7/20/21

     

    ECUADOR

    Joseph J. Aquino (1964—66), 8/1/21

    Samuel F. McPhetres (1962—64), 7/24/21

     

    EL SALVADOR

    John P. Spare (1966—68), 8/1/21

     

    FIJI

    Edward J. Budi (1986—88), 7/29/21

     

    GABON

    Melinda R. Bauman (1994—96), 7/15/21

     

    GUATEMALA

    Stephen (Clark) Issa (1988—90), 3/15/21

     

    HAITI

    Ellen Ruth (Harris) Daiber (1992—93), 7/5/21

     

    HONDURAS

    Kathleen T. Durning (1982—85), 7/10/21

    Nancy R. Jiracek (1968—69), 7/10/21

     

    IRAN

    Harry E. Conklin (1968—71), 7/8/21

    Edward W. Davis (1964—66), 5/8/21

    Arthur "Steve" S. Evans (1967—69), 4/1/21

    Ray Alan Frieden (1969—71), 4/27/21

    Robert A. Friedman (1966—67), 6/6/21

    James H. Reed (1964—66), 3/6/21

     

    JORDAN

    Sandra "Sandi" K. (Wheelhouse) Sauvage (2006—08), 7/21/21

     

    KAZAKHSTAN

    Linda L. Bradshaw (2002—04), 7/10/21 

     

    LESOTHO

    Willa Lemken (1997—99), 7/22/21

     

    LIBERIA

    Robert "Kent" K. Fisher (1963—65), 7/8/21

    Anita L. (Sowell) Terry (1972), 8/5/21

     

    MALAWI

    John Martin Geraghty (1965—67), 7/29/21

     

    MOLDOVA

    Frank L. Mays (2000), 1/7/21

     

    MONGOLIA

    Michael K. Jerryson (1997), 7/9/21

     

    NEPAL

    James W. Morris (1967—70), 7/18/21

     

    NIGER

    Delores A. (Primus) Orman (1965—67), 8/7/21

     

    NIGERIA

    Beverly J. Granger (1962—64), 6/14/21 

     

    PHILIPPINES

    Kyle J. Rickert (2004—06), 7/25/21

    Luke E. Williams (1984—87), 7/27/21

     

    SAMOA

    Virgina A. (Blake) Clark (1978—80), 7/14/21

    Tammy J. Lind (1988—90), 7/19/21

     

    SENEGAL

    Betty C. Harding (1986—88), 6/21/21

     

    SOMALIA

    Martin L. Kaplan (1962—64), 6/20/21

     

    THAILAND

    Arlene A. (Schwalben) Darick (1973—76), 7/24/21

     

    TUNISIA

    Edward S. Bright (1983—85), 2/21

    T. James "Jim" Truby (1965—67), 1/21/21

     

    VENEZUELA

    Aubrey Parsons Owen, 7/8/21

     

    COUNTRY OF SERVICE NOT SPECIFIED

    Kate Edwards, 7/28/21

    Michael Graham, 7/11/21

     

     

     

    If you have information you would like to share for our monthly In Memoriam post, please reach out to us at obituary@peacecorpsconnect.org

  • Brian Sekelsky posted an article
    News and updates from the Peace Corps community 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 Deekle (Iran 1968–70)

     

    Brookings fellow Michael O’Hanlon sizes up U.S. foreign policy strategies in his latest book. Samantha Maltais (pictured) makes history as the first member of the Aquinnah Wampanoag tribe to attend Harvard Law. Honors for CDC scientist Jennifer Giovanni for her contributions in fighting COVID-19 while serving as an ICU nurse. Global collaboration on the latest tracks from musician mjanja. 

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

     

    ALBANIA

    Anna Brugman (2018–20) is a graduate student at American University studying journalism and public affairs. In addition, she is currently an Editorial Intern with Current, a nonprofit news organization.

     

     

     

     

      

    DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO

    Michael O'Hanlon (1982–84) has published The Art of War in an Age of Peace: U.S. Grand Strategy and Resolute Restraint (Yale University Press, May 2021), a “modern plan for post-2020 American foreign policy.” He is a senior fellow and the director of research in foreign policy at the Brookings Institution.

     

     

     

     

    GUINEA

    Bruce BentonBruce Benton (1964–66) is the author of Riverblindness in Africa: Taming the Lion’s Stare (Johns Hopkins, 2020). He tells the story of how a large public-private partnership collaborated to control and defeat riverblindness, which had devastated rural communities and impeded socioeconomic development throughout much of Sub-Saharan Africa for generations.

     

     

     

     

    HONDURAS

    Jennifer FitzgeraldJennifer Fitzgerald (2001–03) is the co-founder and CEO of Policygenius Inc. It is a leading online commercial insurance marketplace in the United States. She was recently featured on the NPR program “How I Built This” with host Guy Raz.
     

     

     

     

     

     

    KENYA

    grover jacksonGrover Jackson (1967–69) and his two co-authors have produced “Back to Kenya,” a presentation described as “a multimedia tale of American Black history told by those who lived it.” The presentation includes written background details and personal stories from Jackson and his Kenya traveling companions related to his transformative journey to the African country as a Peace Corps volunteer. Jackson’s memoir, A Journey of Love, Faith, Strength, and Determination, is available online. It chronicles the lives of 14 siblings raised by poor but loving sharecropper parents who directly descended from slaves.

     

     

     

    LIBERIA

    bruce hamakerBruce Hamaker (1977–79) was awarded the 2021 Lowell S. Hardin Award for Excellence in International Agriculture for his collaboration with entrepreneurs and food processors in West Africa. He is the director of Purdue University’s Whistler Center for Carbohydrate Research.


     

     

     

     

    MOROCCO

    Courtney BlankenshipCourtney Blankenship (2018–20) has received a 2021 Boren Fellowship from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs (Syracuse University). She is a first-year master’s degree student in international relations (Peace, Security and Conflict track), also pursuing certificates of advanced study in security studies and Middle Eastern affairs, studying Tarifit in Morocco. She plans on returning to Morocco on behalf of the National Security Education Program in 2022.
     

     

     

     

    NICARAGUA

    penny gagePenny Gage (2009–11) was named a 2019 recipient of the Alaska Journal of Commerce’s Top 40 Under 40 award. She has joined McKinley Alaska Private Investment, LLC as a private equity associate working from the Anchorage office.

     

     

     

     

     

    NIGER

    Jennifer GiovanniJennifer Giovanni (1995–97) is a scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2020 she also served as a COVID-19 ICU nurse at a hospital in Brooklyn. She received the CURE Media Group’s Finest Hour Award, which recognizes the selfless achievements of a nurse caring for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
     

     

     

     

     

    TANZANIA

    David GilmoreMusician David Gilmore (2016–18), a.k.a. mjanja, has released a number of music singles in 2021, with his most recent collaboration with New Delhi-bred visual artist OQLRR, a.k.a. Sparsh Narang, on the recording entitled “Reflection.”

     

     

     

     

    TIMOR-LESTE

    Sinead Hickey Sinead Hickey (2016–18) is a multimedia reporter and master’s degree candidate working with the Cronkite Health Disparities team from Arizona State University. The focus of this team is to cover health stories on underrepresented communities.

     

     

     

     

     

    TONGA

    Samantha MaltaisSamantha Maltais (2018–20) has been awarded American Indian College Fund’s second three-year American Indian Law School Scholarship for study at Harvard Law School. She becomes the first member of the Aquinnah Wampanoag tribe to attend Harvard Law — though more than 350 years ago,  Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck, an Aquinnah Wampanoag man, became the first Native American to graduate from the Cambridge, Massachusetts, university — the product of its 1650 charter calling for the education of “English and Indian youth of this country.” It’s a “full-circle moment” for the university and the Martha’s Vineyard tribe, Maltais says. The scholarship covers all costs of attendance, including tuition, for the three-year course of study at Harvard University.

     

     

     

     

    PEACE CORPS HEADQUARTERS

    helen lowmanHelen Lowman gave the commencement address at Austin College (Texas) in June 2021. From 2010 to 2015, she served as Regional Director — Europe, Middle East, and Asia, Peace Corps’ largest geographic region. She has been president and CEO of Keep America Beautiful since 2017, offering leadership in areas of international diplomacy and development, youth engagement, environmental education, disaster resilience, global leadership, volunteerism, social justice, and human rights.

     

     

      

  • Communications Intern posted an article
    A Volunteer-led project now serves communities in the Americas, Asia, and Africa. see more

    A Volunteer-led project now serves communities in the Americas, Asia, and Africa — and just hit a big milestone.

    Olla Milagrosa (Fundacion, Magdalena, Colombia), which has benefited from earnings through TCP Global, has distributed food and facemasks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo courtesy TCP Global

     

    Two decades ago, when 25,000 families were displaced annually by violence in Colombia, a group of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers started The Colombia Project, a loan program to help families reestablish financial independence. The program quickly grew to include communities in Niger, Guatemala, and Peru. It now serves 14 countries in Asia, Africa, and the Americas. In October 2020, this volunteer effort reached a milestone: $1 million in microloans. 

    “The goal is to create opportunities so migration becomes a choice rather than a necessity,” says co-founder Helene Dudley, who served as a Volunteer in Colombia 1968–70. “We expect to reach the next million by 2025.”

    Last year, six Volunteers who were evacuated because of the pandemic joined the TCP Global team, bringing energy and creativity. The program added 30 new sites, including five introduced by evacuated Volunteers who worked with their counterparts virtually to introduce microloan programs.

  • Communications Intern posted an article
    Thanks to the groups and individuals who have supported evacuated Volunteers and their projects see more

    Thank you to the groups and individuals who have supported evacuated Volunteers and their communities around the world during this time of crisis.

    By Bethany Leech
    International Programs Coordinator, National Peace Corps Association

     

    In the months since the unprecedented global evacuation of Peace Corps Volunteers, National Peace Corps Association Affiliate Groups across the country have been generous with time and support they have shown evacuated Volunteers. They have provided service and assistance here in the United States during the COVID pandemic.

    A number of affiliate groups have also made generous donations to enable NPCA to provide vital transition support and services to the 7,300 recently evacuated Peace Corps Volunteers. This crucial support amplifies our community’s global social impact by providing small grants for the projects of evacuated Volunteers. And it sustains important connections with communities around the world during a time of crisis. Find out more and make a gift here.

    To all who have given support to NPCA’s Community Fund, the RPCV Benevolent Fund, and to to the Global Reentry Program: Thank you! We give special thanks to these NPCA Affiliate Groups for their generous donations: 

     

    • Atlanta Area Returned Peace Corps Volunteers

    • Friends of Colombia

    • Friends of Jordan

    • Friends of Nepal

    • Heart of Texas Peace Corps Association 

    • Peace Corps Iran Association

    • North Carolina Peace Corps Association

    • Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of New Jersey

    • RPCVs of Northeastern New York

    • RPCVs of North Florida

    • Southeast Michigan Returned Peace Corps Volunteers

    • Tennessee Returned Peace Corps Volunteers

     

     

    A place to stay: Schoolgirls at Enukweni Community Day Secondary School in Malawi. A safe place means access to education. Volunteer Lydia Babcock was working with community members to obtain grant funds to renovate the hostel where they live during school terms. Then Babcock was evacuated. NPCA groups and members stepped up and funded this project and others. Photo by Lydia Babcock.

     


    This story was first published in WorldView magazine’s Fall 2020 issue. Read the entire magazine for free now in the WorldView app. Here’s how:

    STEP 1 - Create an account: Click here and create a login name and password. Use the code DIGITAL2020 to get it free.

    STEP 2 - Get the app: For viewing the magazine on a phone or tablet, go to the App Store/Google Play and search for “WorldView magazine” and download the app. Or view the magazine on a laptop/desktop here.

  • Molly O'Brien posted an article
    We remember those within the Peace Corps community who recently passed away. see more

    As we mourn the loss of members of the Peace Corps community, we celebrate the lives they led with a commitment to service.  

    By Molly O'Brien & Caitlin Nemeth

    Photo: Tommy Schultz III, talented writer and photographer, gone too soon. His service with the Peace Corps in the Philippines taught him the importance of marine conservation.

     

    Our tributes include an innovative playground designer and play expert. A talented travel writer and photographer. A scholar and expert on African Literature. Several lifelong educators and a social worker. Servicemen who continued their devotion to their communities. 

    We honor the wide range of contributions made by members of the Peace Corps community who recently passed away.

     

    Paul Hogan (1928 – 2021) was the innovative founder of the “Playgrounds for Free” movement. Growing up in Philadelphia, Hogan often accompanied his father, a building developer, to building sites. He earned his B.A. from Goddard College and served the United States in both the Merchant Marine and in the Eleventh Airborne Division. From 1965 to 1967, Hogan served as the Regional Director of Peace Corps in Colombia in what was a life-changing experience for him and his family. The concept for his playground career was inspired in 1958, when he volunteered at Charlestown Playschool. At the time, he was the Director of Construction for the Neighborhood Renewal Corps of Philadelphia, and organized his community to build a playground. This was the first “playground for free” that started a national movement and inspired Paul to write his first book. Later, he would publish PlayPlans magazine as part of the International Play Association (IPA) and publish more books on playground construction and safety. Over the years, Hogan would travel globally, consulting and promoting safe play. He co-invented the Triax 2000 portable surface impact testing device, which allows municipalities globally to create safe surfaces for play. President Jimmy Carter appointed him as Honorary Commissioner of the U.S. National Commission for the International Year of the Child in 1979, a great honor for Paul. His passion for his community and play will be long remembered.

     

    Charles R. Larson, Ph.D. (1938 – 2021), was a pioneering educator in comparative literature and profoundly influenced the growth of scholarship on African Literature in the United States. After graduating from the University of Colorado with a B.A. and M.A. in English Literature, Larson considered himself just a budding researcher of literature when he joined Peace Corps Nigeria in 1962. According to Larson, his time in West Africa altered his world view, leading him to understand the limits of his own schooling and to pursue a broader education through a doctorate in African literature. However, he was unable to find a program, and decided to pursue a degree in African American literature at Howard University. After transferring to Indiana University, he received his Ph.D. in comparative literature. Starting in 1970, he joined American University’s faculty as a professor of African literature, and taught students for over 40 years until his retirement in 2011. Dr. Larson’s first major critical work was The Emergence of African Fiction, a piece notable for challenging readers to consider African literature within the context of African oral tradition, rather than judging based on American or Western ideals of character and plot. His other works include anthologies of African writers, highlighting novelists and authors China Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Amos Tutuola, Ben Okri, Nuruddin Farah, Camara Laye, and Grace Ogot, among others; a retelling of The Scarlet Letter called “Arthur Dimmesdale”; a scholarly work on Native American literature; a biography of two noted Harlem Renaissance writers, Jean Toomer and Nella Larsen; and several works of fiction.

     

    Stella Martinez See (1927 – 2021) was a passionate educator. In 1950, Stella married Robert See, moving from Nevada to become a Midwestern farm wife. She and Robert had three daughters and later moved the family to Fort Collins, Colorado. When her children were older, Stella resumed her education, earning her B.A. in 1969 from Colorado State University and a M.A. in 1971 from University of Northern Colorado. Later, she would earn a public school administrator’s certificate from University of Colorado. Stella See loved teaching. She taught everything from Spanish to junior and senior high students, to reading to elementary students, to ESL and GED classes. She was a teacher trainer for those changing careers and for professionals working with diverse populations. Outside of classroom teaching, See recorded textbooks for blind students, translated for Crossroads Safehouse, and worked with Spanish-speaking clients at the Homeless Prevention program. From 1993 to 1994, See served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras, working with teachers to improve teaching standards and methods. See received awards such as Woman of the Year by the YWCA and Volunteer of the Year from Front Range Community College. When not giving her time to others, See loved to travel, read, and spend time with her family.

     

    Thomas A. Schultz III (1975 – 2021), known as Tommy, was a talented writer and photographer, gone too soon. Schultz graduated from the University of Virginia with a B.A. in Environmental Science in 1998. After graduation, he worked as a fly fishing instructor and guide. This led him to be hired by Trout Unlimited, a national nonprofit conservation organization. He became the director of marketing, discovering an interest in outdoor photography. In 2004, Schultz made the life-changing decision to join the Peace Corps and served in the Philippines as a coastal resource management Volunteer. His time there taught him the importance of marine conservation. After his service, Schultz engaged in writing and photography full time, traveling extensively in Asia, eventually settling in Bali, Indonesia. There, he worked on an innovative National Geographic–sponsored project called Photovoices, which involved sharing stories from remote communities through photography. Schultz remained in Bali for over 14 years, working on various stories which appeared in publications for National Geographic, Patagonia, and World Wildlife Fund, as well as travel and airline flight magazines. He was a strong advocate for the health and protection of the ocean, having made so many lasting memories in and around it. 

     

    Richard C. Andresen (1939 – 2021), known by his nickname Dick, was an entrepreneur and involved business owner. Following his graduation from Ferris State University in Michigan, Andresen joined the Peace Corps, developing co-ops for farmers in Malawi. Out of his Peace Corps experience came two of the most meaningful things in his life. The first was the realization that he wanted to be self-employed, which would lead to several successful business ventures over the next few decades. The second was meeting his wife, Lynn, on his way home from Africa. They were married in 1968 and shared a nearly 53-year marriage. After his return from Peace Corps service, Andresen developed 29 Burger King restaurants throughout Michigan, established “Alibi” Nightclubs in several cities, and became the president of eight corporations. Never one to rest, he also bought and remodeled an inn and founded Mt. Pleasant Oil and Gas. In 1984, Andresen was named alumnus of the year from Ferris State University. When he was ready to retire, Andresen sold his Burger King Restaurants to four of his key employees. At the time, his company had over 2,300 employees. In his retirement years, Andresen enjoyed boating and fishing, as well as piloting his plane, but was also happiest as PaPa to his three granddaughters. 

      

    Wiley R. Carmack (1935 – 2021) was a dedicated serviceman, worker, and volunteer throughout his life. He joined the United States Air Force right out of high school, and upon returning stateside he attended UCLA and later earned his master of science in geology. In 1963, he served in Peace Corps Sierra Leone, an experience that would inspire him to travel throughout his life, as well as work in central and northern Mexico. Carmack had earlier established himself in Silverton, Colorado, and he would spend the next 60 years in his community, with a few notable exceptions for his world travels. While he lived in Silverton, he owned and operated several retail businesses throughout the years, and during the winter months he worked as a hard-rock miner and mill operator. Carmack was essential in the founding of Silverton’s first volunteer ambulance service, and he went on to serve as an EMT for 15 years. His continual devotion to his community was evident throughout his life, as he served his community in many capacities including town council member, municipal judge, theater board member, Chamber of Commerce president, town deputy, and member of Blair Street Gunfighters, Silverton’s very own community group that assists with the filming of Western movies and television shows.

     

    Lelia E. Johnson (1922 – 2021) was an exemplary teacher and dedicated missionary. Johnson and her family moved to France when she was just five years old. Becoming fluent in French, she would later have to relearn English when they moved back to the U.S. She was one of the first Black students to graduate from Dorsey High School in California, and would go on to be instrumental in the integration of West Coast military base housing and local schooling after her marriage to Lt. Colonel Rupert Johnson, a WWII Tuskegee Airman. Her activism work would lead her and her young children to meet Martin Luther King, Jr. In her mid-40s, Lelia Johnson attended California State University, Northridge, for both her B.A. and M.A. in French. After graduation, Johnson served in Dakar, Senegal as an English teacher, and would go on to also serve as a Catholic Missionary in American Samoa. After she received her teaching credentials in 1985, she spent many years as an elementary school teacher and CCD instructor.

     

    Simon A. St. Laurent (1941 – 2021) graduated from the University of Notre Dame’s general program of liberal studies and NROTC. Following graduation, he served in the U.S. Navy until returning stateside to attend University of Chicago’s business school for his MBA. He and his wife, Mary, served in Peru to assist locals with business development. After their service, Simon St. Laurent worked in the accounting department for Corning Glass Works for many years, working in several cities in Pennsylvania and Seoul, Korea, as well as traveling to assist on Corning projects in India, Mexico, Germany, Malaysia, and China. After St. Laurent retired in 2001, he focused his time on volunteering as the president of the advisory board of the Steuben County Office for the Aging, and he continued to travel and fish until his death.

     

    Maureen A. Sweeney (1969 – 2021) was a persevering and dedicated social worker. She received her B.S. in liberal studies and completed a certificate program in child welfare studies. She worked for the Pennsylvania State Division of Nursing Care Facilities as a Health Facility Quality Examiner. Maureen was an avid advocate for nursing home residents, and this passion and dedication led to her involvement with many other community-driven programs, including joining Peace Corps Namibia in 2015. She also volunteered as secretary on the Helping Hands Board in Bechtelsville, Pennsylvania, a program dedicated to facilitating enrichment programs for individuals with disabilities; and participated in the Youth Aid Panel, an innovative program for providing second chances to youth in the criminal justice system.

     

    PEACE CORPS STAFF

    Nona L. Bailey (Peace Corps Recruiter), 5/21/21

    Jon K. Groteluschen (Puerto Rico), 6/2/21

    Paul Hogan (Colombia 1965–67), 2/19/21

    Charles T. O’Connor, M.D. (Deputy Chief Psychiatrist of Peace Corps), 5/16/21

     

    AFGHANISTAN

    Alice M. Roddy (1963–65), 5/20/21

     

    BELIZE

    Frank Phelan (2001–03), 6/1/21

     

    BOTSWANA

    Marilyn A. Conger (1989–91), 5/9/21

     

    BRAZIL

    Thomas J. Brock (1976–79), 5/23/21

    Katia (Buchler) Lund (1968–70), 6/14/21

    Douglas L. Toews (1962–64), 5/25/21

     

    CHILE

    Collier N. Smith (1966–69), 2/11/21

     

    COLOMBIA

    Charles "Tony" Christy (1968), 6/8/21

    Carl Mallory (1963–65), 6/14/21

     

    COSTA RICA

    Laura “Betty” Deavours (1966–68), 6/8/21

     

    EASTERN CARIBBEAN

    Fern E. Jackson (1971–72), 5/30/21

    Noel F. Sabine (1970–72), 5/30/21

     

    ECUADOR

    John A. A. Meyer (1964–66), 12/17/20

    Karl A. Stadler (1967–69), 6/15/21

     

    ESWATINI

    Kenneth L. Alvey (1992–95), 5/16/21

     

    FIJI

    Mark R. Schiffer (1969–71), 6/8/21

     

    GUATEMALA

    John H. Dolan (1993), 6/13/21

     

    HONDURAS

    Stella (Martinez) See (1993–94), 5/21/21

     

    LIBERIA

    Mary Katherine “Kathy” Poese (1977–79), 6/11/21

     

    MALAWI

    Richard “Dick” C. Andresen (1964–66), 5/30/21

     

    NAMIBIA

    Maureen A. Sweeney (2015), 5/14/21

     

    NICARAGUA

    Richard Domingo Uberuaga (1973–76), 6/4/21

     

    NIGERIA

    Charles R. Larson (1962–64), 5/22/21

    Lawrence “Larry” H. Shafer (1965–67), 6/9/21

     

    PAPUA NEW GUINEA

    Margel “Lee“ Parker Craig (1985–88), 5/25/21

     

    PERU

    Simon A. St. Laurent (1967–70), 6/12/21

     

    PHILIPPINES

    Kenneth R. Rashid (1961–63), 6/6/21

    Thomas A. Schultz III (2004–06), 6/4/21

     

    SENEGAL

    Lelia E. Johnson (1972–75), 5/26/21

     

    SIERRA LEONE

    Wiley R. Carmack (1963–64), 6/2/21

     

    THAILAND

    William Dennis Haden (1968–69), 5/12/21

    David Michaels (1961–63), 5/26/21

     

    TUNISIA

    Nancy (Townsend) MacDonald (1969–71), 6/4/21

     

     

     

     

    If you have information you would like to share for our monthly In Memoriam post, please reach out to us at obituary@peacecorpsconnect.org

  • Molly O'Brien posted an article
    We remember those within our Peace Corps community who recently passed away. see more

    As we mourn the loss of members of the Peace Corps community, we celebrate the lives they led with a commitment to service.

    By Molly O’Brien & Caitlin Nemeth

     

    Our tributes include former U.S. Ambassador Larry L. Palmer, left, and an award-winning musician. A decorated State Department diplomat and a public health official specializing in infectious diseases. Educators with a lifelong commitment to their students. A dedicated physical therapist and a doctor who served as an instrumental member of the NPCA Board of Directors.

    We honor the wide range of contributions made by members of the Peace Corps community who recently passed away.

     

    Ambassador Larry L. Palmer, Ph.D. (1949 – 2021) was a dedicated civil servant and diplomat. He earned a bachelor’s in history from Emory University, a master’s of education from Texas Southern University, and a doctorate in higher education and African Studies from Indiana University, Bloomington. Palmer served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Liberia from 1970 to 1972, which inspired him to join the Foreign Service. That led to postings in multiple U.S. Embassies around the world as part of the Senior Foreign Service. He served in the Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Ecuador before being appointed U.S. Ambassador to Honduras (2002–05) by President Bush. During his tenure in Honduras, he oversaw more than $250 million in development programming from USAID and the Millennium Challenge Corporation. Upon completing his term as ambassador, he became the president and CEO of the Inter-American Foundation (IAF) from 2005–10. He was energetic and focused on generating economic impact during his time at IAF. He helped IAF expand their approach to funding and supporting underserved groups, including African descendants. After his time with IAF, Ambassador Palmer served as the U.S. Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean under President Obama (2012–16), where he concurrently served as the ambassador to Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Ambassador Palmer was a wonderful connector and diplomat, working tirelessly in many roles to forge prosperous relationships between the U.S. and many parts of the world.

     

    Mary L. Walker (1926 – 2021) was a musician, but her professional career began as a research assistant with the Wright Patterson Aeromedical Laboratories. This preliminary research was a precursor to the U.S. space program; Walker participated in trials to determine the effect of decreased oxygen levels on humans at high altitudes. Her career took a creative turn when, at 48, Walker taught herself how to play guitar; she would go on to complete eight albums. Her music can be described as entertaining and informational, and her inspiring impact was felt by the Catholic church and her local community, with songs such as “Advent Song” and “Everybody Has a Song.” Mary was awarded the Popular Award every year from 1984 to 1994 by the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. From 1990 to 1992, Walker served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Fiji, where she presented a weekly children’s radio program called “Shared The Sunlight.” Over the years, she went on to receive the Arts Partnership Award from the Chemung Valley Arts Council and was recognized as a Woman of Excellence Today by Girl Scouts of the USA. In addition to “Shared The Sunlight,” other shows Walker hosted and performed on include PBS programs “Weekend Radio” and “Woody’s Children,” ITV’s “Saints Alive,” and the musical “Children of the Earth,” a production by Mary and Serge Banyevitch. Her extensive work over the years as a creative performer cemented Walker’s dedication to promoting fairness, love, and inclusion for the community's future — children.

     

    David C. McGaffey, Ph.D. (1941 – 2021) was an incredibly smart and talented man with many interests. At the age of 15, he enrolled at the University of Detroit and completed his education with majors in theater, folklore, psychology, and math. During his time at U of D, he met his future wife, Elizabeth. Together, they joined Peace Corps after their wedding, serving in Afghanistan 1964–66. Upon their return, McGaffey joined the State Department, traveling the world and representing the United States in various capacities. His storied career involved managing the safe evacuation of 2,500 Americans from Iran during the 1979 revolution, serving as the Deputy Chief of Mission in Guyana, and holding a position as the U.S. representative to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. He managed to find time to publish four non-fiction books about diplomacy and write a children’s book. While working for the State Department, McGaffey received his master’s in systems analysis at Harvard University, then furthered his education in retirement, completing a Ph.D. in international relations at Johns Hopkins University. He did not slow down, returning to teaching at several universities abroad in the U.S. He was passionate about teaching and assisted in the development of many programs at various international universities. David was an incredible civil servant and made a positive impact upon everyone he met. 

     

    David B. Wolf, Ph.D. (1942 – 2021) was a leader in higher education in California. Wolf attended the University of California, Berkeley, where he also earned his master’s in economics. After marrying in 1965, David and Ruth Wolf served in the Peace Corps in Malaysia 1966–68. Upon their return, David pursued his doctorate in organization and education at Stanford University. He began his career in education in earnest; he was hired as the dean of Los Angeles Mission College, then later took on administrative roles at other colleges. He taught for many years and was later promoted to accrediter for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Wolf was passionate about his students and wanted every student in California to receive access to higher education. His retirement from teaching did not last long before he went back to work. He co-founded the Campaign for College Opportunity advocacy group in 2002, which has since grown into one of the only statewide nonprofits to focus exclusively on public higher education. Due to his work in his organization, hundreds of thousands of students in California have been able to achieve access to higher education and brighter futures.

     

    H. David Hibbard, M.D. (1937 – 2021) followed JFK’s call to service, joining the very first Peace Corps group in Nigeria, then later serving as a Peace Corps doctor in India 1967–69. An Oberlin College graduate, Hibbard continued his education at Case Western Reserve Medical School and the University of North Carolina, where he earned his public health degree. Remembered by patients as a kind and compassionate doctor, Hibbard contributed to the medical community in a variety of ways. He created the Advanced Medical Directive forms that are used nationwide, served on the Boulder Community Hospital Integrated task force, and co-founded the Malaria and Health Care Project with his wife, Chris, in Uganda. He remained active in the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer community, serving on the NPCA Board of Directors, making a lasting impact on NPCA’s advocacy efforts. 

     

    Michael J. Bangs, Ph.D. (1956 – 2021) was a dedicated public health agent to the communities he served, working across the globe in southeast Asia, Central America, and Africa. Inspired by his three years working on malaria prevention as a Peace Corps Volunteer in northern Borneo, Bangs obtained his master’s in medical entomology and infectious disease epidemiology. He spent 21 years as a U.S. Navy public health entomologist in the capacity of a preventive medicine officer in Indonesia, during which time he was sponsored as a Ph.D. candidate in medical entomology. Following his retirement from military service in 2006, he continued working overseas as director of vector-borne disease control programs for a private medical assistance company. Throughout his years as a public health worker, he authored over 250 articles that analyzed his research on vector-borne disease epidemiology. Bangs also consulted with major foundations on malaria prevention initiatives, and he taught as an adjunct professor and advisor to many students at world-renowned institutions such as the Universities of Oxford and Notre Dame.

     

    Marian B. Rowe (1939 – 2021) was a three-time Peace Corps Volunteer. From a young age she was involved in the organization 4-H, owning a horse and sheep that participated in 4-H competitions. Rowe’s devotion to animals led her to obtain her bachelor’s in zoology from the University of California Davis, and later on to pursue her master’s in wildlife biology through the University of Idaho. Her other passions included travel and education, and in 1962 she was part of the first Peace Corps group to arrive in Venezuela, where she worked in community development. She would go on to serve twice more in Peace Corps, but during the intervening years, she dedicated herself to working as an educator, teaching Spanish to high schoolers in California schools and teaching ESL to immigrants in local communities. In 1992, she served in Peace Corps Morocco as a large animal husbandry expert. She served for a third time as an English educator in Paraguay from 2009 to 2011. Her love for traveling, education, and animals continued for the rest of her life, and she passed on a deep appreciation for these to her children and grandchildren.

     

    Francisco A. Sisneros (1948 – 2021) was a respected education administrator, researcher, and author. He spent several years in his late teens and early 20s independently in Latin America, studying and working, and by 1971 served as a Volunteer in Honduras. Following his Peace Corps service, Sisneros worked at the Bilingual Institute and the University of New Mexico, and conducted bilingual materials research at the University of Arizona in Tucson until 1981. He then switched gears and spent 20 years as a school administrator within the Socorro, New Mexico school district. In his spare time, Sisneros enjoyed researching his Hispanic ancestors, tracing his family ties to the mid-1660s in New Mexico. He helped establish the Hispanic Genealogical Research Center of New Mexico, and was a senior research associate at the center. He was also a well-known writer and researcher in the field of New Mexico Hispanic history.

     

    Hugh T. Compton, Ph.D. (1944 – 2021) served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Jamaica, working as a teacher and job counselor. Upon his return from service in 1969, he earned his doctorate in literature from the University of South Carolina. Compton joined the university faculty, inspiring thousands of students over the course of three decades. He served in many leadership positions at the university and contributed to a wide range of topics such as 18th-century literature, censorship, theatre history, Southern literature, and African American theatre and literature. Hugh was also the recipient of many University honors and awards, including the University of South Carolina Educational Foundation Award for Faculty Service and the Martin Luther King Jr. Award for Distinguished Teaching, Research and Service in Furtherance of Social Justice.

     

    Gwendolyn K. Forbes-Kirby (1953 – 2021) was a dedicated physical therapist for over 35 years. After she graduated from the University of California, Davis, she joined the Peace Corps in 1976 and served in South Korea, where she met her future husband. After marriage, they traveled together and spent time in Switzerland, Japan, Hawai'i, and the state of Georgia. During her time in Atlanta, she used her extensive experience working as a certified lymphedema therapist to join the Board of Directors for the Lighthouse Lymphedema Network.

     

    PEACE CORPS STAFF

    Mercer Gilmore (US Staff), 4/5/21

    Paul L. Guise, M.D. (West Africa 1961–64), 5/5/21

    John L. Kuehn, M.D. (US Staff 1966), 4/25/21

    Tobe Johnson, Ph.D. (US Staff), 5/7/21

    Walter O. VomLehn, M.D. (Dominican Republic), 3/8/21

     

    MULTIPLE COUNTRIES

    Kathryn I. Chase (Hungary 1995–97, Eastern Caribbean 1998), 4/6/21

    Marian B. Rowe (Venezuela 1962–64, Morocco 1992–94, Paraguay 2009–11), 5/8/21

     

    AFGHANISTAN

    John M. Flynn (1965–67), 5/18/21

    David C. McGaffey (1964–66), 4/14/21

    Sandra J. McNeilly (1971–73), 4/12/21

     

    BANGLADESH

    Michael B. Backus (2003–04), 5/12/21

     

    BENIN

    Monica M. Justice (1989–91), 1/15/21

     

    BOTSWANA

    Gary M. Bean (1968–69), 5/18/21

     

    BRAZIL

    Michael B. Fero (1965–67), 10/28/20

    Rodolfo Ramirez (1966–69), 5/1/21

     

    BURKINA FASO

    Peter Brostrom (1985–86), 3/30/21

     

    COLOMBIA

    M. Dickey Drysdale (1966), 5/9/21

    Michael S. Owen (1966–68), 4/13/21

    Donald R. Torrence (1962–64), 4/25/21

     

    EASTERN CARIBBEAN

    Jake M. Beddoe (201819), 5/27/20

     

    ECUADOR

    Robert Donner (1966–68), 4/27/21

     

    ETHIOPIA

    Charles L. Clark (1963–65), 4/27/21

    Elizabeth J. Hamm (196465), 4/11/21

    Lois S. Mirkin (1962–64), 12/22/20

    Gwendolyn S. Smith (197374), 5/4/21

     

    FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA

    Esther M. Gray (1987–89), 4/28/21

    Sharon N. Ruzumna (196769), 4/24/21

     

    FIJI

    Mary L. Walker (1990–92), 4/29/21

     

    GUYANA

    Frank X. McGough (1966–68), 4/24/21

     

    HONDURAS

    Francisco A. Sisneros (1971–73), 5/1/21

    Jackson E. Tegarden (1977), 5/14/21

     

    INDIA

    Grant B. Anderson (1963), 5/18/21

    Ruth Benziger Cahill (1968–70), 4/17/20

    Conrad F. Fingerson (196365), 4/30/21

    Bill A. Hetzner (1965–67), 4/15/21

    James “Jamie” Oates (196871), 4/14/21

    Roland M. Poirier (1968–69), 3/9/21

     

    IRAN

    Jeffrey D. Shorn (1966–68), 4/20/21

     

    JAMAICA

    Marvin A. Cochran (196567), 4/27/21

    Hugh T. Compton, Ph.D. (1967–69), 4/28/21

     

    KENYA

    James R. Linville (197073), 4/19/21

     

    LIBERIA

    Amb. Larry L. Palmer, Ph.D. (197072), 4/22/21

    Frank A. Peterson, Jr. (1963–65), 4/10/21

    Marie L. Woodward (1977–80), 4/7/21
     

    MALAWI

    John A. Turnbull (1963–65), 4/13/21

     

    MALAYSIA

    Michael J. Bangs, Ph.D. (1979–82), 3/9/21

    David B. Wolf (196668), 4/9/21

     

    NIGER

    Kent M. Helmer (1979–81), 4/21/21

     

    NIGERIA

    Eric E. Goodale (1964–67), 4/25/21

    H. David Hibbard, M.D. (196163), 4/7/21

    Gwendolyn E. Skeoch (196567), 5/2/21

    Carl White (1964–66), 5/8/21

     

    PANAMA

    William A. LeMaire (1967–69), 3/29/21

     

    PARAGUAY

    Richard Headen Inman, Sr. (1968–70), 3/13/21

     

    PERU

    Carl S. Ebert (1966–68), 4/21/21

    Frederick P. Romero (196466), 3/26/21

     

    PHILIPPINES

    Bruce C. Campbell (1961–63), 5/10/21

    Veronica D. Casale (1966–68), 1/6/21

    Ernest N. Way (1965–67), 5/21/21

     

    SAINT LUCIA

    Jane O. Mohney (1982–83), 5/7/21

     

    SIERRA LEONE

    Jeffrey N. Phillips (1973–75), 4/14/21

    Diane Williams (1987–90), 4/5/21

    Brenda Wilson (1973–76), 4/15/21

     

    SOUTH KOREA

    Peter Bartholomew (1967–71), 5/11/12

    Gwendolyn K. Forbes-Kirby (1976–78), 4/9/21

     

    TANZANIA

    Noel C. Hankamer (196568), 4/6/21

     

    COUNTRY OF SERVICE NOT SPECIFIED

    Jerry D. Nash, 4/12/21

    Ann Neuenschwander, 4/20/21

     

     

     

     


     

    If you have information you would like to share for our monthly In Memoriam post, please reach out to us at obituary@peacecorpsconnect.org

  • Steven Saum posted an article
    News and updates from the Peace Corps community 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 Deekle (Iran 1968–70)

     

    Pictured: Children’s Literature Legacy Award Winner — author Mildred Taylor 

     

     

     

    BENIN

    Marieme Foote (2018–20) has been awarded a Payne International Development Fellowship for graduate study. In Benin, she served as a Sustainable Agricultural Systems Agent until evacuated due to COVID-19. Upon her return to the United States she accepted a position with the National Peace Corps Association where she has worked on advocacy and issues pertaining to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the Peace Corps Agency and community.

     

     

     

     

    CAMEROON

    Natalie Obaldia (2019–20) is the Southern California Regional Volunteer Coordinator for California Volunteers, the governor’s and State Legislature’s continued investment in service and volunteering. 

     

     

     

     

     

    CHINA

    Jerome Siangco (2019-2020) taught News Listening and Spoken English to first-year, sophomore, and junior English majors at Liupanshui Normal University until his pandemic-impacted evacuation. He now serves as COVID-19 contact tracer with the National Peace Corps Association’s Emergency Response Network. 

     

     

     

     

    ETHIOPIA

    Mildred (Milly) D. Taylor (1965–67) is the winner of the 2021 Children’s Literature Legacy Award honoring an author or illustrator, published in the United States, whose books have made a significant and lasting contribution to literature for children. Her award-winning works include “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry,” which won the 1977 Newberry Medal and the Coretta Scott King Honor Award; “The Friendship,” “Road to Memphis,” and “The Land,” all recipients of the Coretta Scott King Award. Her most recent work is “All the Days Past, All the Days to Come” (Dial, 2020). In addition to numerous awards for individual books, Mildred Taylor is the 2020 recipient of the Coretta Scott King – Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement.

      

     

     

    GHANA

    Meghan McCormick (2011–13) co-launched OZÉ, a Ghana-based financial tech startup that helps small to medium enterprises to record their daily activities ranging from expenses to sales. And in January 2021 news stories noted that OZÉ had raised $700,000 for micro, small, and medium enterprises in Ghana and Sub-Saharan Africa. The startup then combines these data to offer insights useful for recommendations. She also co-founded of Dare to Innovate. McCormick is committed to ending unemployment in West Africa through investments in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

     

     

     

    GUATEMALA

    Norma Royale Wilder is the author of “The Longer I Live the Wilder it Gets: A Memoir of Adventure.” Wilder’s adventures have taken her around the world. She was interviewed on the radio about her book and life experiences on February 10, 2021. 

     

     

     

     

     

    LESOTHO

    Sandra Adounvo has been awarded a Payne International Development Fellowship for graduate study. She will pursue a Master of Public Health with a concentration in Global Health and Humanitarian Assistance. She intends to join the USAID Foreign Service as a Health, Population, and Nutrition Officer. 

     

     

     

     

     

    MALAWI

    John Fleming (1967–69) has a lengthy career in museum management. He has served as president of the Ohio Museums Association and the Association of African American Museums. He is currently writing a book about his Peace Corps service in Malawi.

     

     

     

     

     

    Austin Fraley (2017–20) has been awarded a Payne International Development Fellowship. He will attend the University of Wisconsin to pursue a master’s degree in international public affairs in preparation to join USAID as a crisis, stabilization, and governance officer. Prior to his experience in Malawi, Austin worked with Kentucky Refugee Ministries as an ESL intern and a driver. He also worked at Quest Farm, a Kentucky non-profit that works with people with intellectual disabilities. 

     

     

     

    Vishakha Wavde (2018–20) is currently a physical therapist in Illinois. With a health services career in progress, she sought a two-year assignment in Malawi, focused on HIV and Malaria prevention, youth capacity building and working with HIV support groups. 

     

     

     

     

     

    MALI

    Molly Mattessick (2002–04) is Managing Director of Project Delivery at Forum One, an organization that amplifies the impact of mission-driven organizations through transformational digital solutions. In fall 2020 she led the team at Forum One to collaborate with National Peace Corps Association to launch and publicize the NPCA Emergency Response Network.

     

     

     

     

    MICRONESIA (Chuuk)

    Aydin Nazmi (1999–2001) since early 2020, has served as the Cal Poly Presidential Faculty Fellow for COVID-19 Response and Preparedness. He is a professor in Cal Poly’s Food Science and Nutrition Department and is one of four faculty members from across the California State University (CSU) system to earn the Wang Family Excellence Award. He earned the award in the Outstanding Faculty Service category in recognition of his achievements and contributions to the CSU.

     

     

     

    MOROCCO 

    Paige Beiler (2018–20) has served since November 2020 as a COVID-19 contact tracer with National Peace Corps Association’s Emergency Response Network. During her Peace Corps service she started a library at the local youth center through a USAID funded grant.

     

     

     

     

     

    MOZAMBIQUE

    Emily Wood (2019–20) has been awarded a Payne International Development Fellowship for graduate study. She will use her fellowship to continue her education and foster her dedication to public service as a Foreign Service Officer. She hopes to work with indigenous communities, helping them regain their self-reliance after centuries of marginalization.

     

     

     

     

    NEPAL

    Leala Rosen (2014–15) is a program officer at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Conservation Leadership Programme.

     

     

     

     

     

    SAINT LUCIA

    Jennifer Leshnower (2007–09) is volunteer director for California Volunteers — a statewide organization building critical connections and partnerships between public, private, and community-based organizations in order to mobilize human and social capital to eradicate California's most pressing social and economic injustices. 

     

     

     

     

    SENEGAL

    Carolee and Art Buck (1968–70) have been invited by the president of Senegal, their original Peace Corps host country, to return for a visit, which they both anticipate occurring later in 2021. The invitation resulted from Carolee’s pandemic writing project (a record with photos) documenting their years in Senegal. The self-published book impressed the Senegalese president so much that he extended an invitation 

     

     

     

     

    UKRAINE AND GUINEA, BURKINA FASO, SENEGAL, SIERRA LEONE, MORROCO

    Doug Teschner (1971–73; 2008–17) is the president of Growing Leadership LLC, which supports nonprofits, governments, and businesses by partnering to strengthen their capacity to achieve the highest level of performance. Services include leadership training, coaching and mentoring; public speaking; organizational development and strategic planning; public policy support and legislative advocacy; resource development, communications and public relations.