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  • 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.

  • Communications Intern 2 posted an article
    RPCVs bring forward their rewarding experiences following Worldview see more

    Letters, emails, LinkedIn and Instagram comments, Facebook posts, tweets, and other missives: Readers respond to the stories in words and images in the winter 2021 edition of WorldView. We’re happy to continue the conversation here and on all those nifty social media platforms. One way to write us: worldview@peacecorpsconnect.org

     

    Retool, then reengage

    The pandemic offers a unique opportunity for Peace Corps to critically evaluate programs. It’s tempting to just send back returned Volunteers to previous assignments—and probably easiest from utilizing appropriated funding. But I hope there will be a pause, and a rethinking about how best to use the skills and idealism of some of America’s best.

    Jerry Wager

    Guyana 1967–69

     

    WorldView is spectacular! I just received the winter issue. Wow! I get a lot of magazines, but WorldView is just head and shoulders above all of them.

    Dennis Lucey

    Country Director, Liberia 1976–77

     

    Important connections — the NPCA email newsletter, WorldView. Connections make a difference! My Peace Corps experience 55 years ago has strengthened in my perspectives and actions over the years. Always learning, always valuable.

    Judy Lippman

    Morocco 1966–68

     

    After perusing the latest WorldView, I was wondering if you had considered a letter to the editor campaign in which returned PCVs would highlight Peace Corps’ 60th anniversary and explain the current status of the program and plans to return Volunteers to the field.

    In addition, have you considered contacting current and past presidents and their spouses, inviting them to become patrons of the Peace Corps and advocates of its work, while requesting their support with Congress and the public at large? Many thanks for your great efforts in keeping alive and well the ideals of the Peace Corps that inspired me and so many others to serve.

    Fred Kalhammer

    Dominican Republic (1962–64)

     

     


    “Ask not…” Annotating JFK’s Inaugural address

     

     

    I watched and heard the words while working as a nurse aide in January ’62. In April I sent an inquiry, sent in the application, trained that summer, and was in country by fall. Still the best thing I ever did. Would do it again, but I’m 77! 

    Edith O’Neil-Page

    Ecuador 1962

     

    I am dumbfounded why you did not include this paragraph from the inaugural in your article:

    To those people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required — not because the communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

    Within an inaugural address that people would parse as if it were the Gettysburg address, it would be difficult not to read Kennedy’s pledge as a statement to the world of why he would be creating a “Peace Corps” … which he did by executive order about 45 days later. Within the confines of two sentences, Kennedy spoke directly to what many then called the “Third World” and set out the principles of the pledge he was making and what would govern a Peace Corps: We would come not as “helpers” but as equals, “to help them help themselves,” not limited by an arbitrary time requirement, but “for whatever period is required”… and most important we come not out of some self-interest but out of the moral responsibility that comes from being a citizen of the world … because it is right.

    Gordon Radley

    Malawi 1968–70; Training program director, Western Samoa 1979

     

    Excellent point and taken. Check out the full address here, along with more annotations by Gordon Radley, Editor Emeritus David Arnold, and others. —Ed.

     


     

    How Peace Corps inspired Linda Thomas-Greenfield 

    Read the story here.

     

    Love her: She swore in our L4 group in Peace Corps Response Liberia! She will be a fantastic U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., bringing compassion, intelligence, experience, down-to-earth warmth, talent, and a diverse perspective.

    Alyssa Moy

    Staff and consultant; associate director in Nicaragua 2014–19

     

    I served in Somalia 9. We did our initial training at Leland College in Baker, Louisiana — probably when Linda was a little girl. I’d like to think we might have left an impression on her about Peace Corps.

    Denis Viri

    Somalia 1969–70

     

    She was Chief of Mission in Liberia when I was there serving as director of management and operations for Peace Corps reopening the post. She is an extraordinary person and I am glad she is in the position she is in now.

    Darren D. Defendeifer

    Peace Corps HQ Staff

     

    I worked for her at State and she is one of the most incredible human beings I’ve ever met.

    Victoria Sturdivant

    Ghana 1997–99

     

     


    Anne Rimoin: “A matter of life and death”

    Read the story here.

     

    Thank you, Anne, for your informative and thoughtful article. Thank you for articulating so eloquently not only the significance of learning to listen to our community, but also how the Peace Corps experience teaches us that vital lesson.

    Meredith McCartney

    Benin 1989–91

       


    Peace Corps Connect to the Future

    Read the report here.

     

    After reading the section of the report focused on “Reexamining the Peace Corps’ Second and Third Goals,” I find myself in complete and enthusiastic agreement. I’ve served three complete 27-month tours as a PCV. Being an educator by profession and assigned to the education sector, the First Goal was for me pretty much routine. I loved it — but the real excitement and life-changing experiences were reflected in the Second and Third Goals, which profoundly reflect the humanitarian values of our society.

    I have an everlasting love for the language, the culture, and the people of Colombia. Why? The Second and Third Goals of the Peace Corps and the friendships I made. My two-plus years in Morocco gave me an even deeper awareness of our human commonalities. And living in Quito, Ecuador, opened up new perspectives for me on what it means to be human, thanks to lasting friendships with many Ecuadorian Indigenous people, organic farmers, and vegan restaurant owners.

    I can’t emphasize enough the immense value of the Peace Corps as a human endeavor, especially in light of the technological dehumanization which we all are having to deal with.

    At the present time, I’m waiting and hoping for a clearance from the Office of Medical Services and another assignment. I know we’re all in a sort of limbo until COVID subsides.

    Robert Onstine

    Colombia 1966–68; Morocco 2000–02; Ecuador 2017–19

     


    These comments appear in the spring 2021 edition of WorldView magazine. Sign up for a print subscription by joining National Peace Corps Association. You can also download the WorldView App for free here: worldviewmagazine.org

  • Communications Intern posted an article
    The Eastern Caribbean will be the first to welcome back Volunteers. see more

    The Eastern Caribbean will be the first to welcome back Volunteers.

    By WorldView Staff

     

    The big news out of Peace Corps HQ on October 14: Volunteers will begin returning to service in January 2021. The Eastern Caribbean will be the first to welcome back Volunteers. “Our decision to return to the field follows months of extensive preparations and review, and I am extremely grateful to the many staff and host country partners who contributed to this effort,” said Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen. “I also salute the evacuated volunteers who are joining us as we take these first steps to resume operations and begin the celebration of our 60th anniversary.”

     

    “Our decision to return to the field follows months of extensive preparations and review, and I am extremely grateful to the many staff and host country partners who contributed to this effort.”

    —Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen

     

    This news comes after more than eight months of uncertainty, with Americans who have been invited to serve as new Volunteers still on hold. What about other programs and regions? 

    One answer, on the Peace Corps website as of mid-October: “Due to the complexity of the COVID-19 pandemic and its fallouts in every post, we cannot address timing yet.” Though more news may be coming throughout the fall. Right now, plans for return include COVID testing and 14 days of quarantine when Volunteers arrive in the country where they are serving — with a caveat that quarantine periods may vary from country to country.

    Peace Corps has posted general estimates for when Volunteers might return to service globally: either mid-2021 or late 2021, depending on region and sector. A crowdsourced list on a Facebook group for evacuated Volunteers (featured in our summer edition) has listed returns to service country by country, specifying which month — from January to November.

    Other ways Peace Corps expects service to change: Initial cohorts will be small, sites near a medical unit, travel restricted. (See Jody Olsen’s remarks from the Peace Corps Connect to the Future Global Ideas Summit for more.) Another factor in the answer: Many of the 61 countries in which Volunteers were serving have not experienced the severity of pandemic that has hit the United States. Some Pacific island nations where Peace Corps Volunteers were serving have reported zero cases of COVID-19.

    Universities in the United States offer some lessons in the complexity of opening up programs again. Some have managed to keep the virus in check; others have not, and have had to shut down in-person teaching.

     


    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.

  • Communications Intern posted an article
    The first cohort of Volunteers is set to arrive in Viet Nam in mid-2022. see more

    An historic partnership years in the making

    By Steven Boyd Saum

     

    The news broke July 10: inking of an agreement between Viet Nam’s Ministry of Education and Training and Peace Corps to formally establish a Peace Corps program in English education. The occasion also marked 25 years of diplomatic relations between the United States and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam. 

    “We are thrilled to be entering into this historic partnership,” said Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen. “I am honored and deeply grateful to the people and Government of Viet Nam for their willingness to open their hearts, schools and homes to Peace Corps volunteers. This program, with its emphasis on cross-cultural exchange and capacity building, will benefit the people of both countries for generations.” 

    The first cohort of Volunteers is set to arrive in Viet Nam in mid-2022. They will focus on English education. Serving as country director will be Kate Becker, who previously directed the Peace Corps programs in Albania and Montenegro. 

    The agreement has been years in the making. In May 2016, on the eve of President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Viet Nam, Peace Corps and the government of Viet Nam announced plans to establish a partnership that would bring Volunteers to work in education. “This new partnership will further strengthen and deepen our two countries’ people to people engagements,” said then-director Carrie Hessler-Radelet, “and the volunteers will learn the rich traditions, culture and history of this great nation.”

    What’s the reaction been in the Peace Corps community? “This makes me want to join again. Congrats!” “This makes my heart sing!” “We have come a long way.” “Glad to finally see an update! I’ve been waiting since they made the first announcement years ago. I currently live in Hanoi.” One post on Facebook included 18 exclamation points over two sentences. And one Volunteer who served in Niger and Madagascar observed wryly: “Looks like Mrs. Olsen watched ‘Da 5 Bloods.’” (Could be. Spike Lee’s film was released in June.) 

    Here at WorldView, we devoted a special edition to Viet Nam and Southeast Asia in Fall 2016. Read all those stories by signing up for the WorldView app, with instructiions below.

     


    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.

  • Megan Patrick posted an article
    Know a great leader in a Peace Corps country? see more

     

    National Peace Corps Association is accepting nominations for the 2019 Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award.

    Do you know a phenomenal leader in a country where Peace Corps Volunteers served — and his or her life was influenced by the Peace Corps? If so, now is the time to recognize their work by nominating this leader for this prestigious award.

    Download the Wofford Award nomination packet, the nominator form and nominee form, and submit all materials to woffordaward@peacecorpsconnect.org by December 21, 2018. 

    NPCA is proud to celebrate the tireless individuals abroad who have yet to be thanked for their dedication and hard work. To do this, we need to hear from you.

    Thank you for your submissions, and please feel free to share this important call for the recognition of others.