2007.07.27: July 27, 2007: Headlines: Congress: Legislation: Speaking Out: PCOL Exclusive: 01. Testimony of Chuck Ludlam and Paula Hirschoff on S. 732: The Peace Corps Volunteer Empowerment Act: Introduction

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Special Reports: July 27, 2007: Comments on the Peace Corps Volunteer Empowerment Act by two RPCVs now serving their second tour in Senegal: 2007.07.27: July 27, 2007: Headlines: Congress: Legislation: Speaking Out: PCOL Exclusive: 01. Testimony of Chuck Ludlam and Paula Hirschoff on S. 732: The Peace Corps Volunteer Empowerment Act: Introduction

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01. Testimony of Chuck Ludlam and Paula Hirschoff on S. 732: The Peace Corps Volunteer Empowerment Act: Introduction

01. Testimony of Chuck Ludlam and Paula Hirschoff on S. 732: The Peace Corps Volunteer Empowerment Act: Introduction

We're testifying because we love the Peace Corps and feel deep gratitude for the opportunity it has given us to serve. We want this institution to thrive so that many more generations of Americans will have the opportunity to serve. We met through the Peace Corps, one of the greatest benefits of our service.7 We still believe that the Peace Corps is our country's best means of outreach to the world. We believe in the idea of Peace Corps and the idealism of Volunteers.

01. Testimony of Chuck Ludlam and Paula Hirschoff on S. 732: The Peace Corps Volunteer Empowerment Act: Introduction

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee: Asalaa maalekum. Naka nga def? (Traditional greetings in Senegal)

It is a high honor to appear today, as Peace Corps Volunteers serving in Senegal, to testify in support of S. 732, the Peace Corps Volunteer Empowerment Act (Dodd-Kennedy, March 1, 2007).

Over the 40-year period in which Chuck served as House and Senate Committee Counsel, White House Counsel and Vice President for Government Relations at the Biotechnology Industry Organization, he often had the honor of testifying before the Congress and sitting where Janice O'Connell2 now sits staffing this hearing. Paula has also worked on Capitol Hill and staffed subcommittee hearings. We've never been prouder, however, to participate in a hearing than today, testifying together as Peace Corps Volunteers.

We are proud because service in the Peace Corps—for Chuck first in Nepal from 1968-70, for Paula first in Kenya over the same period, and since 2005 together in Senegal—brackets our careers and lives and defines them.3 In short, we have been deeply committed to Peace Corps for more than 40 years. Our service in Senegal has been a challenging, deeply rewarding experience. Rejoining the Peace Corps has proven to be a brilliant decision.

Senator Dodd—RPCV Dodd—you have always been the champion of Peace Corps Volunteers, the 170,000 of us who have served. That you listen to us is clear from the legislation. You understand our idealism, the complexity of our work, and the resources we need to be effective Volunteers. Your distinguished service in the Senate reflects the resourcefulness and entrepreneurship we see in Volunteers.

Let us also say that the best Members tend to have the best staff. Janice O'Connell reinforces the point. We wish to thank her for her professionalism, insights and patience in working with us on this legislation and giving us enough notice so we could fly from Senegal to testify here.4 Her work is a credit to Senator Dodd and the U.S. Senate.

Ranking Member Corker and members of the Committee, we look forward to working with you on this important legislation. Senator Coleman, during your service as Chairman of the Peace Corps Subcommittee, you showed your strong commitment to the Peace Corps.

Let us state our appreciation for Senator Ted Kennedy, the lead cosponsor of S. 732.5 His cosponsorship sends a powerful signal to the Peace Corps and its Volunteers. There are few Senators in the history of the country who have been as productive as he has been in his long and distinguished career. Someday when the Senate establishes a committee to select distinguished Senators for portraits in the Senate Reception Hall, like the one his brother Jack chaired in the 1950s, Senator Kennedy will surely be selected to join Senators John Calhoun, Henry Clay, Robert La Follette, Robert Taft, and Daniel Webster in the pantheon of Senate greats.6

It is a special privilege to testify on the same panel with our friends Mark Schneider. We would have loved to serve while Mark was Director. In addition, Kevin Quigley has given superb service to the Peace Corps and returned Volunteers, representing all returned Volunteers as director of the National Peace Corps Association.

We also give special thanks to Chuck's father, Jim Ludlam, who is here today, for his strong support during Chuck's service in Nepal and our service in Senegal. Jim, who is 92, flew here from California to demonstrate his support. We are also blessed with the support of the rest of our family and many friends, without whom our service would be difficult, if not impossible.

It is entirely appropriate that you've invited current Peace Corps Volunteers to testify about the importance of a bill that empowers Volunteers. It's not surprising that Chairman Dodd, a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV), is the leader in crafting and introducing this timely and substantive legislation. Chairman Dodd, you have not lost touch with the Volunteers; you continue to listen to us, respect us, and champion our work and values. Appropriately, the themes of this legislation are listening to, respecting and supporting Volunteers. Today the Peace Corps does not always do so; therefore, enactment of the legislation is urgently needed.

We're testifying because we love the Peace Corps and feel deep gratitude for the opportunity it has given us to serve. We want this institution to thrive so that many more generations of Americans will have the opportunity to serve. We met through the Peace Corps, one of the greatest benefits of our service.7 We still believe that the Peace Corps is our country's best means of outreach to the world. We believe in the idea of Peace Corps and the idealism of Volunteers.

We wish we could report that all is well with the Peace Corps but, sadly, that's not our view. We are among the few RPCVs to serve a second time after a long gap, so we are among those who can testify first hand about how the Peace Corps has changed. Except for the medical and security support, we have found the changes do not seem to be for the better. That's why we're here today, making a plea for reform and supporting the pending legislation.

We've thought long and hard about whether it is helpful for us to go public with this view. We know that there are many Peace Corps managers who do listen to, respect, and empower Volunteers. Many of them previously served as Volunteers. For them, the reforms in the legislation will simply reinforce what they are already doing. But in too many cases, Peace Corps managers—in Washington and the field—are not meeting these high standards. We believe the best way to ensure that the reforms become institutionalized in the Peace Corps—and not depend on the values and priorities of individual managers—is to enact them into law.

How an institution responds to its critics, especially its internal critics, tells a great deal about the organization. If the organization welcomes and encourages well intentioned critics, it demonstrates a commitment and openness to renewal and reform. No institution likes to be criticized, but when the criticism is constructive, the mature response is to respect the critic and remain open to what he or she has to say.8

This is one section from the testimony read into the record on the Peace Corps Volunteer Empowerment Act by Chuck Ludlam and Paula Hirschoff, two RPCVs who are now serving their second tour in Senegal. The rest of the sections can be found by following this link. Their entire report in MS Word format can be downloaded by following this link.

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Headlines: July, 2007; Congress; Legislation; Speaking Out; Peace Corps Library; Peace Corps Countries of Service; Peace Corps History; Peace Corps Message Board; Recent Peace Corps News

When this story was posted in July 2007, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Peace Corps Online The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
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Read PCOL's executive summary of Senator Chris Dodd's hearings on July 25 on the Peace Corps Volunteer Empowerment Act and why Peace Corps Director Ron Tschetter does not believe the bill would contribute to an improved Peace Corps while four other RPCV witnesses do. Highlights of the hearings included Dodd's questioning of Tschetter on political meetings at Peace Corps Headquarters and the Inspector General's testimony on the re-opening of the Walter Poirier III investigation.

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Dodd issues call for National Service Date: June 26 2007 No: 1164 Dodd issues call for National Service
Standing on the steps of the Nashua City Hall where JFK kicked off his campaign in 1960, Presidential Candidate Chris Dodd issued a call for National Service. "Like thousands of others, I heard President Kennedy's words and a short time later joined the Peace Corps." Dodd said his goal is to see 40 million people volunteering in some form or another by 2020. "We have an appetite for service. We like to be asked to roll up our sleeves and make a contribution," he said. "We haven't been asked in a long time."

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Blackwill says: No process will make up for stupidity 30 Jun
Allan Reed creates a Diaspora Skills Transfer Program 29 Jun
State Dept apology ends hold on Green nomination 28 Jun
Call for stories to celebrate PC 50th Anniversary 25 Jun
Michael Shereikis is singer and guitarist for Chopteeth 25 Jun
Christopher R. Hill Visits North Korea 22 Jun
Tschetter at JFK Bust Unveiling Ceremony 21 Jun
Kiribati too risky for PCVs 17 Jun
James Rupert writes: US calls for free Pakistani elections 17 Jun
Colin Cowherd says PCVs are losers 7 Jun
Tony Hall Warns of Food Shortages in North Korea 7 Jun
Youth Theatre performs Spencer Smith's "Voices from Chernobyl" 7 Jun
Ifugao names forest park after Julia Campbell 6 Jun
Anissa Paulsen assembles "The Many Colors of Islam" 5 Jun
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When President Kennedy spoke of "a long twilight struggle," and challenged the country to "ask not," he signaled that the Cold War was the challenge and framework defining US foreign policy. The current challenge is not a struggle against a totalitarian foe. It is not a battle against an enemy called "Islamofascism." From these false assumptions flow false choices, including the false choice between law enforcement and war. Instead, law enforcement and military force both must be essential instruments, along with diplomacy, including public diplomacy. But public diplomacy rests on policy, and to begin with, the policy must be sound. Read more.

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A post made on PCOL from volunteers in Tanzania alleges that Ambassador Retzer has acted improperly in revoking the country clearance of Country Director Christine Djondo. A statement from Peace Corps' Press Office says that the Peace Corps strongly disagrees with the ambassador’s decision. On June 8 the White House announced that Retzer is being replaced as Ambassador. Latest: Senator Dodd has placed a hold on Mark Green's nomination to be Ambassador to Tanzania.

June 1, 2007: This Month's Top Stories Date: June 1 2007 No: 1141 June 1, 2007: This Month's Top Stories
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PCV Marilyn Foss dies in China 25 May
Poet Susan Rich writes: The Women of Kismayo 22 May
Christopher Hill considers visit to North Korea 18 May
Peter Hessler talks about time in Fuling as PCV 18 May
Murder charges filed in death of PCV Julia Campbell 17 May
David Pitts claims JFK offered PC to Lem Billings 16 May
Niki Tsongas announces candidacy for Congress 16 May
James Rupert writes: Pakistanis talk of Musharraf's departure 16 May
Chris Matthews writes: Jerry Falwell's Political Legacy 15 May
Ron Tschetter visits volunteers in Botswana 14 May
Which assignment to take? Africa, Europe, or Central Asia 14 May
Willy Volk writes: New way to keep mosquitoes at bay 14 May
Jim Walsh takes special interest in Nepal 13 May
NPCA offers podcasts of social entrepreneurs 10 May
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A PCV writing home? Our editor hard at work? Take a look at our Peace Corps Funnies and Peace Corps Cartoons and see why Peace Corps Volunteers say that sometimes a touch of levity can be one of the best ways of dealing with frustrations in the field. Read what RPCVs say about the lighter side of life in the Peace Corps and see why irreverent observations can often contain more than a grain of truth. We'll supply the photos. You supply the captions.

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Mark Gearan Calls for Service, engaged constituency 20 Apr
Timothy Obert sentenced in molestation case 20 Apr
Moyers indicts news media on Iraq reporting 19 Apr
Chris Matthews to moderate May 3 GOP debates 18 Apr
Garamendi votes to kill LNG terminal 10 Apr
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Petri outraged at Student Loan Corruption 6 Apr
Dodd wants to expand Peace Corps to 100,000 4 Apr
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Peter Navarro writes "The Coming China Wars" 30 Mar
Carl Pope writes: 2% solution for global warming 28 Mar
Philippe Newlin lectures on wine 28 Mar
DRI launches program to improve Healthcare in Ghana 26 Mar
Gabriela Lena Frank's Compadrazgo debuts in Columbus 26 Mar
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Suspect confesses in murder of PCV Date: April 27 2007 No: 1109 Suspect confesses in murder of PCV
Search parties in the Philippines discovered the body of Peace Corps Volunteer Julia Campbell near Barangay Batad, Banaue town on April 17. Director Tschetter expressed his sorrow at learning the news. “Julia was a proud member of the Peace Corps family, and she contributed greatly to the lives of Filipino citizens in Donsol, Sorsogon, where she served,” he said. Latest: Suspect Juan Duntugan admits to killing Campbell. Leave your thoughts and condolences .

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Warren Wiggins, who died at 84 on April 13, became one of the architects of the Peace Corps in 1961 when his paper, "A Towering Task," landed in the lap of Sargent Shriver, just as Shriver was trying to figure out how to turn the Peace Corps into a working federal department. Shriver was electrified by the treatise, which urged the agency to act boldly. Read Mr. Wiggins' obituary and biography, take an opportunity to read the original document that shaped the Peace Corps' mission, and read John Coyne's special issue commemorating "A Towering Task."

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Senator Chris Dodd (RPCV Dominican Republic) spoke at the ceremony for this year's Shriver Award and elaborated on issues he raised at Ron Tschetter's hearings. Dodd plans to introduce legislation that may include: setting aside a portion of Peace Corps' budget as seed money for demonstration projects and third goal activities (after adjusting the annual budget upward to accommodate the added expense), more volunteer input into Peace Corps operations, removing medical, healthcare and tax impediments that discourage older volunteers, providing more transparency in the medical screening and appeals process, a more comprehensive health safety net for recently-returned volunteers, and authorizing volunteers to accept, under certain circumstances, private donations to support their development projects. He plans to circulate draft legislation for review to members of the Peace Corps community and welcomes RPCV comments.

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One year ago, Staff Sgt. Robert J. Paul (RPCV Kenya) carried on an ongoing dialog on this website on the military and the peace corps and his role as a member of a Civil Affairs Team in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have just received a report that Sargeant Paul has been killed by a car bomb in Kabul. Words cannot express our feeling of loss for this tremendous injury to the entire RPCV community. Most of us didn't know him personally but we knew him from his words. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends. He was one of ours and he served with honor.

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