January 14, 2005: Headlines: COS - Ukraine: Election Observers: Mercury News: RPCV Steve Saum brings hope from Ukraine

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ukraine: Peace Corps Ukraine : The Peace Corps in the Ukraine: January 14, 2005: Headlines: COS - Ukraine: Election Observers: Mercury News: RPCV Steve Saum brings hope from Ukraine

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RPCV Steve Saum brings hope from Ukraine

RPCV Steve Saum brings hope from Ukraine <BR>

RPCV Steve Saum brings hope from Ukraine

U.S. observer brings hope from Ukraine

By Leigh Weimers

Mercury News

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more qualified person to observe the recent Ukraine elections than Steve Saum. A former Peace Corps volunteer there, he knows the territory and the language. And, he grew up near Chicago.

That's why it's encouraging now to hear Saum being cautiously optimistic. He's back at work at the Commonwealth Club of California, where he edits its publications, and continues watching as Ukrainians get to work on a new life.

When he was there under the old regime, Saum says, ``I saw so many ambitious, talented people thwarted by a corrupt system. This election wasn't just about a changing of the guard. For so many Ukrainians, it was about voting for a chance at the future.''

He says he visited one village polling station where he was told that during the previous election in November, a bus load of outsiders had pulled up to vote (echoes of Chicago) and where more than 90 people had been issued absentee ballots. ``This time, thanks to tightening the regulations on the voting there were 15 applications,'' Saum notes, and no voters being bused in.

``While it helped having thousands of us there serving as observers, the real credit goes to the Ukrainians themselves: with the electoral reforms they passed, with the professionalism shown by commission members from the precincts to the territorial commissions, with the dedication millions of Ukrainians who showed up in seizing this opportunity for democracy.''

And while he's concerned that old-liners still may try to stall the new regime, Saum notes that the youth of the country have energy that's hard to quell.

``Sashko Polozhynski, who was a student at Lutsk when I met him a decade ago, is now one of the big pop stars in the country, with his band, Tartak,'' Saum says. ``While Sashko's lyrics aren't particularly political, he and other musicians helped fuel some of the optimism and energy that have so characterized the Orange Revolution -- a rejection of the gray, drab stereotype that we all have of life in a country that's lived in some other country's shadow for the better part of the past thousand years. And last fall, he began appearing onstage with a sweatshirt emblazoned with the command in English: `Be Free.' ''

Not a bad motto for Ukrainians (and Americans who take democracy for granted).

When this story was posted in January 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Coleman: Peace Corps mission and expansion Date: January 8 2005 No: 373 Coleman: Peace Corps mission and expansion
Senator Norm Coleman, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee that oversees the Peace Corps, says in an op-ed, A chance to show the world America at its best: "Even as that worthy agency mobilizes a "Crisis Corps" of former Peace Corps volunteers to assist with tsunami relief, I believe an opportunity exists to rededicate ourselves to the mission of the Peace Corps and its expansion to touch more and more lives."
RPCVs active in new session of Congress Date: January 8 2005 No: 374 RPCVs active in new session of Congress
In the new session of Congress that begins this week, RPCV Congressman Tom Petri has a proposal to bolster Social Security, Sam Farr supported the objection to the Electoral College count, James Walsh has asked for a waiver to continue heading a powerful Appropriations subcommittee, Chris Shays will no longer be vice chairman of the Budget Committee, and Mike Honda spoke on the floor honoring late Congressman Robert Matsui.

January 8, 2005: This Week's Top Stories Date: January 8 2005 No: 367 January 8, 2005: This Week's Top Stories
Zambia RPCV Karla Berg interviews 1,374 people on Peace 7 Jan
Breaking Taboo, Mandela Says Son Died of AIDS 6 Jan
Dreadlocked PCV raises eyebrows in Africa 6 Jan
RPCV Jose Ravano directs CARE's efforts in Sri Lanka 6 Jan
Persuading Retiring Baby Boomers to Volunteer 6 Jan
Inventor of "Drown Proofing" retires 6 Jan
NPCA Membership approves Board Changes 5 Jan
Timothy Shriver announces "Rebuild Hope Fund" 5 Jan
More Water Bottles, Fewer Bullets 4 Jan
Poland RPCV Rebecca Parker runs Solterra Books 2 Jan
Peace Corps Fund plans event for September 30 Dec
RPCV Carmen Bailey recounts bout with cerebral malaria 28 Dec
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RPCVs and Peace Corps provide aid  Date: January 4 2005 No: 366 Latest: RPCVs and Peace Corps provide aid
Peace Corps made an appeal last week to all Thailand RPCV's to consider serving again through the Crisis Corps and more than 30 RPCVs have responded so far. RPCVs: Read what an RPCV-led NGO is doing about the crisis an how one RPCV is headed for Sri Lanka to help a nation he grew to love. Question: Is Crisis Corps going to send RPCVs to India, Indonesia and nine other countries that need help?
The World's Broken Promise to our Children Date: December 24 2004 No: 345 The World's Broken Promise to our Children
Former Director Carol Bellamy, now head of Unicef, says that the appalling conditions endured today by half the world's children speak to a broken promise. Too many governments are doing worse than neglecting children -- they are making deliberate, informed choices that hurt children. Read her op-ed and Unicef's report on the State of the World's Children 2005.
Changing of the Guard Date: December 15 2004 No: 330 Changing of the Guard
With Lloyd Pierson's departure, Marie Wheat has been named acting Chief of Staff and Chief of Operations responsible for the day-to-day management of the Peace Corps. Although Wheat is not an RPCV and has limited overseas experience, in her two years at the agency she has come to be respected as someone with good political skills who listens and delegates authority and we wish her the best in her new position.
Our debt to Bill Moyers Our debt to Bill Moyers
Former Peace Corps Deputy Director Bill Moyers leaves PBS next week to begin writing his memoir of Lyndon Baines Johnson. Read what Moyers says about journalism under fire, the value of a free press, and the yearning for democracy. "We have got to nurture the spirit of independent journalism in this country," he warns, "or we'll not save capitalism from its own excesses, and we'll not save democracy from its own inertia."
RPCV safe after Terrorist Attack RPCV safe after Terrorist Attack
RPCV Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, the U.S. consul general in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia survived Monday's attack on the consulate without injury. Five consular employees and four others were killed. Abercrombie-Winstanley, the first woman to hold the position, has been an outspoken advocate of rights for Arab women and has met with Saudi reformers despite efforts by Saudi leaders to block the discussions.
Is Gaddi Leaving? Is Gaddi Leaving?
Rumors are swirling that Peace Corps Director Vasquez may be leaving the administration. We think Director Vasquez has been doing a good job and if he decides to stay to the end of the administration, he could possibly have the same sort of impact as a Loret Ruppe Miller. If Vasquez has decided to leave, then Bob Taft, Peter McPherson, Chris Shays, or Jody Olsen would be good candidates to run the agency. Latest: For the record, Peace Corps has no comment on the rumors.
The Birth of the Peace Corps The Birth of the Peace Corps
UMBC's Shriver Center and the Maryland Returned Volunteers hosted Scott Stossel, biographer of Sargent Shriver, who spoke on the Birth of the Peace Corps. This is the second annual Peace Corps History series - last year's speaker was Peace Corps Director Jack Vaughn.

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Story Source: Mercury News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Ukraine; Election Observers



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