Peace Corps History and the Peace Corps Archive

Were you a Peace Corps Volunteer?  If so, please consider donating letters, diaries, and/or other items to the Peace Corps Archive at American University.

I made the video above about the Peace Corps Archive at a recent history event organized by Jesse Bailey who is the Historian of the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Washington (RPCV/W).  He moderated a panel discussion about the history of RPCV/W.  The participants were all former board members of RPCV/W.  There were even many audience members who were very steeped in the history of the Peace Corps.  The event lasted more than 2 hours.  Here is a teaser:

Part one of the panel discussion can be found here:

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A Fast Food Company That Cares for the Environment

Here is an example of a fast food company that sources sustainably raised agricultural products, including Niman Ranch pork.  It has hired small media company to produce a video and an iphone application to tell the story of how industrialized agriculture is destroying the planet.  Watch the video they created (soundtrack by Fiona Apple):

and then what the behind the scenes video:

Anacostia River Trail loop

Today, I completed a very nice loop on the Anacostia River Trail. I ride my bike every day, but I almost never just go out just for a ride.  However, this is a great 40-60 minute loop that anyone can do very easily.  If you live in DC, you should do it at least once.  It is very beautiful!! 

The loop I rode, is highlighted in red.

Anacostia River Trail Loop
Anacostia River Trail Loop

I started at Stanton Park, then went south and then east on Pennsylvania Ave. (passing near Eastern Market, which was not open yet), and then south on 11th St.

I then crossed the river on the brand new 11th St SE bridge, which has a very wide pedestrian walkway.  I then arrived in a part of Anacostia that I had never before visited.  I noticed also a CapitalBikeShare station (Good Hope Rd & MLK Ave SE) and a sign indicating that the Anacostia Metro station was half a mile away.

I then paralleled the river until I got to Benning Road, where there is also a CapitalBikeShare station (Anacostia Ave & Benning Rd NE / River Terrace).

During this stretch, I saw maybe 4-5 runners and some rowers on the river.  It was a gorgeous ride and I recommend it to anyone with a bike or a willingness to get on a BikeShare bike.  It could take you 20-30 minutes going at a very relaxed pace.  It is completely on bike path, no traffic to deal with.

I went east on south side of the sidewalk on Benning Road, and passed the entrance to Kingman Island.  I  then resumed on west side of the River Trail heading south past the Stadium and past the boat houses and yacht clubs where I took these photos:

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photo 4

photo 3

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photo 1

For more info see: http://www.anacostiaws.org/images/maps/AnacostiaRiverWaterTrailGuide.pdf

or

http://www.capitolriverfront.org/go/riverwalk-trail

update:

I did the loop in reverse today (December 21, 2013) and made this video.

Documented

Documented is a new film by Jose Antonio Vargas

The film had its world premier at the AFI Docs Festival last night to a sold out crowd at the National Portrait Gallery.

It chronicles the struggles and efforts of the Pulitzer Prize-winning former journalist, both before and after he outed himself as an undocumented immigrant in the New York Times Magazine. “Documented” chronicles his decision to transform his life. At some point, he could no longer keep his secret. He had become a successful journalist covering political campaigns and appearing on television. He had all the trappings of the American success story, but he lacked permission to be in the United States. He had been brought to the U.S. as a child and had no way to obtain a valid immigration status. And after seeing and speaking with thousands of immigrants in the same situation, he decided to “let the world in” to his secret and decided to become an immigration reform activist/provocateur.

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Mr. Vargas has made a compelling film that brings into focus what it really means to be an American. It is not a piece of paper, a birth certificate, a passport, or the luck of being born here. It is a love of country, which Mr. Vargas has in abundance. It is also about hard work and struggle. My Vargas’ grandparents were U.S. citizens and brought him to the USA when he was 12. He became an outstanding student and with the help of dozens of friends, mentors, and surrogate parents, he achieved the American dream. However, the cost of this dream were high, and not being able to be open about his status exacted a toll on his psyche. Seeing other young immigrants struggling to keep their families together and lobby Congress to pass the Dream Act., made him realize that he could use his talents as a writer to help America to peel back the layers and understand the complicated issue of immigration reform. The complexity of the topic has been lost in the political bickering and punditry that characterizes our political system and our society. Sound-bites are particularly inappropriate to understand this complex topic. The film sheds a bright and focused light, like very few other films on this topic. It also highlights his struggle to repair his relationship with his mother, who for twenty years had been trapped half way across the world (in the Philippines) with no way to see her son. The film shows that there are thousands of young adults from all over the world who face the same situation. At one moment towards the end of the film, Mr. Vargas is invited to testify before the Senate. His words are profound and he leaves the Senators with the following question that I think we all must consider thoroughly: “What are you going to do with people like me?” There is not one person who does not recognize how dysfunctional our current immigration system has become. Almost as dysfunctional as our political system. It cannot be acceptable in 21st Century America to have some individuals relegated to the back of the bus, or thrown off the bus after having established such strong roots and allegiances to this country. As Mr. Vargas stated, everyone is entitled to his or her own opinions, “but not their own facts.” Before making a decision, one should see this film and lean the facts.

DOJ Educational Videos I Created

Here is a link to a PDF containing links to all of the the videos I created: http://go.usa.gov/2P6m

Published on Feb 4, 2013

This is a PSA from the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. Many employers erroneously believe that if they have an employee whose Permanent Resident Card (also known as a “Green Card”) is expiring, they must see a new one. This is false. If a Permanent Resident presents an unexpired Permanent Resident Card at the time of hire (or an unexpired identify document together with an unrestricted Social Security card), then that employees From I-9 never needs to be reverified, even if or when the Permanent Resident Card expires.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWRSMNFxxKY

Spanish Language VIdeo

Published on Jun 13, 2012

This is a PSA from the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. We are the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices, or “OSC,” and we want you to be informed about the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) by signing up for a free webinar. Whoever you may be, employer or employee, sign up for a free webinar with OSC. http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/osc/…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCR-ndCv2Pk&feature=youtu.be

Image 2-10-13 at 9.15 AM

Published on Dec 12, 2012

USCIS has automatically extended the validity of employment authorization documents issued under the last extension/designation of TPS Haiti for an additional 6 months, through July 22, 2013. If you have a TPS Haiti EAD with an original expiration date of January 22, 2012, you are covered by this automatic extension and may continue to work. For more information on TPS eligibility requirements, what to file, and step by step instructions go to http://www.uscis.gov/tps

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7xi5ti7s2g

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Published on Jun 13, 2012

At the time of hire, all employees have a choice of what document(s) to present to establish their identity and authorization to work, when completing the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9. Employees can choose to present one List A document or instead they can present a List B & List C document. Employer’s should not restrict this choice and could be committing document abuse if they do restrict a worker’s choice of documents. Employers also need to give the employee a choice of document(s) to produce during any reverification (if reverification is warranted).

For more information about the From I-9, please refer to http://www.uscis.gov/I-9Central and for more information about immigration related unfair employment practices, see http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/osc/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbtVn9VX0zE

Image 2-10-13 at 9.12 AM

In Memory of Peter Bis

Peter Bis was a very kind man, who for many years lived on Mass Ave.  He enjoyed greeting people from his spot by the gas station, usually under a tree.  He would be there all day, everyday.  He helped out around the station and also helped customers who needed air in their tires.  He had an abundance of personality.  In a town where almost nobody seems to have the time to say hello to a stranger, Peter was an anomaly.  He always had something kind to say, and frequently caused people to smile.  He will be missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.  Below is a revised rough-cut of what will we hope in the future will be a more refined video of the community’s reaction to Peter and his passing.

“Granito: How to Nail A Dictator” to air on some public television stations

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I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala in the late 1980s.  Since that time, I have tried to stay informed about what is going on there.  It is an amazingly beautiful country with a brutally violent history.  It was with great sadness that I recently learned that the United States will no longer send volunteers to Guatemala and many other Central American countries because of an escalation of drug war violence.

(As an aside, I recommend that you watch http://www.thehouseilivein.org/ for why the drug war is a failure.)

The purpose of this post is to highlight the national distribution of “Granito: How to Nail A Dictator,” which I have heard is an amazing film and will be nationally broadcast on public television stations starting on Thursday, June 28.

However, as I explained in the post below, many public television stations have decided not to air it at all (this seems to be true for WHUT and MPT), and some, like WETA, have decided to air this film only in the middle of the night. 

How is it that Antiques Roadshow can air repeatedly occupying many prime viewing slots and an amazing documentary film is relegated to the middle of the nightSee post below to help correct this problem.