Posh Corps Podcast Ep. 18: Resistance

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Posh Corps Podcast Ep. 18: Resistance


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The election of Donald Trump for President of the United States has already had affected the countries where Peace Corps volunteers serve, and Trump will very soon be setting policy at Peace Corps itself.

Trump’s divisive rhetoric and much of his proposed agenda directly contradict the mission of the Peace Corps. Despite this, some returned volunteers supported Trump. Others initially opposed Trump’s statements, only to reverse course after the election.  The National Peace Corps Association, for instance, recently applied to march in the inaugural parade for President-Elect Trump on January 20th.

There was a time when Returned Peace Corps Volunteers did not so easily acquiesce to power. Before the National Peace Corps Association there was the Committee of Returned Volunteers (CRV). It was the first national Peace Corps alumni organization, and it was specifically created to oppose U.S. foreign policy.

The committee’s key opposition came on May 8th 1970. Several CRV members walked into Peace Corps Headquarters in Washington D.C., kicked the staff out of the building, and hung a Vietcong flag out of the window in protest of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. They occupied the office for two days.

Elaine Fuller was one of the returned volunteers who occupied Peace Corps headquarters in 1970. She tells her story in this episode of the Posh Corps podcast.

In addition, two returned volunteers on opposite sides of the political spectrum discuss their reactions to the election of Donald Trump.


National Peace Corps Association statement regarding their application to march in the inaugural parade (edited for length):

As we have done on previous occasions, NPCA and our local affiliate group, RPCVs of Washington, D.C., submitted an application on behalf of the Peace Corps community to participate in the 58th Presidential Inaugural Parade on January 20, 2017. Our application was not chosen.

The application reflects the interests of a broadly diverse Peace Corps community to promote and celebrate the proud and ongoing legacy of Peace Corps by displaying the best America has to offer—altruism and service, innovation and idealism, patriotism and grit.

- Glenn Blumhorst


Transcript:

Posh Corps Podcast Ep. 18 Transcript

Credits:

Produced and recorded by Alan Toth.

Images: © Marmaduke St. John / Alamy Stock Photo

Additional Audio: Donald J Trump for President, John F Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, US Peace Corps, WKSU-FM

Sources:

Interviews with Elaine Fuller, Joe Stork, Gerald Schwinn, Mary Hollis, and Raymond Blakney

Karen Schwarz: What You Can Do For Your Country

Thomas F. Roeser: An RPCV Sit-In at the Peace Corps

Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman: All You Need Is Love: The Peace Corps and the Spirit of the 1960s

P. David Searles: The Peace Corps Experience: Challenge and Change, 1969-1976

Stanley Meisler: When the World Calls: The Inside Story of the Peace Corps and Its First Fifty Years

Karen Schwarz: RPCVs and the FBI

Ramparts Magazine: Position Paper of the Committee of Returned Volunteers, September 1967

Washington Post: Protesters Vacate Peace Corps Office, May 10, 1970

The New York Times: Peace Corps Group Petitions For Peace, June 4, 1970

The Times of India: Demonstrators occupy Peace Corps Hq, May 10, 1970

The Washington Post: Dissent and the Peace Corps, Jan 16, 1970

The Washington Post: Peace Corps Backs Protest Here, June 28, 1970

Glenn Blumhorst: When Our Peace Corps Values Matter Most

NPCA: The Peace Corps community in 2016, The New York Times, and Cuba for 2017

 

 

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Posh Corps Podcast Ep. 17: Kiribati

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Posh Corps Podcast Ep. 17: Kiribati


Photos courtesy of Humans of Kiribati

Over the years, Peace Corps Volunteers have served in many nations that have endured revolution, war, and social turmoil, but Kiribati may be the first Peace Corps country to simply cease to exist.

Kiribati (Keer-ree-bahss) is a nation composed of 33 coral atoll islands spread over a vast area of the Pacific Ocean. Most of the islands of Kiribati are no more than two meters above sea level. Like many Pacific island nations, Kiribati is severely impacted by climate change and rising sea levels. Though Kiribati may not be completely submerged for another fifty years, the effects of climate change may soon render the islands uninhabitable.

Mike Roman served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kiribati from 2000 to 2002. In this episode of the Posh Corps Podcast, Mike explains the challenges facing his adopted country, and what he's doing to help Kiribati and other Pacific island nations.

 

To find out more about the projects mentioned in this podcast, check out:

Kiribati Keepers

Millennium Island


 

Credits:

Produced and recorded by Alan Toth.

Images: Humans of Kiribati, Raimon Kataotao, Gonna Ketels

Additional Audio Used under a Creative Commons 4.0 License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0):

The London School of Economics and Politics: In the Front Line of Climate Change

izzykb (YouTube): 1.5C to stay alive change at COP21

 

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Posh Corps Podcast Ep. 16 Institution

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Posh Corps Podcast Ep. 16 Institution

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Left to Right: Chuck Ludlam, Paula Hirschoff, Sargent Shriver, Robert B. Textor

Left to Right: Chuck Ludlam, Paula Hirschoff, Sargent Shriver, Robert B. Textor

This episode of the Posh Corps Podcast investigates a fundamental flaw in Peace Corps policy which prevents the agency from embracing reform. This story is the fourth segment in The Reform Series, a four-part series about Peace Corps reform efforts.

A provision within the Peace Corps Act limits employment at Peace Corps to a term of five years. This provision is known as the "Five-Year Rule." Numerous assessments have found that the Five-Year Rule creates serious disincentives toward high employee performance. The dynamic between the Five-Year Rule and a high number of political appointees at Peace Corps produces a fundamental flaw in Peace Corps policy.

Chuck Ludlam and Paula Hirschoff served as Peace Corps volunteers in the Sixties, and they served again as volunteers in Senegal from 2005 to 2007. They found that Peace Corps had not matured as much as it should have over the years. They are among the very few volunteers who have successfully advocated for Peace Corps reform.



 

Credits:

Produced by Alan Toth.

Recording by Alan Toth and Will Dickinson.

Assistance by Lauren Schwartzman.

Music: "A Tale" from the album Hang by Laura Inserra. Used under a license provided by iLicense Music.

Image: Photos by Wilma Scheuren, Robert B. Textor, and Alexander Boden

Special Thanks to Will Dickinson and Joanne Roll.

 

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Posh Corps Podcast Ep. 15 Mefloquine

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Posh Corps Podcast Ep. 15 Mefloquine


This episode of the Posh Corps Podcast investigates Peace Corps' use of the anti-malarial drug Mefloquine. This story is the third segment in The Reform Series, a four-part series about Peace Corps reform efforts.

Mefloquine, also known by the brand name Lariam, is an anti-malarial drug that has been prescribed to Peace Corps Volunteers since 1989. Mefloquine is effective at preventing malaria, but some believe that the adverse side effects of the drug may be just as dangerous as malaria itself.

Sara Thompson served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Burkina Faso from 2010 to 2012. She experienced serious adverse side effects from Mefloquine use during service, and the side effects did not end when she stopped taking the drug. 


 

Credits:

Produced and recorded by Alan Toth.

Recording and editorial assistance by Lauren Schwartzman.

Music: "A Tale" from the album Hang by Laura Inserra. Used under a license provided by iLicense Music.

 

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Posh Corps Podcast Ep. 14: Advocate

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Posh Corps Podcast Ep. 14: Advocate

Warning: This story contains references to and descriptions of sexual violence.


This episode of the Posh Corps Podcast investigates Peace Corps' mismanaged implementation of the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act. This story is the second segment in The Reform Series, a four-part series about Peace Corps reform efforts.

Kate Puzey served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Benin. She was murdered after blowing the whistle on sexual misconduct by a part-time Peace Corps contract employee. Kate Puzey's parents worked with the members of the advocacy group First Response Action to advocate for the Kate Puzey Volunteer Protection Act. The Kate Puzey Act required Peace Corps to implement new procedures for volunteer victims of sexual assault, and whistle-blower protections for volunteers. The Kate Puzey Act also required Peace Corps to hire a victim advocate to help volunteer victims and agency management understand the rights of victims.

Kellie Greene was the first victim advocate hired by Peace Corps. Kellie says that Peace Corps was resistant to the reforms mandated by the Kate Puzey Act, and that agency management forced her out of her position at Peace Corps.


 

Credits:

Produced and recorded by Alan Toth

Recording and Editorial Assistance by Lauren Schwartzman.

Music: "A Tale" from the album Hang by Laura Inserra. Used under a license provided by iLicense Music

Photos: Kate's Voice, Kellie Greene

 

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Posh Corps Podcast Ep. 13: Dysfunction

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Posh Corps Podcast Ep. 13: Dysfunction


This episode of the Posh Corps Podcast investigates the complex, frustrating, dysfunctional health care system available to Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. This story is the first segment in The Reform Series, a four-part series about Peace Corps reform efforts.

Nancy Tongue, who served in Chile from 1980 to 1982, struggled to get serious illness covered through the Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA). FECA, which is administered by the Department of Labor, is the only way for Returned Peace Corps Volunteers to get compensation for their service-related medical issues. FECA is so dysfunctional, that many Returned Peace Corps Volunteers with serious post-service medical conditions are trapped in a medical limbo, unable to get the treatments they need, unable to work due to illness and unable to get help from Peace Corps. Nancy Tongue started a support group for these volunteers called Health Justice for Peace Corps Volunteers.

 

Editorial: Introduction to the Reform Series


 

Credits:

Produced and recorded by Alan Toth

Recording and Editorial Assistance by Lauren Schwartzman.

Music: "A Tale" from the album Hang by Laura Inserra. Used under a license provided by iLicense Music

Photos: U.S. Peace Corps & Alan Toth

 

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Posh Corps Podcast Ep. 12: Teachable Moments

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Posh Corps Podcast Ep. 12: Teachable Moments

From Left to Right: Rhian Carreker-Ford, Adrienne Hall, Olivia Oxley, Portia Boykin, Steven Ellison

From Left to Right: Rhian Carreker-Ford, Adrienne Hall, Olivia Oxley, Portia Boykin, Steven Ellison

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This episode features a discussion between five BPCV's (Black Peace Corps Volunteers) as they open up and pick apart the impact of race, physical appearance, and gender on Peace Corps service.

Credits:

Produced by Lauren Schwartzman and Adrienne Hall.

Recorded by Alan Toth and Lauren Schwartzman.

Special thanks to: Portia Boykin, Olivia Oxley, Steven Ellison, and Rhian Carreker-Ford.

Additional consulting from Phebe Philips and Craig Chavis Jr.

Photo: Alan Toth

Music:

“Ulan Bator” from the album Mongolia by Frenic

“Tasabasaba” from the album Tasabasaba by To Life!. Used under a license provided by iLicense Music (ilicensemusic.com).

“Like Water” from the album Another Ride by Chad Farran. Used under a license provided by iLicense Music (ilicensemusic.com).

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Posh Corps Podcast Ep. 11: Attraction

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Posh Corps Podcast Ep. 11: Attraction

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This episode of the Posh Corps Podcast is about Peace Corps relationships. Lauren Schwartzman chose not to date during her two years of service in Panama. She wondered if her decision was common, or if most volunteers dated during service. She interviewed volunteers from the Dominican Republic, Ukraine, and South Africa - hoping to discover whether or not there is such a thing as a typical Peace Corps relationship. Lauren also recorded one of the first dates she went on after returning to the United States.

Credits:

Produced and recorded by Lauren Schwartzman.

Editorial Advisor: Alan Toth

Music: "Dor County" from the album Sangita by Fernwood. Used under a license provided by iLicense Music

Photo: Lauren Schwartzman

 

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Posh Corps Podcast Ep. 10: Contradiction

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Posh Corps Podcast Ep. 10: Contradiction

DSC_5682.jpg

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This episode of the Posh Corps Podcast is the story of Socorra Camposanto’s tour of Morocco. Socorra is a singer/songwriter who served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco from 2010 - 2012. She returned to Morocco in November of 2015 to perform in seven cities across the country.

Credits:

Produced and recorded by Alan Toth and Socorra Camposanto.

Special thanks to the American Language Centers in Morocco.

Additional Audio:

Bataclan Attack, filmed by Daniel Psenny

Attentats à Paris : Retour en vidéo sur les différentes attaques terroristes by France 24

Note: Some names were changed for the sake of anonymity.

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 Posh Corps Podcast Ep. 9: Stonewall

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Posh Corps Podcast Ep. 9: Stonewall

Photos by Nick Castle

 

This Episode of the Posh Corps Podcast features the story of Nick Castle. Nick served in Peace Corps China. He died tragically from a serious illness. The details of Nick's death were covered extensively by the New York Times. Our story is about Nick's service in Peace Corps China. We hear from one of Nick's Peace Corps friends and Nick's family. We also discuss the lackluster response from the returned Peace Corps volunteer community following Nick's passing.

Producer's Statement:

This was certainly one of the most challenging projects I've produced since launching the Posh Corps platform. All my research indicated that Nick Castle was not only a great Peace Corps volunteer, but also a great person. The more I read and learned about Nick, the more I felt compelled to help ensure that he was remembered as more than just a sad story in the New York Times.

Getting any Peace Corps volunteers from China 18 to share their memories of Nick turned out to be one of the most challenging aspects of this story. Some volunteers would not agree to a recorded interview, but they helped me better understand the trauma experienced by the group. Following Nick's death, the unity of China 18 was shattered. It was described to me as misplaced anger. Volunteers were angry that Peace Corps was not providing information about Nick's death, and this anger manifested within the group. Many volunteers are still holding onto this anger, even after completing Peace Corps service.

I'm very thankful to RPCV Alex Escobar. Though Alex had her own suspicions regarding my intentions, she felt duty bound to help tell the story of her friend. Thanks to Chris Castle, who helped us understand Nick's character, and his personal motivations. Thanks, most of all, to Nick's parents, Dave and Sue Castle, who sat with me for three hours, and helped me understand every tiny detail of their dealings with Peace Corps. I'm also thankful to those anonymous Peace Corps employees who directed me to the reports compiled by the Office of the Inspector General. Even some Peace Corps employees recognize the need for reform.

I reached out to many Peace Corps staff members, encouraging them to go on the record. Unfortunately, they turned me down, but during our correspondence they asked if I was "pro-Peace Corps." I told them that I am neither pro-Peace Corps nor anti-Peace Corps. I believe Peace Corps is absolutely necessary, particularly for a country like the United States. We need more of our citizens to understand life outside our American bubble. Just as Peace Corps is necessary for a better US, criticism is necessary for a better Peace Corps. I believe all returned Peace Corps volunteers have been derelict in our critical scrutiny of Peace Corps policy.

Peace Corps advocacy groups, like the National Peace Corps Association, are out in force right now. They're visiting their senators and representatives and advocating for more Peace Corps funding. However, if we truly want a better Peace Corps, we cannot simply demand more money, we must demand action on Peace Corps policy reform.

I hope that the story of Nick Castle will help volunteers understand that it is okay to be critical of agency performance. It is okay to demand a better Peace Corps. Even those who identify as pro-Peace Corps should be supporting Sue Castle, and demanding reform, loudly and without apology.

-Alan Toth

Credits:

Produced and recorded by Alan Toth and Lauren Schwartzman. With vocal performance by David Morley. Additional recordings by Nick Castle.

Music: "Just and Improv" from the album Hang by Laura Inserra. Used under a license provided by iLicense Music (ilicensemusic.com)

Sources:

Interviews with Dave Castle, Sue Castle, Chris Castle, Alexandra Escobar, and one anonymous China 18 Peace Corps volunteer.

Peace Corps OIG Report: Investigative Review of the Circumstances Surrounding the Death of a Volunteer in Peace Corps/China.

January 23, 2015 Peace Corps’ Response to OIG Investigative Review I - 13 - 020

Peace Corps OIG Report: Final Evaluation Report: Impacts of the Five - Year Rule on Operations of the Peace Corps ( IG - 12 - 05 - E )

"The New York Times Article" Trail of Medical Missteps in a Peace Corps Death, By Sheryl Gay Stolberg

Agency Response to New York Times Article

Op-Ed: Peace Corps service is a risk worth taking, by NPCA Advisory Council Member Gordon Radley

Nick Castle's Blog

Alexandra Escobar's Blog

Addendum regarding Peace Corps China Volunteer ME 13-0037

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 Posh Corps Podcast Ep. 8: Transition

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Posh Corps Podcast Ep. 8: Transition

Image by A Syn via flickr. Used under Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Image by A Syn via flickr. Used under Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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This episode features an interview with Lauren Schwartzman, an RPCV who served in Panama. She discusses her re-adjustment to living in the United States during the #BlackLivesMatter movement in West Oakland. Socorra performs a song from her new album, and discusses her upcoming national tour of Morocco.

Produced and recorded by Alan Toth and Socorra Camposanto. Music by Socorra Camposanto. Image by A Syn.

Find out more about Socorra's tour of Morocco.

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Posh Corps Podcast Ep. 7: Federation

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Posh Corps Podcast Ep. 7: Federation

Image by Alan Toth

Image by Alan Toth

Episode 7: Federation

In this episode, we explore the relationship between Peace Corps and Star Trek. A volunteer from Nepal discusses her experiences during the 2015 earthquake. A volunteer from Malawi tests the Peace Corps non-interference policy.

Produced and recorded by Alan Toth and Socorra Camposanto. A portion of this podcast is taken from Bush League by Cy Kuckenbaker.

Music:

"Unfolding" from the album Into the Void by Intersonic Subformation. Used under a license provided by iLicense Music

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Posh Corps Podcast Episode 6: Production

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Posh Corps Podcast Episode 6: Production

photo by Mark Treuenfels

photo by Mark Treuenfels

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Episode 6: Production

Episode 6 of the Posh Corps Podcast is about our recent shoot in Jamaica. We visited the small community of Riverton City with RPCV Mark Treuenfels. He introduced us to a group of entrepreneurs who re-cast aluminum scraps from a landfill into new products.  (Mark's blog post)

We also visited a Peace Corps volunteer who is currently serving in Westmoreland Parish. Jordan Waldschmidt discusses her own motivations for joining Peace Corps, as the producers discuss the unique challenges of capturing the Peace Corps experience.

Produced and recorded by Alan Toth and Jesse Toth.

Music:

"A Tale" from the album Hang by Laura Inserra. Used under a license provided by iLicense Music (ilicensemusic.com)

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Posh Corps Podcast Episode 5: Frustration

Photo by Vanessa de Bruyn

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Episode 5: Frustration

Episode 5 of the Posh Corps Podcast is about frustration. Jessica DeNisi served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Jordan. She discusses her frustrations with harassment, and her experience serving in Jordan on September 11, 2001.

Conner Hunihan served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador. He told his story of frustrating public transportation at a volunteer story slam.

Produced and recorded by Alan Toth.

Music:

"Deceived-Ensemble Al" from the album Oasis by Ensemble Al Asdeka. Used under a license provided by iLicense Music

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Posh Corps Podcast Episode 4: Story Slam

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Episode 4: Story Slam

Episode 4 of the Posh Corps Podcast focuses on a popular trend, the Peace Corps story slam. Three volunteers tell true stories of life lived in developing nations. Karen Drachler served as a volunteer in Honduras. She tells her story of a beloved pet and an unfortunate yoga accident. Jonny Styron served as a volunteer in China. He discusses a language faux pas. Justina Wu served as a volunteer in Kenya. She tells a story of World AIDS Day. 

To learn more about Peace Corps volunteer storytelling, check out Justina's live storytelling event: Beyond Borders.

Produced and recorded by Alan Toth.

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Posh Corps Podcast Episode 3: Evacuation

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Episode 3: Evacuation

Episode 3 of the Posh Corps Podcast is about the biggest volunteer fear of all, evacuation. This episode features interviews with volunteers from two Ebola affected countries, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

After 6 months in production, our report on the evacuation of Peace Corps volunteers from West Africa in 2014 is finally complete. We interviewed volunteers evacuated from Liberia about their experiences serving in an Ebola affected country. We also got a report on the situation in Sierra Leone from a former Peace Corps volunteer who joined the Ebola relief efforts in that country.

Produced and recorded by Alan Toth and Socorra Camposanto.

Music:

"A Tale" from the album Hang by Laura Inserra. Used under a license provided by iLicense Music (ilicensemusic.com)

Photos by Alex Tran. Used with Permission.

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Posh Corps Podcast Episode 2: Perception

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Episode 2: Perception

Episode 2 of the Posh Corps Podcast is about perception. We talk with a returned Peace Corps volunteer who served in Haiti. Alan and Socorra discuss their perceptions of Africa before service, and how service affected their perceptions of America. Socorra performs her new song, Stranger which is based on her experiences returning home after service.

Produced and recorded by Alan Toth and Socorra Camposanto.

Music:

"Stranger" by Socorra Camposanto. Used with permission.

"Malawi Voodoo" from the album Knives to the Treble by Burning Babylon. Used under a license provided by iLicense Music (ilicensemusic.com)

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Posh Corps Podcast Episode 1: Work

This Episode of the Posh Corps Podcast asks the question "What is Work?" It is the fundamental question for Peace Corps volunteers when they return to the United States.

Produced and recorded by Alan Toth and Socorra Camposanto.

Music by Socorra Camposanto.

Story Slam performance by Cynthia Markova.

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