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Update on the Returned Peace Corps Oral History Project
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The Friends of Colombia and Albuquerque RPCVS support Marina Orth Foundation (Colombia)
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WAGING PEACE: The Peace Corps Experience (Sierra Leone)
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James Comey’s Wife an RPCV (Sierra Leone)
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The “Cat Person” is an RPCV (Kenya)
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Review — AMERICRUISE by Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras)
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Why Paul Theroux Loves Cape Cod (Malawi)
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Review – LONGING TO BE FREE by Judith Guskin (Thailand)
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Talking China with Michael Meyer
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FIRST, YOU GET PISSED by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith (Cameroon)

Update on the Returned Peace Corps Oral History Project

One of the many hidden treasures of Peace Corps history is the RPCV Oral History Collection at the JFK Library, begun more than seventeen years ago by RPCV Robert Klein,(Ghana I). Bob interviewed members of Ghana I for his book, Being First: An Informal History of the Early Peace Corps Robert Klein (Ghana 1961-63) Wheatmark, 2010* and realized how valuable those taped interviews were. He decided to expand to interview as many RPCVs as possible, at his own expense. For years, he crisscrossed the country, interviewing RPCVs and teaching them how to interview others. The JFK Library agreed to archive the tapes. Bob Klein died in 2012 and his work was carried on by his good friend, Phyllis Noble.  Sadly, Phyllis, too has passed on.  But, the JFK Oral History project lives on.  RPCVs have continued this incredibly important work.  Now they have affiliated with the National Peace Corps Association. Here . . .

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The Friends of Colombia and Albuquerque RPCVS support Marina Orth Foundation (Colombia)

  A note from Maureen Orth (Colombia 1964-66) Fellow RPCVs: We’re in the home stretch and hope you will share the pride. I am a former Colombia Peace Corps Volunteer living in Washington DC with a foundation in Medellin that provides laptops and teacher training and emphasizes technology, English and leadership in 21 schools with 8000 kids: MarinaOrthFoundation.org <http://marinaorthfoundation.org/>.  Two of our robotics teams, The Little Engineers, all girls 12-13, and Digiminds, 3 boys and 1 girl, ages 10-11, are about to have one of the most thrilling experiences of their short lives. They have won the robotics championship of Colombia sponsored by RoboRAVE and will be traveling to Albuquerque May 7 – 13 to represent Colombia and compete in the worldwide RoboRAVE competition. These kids beat some of the best public and private schools to have this chance and it is quite an accomplishment for them. They have never been in . . .

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WAGING PEACE: The Peace Corps Experience (Sierra Leone)

   WAGING PEACE: The Peace Corps Experience A film by Allen Mondell (Sierra Leone 1963-65) • I was a Peace Corps teacher in Sierra Leone from 1963-65. For the past 50 years I’ve been a documentary filmmaker. WAGING PEACE: The Peace Corps Experience tells our stories through letters, journals, emails and blogs combined with the profiles of four former Volunteers whose work today shows the enduring impact of these experiences on their own lives and the lives of others. At times hilariously funny, and at other times grimly sad, WAGING PEACE is full of perceptive insights into sacrifice and hardship, courage and defeat—and, ultimately, hope. At a time when society desperately relies on volunteerism, WAGING PEACE is an inspiring call to other Americans, young and old, to cross cultural lines in order to discover a new awareness of the world and, in the end, to wage peace. You can watch . . .

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James Comey’s Wife an RPCV (Sierra Leone)

Thanks to a “Heads Up” from Don Beil (Somalia 1963-65) James Comey, the former FBI Director and author of A Higher Loyalty is married to an RPCV: Patrice Failor (Sierra Leone 1983-85). Comey writes about visiting his then girlfriend in the summer after his first year of law school. The two had met in college. Corney writes in this new book: “All of us have encounters with death in our lives. It’s inevitable. I’ve had my share, even after the Ramsey Rapist receded into my nightmares. There was, for example, the time I visited Patrice, who at this time was just my girlfriend, while she was in the Peace Corps in a remote village in Sierra Leone, West Africa, and I nearly died from contracting malaria. If she had not driven me in the middle of the night on the back of her motorcycle and literally dragged me into a . . .

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The “Cat Person” is an RPCV (Kenya)

  Thanks to a “heads up” from NPCA’s Worldview Magazine and Peter Deekle (Iran 1968-70) I’ve learned that writer Kristen Roupenian (Kenya 2003-05) is a Peace Corps writer. Kristen’s story “Cat Person” in The New Yorker [December 11, 2017] about online dating was the weekly magazine’s second-most-read story of 2017. Also Scout Press has paid a reported seven figures for the rights to two works by Roupenian. The first is a collection of stories, You Know You Want This that is scheduled for release in the spring of 2019. In Worldview article on the achievements of RPCVs, Peter Deekle writes that as a PCV Kristen taught public health and HIV education at an orphan’s center a few hours from the Ugandan border, then worked as a teacher’s aide and a cashier in a bookstore before earning a Master’s degree in English at Harvard. Next she devoted five years to full-time writing. Today . . .

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Review — AMERICRUISE by Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras)

  Americruise (Travel) Second edition Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras 1975–77) Self published September 2017 108 pages $13.95 (paperback) Reviewed by David H. Greegor (Mexico 2007-11) • Americruise by Lawrence F. Lihosit is a short book with a mega font perfect for geezers like me, although this 2017 second edition (first edition published in 1993) wasn’t written just for the geriatrics amongst us; the author wrote the original when he was 33. For roughly the first quarter of the book, I can’t say as I liked it at all. I thought the author was wacko with a complete disregard for syntax and the rules of the English language. His style defies description. This completely threw me off at the outset, quite likely because I’d never read anything by Mr. Lihosit before. His crazy syntax reminds of someone writing English but throwing in some Spanish rules of grammar. This makes sense because the heroine in . . .

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Why Paul Theroux Loves Cape Cod (Malawi)

  Thanks for the ‘Heads Up’ from Mark D. Walker (Guatemala 1971–73) Q & A in The New York Times, April 16, 2018 — JCoyne • Why Paul Theroux Loves Cape Cod By Dave Seminara, New York Times As a child, the author was taken with the sunshine and beaches. He now spends every summer there because “nothing ever changes.”   For 50 years, Paul Theroux’s addictive novels and brutally honest travel narratives have inspired readers to leave home, travel slow and with a purpose beyond sightseeing. His versatility and boundless curiosity shine in Figures in a Landscape, a new collection of essays (to be published on May 8), and in his latest autobiographical novel, Mother Land (which will be published in paperback on May 1), where Mr. Theroux takes readers to his beloved Cape Cod and deep inside the Machiavellian world of a large, dysfunctional family run by a scheming matriarch. It’s a deeply revealing . . .

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Review – LONGING TO BE FREE by Judith Guskin (Thailand)

  Longing to Be Free: The Bear, the Eagle, and the Crown by Judith Guskin (Thailand 1961-64) Wonder Spirit Press 436 pages $19.36 (paperback), $11.99 (kindle) March 2018 Reviewed by Darcy Meijer (Gabon 1982-84) • Longing to Be Free is a fine piece of historical fiction, and it could well be used in middle and high school history classes. The novel deals with relations between settlers and Native Americans in New England between 1630 and 1677, and the politics in England which drove them. It is a complicated and sad story, and Guskin builds tension skillfully till the final bloody war. The novel focuses on Comfort Bradford, fictional daughter of Plymouth Colony Governor William Bradford, who fled England to the Netherlands to escape religious persecution, then on to establish the Colony in Massachusetts. Comfort grows up close friends with the local Wampanoags, led by Chief Massasoit, and she learns the . . .

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Talking China with Michael Meyer

   In the March/April issue of The Writer’s Chronicle I published this interview with Michael Meyer (China 1995-97) about his China books. Michael is one of what I call the “China Gang” who in the late ’90s went to China with the first groups of PCVs and wrote books about their host country. The RPCVs are, besides Meyer, Craig Simons (China 1996-98), Rob Schmitz (China 1996-98), and Peter Hessler (China 1996-98). — John Coyne   Michael Meyer is a recipient of the Whiting Writers Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar award, and a two-time winner of a Lowell Thomas Award for travel writing. His stories have appeared in The New York Times, Time, Smithsonian, Slate, the Financial Times and [on] This American Life. He has also had residencies at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers and the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Italy. He is a current fellow . . .

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FIRST, YOU GET PISSED by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith (Cameroon)

  To read Chapter One of Mary-Ann Tirone Smith’s (Cameroon 1965-67) new memoir, First, You Get Pissed, go to her home page mary-anntironesmith.com. Consecutive chapters will appear weekly, every Sunday, along with a link to the previous chapters. Comments are welcome by Mary-Ann and might even evolve into a new spin on a book discussion group. Mary-Ann’s second novel, Lament For A Silver-Eyed Woman, published in 1987, was the first novel written by an RPCV about the Peace Corps. Back in 2012 I asked Mary-Ann how she first got published and she told me — When I finished my second novel,  The Book of Phoebe (the first was really bad), I could not get an agent because I hadn’t been published, and of course, I couldn’t get published because I didn’t have an agent.  Catch-22. Then I read an interview in my local paper with a writer who mentioned that her editor was Kate . . .

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