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The Peace Corps at 55
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Southwest Michigan RPCVs Running For Office
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Review: THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO AMHARIC by Andrew Tadros (Ethiopia) & Abraham Teklu
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Review: A WILD HARE by Siffy Torkildson (Madagascar)
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Peace Corps Cafe at Peace Corps House (Washington, D.C.)
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A Peace Corps Settlement House for Washington, D.C.  A Proposal From Tom Hebert (Nigeria)
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The Passing of Poet Phil Dacey (Nigeria)
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A poem of peace by Julie R. Dargis (Morocco)
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Review: BREVITE´ by Stephen Mustoe (Kenya)
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LETTERS FROM SUSIE published by Katherine Miller (Ghana)

The Peace Corps at 55

The Peace Corps at 55 As we celebrate at the NPCA Conference this September, the 55th anniversary of an  agency that appears to be ‘disappearing’ from the view of most Americans, if not Congress and the White House, we might ask why? How often do we hear, “Is there still a Peace Corps?” from the men and women on the street. It seems that for the public the Peace Corps failed away with the “Kennedy Generation.”   But what brought about the Peace Corps in the first place? I thought I might try and chart the impulses that brought about its creation. These ‘impulses’ we might say are close to being lost in the fog of history. There were, however, several generally accepted desires that coalesced in the last days of the Fifties, framed by a number of people in speeches and in prose, and with the election of John F. . . .

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Southwest Michigan RPCVs Running For Office

Dick Joyce (Philippines 1962-64) sent me a “heads up” on what RPCVs in his group are doing.  this political season. Dick writes: “At least three of the former Peace Corps Volunteers in our group are running for office in the coming election.  Paul Clements (The Gambia, 85-87; clements@wmich.edu), who has hosted our group and spoken to us about his Peace Corps experiences is running for U.S. Congress (the 6th district, which includes most of our members).  Pat Crowley (Western Samoa, 76-79;pat@pat-crowley.com), one of our most active members, is running for reelection as Kalamazoo County Drain Commissioner. And Mike Quinn (Nicaragua, 75-77; mikedquinn@sbcglobal.net), who has hosted our group at the Shamrock Montessori School, is running to represent District 10 (i.e. much of Portage) on the Kalamazoo County Commission.  I’m sure they would all appreciate our support.”  

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Review: THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO AMHARIC by Andrew Tadros (Ethiopia) & Abraham Teklu

  The Essential Guide to Amharic: The National Language of Ethiopia Andrew Taros (Ethiopia 2011–13) & Abraham Teklu Peace Corps Writers September 2015 163 pages $20.00 (paperback) Reviewed by Andy Martin (Ethiopia 1965–68) • The Essential Guide to Amharic by Tadross and Teklu, is exactly what it says it is, a brief guide to the language. At 163 pages, it is not a textbook. If you are going to Ethiopia for business or pleasure, the Guide could be helpful. If you want to learn Amharic in order to communicate with Amharic speakers for any length of time or depth, in Ethiopia or elsewhere, this is not a book I can recommend. In the biography of one of the authors, Andrew Tadross, he explains how, as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia, he made lists of vocabulary words for himself to memorize and how these lists eventually evolved into this book. Unfortunately . . .

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Review: A WILD HARE by Siffy Torkildson (Madagascar)

  A Wild Hare: Finding the Life I Imagined Siffy Torkildson (Madagascar 2001–02) Sacred World Explorations July 2015 294 pages $17.99 (paperback), $7.99 (Kindle) Review by Deidre Swesnik (Mali 1996-98) • A QUOTE FROM BUDDHA in Siffy Torkildson’s book, A Wild Hare, is, “As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are. Otherwise you will miss most of your life.” For Torkildson’s journey, I think she might also add, “be who you are.” Being present and being herself guides her on a journey to “finding the life I imagined.” She learned the hard way for too many years of not following her heart. But she is now determined to take what she has learned and to move forward with her newly found true love. She will not be deterred. Torkildson lets us into her innermost thoughts in this book that is part memoir, part travel guide. The book starts . . .

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Peace Corps Cafe at Peace Corps House (Washington, D.C.)

One of the features of the Washington, D.C. Peace Corps House will be a Peace Corps Café. The idea behind the Peace Corps Café, independent but related to Peace Corps House, comes from the Press Café in Batumi, Georgia, that far corner of eastern Europe. Happily; it was the project of Craig Schwinck. Craig served in the coastal city of Batumi. Here is what Craig had to say about his Peace Corps assignment in Batumi, Georgia: “My assignment was to establish a place where the free press in Georgia was able to come, discuss, debate, develop and learn from each other. We who started the café had a goal to create a safe haven for that expression. It became a place not only for the press, but for everyone in the state of Adjara to share diverse ideas, experiences and good food. Would it work in Washington? “I believe so. . . .

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A Peace Corps Settlement House for Washington, D.C.  A Proposal From Tom Hebert (Nigeria)

Purpose If realized, Peace Corps House will be a settlement house, also known as a community or neighborhood center. Thus, the aim of Peace Corps House is to contribute to the improvement of the quality of life for residents of a Washington neighborhood where, as the District of Columbia’s Comprehensive Plan states, “poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, crime and other social issues must be addressed because for revitalization to truly succeed, all residents must be given opportunities to advance.” Peace Corps House could help. In this spirit, the aim of Peace Corps House is to bring about a new kind of community life. Because it is in the community or neighborhood that people seek and fight for solutions to their concrete, daily, local and immediate problems. And so Peace Corps House will provide essential social services with related assistance and space to individuals and groups in efforts to solve community problems or . . .

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The Passing of Poet Phil Dacey (Nigeria)

  I recently learned the sad news that Phil Dacey (Nigeria 1963-65) died in Minneapolis on July 7, 2016, at age 77, after a nearly two-year struggle with acute leukemia. Phil won the Peace Corps Writers Poetry Award in 2000 for his collection, The Deathbed Playboy. He also won three Pushcart Prizes and the Discovery Award from the Poetry Center of the 92nd Street YM-YWHA. Phil was the recipient of a Woodrow Wilson fellowship from Stanford University as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Bush Foundation, and the Loft-McKnight Foundation. He served as poet- or writer-in-residence at Wichita State University, the University of Idaho, and Minnesota State University at Mankato. While teaching at Southwest State Minnesota University, Dacey founded the Marshall Festivals, the Minnesota Writers’ Festival, and the International Film Series. He lived in Minneapolis until his death. Over the . . .

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A poem of peace by Julie R. Dargis (Morocco)

  Tolerance, Freedom, and Peace by Julie R. Dargis (Morocco 1984–87) • Pitch with us tolerance, freedom and peace In churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques. Stand up with our friends at home and abroad. Let respect choose the words we use wisely. In Morocco, Mali, throughout Asia, Eastern Europe, across the Middle East, Peace Corps volunteers are welcome in homes. We live together as one in global Communities, Humanitarians Working in Turkey, Greece, and Syria Attest to the same. Islamophobic Rhetoric, spinning in news cycles, is Staining our communities with chatter. Can you not hear all our cries to stand down?     Julie R. Dargis is a poet, a writer, and an intuitive. “Tolerance, Freedom, and Peace” was taken from her recently published collection of “memoirs, sonnets and prose,” White Moon in a Powder Blue Sky. Previously she published a creative non-fiction book drawing on her Peace Corps experience, Pit Stop in the . . .

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Review: BREVITE´ by Stephen Mustoe (Kenya)

  Brevité: A Collection of Short Fiction Stephen Mustoe (Kenya 1983–84) Peace Corps Writers May 2016 132 pages $7.95 (paperback) Reviewed by Jane Albritton (India 1967–69) • MEMORY IS THE CORNERSTONE of Stephen Mustoe’s first collection of short fiction: Brevité. Sometimes the memories seem like they rightly belong to the author, sometimes not. But even when the source remains unclear, the quality of remembrance remains present. As with any collection of short fiction, a reader is likely to come away from the experience with favorites. I have. Actually, I have two favorite sets of stories that stand out from the others: a pair featuring the irrepressible Uncle Woody, and a quartet of stories that draw on Mustoe’s experiences in Africa, both as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya and on later return visits. In “Dogfish Blues” and “Blind Faith,” Mustoe introduces Woody, a veteran Navy flier who knew how to get . . .

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LETTERS FROM SUSIE published by Katherine Miller (Ghana)

  Susie Bannerman was a shy, gangly, fourteen-year-old high school student when she met Katherine Miller, a Peace Corps Volunteer teacher at her partially-finished boarding school in newly independent Ghana. They bonded quickly and formed a friendship that has lasted over fifty years primarily continuing their relationship by communicating through letters. About fifteen years ago Miller realized that her collection of hundreds of letters from Susie was an incredible chronicle of the life of a woman who had grown up as her country was struggling with its own growing pains. Only nine-years-old when Ghana became independent, Susie and Ghana grew up together. Katherine suggested to Susie the the idea of a making a book of her letters, and Susie agreed immediately. First the letters were transcribed to the computer. Miller wrote background material by hand — her preferred medium — before entering it onto the computer. Susie and her family were involved in much . . .

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