Archive - April 2009

1
All Those Sad Goodbyes
2
The Pleasure Of Small Presses
3
Tony Zurlo (Nigeria 1962-64) New Collection of Poems
4
Talking About 'Honor Killing' With RPCV Ellen R. Sheeley
5
Reflections on the Peace Corps
6
The Ugly Peace Corps Volunteer
7
Review Of The Disappearance
8
The New Peace Corps Director???
9
RPCV Mike Meyer Talks At The New York Asia Society
10
RPCV Writers In The NYTIMES Book Section

All Those Sad Goodbyes

The 25th Anniversary Conference mostly took place on the Washington D.C. Mall where 5,000 + gathered under the largest tent ever raised at the foot of the Capitol Dome and adjacent to the Air and Space Museum. The Mall was the brainchild of Bill Carey (India 1968-69) the executive director of the conference. The late talented writer David Schickele (Nigeria 1961-63) wrote, “The tent was like the Peace Corps I was part of. Its muggy windless flaps said something about heat and hard work and improvisation, its massive nonchalance the perfect protection for the ideas being hatched beneath it.” Over 70% of those at the conference had served in the first 10 years of the Peace Corps. Almost 45% had served in just 10 of the 82 countries represented at the conference. Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia, India, Liberia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Philippines, Thailand and Turkey. People had come from all 50 states and 12 other countries. Doug . . .

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The Pleasure Of Small Presses

Sometimes (many times) it pays to be published by a small press. Take Lauri Anderson (Nigeria 1965-67) His novel, Hunting Hemingway’s Trout was first published by the well known New York publisher,  Athenaeum. But since that edition came and went, he has been published by the small Minnesota press, North Star. They are a legitimate small press who do not give advances but do pay royalties. They also keep all of his books in print and have gone back to print with his most popular books.  Several of his books are used in literature classes at various universities and two, those set in Misery Bay, were woven into a film that was shown on prime-time TV in Finland.  Many of his characters are Finnish because Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is full of Finns and the town where he grew up in northern Maine also had a lot of Finns,  including his father.  As Laurie writes, “My writing career has been disappointing monetarily but gratifying in that . . .

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Tony Zurlo (Nigeria 1962-64) New Collection of Poems

In his review  in the San Antonio Express, Roberto Bonazzi writes of Tony Zurlo (Nigeria 1962–64) new collection of poems, The Mind Dancing: “These poems about China make it clear that he [Zurio] is neither Western-centric nor egocentric, and that he has remained open to the ancient wisdom of the East.” Tony’s first  poem is  “Dao: The Elusive One” who “consumes scholars / in missions of the mind, / convinced they can analyze / and split it like an atom, / attracts philosophers / like gravity, confident / they will tame it with syllogisms and logic, / lures pilgrims to mountain tops, / guided by monks who promise / paradise to all who yield / to the scripture of bliss.” Not all of the poems are brief Zen-like lyrics; there are also longer discursive poems with witty turns and several love poems for his Chinese wife, artist Vivian Lu, who provides a . . .

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Talking About 'Honor Killing' With RPCV Ellen R. Sheeley

Ellen R. Sheeley was an early business PCV in Western Samoa from 1983 to 1985. Finishing her tour, she traveled home very slowly, circling the globe. Years later as a successful businesswoman, she happened to watch a television newscast that impassioned her. Ellen was kind enough to grant an electronic interview about her book Reclaiming Honor in Jordan: A National Public Opinion Survey On “Honor” Killings. She was interviewed by Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras 1975-77) a  city planner who publishes books (travel & poetry)  as a hobby. [Larry:] What is an honor killing? [Ellen:] “Honor” killing is the murder of family for actual or perceived immoral sexual behavior. It is a misguided attempt to restore family honor. Immoral behavior could be rape (in which case the rape victim is murdered), extramarital or premarital intercourse, or even flirtation. “Honor” killing is believed to have its origins in misinterpretations of pre-Islamic Arab . . .

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Reflections on the Peace Corps

Alan Guskin, as most people know, was one of the key influences in the creation of the Peace Corps and went from the University of Michigan to Thailand with the first group of PCVs. He has had a long career in education and is currently the President Emeritus of Antioch University, where he was President and then Chancellor from 1985-97. This is a short except from his essay, A Way of Being in the World: Reflections on the Peace Corps 30 Years Later. It was published in the The Antiochian in the Fall of 1991. It is republished here with Alan’s permission. . . . The Peace Corps began in a light drizzle at 2 a.m. in the morning on Oct. 14, 1960, near the end of a tumultuous presidential campaign.  John Kennedy won the election a few weeks later, the hopes of a new generation of the 1960s began . . .

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The Ugly Peace Corps Volunteer

In 1958 came The Ugly Americanby William Lederer and Eugene J. Burdick. This book went through fifty-five printings in two years and was a direct motivation in creating the Peace Corps, as Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman points out in her history of the Peace Corps, All You Need Is Love.      In a “Factual Epilogue” to the novel, Lederer and Burdick lay out the basic philosophy and modus operandi of what would later be the Peace Corps. Writing about how America should “help” developing countries, the authors declare: We do not need the horde of 1,500,000 Americans – mostly amateurs – who are now working for the United States overseas. What we need is a small force of well-trained, well-chosen, hard-working, and dedicated professionals. They must be willing to risk their comforts and – in some cases – their health. They must go equipped to apply a positive policy promulgated by . . .

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Review Of The Disappearance

The Disappearance by RPCV Efrem Sigel came out several months ago from The Permanent Press, a company that had published a number of fine Peace Corps books. It is reviewed here by Leita Kaldi Davis who worked with Roma (Gypsies) for fifteen years before she became a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal. The Disappearance by Efrem Sigel (Ivory Coast 1965–67) Permanent Press February 2009 264 pages $28.00 Reviewed by Leita Kaldi Davis (Senegal 1993–96) Joshua and Nathalie Sandler’s 14-year old son, Daniel, disappears one day from their summer home in a quiet New England town where Joshua is involved in the development of an upscale resort that earns him enemies among local citizens who view them as New York outsiders.  Anonymous threats result in the poisoning of Joshua’s partner’s dog and Joshua, sensing the town’s secrets and mysteries, suspects that his son’s disappearance might be a similar sinister warning.  What he . . .

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The New Peace Corps Director???

Insiders in D.C. are telling me that Tony Patrick Hall, the former Democrat Congressman and PCV from Ohio, is on the short list to be the next Peace Corps Director. Tony recently served as the ambassador to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and chief of the U.S. mission to the U.N. Agencies in Rome. Hall, I’m told, has expressed ‘interest’ in the position. Also lobbying for the job is the former Regional Manager of the Peace Corps Recruitment Office in Boston. Not a PCV, it is unlikely that he will get the appointment.

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RPCV Mike Meyer Talks At The New York Asia Society

Mike Meyer (China 1995-97) will be talking about The Last Days of Old Beijing — May 7th 6:30 – 8:00 pm at the New York Asia Society and Museum: 725 Park Avenue, New York (Cost: $7 students and members, $10 nonmembers) Mike Meyer after his Peace Corps tour lived — as no other Westerner has — in a shared courtyard home in Beijing’s oldest neighborhood, Dazhalan, on one of its famed hutong (lanes). There he volunteered to teach English at the local grade school and immersed himself in the community, recording with affection the life stories of the Widow, who shares his courtyard; co-teacher Miss Zhu and student Little Liu; and the migrants Recycler Wang and Soldier Liu; among the many others who, despite great differences in age and profession, make up the fabric of this unique neighborhood. Their bond is rapidly being torn, however, by forced evictions as century-old houses and . . .

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RPCV Writers In The NYTIMES Book Section

You might have seen the Book Section of The New York Times on Sunday, April 26, 2009. There was an essay by Tom Bissell (Uzbekistan 1996-97) on the writer David Foster Wallace. The essay was about a book coming out from Little, Brown, a transcript of the 2005 Kenyon commencement address given by Wallace. What’s interesting to me is that within the last month two of these back-of-the-magazine essays have been written by RPCVs. Mike Meyer (China  1995-97), who wrote  The Last Days of Old Beijing, had an essay on  the rise (and fall) of book advances a couple weeks back. Meyer, I know, is scheduled to publish another essay in the Book Section of the Times in the next few weeks. Perhaps we should just plot on how we might take over this pages for our own purposes.

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