Archive - May 2009

1
A Writer Writes: Kitchen Diplomacy
2
Becoming a Peace Corps Writer
3
Talking With China RPCV Mike Levy About His Book Kosher Dog Meat
4
RPCV Allen Fletcher Publishes His Senegal Tales
5
RPCV From Rwanda Wins Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry
6
Peace Corps Transition Team Tells Obama What To Do
7
What About RPCV Michael Fairbanks For Peace Corps Director?
8
Young Writers Fiction Prize
9
Better Remember This
10
The Ballroom

A Writer Writes: Kitchen Diplomacy

Kristin Ruger, who served in Kazakhstan,  just received her Master’s Degree in Peace Studies and while it hasn’t (yet!) enabled her to get a job, it has helped her understand why “nations and people do the crazy things they do to each other.” Kristin currently lives, she writes, “with the woman of her dreams, whom she met while in the Peace Corps, and is currently searching for the ultimate brownie recipe.” Here is what Kristin has to say as she looks back at her Peace Corps career in Kazakhstan. • Kitchen Diplomacy by Kristin Ruger (Kazahkstan 2005-07) Very early into my Peace Corps training period in Kazakhstan, I got into the habit of walking through Qapshygay with my friend Greg. Qapshygay has seen better days.  Although it is a “recreation zone” due to its proximity to a huge man-made resevoir, the main industry of the area had closed since independence, . . .

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Becoming a Peace Corps Writer

“Any clown with a sharp pencil can write out a dozen lines of verse and call them a poem. Not just any clown can fill 200 pages with prose and call it a [book]. Only the more determined clowns can get the job done.” Lawrence Block, from Writing the Novel: From Plot to Print We are all clowns in one way or another when it comes to writing. Here we are trying to “write a book” when we could be doing almost anything else that is more fun and less trouble. But our goal is important, if for no other reason than it will be recording and putting on paper a significant event in our life. I think that makes each of us special, saving on paper the Peace Corps experience. Writing Techniques In the course of this summer I will blog specifically about writing techniques and problems and possibilities . . .

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Talking With China RPCV Mike Levy About His Book Kosher Dog Meat

Michael Levy (China 2005-07) today is a teacher at the expensive and fancy St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire. His writing has appeared in Adbusters, In These Times, and the Forward and will be featured in an upcoming anthology of writing from Peace Corps Volunteers, Peace Corps at Fifty: Anniversary Story Collection. I heard about his memoir of China entitled, Kosher Dog Meat and emailed him about his book. Here’s what he had to say. Mike, where are you from? I was born in Chicago, Illinois a few blocks from Wrigley Field.  My family moved to Philly shortly before my Bar Mitzvah, so I now have split loyalties.  A Cubs-Phillies playoff series is on my list of nightmares; I would be crushed either way. I went to college at Cornell, graduating in 1998. Ithaca is Gorges. Why did you join the Peace Corps in the first place? Ah. . .  a . . .

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RPCV Allen Fletcher Publishes His Senegal Tales

Sometimes it takes time to publish the book about the Peace Corps experience that you have always wanted to write. Such is the case with Allen Fletcher’s (Senegal 1969-71) collection of stories that he first penned some 30  years ago. He wrote them, as many other RPCVs have done, as “essentially a personal project” and now he has brought them out in a lovely edition. The book that he produced, with wonderful photos, can be obtained directly from Allen. Email him at: afletcher@wpltd.com. The book is entitled Heat, Sand, and Friends. It cost $15, plus $5 postage. The preface begins (and shows that Allen can write): “From 1969-71, courtesy of the remarkable institution called the Peace Corps, my wife Nina and I lived in the Senegalese village of N’Dondol, about 100 miles inland and about ten miles off the main road that extends east from Dakar all the way  into Mali.” Congratulations, Allen!

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RPCV From Rwanda Wins Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry

In 1994 the worst episode of genocide since the Holocaust of the Second World War ravaged the Central African country of Rwanda. Derick Burleson (Rwanda 1991-94)  taught at the National University during the two years leading up to the genocide. The poems in this collection entitled Ejo were published in 2000 by the University of Wisconsin Press. The poems explore the cataclysm in a variety of forms and voices through the culture, myths, and customs Derick absorbed during this time. “Ejo,” meaning “yesterday and tomorrow” in Kinyarwandan. . In 2000, Derick won the University of Wisconsin Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry. This awarded is given annually to the best book-length manuscript of original poetry submitted in an open competition. The award is administered by the University of Wisconsin-Madison English department, and the winner is chosen by a nationally recognized poet.

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Peace Corps Transition Team Tells Obama What To Do

President Obama has in his hands the Peace Corps Transition Team document “Peace Corps Roadmap” telling the president what should be done to increase and improve the agency. The twenty-page transition document was written by his own team, sent to the Peace Corps after the election and before the president was sworn in. This impressive piece of work manages to be both positive about the Peace Corps and its role in the world, and yet outlines the problems of the agency and makes suggestions on how the president can improve the Peace Corps so that more Americans are able to serve our country. The Transition Team document is sitting on President Obama’s White House desk. It has been (so far) unread by the president. Would you like to read it? Peace Corps Worldwide has the document on line NOW! Peace Corps Worldwide keeps the Peace Corps Community informed. Click here to read the “Peace Corps Roadmap” (pdf) Marian Beil (Ethiopia 1962-64) John . . .

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What About RPCV Michael Fairbanks For Peace Corps Director?

Michael Fairbanks is Chairman Emeritus and founder of The OTF Group, a software and strategy consulting firm based in Boston. It is the first Venture-backed US firm to focus on developing nations. Mr. Fairbanks was a US Peace Corps teacher in Kenya, a Wall Street Banker and has, over a twenty year career, advised scores of Presidents, cabinet members and CEOs in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia on business strategy and export competitiveness. Mr. Fairbanks is now involved with The S.E.VEN Fund. His projects have included working for the President of Rwanda to improve the prosperity of all Rwandan citizens by increasing the competitiveness of that nation’s tourism, coffee and agro-industry sectors; and advising the Minister of Finance of Afghanistan on private sector reforms. He co-authored Harvard Business School’s landmark book on business strategy in emerging markets, entitled Plowing the Sea, Nurturing the Hidden Sources of Advantage in Developing . . .

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Young Writers Fiction Prize

Bard College in New York on the Hudson River is inviting submissions for its annual Fiction Prize for young published writers (under 39 years or younger at the time of application.) The prize is worth $30,000, plus the winner receives an appointment as writer-in-residence at Bard College for one semester. The writer does not have to teach, but will give at least one public lecture and will meet informally with students. To apply, RPCV writers should write a cover letter describing the project they plan to work on while at Bard and submit a C.V. along with three copies of the published book they feel best represents their work. Applications for the 2010 prize must be received by July 15, 2009. For further information about the Bard Fiction Prize, call 845.758.7087, or visit www.bard.edu/bfp.

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Better Remember This

The 1995 recipient of the Moritz Thomsen Peace Corps Experience Award presented by PEACE CORPS WRITERS for the best short description of life in the Peace Corps. • Better Remember This by Meg Sullivan (Kenya 1992–94) YOU’D BETTER REMEMBER THIS. Because people will ask you. Whether you want them to or not, they’ll ask you how Africa was. And though you won’t know where to start, you’re going to have to have something to tell them. A shrug of the shoulders and “Good” won’t be enough. So you’d better remember this. Open the parts of your mind you need, and work them over until you’ve got them just right. Then put what you know in a place the will be easy for you to get to. Deep, but not too deep. Just enough so that even though no one else can see it, you know it’s there, and you can . . .

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The Ballroom

The 1994 recipient of the Moritz Thomsen Peace Corps Experience Award presented by PEACE CORPS WRITERS for the best short description of life in the Peace Corps. • The Ballroom by Christopher Conlon (Botswana 1988-90) Southern Africa, Kalahari Desert She is the perfect image of a rag doll I saw when I was a child, in a trash can, dirty, ripped abandoned: here in the Kalahari is that same doll, maybe five, eyes huge, legs white with desert dust. Ke Kopa madi, sir, ke kopa madi. Money: I shake my head no, no madi: try to move on. But she stares at me, suddenly transfixed. No longer begging. Her eyes wider than before. My sunglasses: I crouch down, she approaches me, nose to nose, tattered, filthy, she stares at me, at herself. Then her hand moves to her chin and she says Oh, in a tiny, surprised voice. She rubs . . .

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