Archive - February 13, 2010

1
Sally Collier (Ethiopia 1962–64)
2
Dan Close (Ethiopia 1966–68)
3
Marilyn L. Charles (Morocco 1962–64)
4
Melissa Chestnut-Tangerman (Kenya 1982–85)
5
Wendy Bronson (Thailand 1985-87)
6
George B. Breznay (Ethiopia 1966–68)
7
Morton E. Braunstein (Philippines 1966–68)
8
Bob Bookman (Dominican Republic 1967–69)
9
Carolyn LaDelle Bennett (Sierra Leone 1964–66)
10
Marsha L. Allen (Senegal 1984–86)

Sally Collier (Ethiopia 1962–64)

Monday, November 21 8:00 pm I served with the Peace Corps as a music teacher in Ethiopia with the first group to go there, from 1962-64. I lived in Addis Ababa with four other young women. Our house was termed “Debutante Hill” by our would-be humorous friends. My roommates included Mo, the daughter of a Chicago Irish policeman, Sylvia, an Italian-American, who when asked one day how she was, said, “Oh, so and so,” Peggy who was in seven Land-Rover accidents during her two-year stint (no one wanted to fly home on the same plane with her), and Stephanie who laughed on a perfect C- scale, always us. My roommates were fresh out of college; I was 25 – an older woman. I probably should have been wiser for my extra four years of living, but my real education had only begun. It began the day I received the invitation . . .

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Dan Close (Ethiopia 1966–68)

Monday, November 21 5:57 pm In November of 1963 I came to Washington to say farewell to Jack Kennedy. I came here with hundreds of thousands of people, and we stood in lines that stretched for countless Washington blocks through the cold November night. We walked slowly for hours toward the Capital, and along the way we met friends and relatives, brothers and sisters whom we had never met before, whom we would never meet again. We had come from all directions, along roads filled with hitchhikers carrying signs that said simply “Washington,” and we stopped and picked them up, carried them forward in our slow and silent and subdued tide. Through the long night, we were the American people, assembled to pay honor to our fallen leader, Jack. The lines of mourners entered the Capitol from the east, and there were placed the flowers sent by many nations, and . . .

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Marilyn L. Charles (Morocco 1962–64)

Monday, November 21 7:27 pm This summer I had a unique opportunity to become acquainted with Moroccans in a “big family-like” situation where I was accepted as the sister of all in the community. I spent 6 weeks at a camp on the Mediterranean, near the Algerian border, just outside the resort village of Saidia. Another PCV, Dave, and I were members of the general staff, which overlooked the activities of the 400 campers, mostly little boys ages 7-14. Actually, our position was rather honorary. Our time was occupied with assisting informally in the art workshop, with sports, in the health dispensary (I was the camp nurse for 8 days when the regular nurse was absent by virtue of the fact that I was the only female in the camp), and learning Arabic. The latter activity was a necessity since Arabic was the major means of communication in that particular . . .

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Melissa Chestnut-Tangerman (Kenya 1982–85)

Monday, November 21 6:30 pm 19 DECEMBER 1985 I’ve just been to my first and last Samburu circumcision. I have been sitting here for five minutes now, not knowing what to say. My hands feel bloodless, light. Outlines. I guess I’m in a shock of sorts. I was invited to a place of honor – to hold the girl’s knee. Something so important to their culture, something I wanted, once, to be included in – I didn’t think twice about accepting. Miriamo came for me, and we went to the house, and stood around with many other women milling, talking. The three sisters were adorned in beads and lots of ochre, heads shaved and covered with orange and oil. I stood near the door, shy, uncertain, looking constantly to Miriamo for guidance. The first girl was brought into an adjacent room. A goat skin was laid on the floor. Miriamo . . .

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Wendy Bronson (Thailand 1985-87)

Monday, November 21 6:06 pm THAI CHRISTMAS Thais love a party, even under the guise of another religion. Few give us a chance to celebrate, and no less than at Christmas – a puzzling holiday that brings out fat men in red clothes, and odd-looking deer. I settled in Kamphangpet, Thailand, for my two years of Peace Corps Volunteer experience. Kamphangpet is equidistant between Bangkok and Chiengmai. Nobody stops, though, because it’s seven kilometers off the Asia Highway, and boasts only an old city, filled with crumbling Buddhas, ransacked four hundred years ago by the Burmese. Kamphangpet seldom merits a place on the maps of Southeast Asia. Kamphangpet Teacher’s College is even less noticeable, three kilometers off, across the Ping River from town. But there I was. This year, my senior English majors asked me to write the skit for the Christmas party. Their contributions to the festivities was entitled, . . .

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George B. Breznay (Ethiopia 1966–68)

Monday, November 21 6:09 pm JOURNAL EXCERPTS 2/3/67 At the Bank today a woman in native dress (black with a white shemma [shawl]) came in, bowed to the teller, treaded lightly over to the counter where the desk men are, bowed deeply again, and proceeded to transact some business. Saw a ritual of men kissing today – a cycle is 4 kisses: A kisses B’s right, then left cheek; then B does the same to A: this cycle was repeated twice, all the time shaking hands – then a stand-off – both stepped back, each rubbing the back of his neck as if in embarrassment. It seemed that neither then knew what to say! 2/9/67 The other day Lemma saw me sitting quietly in the middle of the bus as he walked near the Trinity Press. I thought “how observant he is!” -but then on reflecting I discovered that there . . .

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Morton E. Braunstein (Philippines 1966–68)

Monday, November 21 6:03 pm ANDY WARHOL PREDICTED in the 1960’s that “in the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.” Well, I was famous, rich, and handsome too for 21 months while teaching in a small city on Mindanao, Republic of the Philippines. The constant attention wherever I went — focused on me, my American background, on my teaching — forced me to be more aware of how I impressed those around me. Naturally, I wanted to present a good image. Working on that image and the interpersonal relationships with co-teachers, friends, and my Filipino “family” contributed greatly to shaping me and my personality. I learned a lot about myself, my values, and what is important to me as an individual and as an American. That is perhaps the most valuable gift I received from the Peace Corps experience; that is the springboard from which I enact John . . .

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Bob Bookman (Dominican Republic 1967–69)

Monday, November 21 7:33 pm A SUGAR TRAIN STRAINS through the campo. Its dim light fading in the night. The drone from its engines drowns out the common sounds of old ladies spitting up flem, babies coughing, and fourteen-year-old men coming home from work. It is the time of the harvest. There is no sleep. A black boy comes into the general store. There is no light in his face. His skin reflects this absence of light, for it is not the type of black skin that smiles. His face is dirty, his hands are ripped, and his soul is bare. He must have seen the future for he walks with his eyes closed. He is one of 16 children his grandmother must feed. No one cares for him except the ticks licking the sores of his feet. No star shines for him for he is coarse black. Old lady, . . .

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Carolyn LaDelle Bennett (Sierra Leone 1964–66)

Monday, November 21 3:45 pm MY TOUR OF DUTY 22 years ago informs my idealism today. It founds my belief in “community,” in brotherhood, in peaceful co-existence among people, races and nations of the world and within my own country. The memory of those years sustains my hope. And sustains my devotion to the principles of my country – a devotion which transcends politics and the rise and fall of passing ideologies. Twenty years ago I had grown up in a segregated society with no sense of connectedness to my country, save the compulsory recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of the National anthem and hymns. But in serving in the Peace Corp in Sierra Leone (West Africa), I became a part of the greatness of America – a living beneficiary of the high esteem in which the people of Freedom, Sierra Leone, placed my country. For . . .

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Marsha L. Allen (Senegal 1984–86)

Monday, November 21 7:03 pm DURING MY TWO YEARS I learned many things: A new language, how to adapt to a new culture, how to cope with the sometimes intense and almost unbearable heat, and more importantly, I learned to make life for the people there a little easier. I learned to care about a group of people who thought of me as their daughter, their sister, their friend. I learned to laugh with them and cry for them. I learned the importance of being with them for the good times as well as the bad. I learned both patience and persistence – two very important factors in the life of any Volunteer. I also learned all about that feeling you get when it’s time to leave. That sinking feeling in your stomach. The one that makes tears swell in your eyes. It’s that same feeling that makes your heart . . .

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