Archive - 2011

1
A Review of Chris Starace's To Benin and Back
2
Saying Goodbye to our 50th Anniversary Year, Saying Hello to the Next Fifty!
3
Papá Noél in Colombia, 2011 from Bob Arias
4
University of Oregon Alum Magazine Highlights Their Grads in the Peace Corps
5
Review of John Givens' A Friend in the Police
6
Report from Honduras on Peace Corps Volunteer being shot
7
The Peace Corps Scales Back in Central America Because of Violence
8
November 2011 Books by Peace Corps Writers
9
First Peace Corps Horror Novel!
10
The Peace Corps Returns to Colombia

A Review of Chris Starace's To Benin and Back

To Benin and Back: Short Stories, essays and reflections about Life in Benin as a Peace Corps Volunteer and the Subsequent Readjustment Process by Chris Starace (Benin 1995–97) iUniverse 313pages $29.95 (hardback), $19.95 (paperback), $7.69 (Kindle) 2011 Reviewed by David H. Day (Kenya 1965–66; India 1967–68) AS WORDS BEGAN TO TUMBLE off the first pages of Chris  Starace’s new memoir of his Peace Corps assignment in Benin, I realized I was in for a riveting ride through the author’s two-year experience in this tropical, sub-Saharan country. I held in my hands a model of confessional humility, self-reflection and exquisite narrative detail this reviewer hasn’t seen in most recent Peace Corps writing. Page after page, Starace’s perceptual antennae tuned to every single cultural subtlety, nuance and innuendo of social interaction, I had absolutely no choice but to applaud this author’s incredible ability to savor every moment — even the hardships and . . .

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Saying Goodbye to our 50th Anniversary Year, Saying Hello to the Next Fifty!

Marian Beil and I, and on behalf of all the bloggers on our site, would like to thank you for your support and for your contributions to www.peacecorpsworldwide.org as we close out our anniversary year. When we started this site for the Peace Corps Community our hope was that it would be a gathering place for all RPCVs. Marian and I wanted to draw into our gang of RPCVs writers others who would blog on all sorts of topics, that this new site would have something of interest for everyone. Marian and I began to publish a newsletter for and about Peace Corps writers after the 25th Anniversary of the agency, and we moved to a website in 2000. Next, we moved to this site where RPCVs interested in other issues might blog and share opinions, find news of what was happening with the agency, and like all good PCVs, complain about something or the other! We hope we have been successful. . . .

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Papá Noél in Colombia, 2011 from Bob Arias

 [In our series of blogs from RPCVs around the world, we have this update from Colombia, sent to us from Bob Arias who is in country now as a Peace Corps Crisis Corps Volunteer (now called the Response Volunteers) and was a PCV in Colombia from 1964-66). He recently attended the swearing-in of the new PCVs to that country. We asked Bob about Christmas for him this season and he sent us Papá Noél in Colombia, 2011] Hey…Feliz Navidad they yelled to me as the bus came along side; they reached out to greet me, a stranger on the street in the coastal city of Barranquilla, Colombia. They were happy and wanted everyone they met to enjoy this holiday…so, Hey…Feliz Navidad y Prospero Año Nuevo 2012 I shouted back to their smiling faces…giving me the thumbs up as the bus traveled down the street. I have spent the Holiday’s in . . .

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University of Oregon Alum Magazine Highlights Their Grads in the Peace Corps

Corps Values The UO and the state of Oregon have been long and lasting contributors to the international vision of the Peace Corps. By Alice Tallmadge It was October 1972. The East African country of Uganda was in the grip of the brutal dictator Idi Amin and twenty-two-year-old Peace Corps volunteer Ernie Niemi ’70 was in a tight spot. The Peace Corps had decided to pull its volunteers out of the country, but to avoid retaliation it scheduled a conference in Kampala, the country’s capital and site of its major airport, and said all volunteers were required to attend. On Niemi’s way to Kampala, 300 miles from the boarding school where he had been teaching chemistry and physics for eighteen months, he had to pass through several roadblocks. At one, he was confronted by a security guard whose son was a student of Niemi’s. “He said, ‘You cannot leave. My . . .

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Review of John Givens' A Friend in the Police

A Friend in the Police by John Givens (South Korea 1967–69) Concord ePress October 2011 195 pp. $7.77 (Kindle) Reviewed by Darcy Munson Meijer (Gabon 1982–84) JOHN GIVENS’ A FRIEND IN THE POLICE is intense, mysterious and imbued with a sense of jungle doom. The story shares parallels with Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, but Givens adds humor and a modern twist to make the story more accessible and quite enjoyable. Givens locates Friend in a nameless jungle “Republic” —  a combination of Southeast Asian locales — and populates it sparsely with strange characters. George Bates has come from the United States to find his young adult son, Philip. He fears he is in police detention, but doesn’t know what for. He meets only blocks in his search, in the person of Detective Sergeant Xlong and his witless officers. Xlong knows something about Philip, but he won’t tell. He hints of . . .

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Report from Honduras on Peace Corps Volunteer being shot

[Thanks to Amber Davis Collins  ( Honduras 2002-04)  who forwarded me an email note that is circulating in the Honduras RPCV community. This is from Maggie McQuaid (Honduras 1976-78) who was trying to organize a reunion of Honduras  RPCVs.]  Several months I asked you all if you’d be interested in a reunion in Honduras in 2012, and I was overwhelmed with your responses.  It’s no surprise that we still love the place and dream of returning.  This makes it hard to do what I’m going to do next, which is announce that going further with any plans seems to be a very bad idea right now. As many of you are aware, Honduras now bears the terrible distinction of having the highest per-capita murder rate in the world.  In recent weeks,  a former Honduran government drug czar and a journalist for La Prensa were murdered in Tegucigalpa.  Since the beginning of December, a volunteer with . . .

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The Peace Corps Scales Back in Central America Because of Violence

You might have heard the news yesterday how the agency is pulling out of Honduras, and stopping Volunteers going to Guatemala and El Salvador all because of increasing drug and organized-crime violence. At the same time we are back in Colombia! The PCV in Honduras –158–with be leaving the country in January. Aaron Williams says, “We are going to conduct a full review of the program.” In Guatemala and El Salvador, the Peace Corps is keeping the 335 PCV in country but not sending in 78 more Volunteers. The new spokeswoman for the Peace Corps, Kristina Edmunson,  says that the decision came about because of “comprehensive safety and security concerns.” Now, Peace Corps blogs has been reporting that a PCV had been shot in an armed robbery. That I had not heard about, but it is being reported in the New York Times today, Thursday, December 22, 2011. They got . . .

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November 2011 Books by Peace Corps Writers

Mined Muzzle Velocity (poetry) by Jennifer H. Fortin (Bulgaria 2004–06) Lowbrow Press $13.00 (paperback) 67 pages 2011 • Sweet Teeth and Loose Bowels: The Adventures of an International Aid Worker by Michael S. Gerber (Philippines 1970-73) Troublador $18.95 (paperback); $6.99 (Kindle) 280 pages 2007 • War of Hearts And Minds: An American Memoir by Jemes Jouppi (Thailand 1971–73) iUniverse 618 pages $45.95 (hardcover), $35.95 (paperback), $3.95 (Kindle) 2011 • How the Mistakes Were Made by Tyler McMahon (El Salvador 1999–2002) St. Martin’s Trade 352 pages $26.99 (hardback), $14.99 (paperback), $9.99 (Kindle) October 2011 • To Benin and Back: Short Stories, Essays, and Reflections About Life in Benin as a Peace Corps Volunteer and the Subsequent Readjustment Process by Chris Starace(Benin 1995-97) iUniverse 311 pages $29.95 (hardcover), $19.95 (paperback), $9.99 (Kindle), $7.99 (Nook) September 2011

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First Peace Corps Horror Novel!

The Peace Corps in its long history has attracted more than a few non-RPCVs to write about us! Most of the books have been non-fiction, and serious attempts at evaluating the worth and worthiness of what we are all trying to do. I’m thinking of Robert Textor’s Cultural Frontiers of the Peace Corps, MIT Press, (1966) and All You Need is Love: The Peace Corps and the Spirit of the 1960, Harvard University Press, (1998.) Then there are the novels! One of my favorite is by Tama Janowitz, entitled A Cannibal in Manhattan about an RPCV who brings her cannibal husband home to New York City, with dire consequences for all. (Crown 1987). There are other novels. Carter Coleman’s The Volunteer, published in 1998 and set in East Africa; Richard Dooling’s masterful White Man’s Grave, from Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1998. That is set in West Africa! Most of the early “Peace . . .

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The Peace Corps Returns to Colombia

PCVs have returned to Colombia, the first full-time Volunteers since 1981 when the program was suspended due to security. Colombia was one of the first programs launched by the  agency, beginning in the summer/fall of 1961. The current PCVs were sworn in on December 14, 2011. The push to return to Colombia was started by the large, active and forceful lobbying of the Friends of Colombia RPCVs who, with the support of the Colombian government, last year since Peace Corps Crisis Corps Volunteers, now known as Response Volunteers, back for short term assignments. These 22 new and full time PCVs will  go to teaching English assignments in schools in Santa Marta, Cartagenia, and Barranquilla. Today there are  also  two Response Volunteers working in-country with the  Community Development office as Disaster Relief Specialists, assigned to rural areas that have been affected by the recent floods. Attending the swearing-in ceremony were two RPCVs from the early years, both . . .

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