Archive - July 2012

1
The Pros and Cons of the Five Year Rule
2
Richard Lipez WP Review of Paul Theroux's The Lower River
3
Talking with Will Lutwick, Author of Dodging Machetes.
4
Review — Sendero by John Rouse
5
Crossing Bridges in the Peace Corps
6
Randall Wood (Nicaragua 1998-00) Publishes The Dictator's Handbook
7
Review of S.A. Bodeen's The Raft
8
Update on Dr. Robert Textor
9
Everyday Dogs
10
Pick The Next Peace Corps Director!

The Pros and Cons of the Five Year Rule

The Inspector General of the Peace Corps has reviewed the unique Five Year Rule and made recommendations to Director Williams.  Sometime in August, Williams will announce policy changes and proposed legislative changes.  I would urge the RPCV community to be knowledgeable about the review. Here are the Pros and Cons of the Five Year Rule according to the Inspector General of the Peace Corps PRO:  The Executive Summary listed the advantages of the Five Year Rule (FYR). The following is quoted from that summary. Peace Corps’ staff asserted that the FYR results in a mission-driven, energetic, and optimistic workforce attracted to the Peace Corps in spite of the time-limited appointment. The high rate of staff turnover driven by the FYR has allowed the agency to hire extensively from the returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) population–one of the stated goals behind the establishment of the FYR. Just over 50 percent of all USDHs employed by Peace . . .

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Richard Lipez WP Review of Paul Theroux's The Lower River

This review by Richard Lipez (Ethiopia 1962-64)  appeared today, July 31, 2012, in The Washington Post. • Book review: ‘The Lower River,’ by Paul Theroux By Richard Lipez Former Peace Corps volunteers sometimes like to take sentimental journeys back to the towns and villages where they spent a couple of years expanding their world views and doing useful work. I’ve gone on such a visit myself, and it’s gratifying. But Ellis Hock isn’t so lucky. He’s the protagonist in “The Lower River,” a grim-spirited and rattlingly suspenseful new novel by Paul Theroux, who was a Peace Corps volunteer in the 1960s. When Hock returns to Malawi after 40 years, instead of enjoying a happy reunion he is taken captive by his erstwhile hosts and treated to a long, hideous look at Africa at its phantasmagoric worst. The strengths of this novel, Theroux’s 29th work of fiction, are numerous. For deep-in-the-bush . . .

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Talking with Will Lutwick, Author of Dodging Machetes.

An interview with Will Lutwick (Fiji 1968–70) about his book Dodging Machetes: How I Survived Forbidden Love, Bad Behavior, and the Peace Corps in Fiji that was published in May of this year by Peace Corps Writers. • Will, where did you go to college? I got my BA from Duke in ’67, then an MBA from the University Michigan in 1968. What was your job in the Peace Corps, Will? For the first six months credit union co-op, wholesale food co-op. Last 14 months: working for the Fiji government doing marketing: pushing passion fruit and handicrafts (tapa cloth, cannibal forks, war clubs et. al.) to the American market, and internal marketing of oranges from the most remote island  (Rotuma) to the largest, most populous island (Viti Levu). My language training was in Hindi as 51% of the population then was Indian (mostly descendants of indentured servants who opted to . . .

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Review — Sendero by John Rouse

Sendero: The Path Back by John G. Rouse III (Peru 1966-68; staff: Ecuador APCD 1971-72; DR Republic APCD 1972-74) CreateSpace $7.80 (paperback) ; $2.99 (Kindle) 310 pages 2012 Reviewed by Tess De Los Ríos (Panama 2003–06) • IN JOHN ROUSE’S FIRST NOVEL,  Sendero, he delivers a fast-paced, satisfying plot with details and emotions to which many RPCVs can relate. From the opening chapter describing a ceremonial human sacrifice in the 1400s to uncovering possible government involvement in the supposed accidental death of the central character’s best local friend when he was a Peace Corps Volunteer, down to the last chapter when all is redeemed, Rouse’s writing kept me feeling that something big was just about to happen. Sendero has all the aspects of a quality novel-suspense, romance, sincerity, betrayal, even a car chase between good guys and bad guys. The main character, Petrini, finds himself in a rough patch of . . .

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Crossing Bridges in the Peace Corps

I’m told that less than 200 RPCVs attended last month’s NPCV conference in Minnesota. With over 210,000 RPCVs and Peace Corps Staff  200 turning up for an NPCA Conference isn’t much of a showing. Now, what does that poor attendance tell us about RPCVs? How insignificant and unimportant are we in the eyes of the power brokers of the U.S.? Last September, as we know, we had the 50th Reunion in D.C. and it did attract RPCVs from across the country, but no ‘official Washington types’ beyond a few Peace Corps Staff turned out to recognize what we had done for America. No senators or members of Congress came to the official and unofficial gatherings, except for the Library of Congress Luncheon that Marian Beil and I organized for Peace Corps Writers. There was an ‘official’ event earlier in the summer at the State Department but it wasn’t for ordinary RPCVs. Or at least I didn’t get invited. (Well, maybe . . .

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Randall Wood (Nicaragua 1998-00) Publishes The Dictator's Handbook

Randall Wood (Nicaragua 1998-’00) is an engineer, author, teacher and author of two books, Moon Nicaragua (a best-selling travel guidebook to Nicaragua) and Living Abroad in Nicaragua. Randy and his Nicaraguan wife Ericka and their two children live today in Dakar, Senegal where he works for the Millennium Challenge Corporation, thought he is still president of the Amigos de Nicaragua RPCV group and in many ways he will never leave Central America. He wrote me recently about his new book, The Dictator’s Handbook: a practical manual for the aspiring tyrant, “I wanted to dedicate the book to Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega because watching that guy in action really nailed down the difficulty of helping poor people when their government is doing everything in its power to prevent it,” he said. “Studying Ortega and then other dictators made clear these clowns are all doing the same things – subverting the constitution, . . .

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Review of S.A. Bodeen's The Raft

The Raft S.A. Bodeen (Tanzania 1989-90) Feiwel and Friends (an imprint of Macmillan) 231 pagesAugust $16.99 (Hardcover); $9.99 (Kindle) 2012 Reviewed by Reilly Ridgell (Micronesia 1971-73) I’m not much into reading “young adult” literature.  Oh I read some Hardy boys mysteries and maybe a  few others like that but by high school I gravitated quickly to the classics and works considered more “hip.”  So I wasn’t sure how I’d find S.A. Bodeen’s survival story, The Raft.  What a pleasant surprise it was.  The writing is strong and purposeful, the characters interesting, the situation fascinating.  The story is told in the first person, usually a red flag but Bodeen pulls it off well, by Robie Mitchell, a 15 year old girl who teeters between common sense and being a bit of an airhead.  But I guess that’s what comes with being 15.  She has spent much of her teen years isolated . . .

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Update on Dr. Robert Textor

Dr. Robert Textor is the author of the original, 1961  “In, Up and Out” memo that became the foundation for the so-called “Five Year Rule.” He is also champions serving Volunteers as well as RPCVs. His insight allowed for the continual hiring of RPCVs at Peace Corps. The recent Inspector General of the Peace Corps reviewed the so-called “Five Year Rule”.  Dr. Textor’s memo and comments are included in the final report. It is anticipated that Peace Corps will be releasing its proposed policy changes sometime in August. Dr. Textor is recuperating from successfully surgery.  It is hoped that he will be able to review the Peace Corps proposals when they are released. Right now, his family reports that he would love to receive cards and messages from his friends. This is his address: Robert B. Textor Mirabella Portland Skilled Nursing Facility 3550 SW Bond Ave, Room 241 Portland, OR 97239

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Everyday Dogs

Michael McCone (Malawi CD 1963-64), who is on the board of this California publishing house founded in 1974 by Malcolm Margolin, has published a beautiful little book entitled: Everyday Dogs: A Perpetual Calendar for Birthday& Other Notable Dates by Mary Scott and Susan Snyder,Heybooks, $14.95 The contents are from the Bancraoft Library on the UC/Berkeley campus. As Mike writes, “What do Gertrude Stein, Jack London, John Muir, and Queen Victoria all have in common with us?” Well, they all have a “cherished unbreakable bond of friendship between canine and human graces all of our days.”  The photos are linked with literary quotes about canines.

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Pick The Next Peace Corps Director!

The presidential election is a toss up. But what about the next Director of the Peace Corps? It is doubtful that Aaron Williams will stay into a second Obama Administration. (Peace Corps Directors rarely last more than a couple years in the job and it is mostlikely, Aaron will finish off his government career as an Ambassador. If Obama loses, Aaron will certainly get that appointment before the end of the year.) If Romney wins we are looking at a Republican appointment. Either way, come November, we are in for a change of leadership at the agency. I think we might have (finally) established the fact that the Peace Corps MUST be an RPCV. So, who should he/she be? Here are a few RPCV names to consider for next director of the Peace Corps.  Send in your candidate! John Garamendi, California Congressmen (Ethiopia 1966-68) Thomas Tighe, President and CEO, Direct Relief International (Thailand 1986-88) . . .

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