Archive - November 2013

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Mike McCaskey (Ethiopia 1965-67) Paris 2014 Calendar
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Review — LITTLE WOMEN OF BAGHLAN by Susan Fox
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Deadline for commenting on draft Strategic Plan 2014-18 is today, after all.
4
Review of Richard Wiley (Korea 1967-69) The Book of Important Moments
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Catalonia In The Fall
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Talking to Jon Thiem (Ghana 1968-70) Author of Letters from Ghana 1968-1970
7
President Obama Meets With The Peace Corps
8
Robert Hamilton (Ethiopia 1965-67)Publishes E-Book on Amazon
9
Clifford Garstang (Korea 1976-77) Wins Library of Virginia Award in Fiction
10
Where Were You When John F. Kennedy Was Shot? Al Guskin (Thailand 1962-64) Remembers

Mike McCaskey (Ethiopia 1965-67) Paris 2014 Calendar

Christmas in Paris? Well, if not . . . what about a calendar of Paris so you can live the City of Lights everyday? That’s what Mike McCaskey (Ethiopia 1965-67) decided to do. Mike, who has his PhD from Case Western Reserve, and has taught at UCLA and Harvard Business Schools, never played for the Chicago Bears, but he was the Chairmen of the organization and now has produced a beautiful Paris calendar for 2014 called “My Paris.” I asked Mike how all this came about and he emailed me that, “The calendar was a way to use some of my favorite photos of Paris. I love walking around the city and taking pictures, often of places or moments that are out-of-the-way. Looking at other calendars I couldn’t find one that exactly worked the way I wanted it to. “My calendar should fit easily into a briefcase or folder (so . . .

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Review — LITTLE WOMEN OF BAGHLAN by Susan Fox

Little Women of Baghran: The Story of a Nursing School for Girls in Afghanistan, the Peace Corps, and Life Before the Taliban by Susan Fox, with Jo Carter (Afghanistan 1968–70) Peace Corps Writers $16.00 (paperback) 2013 344 pages Reviewed by Susan O’Neill (Venezuela 1973–74) Sometimes, when a country’s name is touted in the news as a synonym for disaster, we forget that it once had a “Before” — and that nothing stands still, so there will someday be an “After” as well. So it is with Afghanistan. Afghanistan, before the political upheaval that led to the Russian invasion of 1979 — and our intervention, and current war, was a backwater where the beat of modernizing cities far outpaced the languor of the countryside. Life in its small villages was defined by extreme weather-long, frozen winters; torrential rains; cloudless, and baking summers, as well as close community, isolation, and lack of educational opportunity, . . .

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Deadline for commenting on draft Strategic Plan 2014-18 is today, after all.

The Draft Strategic Plan is  available on the Peace Corps official website. Here is the link: http://www.peacecorps.gov/about/open/plan/ The deadline for RPCVs to comment on the plan is today,  December 2nd. . Here is the email address that is still accepting comments:  copy and paste: strategicplan@peacecorps.gov However, to see how effective suggestions made in 2009, were, read the  Letters to the then new Director Aaron Williams, including that of John Coyne, in August of 2009 on Hugh Pickens‘ Peace Corps Online: The text to link to is:  http://peacecorpsonline.org/messages/messages/2629/3216275.html Peace Corps is not a public corporation, but rather a federal agency with a large number of political appointees. The 2016 may intervene with the implementation of the Strategic Plan. If the Republicans capture the White House in 2016, then their Political appointees will decide the direction for Peace Corps. The Peace Corps hierarchy is always waiting on the dock when the Ship of . . .

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Review of Richard Wiley (Korea 1967-69) The Book of Important Moments

The Book of Important Moments By Richard Wiley (Korea 1967-69) Dzanc Books $14.95 (paperback) 256 pages 2013 Reviewed by Joanna Luloff (Sri Lanka 1996-98) One of Richard Wiley’s haunted and haunting characters in his latest novel The Book of Important Moments contemplates a jigsaw puzzle of Africa toward the end of the narrative. Babatunde reflects on his new landlady’s eyes, describing them as “slightly rheumy, and one had a visible cataract in it, long and vertical and milky, like the map of Nigeria’s neighbor, called Dahomey, in his long lost Africa jigsaw puzzle. He had loved that puzzle more than anything.” Babatunde, himself, is not unlike a jagged puzzle, a man of many bewildering parts who only becomes fully visible by novel’s end. One can take the metaphor even further, too, and read Wiley’s novel as a jigsaw puzzle of discrete pieces that travels between Lagos, Nigeria and Tacoma Washington . . .

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Catalonia In The Fall

I have been returning to Barcelona since I first visited the capital of Catalonia in the fall of 1967. It is a city that has change as much, more so, than I have. It continues to change, and all for the better. When I first arrived, Barcelona was a sleepy city on the Mediterranean, a place where one passed through to change planes, catch a boat, take a train to a final destination. There was history here, of course. Antoni Gaudi’s amazing architecture, the Gothic Quarter, and Las Ramblas, a long tree-lined promenade that draws visitors from around the world to shop, for an evening strolls, a drink at a sidewalk café and where to watch the world walk by. Las Rambles stretches from Placa de Catalonia to the monument to Christopher Columbus. This towering statue overlooks the harbor and the Columbus figure gestures, not to America, but in error . . .

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Talking to Jon Thiem (Ghana 1968-70) Author of Letters from Ghana 1968-1970

Dr. Jon Thiem has lived in Colorado for the last 35 years. He is professor emeritus of English and Comparative Literature at Colorado State University. It was through his Peace Corps service that he discovered his vocation as a teacher, translator, and scholar of literature. His numerous publications include Lorenzo de’ Medici: Selected Poems and Prose (1991) and Rabbit Creek Country: Three Ranching Lives in the Heart of the Mountain West (2008), written in collaboration with his colleague Deborah Dimon. Rabbit Creek Country was a Finalist for the Colorado Book Award in 2009. Several years back he mentioned to a young woman (with a Ph.D.) that in the late 1960s he had served with the Peace Corps in Ghana, West Africa. She thought he was referring to a United Nations Peace Keeping operation! The incident inspired him to compile this collection of letters. The body of letters are from August . . .

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President Obama Meets With The Peace Corps

THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 22, 2013 Readout of the President’s Meeting with the Peace Corps In 1961, President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps to promote peace and increase international understanding by encouraging Americans to serve in developing countries.  This afternoon, on the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination, President Obama met with longtime supporters of the Peace Corps, its leadership, and volunteers currently serving in Tanzania.  Together, they paid tribute to President Kennedy’s legacy and reaffirmed the importance of serving others at home and abroad.  Since the Peace Corps’ creation, more than 215,000 Americans have committed their lives and talents serving others in 139 countries, and have returned home to give back to their own communities. President Obama opened the meeting by observing a moment of silence at 2:00 p.m. EST to honor President Kennedy’s memory.  He expressed his appreciation for the commitment . . .

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Robert Hamilton (Ethiopia 1965-67)Publishes E-Book on Amazon

Here is what might work for you as a writer, as it has worked for Robert Hamilton (Ethiopia 1964-66). He has published his second e-book, Short and Shorter: Short Stories and Poetry, for $0.99 and it is for sale now on Amazon.com. Robert wrote about his new book: “The short stories and poetry, written over a 35-year period, include characters involved in international arms trading, a wife forced to choose between a philandering deceased husband and her son, a husband who has fallen in love with his wife, the fate of heaven when its computers fail, a creative and ambitious stock broker who takes a bold step to break out of “the bull pen,” three generations of friends harboring secrets, an aspiring teenage writer exploring life on a long bus trip, the unfulfilled ambitions of a would-be scholar, an almost love affair between the brilliant pianist and the talented viola . . .

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Clifford Garstang (Korea 1976-77) Wins Library of Virginia Award in Fiction

What The Zhang Boys Know has won the Library of Virginia Award in Fiction. The Library of Virginia is pleased to announce the he winners of the 16th Annual Library of Virginia Literary Awards, sponsored by Dominion. Th e October 19 awards celebration was hosted by award -winning Virginia author David Baldacci. Awards categories were fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and literary lifetime achievement. Clifford Gartstang (Korea 1976-7) won for What the Zhang Boys Know which the judges felt was a seamless tale of an immigrant seeking a new wife and mother for his sons. The novel is an enticing collection of interconnected stories about characters who live in a condominium in Washington, D.C. What the Zhang Boys Know, a novel in stories: Set in a condominium building on the edge of Chinatown in Washington, D.C., these stories present the struggle of Zhang Feng-qi, originally from Shanghai, to find a new mother . . .

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Where Were You When John F. Kennedy Was Shot? Al Guskin (Thailand 1962-64) Remembers

[I want to end this series of remembrances of JFK’s death today, November 22nd, 2013, with the recollection by one of the key people who launched the agency, Al Guskin. On the 50th anniversary celebration of the founding of the Peace Corps Al spoke to a gathering of 1500 people at the exact time (2:00am) on the exact spot (the steps of the Michigan Union) where JFK challenged the students to serve. He talked about what the students did 50 years earlier. Later that same day Al was honored to receive the University of Michigan Distinguished Alumni Service Award based on his involvement in the founding of the Peace Corps and his leadership career in higher education. Here is what Al remembers.] Like everyone else I remember exactly where I was when I heard that Kennedy was assassinated. I was in Bangkok Thailand teaching as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the . . .

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