Archive - September 2014

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Peace Corps Applications UP
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John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962-64) Interviewed
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Expat Gardening
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Review: Breathe by Kelly Kittel (Jamaica 1985–87)
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Sharon Alane Abramowitz (Cote d’Ivoire 2000-02) publishes study on life in post-war Liberia
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Talking with David Mather (Chile 1968–70)
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Review: The Mystery of Money by Harlan Green
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Review: Young Widower: A Memoir by John W. Evans
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Clifford Garstang edits travel story collection
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Dead Calm by Carole Sojka (Somalia 1962-64)

Peace Corps Applications UP

Applications to Peace Corps in 2013 were at a historic low.  In response, Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet launched a campaign to increase applications by streamlining the application process and touring college campuses to promote Peace Corps service. The strategy is winning. From the Peace Corps website: “With our new, shorter application process, we’re seeing record numbers of Americans apply for Peace Corps service,” Hessler-Radelet said. “While the school year may have just begun, I want to make sure college seniors considering the Peace Corps apply as soon as possible so they can secure the volunteer position of their choice and leave for service shortly after graduation.” Read the entire press release at: http://www.peacecorps.gov/media/forpress/press/2439/ And from the Twitter feed posted on the Peace Corps website: We’re so close to setting application numbers history! Will yours be the one that pushes us over? ‪http://1.usa.gov/1rYeC3Nb ‪#ApplyPC Last fiscal year ending September 30, 2013, applications numbered 10,091.  . . .

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John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962-64) Interviewed

Long Ago And Far Away — Travel Through Time in John Coyne’s Latest Novel by Alex Wolff Pelham Weekly Renowned Pelham author John Coyne’s latest novel “Long Ago and Far Away” draws on his life and experience to tell a tale of star crossed lovers, spanning several decades and traveling across four continents. Revolving around the tragic 1973 death of a young woman in Ethiopia, Long Ago and Far Away uses a series of flashbacks in that country, Spain, New York, Washington and elsewhere to tell the story of Parker Bishop and Irish McCann, lovers who were driven apart by the death of their friend and the resulting trial which left questions as to whether the death was a murder or an accident. Bishop and McCann reconnect in the present day and set out to confront the man who knows the truth about what happened. “I’m a big fan of . . .

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Expat Gardening

The term “expatriate” bothers me. Although my dictionary defines it as a person who has withdrawn herself from her native land, to me it carries the implication that one is no longer a patriot of her native land. Untrue in my case. Living in Chile for over four decades I feel a deep sense of loss for the land I left and have experienced an increased awareness of my nationality. I’ll always be different, the gringa, the one with the accent. Constant reminders of my country’s politics and influence wave like flags from Chilean and CNN International newscasts and in the deluge of emails from my political party begging for money. I am no longer so far removed from United States’ affairs. A few days ago I watched live reports from the UN General Assembly meetings, dealing with the urgent and troubling state of world affairs. My country is right . . .

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Review: Breathe by Kelly Kittel (Jamaica 1985–87)

Breathe: A Memoir of Motherhood, Grief and Family Conflict by Kelly Kittel (Jamaica 1985–87) She Writes Press May 2014 369 pages $18.95 (paperback), $7.69 (Kindle) Reviewed by Jan Worth-Nelson (Tonga 1976–78) Shortly before I received Kelly Kittel’s wrenching memoir in the mail, I read a piece in The New Yorker about the poet Edward Hirsch, whose book length elegy to his son, dead at 24 of an overdose, has just been published. Hirsch says he didn’t want to write that book. He was mired in mourning and obsessed with the circumstances of his son’s life and death. But ultimately, the writing won out. ” . . . You become resigned,” he says. “Your job is to write about the life you actually have.” In a prologue to her book, Kittel offers a similar insight. She describes her childhood love affair with books and her lifelong hope of becoming a writer. What she . . .

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Sharon Alane Abramowitz (Cote d’Ivoire 2000-02) publishes study on life in post-war Liberia

In July, the University of Pennsylvania Press  published Searching for Normal in the Wake of the Liberian War by Sharon Alane Abramowitz (Cote d’Ivoire, 2000-2002), who teaches anthropology and African studies at the University of Florida. Searching for Normal . . . “explores the human experience of the massive apparatus of trauma-healing and psychosocial interventions during the first five years of postwar reconstruction. Sharon Alane Abramowitz draws on extensive fieldwork among the government officials, humanitarian leaders, and an often-overlooked population of Liberian NGO employees to examine the structure and impact of the mental health care interventions, in particular the ways they were promised to work with peacekeeping and reconstruction, and how the reach and effectiveness of these promises can be measured. From this courageous ethnography emerges a geography of trauma and the ways it shapes the lives of those who give and receive care in postwar Liberia.” For more about the . . .

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Talking with David Mather (Chile 1968–70)

David Mather (Chile 1968–70) has published his second novel with Peace Corps Writers. One for the Road, David’s first novel, published in 2011, tells the story of Tom Young, a Peace Corps Volunteer who served in Chile, and how that experience changed his life. Now in 2014, David has published a sequel, When the Whistling Stopped, that finds Tom going back to Chile 30 years after his service to resolve past heartaches. Once there he finds himself in the middle of tackling big-company pollution and the endangering of species. I talked with David about his Peace Corps experience and both of his books. — Marian • David, tell us about you educational background. I attended Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine and received a Bachelor of Arts with a major in History, and a minor in English Lit.. . What was your Peace Corps Assignment? I was a “B.A. generalist” doing . . .

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Review: The Mystery of Money by Harlan Green

The Mystery of Money: Understanding the Modern Financial World by Harlan Green (Turkey 1964–66) Publishing by the Seas 126 pages May 2014 $12.95 (paperback), $8.95 (Kindle) Reviewed by Leo Cecchini (Ethiopia 1962–64) This book is not about “mystery,” but about how to invest your money. The author says in the second sentence it is about “. . . how to make money work for us. . .” As such it is a very useful and reasonably priced guide to investing. The other objective of the book is to warn how financial markets are “. . . so opaque to the uninformed eye . . . that it is easy for insiders to manipulate and mislead investors.” While also useful, the author is a little too given to casting this part as a matter of “them,” the unscrupulous financiers, versus “us,” the gullible investing public. The book starts with the “sub-prime” fiasco that caused the “Great Recession.” This is . . .

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Review: Young Widower: A Memoir by John W. Evans

Young Widower: A Memoir by John W. Evans (Bangladesh 1999–2001) Winner of the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize University of Nebraska Press March, 2014 185 Pages $19.95 (paperback), $9.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by Marnie Mueller (Ecuador 1963-65) John Evans has written an unusual and superb memoir of mourning in the aftermath of a devastating death. Five years into his marriage, his wife Katie, whom he met in the Peace Corps, is mauled and killed by a brown bear in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania. They have been living in Bucharest on Katie’s fellowship when they decide to go for a trek with Sara, a friend. They are athletic, experienced hikers, too young to worry about personal destiny, never expecting the possibility of disaster, thinking themselves “invulnerable to trauma and tragedy,” when with a few misjudgments and unforeseen happenstance, the impossible occurs. They had planned to stay overnight on the mountain in . . .

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Clifford Garstang edits travel story collection

Clifford Garstang (Korea 1976–77), author of the collection of short stories In An Uncharted Country — winner of the 2010 Peace Corps Writers Maria Thomas Fiction Award, and “a novel in stories,” What the Zhang Boys Know — winner of the 2013 Library of Virginia Award for Fiction, is the editor of a newly published book of travel stories, Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet [Press 53]. . Everywhere Stories includes three stories by RPCVs: “A Husband and Wife Are One Satan” set in Kazakhstan was written by Jeff Fearnside (Kazakhstan 2002–04), author of Lake: And Other Poems of Love in a Foreign Land that won the 2012 Peace Corps writers Award for Best Poetry Book; “International Women’s Day” by Jennifer Lucy Martin (Chad 1996-98); and “Eggs” set in set in Central African Republic is by Susi Wyss (Central African Republic 1990–92) who won the 2012 Peace Corps . . .

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Dead Calm by Carole Sojka (Somalia 1962-64)

This short story by Carole Sojka takes place in Kenya in the early sixties. As Carole wrote me, “My husband and I were Peace Corps Volunteers in the Somali Republic from 1962 to 1964. We were with the first Somalia group. There were, I think, seven other Peace Corps groups sent to the Republic  before the coup in 1969 that sent the country hurtling into its current state of chaos. I taught English in the secondary school in Merca, a town about forty miles south of the capital, Mogadiscio, where the language before independence was Italian. My husband taught English to the local officials, i.e., the D.C., the police chief, the harbor master. He also took photographs for the Ministry of Tourism. It was a hopeful time in Somalia. “The story of ‘Dead Calm’ came from an experience my husband and I had on a train trip in Uganda in . . .

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