Archive - 2015

1
RPCVs from Morocco in Opposition to Islamophobia
2
Review: Uhuru Revisited by Ron Singer (Nigeria 1964-67)
3
Martin Puryear (Sierra Leone 1964-66) Reviewed In NYTIMES
4
Afterthoughts
5
Tom Spanbauer (Kenya 1969-71 ) Teaches Dangerous Writing
6
Washington Post: After their return, some Peace Corps volunteers find byzantine health system neglects them
7
RPCV Artists in NYC
8
IBM and Peace Corps join in new Peace Corps Response Partnership
9
Well, What Do You Think Of My Novel?
10
Meet Senator Harris Wofford at New York Public Library on January 13, 2016

RPCVs from Morocco in Opposition to Islamophobia

I received this Petition from Sharon Keld (Morocco 2006-08) and Ann Eisenberg (Morocco 2006-08) who wrote me “Many of my RPCV colleagues were individually speaking out against Islamophobia and in support of Syrian refugees on social media, drawing from their Peace Corps service in Morocco.  A few of us agreed that the RPCV perspective could have a more powerful impact if we spoke out together, so we drafted the open letter and are circulating it in petition form.  We felt we had an important point of view and a unique duty to speak out as members of a very small group of Americans who have lived and engaged in public service in majority-Muslim countries for non-military reasons. Here is the link to the petition that I have copied below:https://www.change.org/p/the-american-public-statement-in-support-of-syrian-refugees-and-in-opposition-to-islamophobia?recruiter=452278202&utm_source=share_for_starters&utm_medium=copyLink Petitioning The American Public Statement in Support of Syrian Refugees and in Opposition to Islamophobia Concerned Returned Peace Corps Volunteers Secretary . . .

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Review: Uhuru Revisited by Ron Singer (Nigeria 1964-67)

The following review, written by David Strain (Nigeria 1963–65), of Uhuru Revisited: Interviews with African Pro-Democracy Leaders by Ron Singer (Nigeria 1964–67) was first published in the Friends of Nigeria quarterly newsletter. • Readers of Ron Singer’s many articles in this quarterly over the years will be greatly interested in his 2011-2012 interviews with 18 African “pro-democracy leaders.” I should emphasize that the range of people who fall within this rubric is quite wide. For examples, Puleng Matsoeneng, who as a daughter of a rural farmer in South Africa, struggled even to obtain an education, has led the fight to bring teachers and education to rural farm children. Kan Dapaah, abandoned by his father, has proceeded through the efforts of his mother and mother’s village to a career in accounting which led to multiple head of ministry posts in the Ghanaian government – he now leads an anti-corruption non-governmental organization . . .

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Martin Puryear (Sierra Leone 1964-66) Reviewed In NYTIMES

In the New York Times, on Friday, December 25, 2015, there was an article about Martin Puryear (Sierra Leone 1964-66) and his current art exhibition at the Morgan Library & Museum. It was written by Jason Farago. Puryear’s exhibition entitled, “Martin Puryear: Multiple Dimensions” continues through January 10, 2016 at the Morgan. The exhibition will then travel to Chicago where it was first organized by the Art Institute of Chicago. Later, it will go to Washington and the Smithsonian. Puryear is from Washington, graduated from Catholic University of America, then joined the Peace Corps. In West Africa he drew proficient sketches of local architecture, palm trees and cactuses, and a few Sierra Leoneans he met while teaching English, French and biology. After his tour, he studied printmaking in Sweden and then attended Yale, where he turned to doing sculptures. Puryear is our most famous of RPCV artist and I did . . .

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Afterthoughts

Barranquilla is now a dream- memory. I replay the scenes in my mind so as not to forget. Yet, unlike the past five decades, I now have phone numbers and email addresses to maintain alive those renewed friendships. I emailed Jose as soon as I arrived back in Chile. After two weeks of no response, I wrote his son, Kevin, “I’m worried….no news.” Jose wrote a brief email the next day. His mother, Herminda, had suffered a stroke and was hospitalized. “Madrina,” he said, “We miss you. It seems we’ve known you for a long time. I was so sad when you left…couldn’t find the words…..” His feelings reflected mine, I wrote. I sent photos, more emails, but received no more responses. Impatient, I called him. Hearing his voice with its distinctive coastal accent made him a real, flesh and blood person again. His mother was now home and receiving . . .

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Tom Spanbauer (Kenya 1969-71 ) Teaches Dangerous Writing

The sixth Poets & Writers Live event was held at the Pacific Northwest College of Art’s Mediatheque Theater on October 17, 2015 in Portland, Oregon. The editors of many of the area’s presses and literary magazines joined the editors of Poets & Writers Magazine to explore the art of writing and the business of independent publishing. One of the speakers was Tom Spanbauer (Kenya 1969-71), author of Faraway Places, The Man Who Fell In Love With The Moon, In The City of Shy Hunters, Now Is the Hour, and, most recently, I Loved You More (Hawthorne Books, 2014) winner of the 2014 Lambda Literary Award. He presented a talk on Dangerous Writing, an innovative approach to writing that forms the basis of the workshop he has been teaching in his basement classroom in Portland for years. Dangerous Writing, Tom says, “is to go to parts of ourselves that we know exist but try to ignore–parts that are sad, . . .

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Washington Post: After their return, some Peace Corps volunteers find byzantine health system neglects them

After their return, some Peace Corps volunteers find byzantine health system neglects them By Lisa Rein Washington Post, December 23 at 11:08 AM Returned Peace Corps Volunteer William Harless with his students in Thailand. (Courtesy William Harless) The Peace Corps says its top priorities are the health, safety and the security of its volunteers. But a new internal report acknowledges that some Volunteers who come home sick or injured have been waiting years – even decades – for adequate medical care and have fallen deeply through the cracks of a federal insurance bureaucracy. The report, by a task force set up by the agency in March, is a particularly candid assessment by top Peace Corps officials of government failure to provide top-notch health-care access to thousands of young people who serve in far-flung developing countries. “A wide variety” of returned volunteers “shared their experiences not only about the health issues that impact the quality of their lives but the . . .

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RPCV Artists in NYC

I heard recently from Dan Ingala, Public Affairs Specialist at the Peace Corps Northeast Office in New York, about the Peace Corps Art Show that has been organized for the last three years by the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of New York. Dan connected me to Sarah Porter (Macedonia 2005-07) president of the group and vice president Nicole Ethier (Indonesia 2011-13) Sarah wrote me in an email that the show started in Brooklyn at the co-working space called BrooklynWorks 159, saying, “Some of the art is based on or shaped by the Peace Corps experience – there have been several pieces that were made during the volunteer’s experience – but many pieces are independent of that.” BrooklynWork 159 is owned by an RPCV, Vic Puri (Samoa 2002-04), and as Sarah says, “it is not only beautiful and conducive to becoming an art gallery for an evening, having the exhibition at an RPCV-owned . . .

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IBM and Peace Corps join in new Peace Corps Response Partnership

Peace Corps Response originally began as the Crisis Corps. It was designed to send RPCVs overseas in short term assignments to help in emergency situations. Peace Corps Response utilized RPCVs unique cultural and language experience. Peace Corps Response Volunteers also helped prepare countries when Peace Corps was re entering previously closed countries, such as Colombia. In 2010, Peace Corps expanded the Response program to include non-professionals with ten years of experience in needed skills. Originally, the assignments were short term; three months to a year. Peace Corps Response Volunteers may have a week of orientation, but the short term nature of their assignment does not allow for the intensive language and cross-cultural training that traditional Volunteers receive. This new partnership will bring IBM professional teams to designed countries for four weeks to work with serving Peace Corps Volunteers and Host Country Counterparts on specialized projects. Here is the press release from the . . .

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Well, What Do You Think Of My Novel?

At some point you’ll want to ask “someone” to read your novel while it is still in manuscript. This might be your partner or a friend who loves to read, or one of those strangers in your writing class. When that time comes, I want you to recall the exchange between Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald when Hemingway asked F. Scott to read his first novel, The Sun Also Rises. Fitzgerald did, and then wrote a letter to Ernie. This was in 1926. Fitzgerald suggested to Hemingway that he drop the first two chapters, characterizing the novel’s opening as “careless and ineffectual.” Fitzgerald then went on to write in his letter to Hemingway: “About this time, I can hear you say, ‘Jesus this guy thinks I’m lousy, & he can stick it up his ass for all I give a Gd Dm for his ‘criticism’. But remember this is . . .

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Meet Senator Harris Wofford at New York Public Library on January 13, 2016

On January 13th at the New York Public Library (5:45 pm) there will be an evening to celebrate Harris Wofford.  Harris helped Sargent Shriver start the Peace Corps and organized the Ethiopia program, serving as Peace Corps Director for Sub-Saharan Africa.  He later become a U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania and was president of two colleges, an advisor to President Kennedy and to Martin Luther King.  On the evening of January 13th, he’ll be interviewed live by George Stephanopoulos and we will see an exclusive preview from the upcoming documentary on Harris’s life, including his return to Ann Arbor 50 years after John Kennedy’s 2 am speech where he first proposed the Peace Corps. This event is being organized to raise the funding needed to complete the documentary by Harris’s 90th birthday next April.  It normally costs $150 to attend; however, a limited number of $50 tickets are available here: wofforddocny.eventbrite.com RSVP today. Act fast. . . .

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