Archive - July 2016

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My Russian Mosaic
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3 Flash Stories inspired by the Peace Corps experience
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Tonight on TV: ‘PASSPORT TO MURDER’ looks back at 1976 Peace Corps murder in Tonga by jealous, obsessed man
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Talking to Executive Editor Jocelyn Zuckerman (Kenya)
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Tony D’Souza Wins More Journalism Awards (Cote d’Ivoire)
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RPCV Averill Strasser (Bolivia) co-founder of water charity
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Everywhere Stories edited by Clifford Garstang (Korea)
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Bob Arias Remembers Bobby Kennedy on June 6, 2016 (Colombia)
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Ambassador Stevens Mother’s letter in the NYTimes: “A Mother’s Complaint About a ‘Cynical Use’ of Benghazi”
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Bob Arias Reviews La Familia (Bolivia)

My Russian Mosaic

A metronome ticks and stops. Music plays. The metronome ticks and stops. Music plays. The transmission of Leningrad Radio keeping alive the hopes of the city’s inhabitants. It is 1944. The German army siege continues to its strangle-hold over the city during the past 900 days. One million people are dead due to cold and starvation. I stand in the windowless museum commemorating the heroic defenders of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). That recreation of the radio’s transmission takes me back in time, more real than the battered army helmets, rifles and photos on display. Valentín, our 40-year-old guide, tells how the siege affected his family. His grandmother died of starvation. His grandfather’s brother disappeared. The rest of the family was eventually evacuated through the one route open to the interior. In impeccable Spanish he tells us, “No one is alive today who hasn’t lost someone in the siege.”   Back . . .

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3 Flash Stories inspired by the Peace Corps experience

by Jon Anderson (Gabon/Mali 1974–77) •  A Trip to Okandja Uneven plywood table. Sticky plastic tablecloth. Big bottles of Meuse. We get the cold ones. Since there is no electricity, “cold” means bottles that have been put into a bucket of water. They are maybe one degree cooler than the ones coming from the crate. We try hard to believe it makes a difference. The storm lamp on the table seems to throw more shadows than light. For a while there is no one else but me and Steve. Congolese music playing on the radio. The one armed, blue eyed bartender dozes. Our truck is parked in the darkness outside. Julienne comes in and asks about her bra. Then she asks for us to buy her a beer. But from where the truck is parked there is a sharp, bright, loud scream. Followed by “What the fuck? What the goddamn fuck? . . .

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Tonight on TV: ‘PASSPORT TO MURDER’ looks back at 1976 Peace Corps murder in Tonga by jealous, obsessed man

JULY 29, 2016 DEBORAH GARDNER, DENNIS PRIVEN: ‘PASSPORT TO MURDER’ LOOKS BACK AT 1976 PEACE CORPS MURDER IN TONGA BY JEALOUS, OBSESSED MAN Deborah Gardner, the young teacher and Peace Corps volunteer who was stabbed to death by a jealous suitor on the island of Tonga 40 years ago, will be the next story to be documented on Passport To Murder on ID. Passport To Murder has done an excellent job of taking Investigation Discovery viewers across the globe to the most exotic locations, where American tourists end up murdered in paradise. Deborah Gardner’s story will air on the episode titled, “The Devil In Paradise.” The murder, which has been covered on CBS’ 48 Hours, will trace the steps of a beloved volunteer worker who was found stabbed dozens of times by another volunteer. Tune into Passport To Murder tonight, Friday, July 29, 2016 at 10/9 p.m. Central on Investigation Discovery. A Find A Grave entry for Deborah Gardner describes . . .

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Talking to Executive Editor Jocelyn Zuckerman (Kenya)

Jocelyn Zuckerman is the Executive Editor of Modern Farmer. She is also the former executive editor of Whole Living, deputy editor of Gourmet, and articles editor of On Earth. She is also a recipient of a James Beard Award for feature writing and of fellowships from the Peter Jennings Project and The Carter Center….as well, she is a former PCV in Kenya. She is also the mother of two lovely daughters and lives with her husband in Brooklyn. What more would anyone want? Well, we decided she needed to be interviewed for our site. What is this all about, Jocelyn…. in your bio from Modern Farming As a teacher in Kenya, Jocelyn once opened her door to find a particularly grateful student bearing a live chicken in a plastic bag. Oh, the mag wanted some little anecdote involving farming. I had a student I was very close to when I . . .

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Tony D’Souza Wins More Journalism Awards (Cote d’Ivoire)

Tony D’Souza (Cote d’Ivoire  2000-02, Madagascar 2002-03) widely lauded for his  novels Whiteman (a New York Times Editor’s Pick) and Mule  (optioned for film by Warner Bros.) has been based in  Sarasota, FL, the past few years, where he is raising his  two young children and is a contributing editor at Sarasota Magazine. He’s regularly been winning Florida magazine and  journalism prizes, and this past Saturday in Miami, he took  home three more awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. This year, he took first prizes in Public Service Reporting and Investigative Reporting, as well as a  second prize in Investigative Reporting. His long form feature stories which were recognized by the SPJ include “Going Nowhere,” a months-long investigation of  the homeless and their treatment by the affluent communities of southwest Florida. https://www.sarasotamagazine.com/articles/2014/12/31/41465 “Going Nowhere” also received the 2015 Florida Magazine Award for Best Public Service Coverage and has been featured  on long form magazine websites and public radio. Another is “The Sky is . . .

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RPCV Averill Strasser (Bolivia) co-founder of water charity

Averill Strasser (Bolivia 1966–68), who lives in Mount Shasta, CA, is co-founder (with fellow Mount Shasta resident JahSun) and Chief Operating Officer of Water Charity. As a PCV Strasser taught engineering at the University of San Andres in La Paz. Averill received a JD degree in Law from University of West Los Angeles, and a BS in Mechanical Engineering and an MS in Systems Engineering from UCLA.  He worked as a lawyer in Beverly Hills for many years, before embarking on a new career as a businessman and philanthropist. As he says today, “The Peace Corps experience has had a profound influence on every aspect of my life, including educational and career pursuits. It continues to drive me today.” The following story is from MountShastaNews.com and quotes JahSun who teamed up with Strasser to create the non-profit, Water Charity. Thanks to Tony DeSouza for the “heads up” on the article — JC •     Mount Shastan’s . . .

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Everywhere Stories edited by Clifford Garstang (Korea)

  Clifford Garstang (Korea 1976-77) just announced the coming publication, on September 26, 2016, of Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet, Volume II. Like the first volume, this anthology includes 20 stories by 20 writers set in 20 countries, and features the work of several RPCVs: Mark Brazaitis (Guatemala 1990-93, staff 1995-96); Pamela Hartmann (South Korea, 1973-75); and editor Clifford Garstang. Cliff is the author of In an Uncharted Country and What the Zhang Boys Know (Winner of the 2013 Library of Virginia Award for Fiction) and Editor of Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet.  

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Bob Arias Remembers Bobby Kennedy on June 6, 2016 (Colombia)

A moment to remember a special individual of my youth shared with my beautiful Peace Corps Colombian wife Gloria. It began April 1968 during the riots in the District of Columbia after the death of the Reverend Martin Luther King. We were being posted to Colombia to be Peace Corps Colombia staff, I was to be a Regional Director for the North Coast. But, in order to accept the assignment, Gloria would have to become a US Citizen, State Department policy. Gloria was (is) very proud of Colombia, why should she change being Colombian? Being a strong Liberal, I convinced her that if she became a US Citizen, she would be able to vote for Bobby Kennedy in the California primary…she accepted! Because of the riots in DC and curfew, our stay would be shorten and we would be in Colombia by the end of the week. On our second . . .

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Ambassador Stevens Mother’s letter in the NYTimes: “A Mother’s Complaint About a ‘Cynical Use’ of Benghazi”

Ambassador Christopher J. Stevens was a Peace Corps Volunteer in from 1983 to 1985, he taught English in Morocco.  He joined the Foreign Service utilizing the cultural and skills he gained from his time in Morocco. He was assassinated at the Benghazi, Libya Outpost on September 11, 2012.  Three other Americans were also murdered. The terrorist attack at Benghazi was the subject of numerous Congressional Hearings, although no legislation was ever presented to  prevent such attacks on diplomatic posts in the future.  Now, the tragedy of the lost American lives at Benghazi has become a rallying cry for Republicans in their vendetta against Hillary Clinton.  One grieving mother even spoke at the Republican Convention.  Another, the mother of Ambassador Stevens has pleaded that her son’s death not be used in this manner.  Read her letter, here: To the Editor: As Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens’s mother, I am writing to object to . . .

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Bob Arias Reviews La Familia (Bolivia)

La Familia by Mary Martin (Bolivia 1976-78) Book on Demand Publisher, $19.95 299 pages February 2016   Reviewed by Bob Arias (Colombia 1964-66) Gaining Ground was the “how to” that walked us thru the creation of the US/Bolivia NGO Mano a Mano International…the creation of Joan Swanson White, a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and Segundo Velázquez, who would later become Joan’s husband. Joan a polio victim as a child, found Peace Corps her calling. Married at the time (1976-1978) to David White, she was concerned to discover that 37% of rural children suffer from chronic malnutrition, and ten percent of rural children die before age five. La Familia is more than a “love story,” but a trip down memory lane for the Velázquez family, especially the siblings, always working together as a unit in true Quechua fashion, Segundo, José, Ivo, and Blanca.  Segundo, an active member of the family, . . .

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