Archive - August 2017

1
Review — INDIA-40 AND THE CIRCLE OF DEMONS by Peter Adler (India)
2
PEACE CORPS TRANSITION BRIEFING BOOK 2017
3
Maureen Orth’s A Made-for-Tabloid Murder (Colombia)
4
Excerpt: LEARNING TO SEE by Gary Engelberg (Senegal)
5
Review — IN THE BELLY OF THE ELEPHANT by Susan Corbett (Liberia)
6
Review — MUKHO MEMORIES by Don Haffner (Korea)
7
More problems with the Five Year Rule
8
The 2017 Peace Corps Writers Awards Announced
9
What the Congressional Research Service has to say about The Peace Corps Today
10
Review — SAMI THE WOOLY by Jay Hersch (Colombia)

Review — INDIA-40 AND THE CIRCLE OF DEMONS by Peter Adler (India)

  India-40 and the Circle of Demons: A Memoir of Death, Sickness, Love, Friendship, Corruption, Political Fanatics, Drugs, Thugs, Psychosis, and Illumination in the Us Peace Corps by Peter S. Adler (Maharashtra, India 1966–68) Xlibris June 2017 406 pages $23.99 (paperback), $3.99 (Kindle), $34.99 (hard cover) Reviewed by Richard M. Grimsrud (Bihar, India 1965–67) • THE SAGA OF A CENTRAL INDIAN PEACE CORPS GROUP This well-written, and almost perfectly presented memoir (I noticed only 2 typos in my reading of it, astounding for any book of 383 pages), was generally slow going for me at the beginning, became a page-turner largely because of its excellent irony in its extended middle section, and bogged down some at the end, perhaps, because it was a bit verbose and excessively philosophical in its conclusion. Nevertheless, India-4o . . . is certainly a good read for anyone with an interest in India and its development over the . . .

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PEACE CORPS TRANSITION BRIEFING BOOK 2017

PEACE CORPS TRANSITION BRIEFING BOOK 2017 Human Resources Overview PEACE CORPS STAFF Domestic Headquarters 764 Regional Offices (or other domestic locations) 136 Overseas US Direct Hire 187 Foreign Service National 82 Personal Services Contractor 3013 TOTAL 4182 At the same time in 2016 there were 7,213 PCVs (therefore, more or less, one employee for every two Volunteers. The total number of PCVs also declined in six years, down from 8,655 PCVs in 2010.) You can read all the numbers in the briefing book, (but not names that have been redacted.) Thanks to Joanne Roll (Colombia 1963-65) for getting the Transition Book on an FOI request. Read the Transition Briefing Book 2017 (redacted) (1)  

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Maureen Orth’s A Made-for-Tabloid Murder (Colombia)

 “A Made-for-Tabloid Murder,” by Maureen Orth (Colombia 1964-66) in the August 2003 Vanity Fair: “On Christmas Eve, a pretty, young, pregnant wife goes missing. Right after the Iraq war, her body washes up, and her husband is arrested. With its heartbreaking details and perfect timing, the Laci Peterson murder has become America’s No. 1 crime and human-interest story. In Modesto, California, where National Enquirer reporters wield huge checks, cable-news anchors fight over gruesome autopsy exclusives, and the most elusive prey is Scott Peterson’s ‘motive,’ Amber Frey, the author reports on three families, a town, and an industry, all consumed by a national obsession.” You can read the story here: http://bit.ly/2w5rBan

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Excerpt: LEARNING TO SEE by Gary Engelberg (Senegal)

“Test of Time”is an excerpt from Learning to See,  a collection of memoirs and short stories about the culture of Senegal and the experiences of Gary Engelbery there. — JC • TEST OF TIME by Gary  Engelberg (Senegal 1965–67)  June 2003:  A lone podium in the middle of the field faced an expanse of tents that protected about 300 guests from the African sun. The Peace Corps Director who was also a former Senegal volunteer, had invited me to speak at the swearing in ceremony of the new Peace Corps Volunteers in Senegal. It was a special day because it was also the 40th anniversary of Peace Corps in Senegal.  The first volunteers had arrived in 1963. I was in the third group that came in 1965 and had been in Senegal ever since. So the Director asked me, as the “dean” of former volunteers, to speak in the name of . . .

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Review — IN THE BELLY OF THE ELEPHANT by Susan Corbett (Liberia)

  In the Belly of the Elephant: A Memoir of Africa Susan Corbett (Liberia 1976–79) CreateSpace March 2016 396 pages $14.99 (paperback), $4.99 (Kindle)   Reviewed by Brooks Marmon (Niger 2008–10) • IN THE BELLY OF THE ELEPHANT is Susan Corbett’s memoir of her life as an aid worker with Save the Children in Burkina Faso (then called Upper Volta) in the early 1980s, following her Peace Corps service in Liberia. Amidst descriptions of a hard scrabble life in Dori, a small town near the border with Niger, Corbett weaves in occasional reminiscences of her service in Liberia and the harsh attitudes of many of her family members in the US to her decision to work in west Africa. Much of the work can be quite jarring — a reflection of both Corbett’s experiences in the harsh climate of the Sahel as well as an extremely candid writing style. While the book . . .

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Review — MUKHO MEMORIES by Don Haffner (Korea)

  Mukho Memories: A Peace Corps/Korea Memoir by Don  Haffner (Korea 1972–75) Dog Ear Publishing May 2017 406 pages $20.00 (paperback), $9.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by Clifford Garstang (Korea 1976–77) • MUKHO MEMORIES BY DON HAFFNER (Korea, 1972–75) is the fourth or fifth Peace Corps Korea memoir I’ve read. While the personalities of the authors make each distinct, these volumes (and likely Peace Corps memoirs about other countries of service as well) all tell roughly the same story: idealistic young American comes to an under-developed country, discovers the wonders and peculiarities of the place, and returns home forever changed by the experience. As a Korea RPCV myself (I arrived in Korea a few months after Haffner left), my own memories are quite similar to Haffner’s: the anxiety of being outside the US for the first time, in a non-English speaking country, no less; the triple-whammy shock of new cuisine, new culture, and . . .

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More problems with the Five Year Rule

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Joanne Roll (Columbia 1963-65): To: Sheila Crowley, Acting Director From: Kathy Buller, Inspector General Date: July 31, 2017 Subject: Management Implication Report – Challenges Associated with Staff Turnover This document provides information concerning the negative impact of personnel turnover on agency operations, drawing on an analysis of interviews conducted by OIG evaluators from 2010 through 2015 in 27 country program evaluations (see Appendix A for a summary of these sources). In addition, we have included highlights from 34 audit and evaluation reports over the same period that referenced challenges related to position vacancies and staff turnover (see Appendix C) Conclusion The analysis presented in this Management Implication Report is intended to inform agency leadership that personnel turnover continues to present and exacerbate challenges for overseas staff, as reported to OIG in multiple country program evaluations and audits in recent years. OIG recognizes that the . . .

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The 2017 Peace Corps Writers Awards Announced

  The 2017 Peace Corps Writers Awards for books published in 2016 were announced at the recent NPCA Conference. Marian Haley Beil and I were pleased and extremely fortunate to have Jane Albritton (India 1967-69) senior editor of four books of essays by RPCVs published by Travelers’ Tales/Solas House present the awards. Here are the 2017 Peace Corps Writers Award Winners. JC   For more about the awards and previous winners — CLICK • The Maria Thomas Fiction Award Judenstaat Simone Zelitch (Hungary 1991–93) Tor Books, June 2016 JUDENSTAAT IS A NOVEL of vast historical imagination — also a fantasy engendered from grief, from love, and from the devastating particulars of Europe’s 20th century tragedy. Simone Zelitch’s page-turning alternate history is the uncanny precision with which she has deftly transformed the threads of actual events into the stunning new fabric of her novel. Judenstaat raises profound questions about the cost of the Zionist . . .

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What the Congressional Research Service has to say about The Peace Corps Today

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) works exclusively for the United States Congress, providing policy and legal analysis to committees and Members of both the House and Senate, regardless of party affiliation. As a legislative branch agency within the Library of Congress, CRS has been a valued and respected resource on Capitol Hill for more than a century. Here is a 16-page report by Curt Tarnoff, Specialist in Foreign Affair, published as a PDF  on July 20, 2017 CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE Peace Corps JULY 20, 2017

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Review — SAMI THE WOOLY by Jay Hersch (Colombia)

  Sami the Wooly: The Most Beautiful Dog in the World by Jay Hersch (Colombia 1964–66) Peace Corps Writers March 2017 88 pages $12.50 (paperback), $9.99 (Kindle) Review by: D.W. Jefferson (El Salvador 1974–76; Costa Rica 1976–77) • AS YOU CAN SURMISE from the title, Sami the Wooly has a target audience of readers who are dog lovers. In addition to telling Sami’s story, it touches on the lives of six other Siberian Huskies that the author and his family have had in their lives. The author gushes over all of the huskies, but describes Sami as extremely special. For those interested in the Siberian Husky breed, there is just enough history of the breed. Also there is just a bit of information about dealing with a breed association and professional dog breeders. The author points out that the high-energy, freedom-loving huskies are not the right dog breed for everybody, and gives . . .

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