Author - John Coyne

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JFK commemoration taps into Peace Corps history
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Laurette Bennhold-Samaan writes: “Tables Turn under the Olive Tree”
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Laurette Bennhold-Samaan writes from refugee camp in Greece
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Jim McCaffery Makes A Case For Second Generation PCVs (Ethiopia)
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Review — IN THE LAND OF ETERNAL SPRING by Alan Howard
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6th Annual RPCV Story Slam on Saturday, June 24th in NYC!
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Review — DEAD COW ROAD by Mark Wentling (Honduras, Togo)
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New website of Health Justice For Peace Corps Volunteers
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Novels nominated for Maria Thomas Fiction Award — 2016
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The Primary Achievement of the 25th Anniversary Conference

JFK commemoration taps into Peace Corps history

  Thanks to a a ‘heads up’ about this article from Catherine Varchaver, (APCD Kyrgyzstan 1995-97). •   Mongolians, Zimbabweans and refugees come to sing for JFK Washington Post, June 23, 2017 By Anne Midgette • How do you commemorate John F. Kennedy in a performing arts festival? All this season, the Kennedy Center has been trying to answer that question with a series of performances honoring Kennedy’s centennial that often seem only tenuously linked to Kennedy. “I don’t care if [audiences] don’t get it,” Deborah Rutter, the Kennedy Center’s president, told The Washington Post earlier this year about the connection of some of the performances to Kennedy’s legacy. “I don’t need to them to. I know it’s going to soak in, and that’s why we’re doing it.” But starting Thursday, the Kennedy Center is co-presenting a festival that does proceed directly from a Kennedy initiative. The choral festival “Serenade” is coming to the Kennedy . . .

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Laurette Bennhold-Samaan writes: “Tables Turn under the Olive Tree”

  Tables Turn Under the Olive Tree PLEASE EXCUSE English errors and typos as due to time and priorities, I have little editing time 🙂 • Much of today was playing with kids under the olive tree. We brought some books from the warehouse and kids were looking through them. One girl hung on to one at which point a boy grabbed it from her. This sparked them hitting each other and then she burst into tears. It’s so very hard as unless you have the exact same thing for every child there is a fight. Sometimes I find that I lose my temper a bit but mostly it just ruffles my mood when I have to break up a fight or tell the kids repeatedly to stop in as many languages as I can. I once actually stood in between 2 boys who were fighting and closed my eyes as I . . .

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Laurette Bennhold-Samaan writes from refugee camp in Greece

  A “typical” day, serving tea and the toilet: the 3 T’s PLEASE EXCUSE English errors and typos as due to time and priorities, I have little editing time 🙂 I’ve been asked who are the volunteers. Samos Volunteers are a privately funded organization and work with many partners on the island. Samos Volunteers is funded only through private donations and crowd funding which is remarkable to me. What this means is that most (if not all) people are pure volunteers and come to donate their time and energy. Some stay for a month but most stay much longer and most are returnees (have already volunteered earlier and come back). This speaks volumes about the organization. Some volunteers come with their parents or vice versa with their kids. We have 2 sets right now which is inspiring to see. Many are in their 20s and 30s but there are some older volunteers . . .

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Jim McCaffery Makes A Case For Second Generation PCVs (Ethiopia)

I got the attached PDF from Jim McCaffery (Ethiopia 1966-68) recently. It is an article by Jim published in the old Volunteer Magazine. It is a terrific article and I’m glad Jim sent it. Jim is from Wisconsin and went to Ethiopia in 1966. Later he worked at a Trainer in Addis Ababa and then went to Botswana as the Deputy Director. (I’m indebted to Jim for when I was traveling through Africa for a year in 1969 he put me up for several weeks and never charged me rent!) After the Peace Corps Jim got a PhD from the University of Wisconsin and in 1981 he and a couple others founded TRG, an organization development consulting firm that has been very successful and well respected. Now semi-retired Jim is the process (as we all are) of tossing away most of the Peace Corps files we have in the attic and . . .

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Review — IN THE LAND OF ETERNAL SPRING by Alan Howard

  In the Land of Eternal Spring by Alan Howard Harvard Square Editions June 2017 305 pages $22.95 (paperback) Reviewed by Mark Brazaitis (Guatemala, 1991-93) • If Ernest Hemingway had written a novel about the Guatemalan civil war — or la violencia, as it’s sometimes called — it might well have looked like In the Land of Eternal Spring. Alan Howard’s debut novel features an idealistic hero with a fondness for the ladies, Peter Franklin, and an alluring, brave, but dangerously naïve heroine, Laura Jenson. If you close your eyes slightly as you’re reading Howard’s book, you might think you’ve been transported to the Spain of the 1930s and into Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls. Robert Jordan, meet Peter Franklin — you’re soul brothers. Howard’s prose, sometimes effectively functional, often quietly poetic, is reminiscent of Hemingway’s. So, too, is his melancholic tone. This is all a compliment. Howard’s novel . . .

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6th Annual RPCV Story Slam on Saturday, June 24th in NYC!

Join New York RPCVs for the 6th Annual Story Slam on Saturday, June 24th in NYC Got a medical horror story? Can’t stop talking about your digestive track? Did you ever rescue a dog from a latrine? If so, you may have been a Peace Corps Volunteer! Come hear true tales of adventure told LIVE on stage about what it was really like to have the toughest job you’ll ever love. Join us for our 6th Annual Returned Peace Corps Story Slam! As we all know, Peace Corps is 27 months of continuous funny, poignant, and amazing stories. When RPCVs tell stories, they humanize and illuminate places and people with that unique, grassroots, Peace Corps perspective. We’ll have a brand new batch of stories this year, all sure to make you laugh, cringe, and maybe even cry. Suggested contribution of $5 for entry and drinks also available for a donation. Proceeds will support . . .

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Review — DEAD COW ROAD by Mark Wentling (Honduras, Togo)

  Dead Cow Road: Life on the Front Lines of an International Crisis by Mark Wentling (Honduras 1967–69, Togo 1970–73; PC Staff: Togo, Gabon, Niger 1973–77) Page Publishing March 2017 506 pages $24.93 (paperback), $9.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by Bob Criso (Nigeria 1966-67, Somalia 1967-68) • Dead Cow Road is an ambitious work of historical fiction told through the eyes of a Foreign Service worker assigned to Somalia during the political struggles and famine crisis in 1992. Mark Wentling combines real and fictional events with real and fictional characters to weave an engrossing and complex tale unfolding during a chaotic time in a desperate country. With over 45 years experience living and working in Africa with the Peace Corps, USAID, US Foreign Service, Care and World Vision, Wentling is well-equipped to be writing about it. He has the rare distinction of having lived or worked in all fifty-four African countries. Ray Read . . .

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New website of Health Justice For Peace Corps Volunteers

Greetings friend of HJPCV – We have some exciting news to share! Thanks to the help of many dedicated and talented individuals we’ve launched a new and improved website – HealthJusticeforPeaceCorpsVolunteers.org As you can see from the link, the website is still at the same address as it has always been – – the only thing that has changed is the more intuitive and user-friendly design of the site. HJPCV’s new website also comes with a more modern email and membership management platform “behind the scenes,” allowing the HJPCV team to better serve our critical mission – helping hurt and injured Volunteers get connected with the resources and information they need to heal and become whole again. A quick technical note – As Google and Microsoft and other internet search companies index our website along with the millions of other websites out there, the new website might bring up a warning message depending on what browser . . .

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Novels nominated for Maria Thomas Fiction Award — 2016

  Novels published in 2016 THE MARIA THOMAS FICTION AWARD, first presented in 1990, is named after the novelist Maria Thomas [Roberta Worrick (Ethiopia 1971–73)] who was the author of the well-reviewed novel Antonia Saw the Oryx First, and two collections of short stories, Come to Africa and Save Your Marriage: And Other Stories and African Visas: A Novella and Stories, all set in Africa. Roberta lost her life in August 1989, while working in Ethiopia for a relief agency. She went down in the plane crash that also killed her husband, Thomas Worrick (Ethiopia 1971–73), and Congressman Mickey Leland of Texas These novels have been nominated for the 2016 Award. If you know of a book that you wish to nominated — published in 2016 — and written by an RPCV or Peace Corps Staff, please let me know: jcoyneone@gmail.com The nominees: The Girl in the Glyphs: A Novel David C. Edmonds (Chile 1963-65) A Peace . . .

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The Primary Achievement of the 25th Anniversary Conference

As president of the RPCV of Washington, D.C., Roger Landrum (Nigeria 1961-63) was the major force in creating the 25th Anniversary Conference. I asked Roger to write from his perspective about the event, and I am pleased to publish his comments here. Thank you, Roger. Note JC The Primary Achievement of the 25th Anniversary Conference The most enduring impact of the 25th anniversary conference was engaging the growing number of Returned Peace Corps Volunteer as an organized force supporting the three goals of the Peace Corps. Those of us who initiated and organized the anniversary conference were determined to build more effective RPCV organizations.  The group of Iowa RPCVs who created the National Council of RPCVs (now the NPCA) made an important breakthrough in 1979 by establishing a framework for an independent national alumni organization, but that organization had only a small membership and lacked momentum. The 1986 anniversary conference, . . .

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