Author - John Coyne

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Write your House and Senate leadership for better RPCV health care
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The Sins of Kalamazoo
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A Writer Writes: “House of Flowers” — A short story by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay)
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Happy Ethiopian New Year
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The Not-So-Ugly Americans, 1965 (Ecuador)
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Peace Corps Volunteers to help? The precedent
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“The forgotten role of the Peace Corps in U.S. foreign policy” by Bren Flanigan (Benin)
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Paul Theroux (Malawi) essay: “The Romance of the American Road Trip”
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PEACE CORPS TRANSITION BRIEFING BOOK 2017
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Maureen Orth’s A Made-for-Tabloid Murder (Colombia)

Write your House and Senate leadership for better RPCV health care

  This is from Nancy Tongue (Chile 1980-82)  director of Health Justice for Peace Corps Volunteers, an RPCV who has led the fight for better medical treatment of RPCVs. This is her latest campaign and she needs our help. Nancy writes: We are desperately trying to get bills passed in both the House and the Senate. So many RPCVs are living in squalor with illnesses and injures that they can’t get help for. It is imperative that a call go out to folks to write to their Reps NOW, or we will lose any opportunity to get what we need on the bill. Can you please post this? We are asking people to do this SIMPLE TASK THAT WILL TAKE 3 MINUTES: Copy and paste in the letter below or change it however you’d like. Then: Send a message to your Congressperson asking for co-sponsorship for H.R. 2259. Please remove the email . . .

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The Sins of Kalamazoo

In the spring of 1962 I was a graduate student in English at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. We all know Kalamazoo if we know the poet Carl Sandburg. The sins of Kalamazoo are neither scarlet nor crimson. The sins of Kalamazoo are a convict gray, a dishwater drab. And the people who sin the sins of Kalamazoo are neither scarlet nor crimson. The run to drabs and grays–and some of them sing they shall be washed whiter than snow–and some: We should worry. Well, I wasn’t sinning in Kalamazoo! (We never sinned back in the early Sixties.) I was a grad student and I had just been selected to go to Ethiopia. A country I couldn’t at first find on a map of Africa. (Oh, there it is!) I wasn’t the only Western student joining the Peace Corps in 1962. Bill Donohoe, a history major at Western, also had . . .

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A Writer Writes: “House of Flowers” — A short story by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay)

  A former U.S. foreign service officer, Mark Jacobs (Paraguay 1978-80) has published more than 100 stories in magazines including The Atlantic, Playboy, The Idaho Review, The S0uthrn  Review, and The Kenyon Review. He has stories forthcoming in several magazines including The Hudson Review. His story “How Birds Communicate” won The Iowa Review fiction prize. His five books include A Handful of Kings, published by Simon and Schuster, and Stone Cowboy, by Soho Press, which won the Maria Thomas Award. His website can be found at markjacobsauthor.com. This story appears in the Fall 2016 issue of Border Crossing. • House of Flowers Poppa Billy was living in the basement at the House of Flowers even though his name was on the mortgage. The basement was set up to be an apartment with its own separate door, so he came and went as he pleased. At maximum capacity, the House of Flowers accommodated seven room-renters. I was number seven, taking Nasturtium after Mr. . . .

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The Not-So-Ugly Americans, 1965 (Ecuador)

  Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Marnie Mueller (Ecuador 1963-65) In 1965 Public Television produced a documentary about the Peace Corps in Guayaquil. Marnie Elberson Mueller, Dave Zimmerman, and James Samiljan were chosen as subjects for the project, which was titled THE NOT-SO-UGLY AMERICANS. Jim’s dad managed to get a copy of the film through a friend who worked at WGBH in Boston. It had been sitting in storage until last month when Jim had it digitized. Marnie Mueller thought other RPCVs would enjoy seeing the video after all these years and forwarded it to me to share on this site. (Thank you, Marnie.) Jim had the video uploaded to YouTube. It is about 30 minutes long. The link below should take you directly there: https://youtu.be/TKPGYPtFL5M The Not-So-Ugly Americans, 1965    

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Peace Corps Volunteers to help? The precedent

  In light of current events in Texas and the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, it behooves us to learn from history. Here is what former Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez said about his decision to send Crisis Corps (now Peace Corps Response) Volunteers to aid in the Hurricane Katrina effort. (This interview was recorded by Alana DeJoseph (Mali 192-94) for the upcoming documentary about the Peace Corps, A Towering Task being made by DeJoseph): Vasquez recalls: Well, I had the opportunity to travel to Sri Lanka, Thailand after the tsunami and witnessed the devastation that the tsunami had caused and it was not long thereafter that Katrina struck the United States and the Gulf Coast. I saw the images, the devastation; it was incredible. And made a decision that I would authorize the deployment of Crisis Corps — these are returned Peace Corps volunteers who make up this group at that . . .

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“The forgotten role of the Peace Corps in U.S. foreign policy” by Bren Flanigan (Benin)

  Thanks for the ‘heads up” from Bob Arias (Colombia 1964-66) about this article. — JC • The forgotten role of the Peace Corps in U.S. foreign policy   Washington Post Opinion Article By Bren Flanigan (PCV Benin) August 31, 2017 After surviving nine hours in a non-air-conditioned bus in the hot West African climate, during which the only escape from the jolting ride is a “pee-pee stop,” the last thing I wanted to do was converse in my extremely limited French with my Peace Corps host father. But I was instantly interrogated on the then-ongoing tumultuous 2016 presidential election: “Why do all Americans hate Muslims?” It’s humbling to find people in Benin following U.S. current affairs with intense interest, when many Americans could never locate Benin on a map. Addressing questions like these gives Peace Corps volunteers the opportunity to shatter the stereotypes about the United States portrayed in television . . .

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Paul Theroux (Malawi) essay: “The Romance of the American Road Trip”

In the WSJ, September 2-3 Review Section is a long essay by Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-65): “The long, improvisational trip by car is an American institution–and no other travel experience especially today, can beat the sense of freedom it brings.” Theroux begins with F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Fitzgerald, three months in their marriage and they are living in Westport, Conn. and  Zelda is slightly cranky over breakfast. She hates Yankee bacon and craves Southern biscuits. “I wish I could have some peaches anyhow.” So Scott says, “let’s get dress and go.” And so it begins. They set off in their secondhand 1918 Marmon Speedster for Montgomery, Alabama. All of this tale is told in Fitzgerald’s memoir The Cruise of The Rolling Junk, a 1,200-mile journey to the deep South on bad roads. Theroux goes onto to recount other such road trips, including his own told in Deep South: Four . . .

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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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