Author - John Coyne

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Laurette Bennhold-Samaan in Samos, Greece: Working with Refugees
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A Weekend of Deep Nostalgia, the 25th Anniversary Conference
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Bill Moyers Says It All At The 25th Anniversary Conference
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Sunday’s 25th Anniversary Procession to Arlington National Cemetery Ampitheatre
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Remembering the 25th Anniversary RPCV Conference (Washington, D.C.)
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Tom Weck Wins Golden Script Screenplay Writing Prize (Ethiopia)
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Review — KILL THE GRINGO by Jack Hood Vaughn (PC Director)
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Review — YOVO by Stephen F. Dextor, Jr. (Togo)
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RPCV NYC announces 6th Annual Story Slam
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Paul Theroux on New Yorker Radio Hour (Malawi)

Laurette Bennhold-Samaan in Samos, Greece: Working with Refugees

Laurette Bennhold-Samaan started working at the Peace Corps in 1995 as the first Cross-Cultural  Specialist with the Peace Corps and pioneered mandatory state-of-the-art cross-cultural training for all Volunteers and Staff in more than 90 countries. After her Peace Corps years, she went to work for the World Bank, and then for several cross-cultural firms until very recently when she found herself out-of-work. This is Laurette’s very new blog that is telling us what she is doing now, and I thought you might all find it interesting. Note: JC Your job is over…. But your work has just begun Hearing the words, “your job is over” from my current employer went over like a lead balloon. Then, after 3 long and arduous months of job searching, I realized that I needed to change directions. I needed to take advantage of the time “off” in between jobs and do something that I have always wanted . . .

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A Weekend of Deep Nostalgia, the 25th Anniversary Conference

Many RPCVs had traveled to the conference primarily to be united with old friends. Friday evening, they were involved in hundreds of parties around the city. One street was cordoned off in the Adams Morgan area of D.C. for dancing and food. The restaurants of that area—Meskerem, the Red Sea, The Manilla, and others—were filled with RPCVs. Loret Miller Ruppe got her family to donate Miller beer for an international festival on the Mall that Sunday afternoon. There was a Caribbean band, I recall, plus the Izalco and Asian dance troupe, and the Kankouran, an African dance troupe, which had hundreds of volunteers up and dancing to African drums. “You could tell the volunteers from Africa by how they danced,” said Mark Hallett (Philippines 1983-85). Paul Wood (Nepal 1965-67) wrote in the Sebastapol Times and News of his time in D.C., “We could be free with each other in ways . . .

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Bill Moyers Says It All At The 25th Anniversary Conference

What most of us remember of the weekend were Sargent Shriver’s comments under the big tent on the Mall and Bill Moyers’ speech in Arlington National Cemetery Ampitheatre. A ‘heads’ up’ to Sally Collier (Ethiopia 1962-64) for reminding me that Moyers’ talk should be published and shared with all the RPCVs and Staff who were not in Washington that bright September Sunday morning in 1986, or who joined the Peace Corps in the years since our 25th Anniversary Celebration. Remarks by Bill Moyers At the Peace Corps’ 25th Anniversary Memorial Service September 21,1986 Those men and women whose memory we honor today—volunteers and staff—would not wish us to be sentimental, to make heroic their living or to bestow martyrdom on their dying. I never met a volunteer who did not wince at the tales of idealism and sacrifice spun by Peace Corps/Washington in the cause of plump budgets and rave . . .

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Sunday’s 25th Anniversary Procession to Arlington National Cemetery Ampitheatre

On Sunday morning, September 21, 1986, the Peace Corps Family gathered beside Daniel Chester French’s statue of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial. By country of service, all the RPCVs, Staff, and family and friends marched in procession across the Potomac’s Memorial Bridge carrying host country flags loaned by ambassadors. “I was in the Colombia delegation, and our group was close to the front of the line,” wrote Margaret Riley (Colombia 1973-75). “At the point when my group had finished our crossing, I looked back and all I could see was this mass of Returned Peace Corps volunteers and friends spanning the bridge, with the flags of all the countries waving as the group advanced. To me it was the most moving moment of the weekend.” The procession paused in the stark beauty of Arlington National Cemetery at President John F. Kennedy’s grave, by the eternal flame. Alan and Judy . . .

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Remembering the 25th Anniversary RPCV Conference (Washington, D.C.)

The 25th anniversary conference was one of the most remarkable events in the history of the Peace Corps. If you were fortunate enough to be in Washington, D.C., in September 1986, you were one of approximately 5,000 RPCVs who had served in 94 countries who took part in the event, much of it within the largest tent ever raised on The Mall, at the foot of the Capitol Dome adjacent to the Air and Space Museum. The tent was the brainchild of Bill Carey (Bolivia 1965-68), who left a Congressional job to become executive director of the conference. The tent was born of necessity. Other facilities of sufficient size had already been reserved. David Schickele (Nigeria 1961-63) would later write, “That tent was like the Peace Corps I was part of in 1961-63. Its muggy windless flaps said something about heat and hard work and improvisation, its massive nonchalance the . . .

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Tom Weck Wins Golden Script Screenplay Writing Prize (Ethiopia)

Thomas Weck (Ethiopia 1965-67) has just been awarded a prize as Finalist in the Golden Script Screenplay Writing Contest for his screenplay, The Medal.  The screenplay is the fusion of a love story and a coming of age set in the First World War.   He has entered a number of other screenplay writing contests where he will hear the results later this summer.  He entered into these competitions with his screenplay, The Medal, as well as his second screenplay, Horace & Baby Doe, based on a true story of the most remarkable and improbable love affair set in the waning days of the Wild West.  

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Review — KILL THE GRINGO by Jack Hood Vaughn (PC Director)

  Kill the Gringo: The Life of Jack Hood Vaughn Jack Hood Vaughn with Jane Constantineau Rare Bird Books May 2017 389 pages $17.95 (paperback), $11.03 (Kindle) Reviewed by Randy Marcus (Ethiopia 1966-67) • “Everybody knows that Sargent Shriver was the first director of the Peace Corps. Only my wife remembers who the second one was.” SO COMMENTED JACK VAUGHN years after his Peace Corps stint.  Sargent Shriver, John F. Kennedy’s brother-in-law, was a charismatic whirlwind who had built a national reputation as the creator and embodiment of the Peace Corps. Compared to Shriver, Jack Vaughn was no rock star. He certainly had the creds: an experienced USAID hand, a regional director in the Peace Corps under Shriver, Ambassador to Panama, and an Assistant Secretary of State. He was, however, a prosaic Lyndon Johnson protégé, not a glamorous Kennedy acolyte with the glow of Camelot. I had started my Ethiopia-bound Peace . . .

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Review — YOVO by Stephen F. Dextor, Jr. (Togo)

Yovo Peace Corps novel by Stephen F. Drexter, Jr. (Togo 1988-91) A Peace Corps Writers Book 2017 385 pages $21.00 (paperback) Review by Dan Campbell (El Salvador 1974-77) • YOVO, WHICH MEANS “white person” in Togo, is the story of Rick “Oly” Olymeyer’s Peace Corps experiences in Togo and his difficulties in adjusting to American life and culture once he returns to America. I knew this was going to be an interesting book because Stephen writes that he started writing on a napkin in the Cantab Lounge in Cambridge in the summer of 1998 and that edits of the final draft were completed in Malaysia on April 13, 2016. Reading this book brought back so many memories of my own Peace Corps experiences, the isolation, the homesickness and the illnesses. Oly served as a construction volunteer in Togo and built bridges and schools and I laughed out loud when he . . .

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RPCV NYC announces 6th Annual Story Slam

  Returned Peace Corps Volunteers take the stage to share true stories of service abroad The 6th Annual RPCV Story Slam will be held on Saturday, June 24. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show begins at 7:30 p.m. at Hostelling International New York City. It is located at 891 Amsterdam Ave. in Manhattan.  Suggested contribution of $5 for entry and drinks also available for a donation. Proceeds will support a current Peace Corps project abroad. When RPCVs tell stories, they humanize and illuminate places and people with that grassroots, Peace Corps perspective. Chuckle, cringe and even cry as RPCVs relive some of their most meaningful, bewildering and trying moments. “RPCVs are a goldmine of heart-rending, poignant and comical moments that expose us to our own limits and help us push past them,” said Sarah Porter who served in Macedonia from 2005 to 2007. “We tell it like it is, . . .

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Paul Theroux on New Yorker Radio Hour (Malawi)

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Bill Preston (Thailand 1977-80) A short interview was this morning on New Yorker Radio Hour with Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-65) talking about his new book, including some insights into his family relations, how he became a writer, his love of travel (he doesn’t mention PC directly), his anonymity in Hawaii and abroad. In case you missed it: http://www.wnyc.org/story/paul-therouxs-darkest-travel-book-set-home

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