Author - John Coyne

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Tanganyika’s First Peace Corps Staff
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Review — A DANCER’S GUIDE TO AFRICA by Terez Mertes Rose (Gabon)
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Where is Elaine Chao? Not Working, I’d Say
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Should Cold Hard Cash $$$ Replace PCVs?
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 Witness to the Resurrection in Celebration of the Life and Legacy of C Payne Lucas
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Review — THEN AGAIN by Ben Berman (Zimbabwe)
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Ethiopia’s First Peace Corps Staff, Part Seven (Final)
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Review — GHOST TRAIN TO THE EASTERN STAR by Paul Theroux (Malawi)
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Review — JAMIE’S MUSE by Bonnie Lee Black (Gabon)
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Maureen Orth wins Emmy (Colombia)

Tanganyika’s First Peace Corps Staff

  Lee St. Lawrence,* later to be Peace Corps Regional Director for the Far East, was the first person in the agency to conduct program negotiations overseas. This was in Tanganyika [renamed Tanzania in 1964] in March, 1961. The negotiations resulted in a program in which 30 Volunteer surveyors, geologists and engineers, went into training at Texas Western University in El Paso, inaugurated Peace Corps’ own Outward Bound site, Camp Crozier, in Puerto Rico, and climbed off a plane in Dar es Salaam on September 27, 1961.   Robert Hellawell Several months before the Volunteers arrived in tanganyika, Sargent Shriver had a discussion with Associate General Counsel Robert Hellawell about the problems of getting first-rate people to run the programs overseas. Hellawell asked, “Would you consider me?” Shriver later reported, “I was amazed. There was Bob, a competent, dedicated lawyer, and he wanted to go to Africa for the Peace Corps. This . . .

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Review — A DANCER’S GUIDE TO AFRICA by Terez Mertes Rose (Gabon)

  A Dancer’s Guide to Africa by Terez Mertes Rose (Gabon 1985-87) Classical Girl Press 375 pages September 2018 $12.99 (paperback). $0.99 (Kindle)   Reviewed by Bonnie Lee Black (Gabon 1996-98) • It is March 1988 and Fiona Garvey, 22, of Omaha, Nebraska, has just received her letter of acceptance into the Peace Corps. Fiona is a tall, lithe, recent college graduate and ballet dancer, who is anxious to run away from home – and from a failed romance — to seek “true adventure, with soul.” So she gladly accepts the challenge of teaching English as a Peace Corps Volunteer for two years in the tiny, equatorial country of Gabon, Central Africa. Thus begins Terez Mertes Rose’s newly published novel, A Dancer’s Guide to Africa, which perfectly evokes the Gabon she and I knew when we both served as PCVs (at different times, at different ages, in different towns, and . . .

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Where is Elaine Chao? Not Working, I’d Say

Elaine Chao was briefly the Peace Corps Director, from October 1991 to November 1992. She was appointed by Bush and held the position for about 14 months. She is famous for saying, when visiting a PCV in West Africa in the woman’s village, and seeing her mud hut, “Does your mother know how you’re living?” Chao was also well known for scheduling daily hair appointments frequently when overseas, and for breaking down in tears when describing the conditions that PCVs lived in as Volunteers. It got so embarrassing for RPCVs listening to her lament, that they began laughing at her when she started crying. Thanks for the heads-up on this article in Politics from Dale Gilles (Liberia 1964–67) POLITICS Where is Elaine Chao? ‘Private’ time fills long stretches of the Transportation secretary’s daily calendar, according to POLITICO’s review of 14 months of records. By Tanya Snyder, Kathryn A. Wolfe, Beatrice Jin Transportation Secretary . . .

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Should Cold Hard Cash $$$ Replace PCVs?

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Joanne Roll (Colombia 1963-65) Foreign aid as a cash-only transaction? It’s worth a try. By Christine Emba Columnist September 26 Washington Post “The United States is the world’s largest giver in the world, by far, of foreign aid,” said President Trump during his address to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday. Unlike some other claims he made during that speech, this happens to be true. In 2018, the United States budgeted nearly $40 billion for foreign aid, for interventions ranging from global health initiatives to disaster relief. But trumpeting — or, in Trump’s case, complaining about — the big numbers leaves an essential question unanswered: Are we giving our money well ? This month, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) released the results of a landmark study on the best strategies for poverty reduction. Past evaluations relied on comparing aid recipients with control groups that received no aid. The ones who were given aid tended to . . .

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 Witness to the Resurrection in Celebration of the Life and Legacy of C Payne Lucas

COMMENTS AT C PAYNE LUCAS’s  “Witness to the Resurrection in Celebration of the Life and Legacy of C Payne Lucas” AFRICARE created an opportunity for the first time for African Americans across the USA to contribute to Africa In a substantive way. C. Payne would not accept a raise. The board had to convince him after many years that he had to accept a raise because his salary was keeping the staff’s salaries too low. Africare was first located in the basement of the Niger Embassy. He then found a building that needed a lot of repairs in an undesirable (at the time) location in DC, With his legendary persuasive and visionary skills, C Payne bought it for a low price with many donations. No one could say “no” to C. Payne. He could persuade anyone to do anything –  anywhere all of the time. He was a combination of a . . .

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Review — THEN AGAIN by Ben Berman (Zimbabwe)

  Then Again Ben Berman (Zimbabwe 1998-2000) (Short prose pieces) Vine Leaves Press August 2018 58 pages $9.99 pre-order (paperback) Reviewed by Kathleen Coskran (Ethiopia 1965-67) • Ben Berman is in love with language. His melodious triptychs on life lived and remembered are so seductive that I began to wonder if his name wasn’t some sort of three-part word play: Ben enclosed in (or freed from) BErmaN, or the man in his surname scrolling out mythic memory of the life of one man. I googled him to reassure myself that he was in fact a single human being and not an allegorical creation. That’s how enticing this slender volume is. Then Again is a collection of three-paragraph narratives that could be called prose poems or flash memoir or short short essays–or all of that. The one word title of each of the 42 pieces . . . from “Breaks” and “Tears” to “Notes” . . .

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Ethiopia’s First Peace Corps Staff, Part Seven (Final)

Born in Castleton, Va., Don Romine was raised at the base of the Blue Ridge. He attended Winchester Business College while working summers as a carpenter’s helper in Culpeper. For two and a half years, beginning in January, 1954, he ran a farm in Castleton. After working as a stock clerk for the Merrill Motor Company in Washington, Va., he joined the government as a clerk for the National Security Council. In March, 1961, he became a statistical clerk for the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission. He was enthusiastic enough about the Peace Corps to take a drop of two civil service grades in order to get into the Washington staff, which he did on August 23, 1961. Two months later, he became an administrative aide to Bill Moyers, then Associate Director for Public Affairs. In this role, he was named supervisor of all Peace Corps publications, a job he . . .

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Review — GHOST TRAIN TO THE EASTERN STAR by Paul Theroux (Malawi)

  Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: On the Tracks of the Great Railway Bazaar By Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-65) Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 511 pages August 2009 $8.32 (paperback), $10.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by Mark D. Walker (Guatemala 1971–73) • Follow Theroux as he embarks on a 25,000-mile epic journey through Asia retracing the steps of a trip he’d taken thirty years before. Since then, Theroux records phenomenal change. The Soviet Union has collapsed and China has risen; India grows, while Burma is mothered by a military dictatorship and, most interestingly, Vietnam flourished despite the havoc the United States had unleashed on it. No one describes the texture, sights, sounds and the flavors of this changing landscape better than Theroux. Thirty years after the epic journey chronicled in his classic work, The Great Railway Bazaar, the world’s most acclaimed travel writer re-creates his 25,000-mile journey through eastern Europe, central . . .

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Review — JAMIE’S MUSE by Bonnie Lee Black (Gabon)

  Jamie’s Muse Bonnie Lee Black (Gabon 1996-98) Nighthawk Press May 2018 236 pages $15.00 (paperback)  $9.99 (Kindle)   Reviewed by Terez Rose (Gabon 1985-87) • The only ghosts, I believe, who creep into this world, are dead young mothers, returning to see how their children fare. There is no other inducement great enough to bring the dead back. — J.M. Barrie, The Little White Bird In Jamie’s Muse, author Bonnie Lee Black (Somewhere Child, How to Cook a Crocodile, How to Make an African Quilt) has created a luminous reimagining of her great-grandmother’s life, her emigration from Scotland to South Africa and its sorrowful ending. Black’s grandfather had been born in South Africa, spent time in an Edinburgh orphanage and stowed away on a New York-bound steamer as a teen, yet on his 1954 death certificate, under “mother” was written “unknown.” The story behind the story haunted Black, igniting in her . . .

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Maureen Orth wins Emmy (Colombia)

RPCV Maureen Orth (Colombia 1964-66) won an Emmy for Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing For A Limited Series Or Movie “Best Limited Series for “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” based on her book Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U.S. History. It was presented on September 17, 21018 at the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards. The Emmy Awards honored the best in U.S. prime time television programming from June 1, 2017 until May 31, 2018, as chosen by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. The ceremony was held on September 17, 2018, at the Microsoft Theater in Downtown Los Angeles, California, and was broadcast by NBC. Congratulations, Maureen!

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