Author - John Coyne

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“America’s Deaf Team Tackles Identity Politics at Gallaudet University” by Matthew Davis (Mongolia)
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“That Day”: A poem by Ada Jo Mann (Chad)
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Leita Kaldi Davis wins Lillian Carter Award (Senegal)
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Stephen King takes on Paul Theroux (Malawi)
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“Gentle Thunder” by Julie R. Dargis (Morocco)
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Peace Corps headquarters moving out of downtown DC
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“Loose Ends” by Bob Criso (Nigeria/Somalia)
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Poet John Robert “Jack” Mueller (India) dies in Grand Junction, Colorado
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Peace Corps Writers MFAs
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Florence, From the Simple to the Spectacular (Travel)

“America’s Deaf Team Tackles Identity Politics at Gallaudet University” by Matthew Davis (Mongolia)

  Matthew Davis Mongolia 2000–02) writes . . . IN ORDER TO SURVIVE, Gallaudet University has to blend a diverse student body from very different backgrounds: Deaf Culture and Hearing Culture. Can football players show the school how?   The homecoming game falls on a brilliant, unseasonably warm Saturday afternoon in late October 2016. The sun streams through the multicolored leaves of oak trees and dapples thousands of alumni and fans in patches of light and shade. Pop-up booths have been erected behind the football stadium: The Class of 2019 is selling crepes; the Class of 1992 is selling T-shirts; writers for the student newspaper, The Buff and Blue, are hawking the latest issue. Little kids terrorize the person dressed as the school mascot, a bison, by pulling his tail and then squealing in delight. The smells of fraternities grilling cheeseburgers waft through the air. Previous classes gather in anticipation of their march around . . .

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“That Day”: A poem by Ada Jo Mann (Chad)

  That Day By Ada Jo Mann (Chad 1967–69) It seemed like just an ordinary day Safe in bed next to my husband as we lay under the Peace Corps issued mosquito net, listening to the lulling sounds of millet pounded rhythmically each day in the time-tested  traditional way. Soon our cook would arrive and begin rattling pots and pans in the  room we called the kitchen I heard the children running fast to school fearing the grass whip’s unfriendly sting, if they were late and made to play the fool because they failed to hear the school bell ring. I rolled out from beneath the gauzy net making sure to check for creatures hiding in my well worn  LL Bean slipper set before padding off to what looked like a well-equipped bathroom, but was powered by gravity from a rain barrel on the roof. Delicious anticipation of an upcoming trip . . .

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Leita Kaldi Davis wins Lillian Carter Award (Senegal)

  Leita Kaldi Davis wrote — The Lillian Carter Award is given to Peace Corps Volunteers who enter service over the age of 50, in honor of President Jimmy Carter’s mother, Lillian, who went to India with Peace Corps in her sixties. It is also awarded to Returned PCVs who continue the third goal of Peace Corps, “bringing the world home to America.” So, I’m thrilled to tell you that I have won this award! We’ll be going to Atlanta to the Carter Center May 10 to receive the award from the hands of President Jimmy Carter. I’m so happy to share this news with you. Leita Kaldi Davis (Senegal 1993-96) • Leita Kaldi Davis worked for the United Nations and UNESCO, for Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and Harvard University. She worked with Roma (Gypsies) for fifteen years, became a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal at . . .

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Stephen King takes on Paul Theroux (Malawi)

  MOTHER LAND By Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-65) 509 pages An Eamon Dolan Book/ Houghton Mifflin Harcourt $28.00 Reviewed by Stephen King New York Times — May 9, 2017 At the outset of this long slog, the narrator, J P (Jay) Justus, passes on a story his mother told him as a child, with a smile and a nod of satisfaction. Once upon a time there was a man condemned to be hanged. As a last request, he asked for a word with his mother. She was taken to the foot of the gallows, where he stood handcuffed. Instead of speaking to her, he bit off a piece of her ear, spat it out and screamed, “You are the reason I’m here, about to die!” What follows this fable are 500 or so pages in which Justus bites not only his mother’s ear but those of six siblings. Only the seventh, . . .

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“Gentle Thunder” by Julie R. Dargis (Morocco)

  Gentle Thunder by Julie R. Dargis (Morocco 1984-87)  • BEING, AND WORKING WITH PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEERS throughout Africa, allowed me to experience some of the more exotic cross-cultural aspects of venturing into an environment different from one’s own. But, even with the divisiveness of the political climate of late, I don’t believe that humanity wants or needs to be fractured. As I once wrote, what I have learned from many cultures around the world is that “ . . . notwithstanding our many cultural differences—at our very core, we are all the same.” Now that I am home, through a program at the California Institute for Human Science (CIHS), I am learning that energy fields surround us all, and gravity does not discriminate. The essence of communication is sound, and its vibration has the ability to promote our own capacity to heal. Sound comes in many forms. One of the more mysterious elements . . .

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Peace Corps headquarters moving out of downtown DC

  I HAVE HEARD from individuals familiar with the Peace Corps that the convenient three Headquarter buildings that the Peace Corps has enjoyed for all of their existence — some 56 + plus years —will soon be history. The agency will move before the end of the year to the far southwest of the District, out close to the Beltway. The Peace Corps will also likely be sharing a building with another government agency. No longer will the Peace Corps have a footprint in the heart of the Nation’s Capital. The first Peace Corps HQ was at 806 Connecticut Ave across from Lafayette Park and with views of the White House. It was called the Maiatico Building and immortalized in a famous Washington Post photograph showing how the Peace Corps was working far into the night to launch the new agency. The second building was at 1990 K Street NW. I am not sure who was the director at . . .

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“Loose Ends” by Bob Criso (Nigeria/Somalia)

  Loose Ends by Bob Criso  (Nigeria 1966-67, Somalia 1967-68) • SUSAN STEEN AND PAUL BAUMER met on a beach in Bali. She was traveling with her friend Janice, taking a lot of pictures with her fancy camera. He was on his way home after two years with the Peace Corps in Africa. They have sex in the moonlight. It was 1970. “What was it like?” Susan asks, sitting up on the blanket and lighting a cigarette. Paul tells her about his early Peace Corps success. He and his friend Jeff “worked their asses off” and got all the latrines built for their project in only six months, thanks to a lot of help from the locals. He became fluent in Nglele. When the locals didn’t use the latrines, he learned that they use feces as fertilizer and didn’t want to waste it in the latrines. All along, the locals . . .

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Poet John Robert “Jack” Mueller (India) dies in Grand Junction, Colorado

  Thanks for the ‘heads-up’ from Dan Campbell (El Salvador 1974-77) • John Robert “Jack” Mueller (PCV India), who taught poetry and sailing in New Orleans before gaining prominence among the post-Beat poets in the San Francisco Bay area, died of cancer Thursday in Grand Junction, Colorado. He was 74. Lawrence Ferlinghetti, renowned poet and co-founder of the landmark City Lights bookstore in San Francisco, said, “Jack Mueller is the biggest-hearted poet I have ever known.” Mueller published six collections of poems and two books of sketches, most notably “Amor Fati” (Lithic Press, 2013). A reviewer praised his approach to “almost exclusively cosmic questions — about mortality, love and our relationship to language.” He created art wherever he went, making sketches and short poems on bar napkins, coasters and index cards, according to his brother, Gordon “Nick” Mueller, president and CEO of the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. . . .

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Peace Corps Writers MFAs

National University’s online MFA program has yet to launch a PCV & RPCV MFA cohort, though several Peace Corps Volunteers are already enrolled and taking classes. (The farthest away from sunny California and the main campus of Natural University is PCV Sally La Rue in Mongolia. Sally finishes up in-country this summer, will tour on her way home with her husband, and be back in an online class this fall wherever they decide to settle down.) I am now teaching a class (No Peace Corps Volunteers in it) on non-fiction for National University. While I have only ‘met’ my students online, they range in age from 23 to 65. All are getting their MFAs in Creative Writing. While National University has one of the few ‘totally online” programs, online classes are increasing across the US. Just last week Purdue University announced it was buying for-profit Kaplan University to boost enrollment . . .

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Florence, From the Simple to the Spectacular (Travel)

Florence, From the Simple to the Spectacular Is it worth an overnight flight to Firenze for a taste of gelato at La Carraia near Ponte alla Carrala? Is it worth a sleepless night on a jet for a sandwich of street food (porchetta and more) at all’Antico Vinaio near the Uffizi Gallery? Or perhaps dinner, after a day of sightseeing, at the friendly neighborhood hangout Alla Vecchia Bettola on the Piazza Tasso? Yes, it is. Throw in Florence’s showier treasures—the Medici Chapel, the Duomo, and the leather-goods stores, to name just a few—and this ancient yet lively Italian city becomes an irresistible destination. Last year my wife and I planned a trip to Florence for early May, hoping to beat the rush of summer tourists (we did). We wanted a room with a glorious rooftop view and a location within an easy walk of the museums, churches and restaurants—and to . . .

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