Author - John Coyne

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Review of Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit by Chris Matthews (Swaziland)
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Write Your Peace Corps Book Online
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Jody Olsen (Tunisia) sworn in (again) as Director of the Peace Corps
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Review — The Peace Corps Experience, 1969-1976 by P. David Searles (staff)
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Blatchford’s 1970’s “New Directions” for the Peace Corps (PC/HQ)
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Good Peace Corps news from the Senate (Washington)
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Talking with P. David Searles (Philippines & Peace Corps/HQ)
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Come Celebrate the Life of Roger Landrum (Nigeria)
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Remembering the murder of PCV Deborah Gardner (Tonga)
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 Finding one’s way into book publishing

Review of Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit by Chris Matthews (Swaziland)

Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit By Chris Matthews (Swaziland 1968-70) Simon & Schuster October 2017 426 pages Hardback $16.41, paperback $14.54, Kindle $14.99 Reviewed by David Arnold (Ethiopia 1964-66) Chris Matthews (Swaziland 1968-70) was in Canada when he heard the news of Robert F. Kennedy’s 1968 assassination at a Los Angeles hotel just hours after the 42-year-old candidate won California’s Democratic primary. Matthews had gone to Canada for a few days with a graduate school friend who was looking for a job and a way to avoid the draft. Matthews’ own options weren’t looking so good, either. His graduate school deferment to study economics at North Carolina University in Chapel Hill was running out. In his recently published Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit, Matthews says the breaking news on the radio that Wednesday sounded like a reprise of Dallas and the day Bobby’s brother Jack, the President of the United . . .

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Write Your Peace Corps Book Online

Want to write a book about your Peace Corps experience? I will lead a two-month seminar beginning this June for RPCVs interested in writing their own Peace Corps memoir or novel. The online weekly seminar will feature videos, online classes and discussions, and individual phone conversations. The seminar will be limited to ten students and have a flexible schedule. Besides writing, the seminar will also focus on ways to publish and promote a finished manuscript. The cost for the two-month seminar is $200. Interested RPCVs should contact me at jcoyneone@gmail.com by May 1, 2018 to secure a spot in the seminar.

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Jody Olsen (Tunisia) sworn in (again) as Director of the Peace Corps

  WASHINGTON – Dr. Josephine (Jody) K. Olsen was sworn in as the 20th Director of the Peace Corps this week. Olsen has previously served the agency in various capacities. Jody, who has made her career at the Peace Corps, having defied the Peace Corps Five-Year-Rule of  going “In, Up and Out” was a PCV in Tunisia (1966-68), Chief of Staff at HQ, Regional Director  and then Deputy and Acting Director of the Peace Corps from 2001 – 2009. In her ‘accepting’ of the position, she misspoke by saying, “It is an absolute honor to begin my service as Director of the Peace Corps.  I’m grateful to President Trump for his trust and confidence.” (Hello! Jody, you been to HQ. You know where the coffee machine is located.) The Peace Corps Press announcement went onto say: “Olsen is committed to leading a Peace Corps that remains the world’s preeminent volunteer agency, offering . . .

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Review — The Peace Corps Experience, 1969-1976 by P. David Searles (staff)

    The Peace Corps Experience: Challenge and Change, 1969-1976 By P. David Searles (Philippines Country Director 1971-74; Peace Corps Deputy Director 1974-76) The University Press of Kentucky March 1997 254 pages $21.96 (hard cover) Reviewed by David Elliott (Poland 1991-93; Staff-India 1966-68, Nigeria 1965-66, Sierra Leone 1964-65) • Was the Peace Corps on its deathbed in 1969? Did Director Joe Blatchford revive the patient with his “New Directions” medicine? In his preface, P. Searles is explicit as to his book’s “main message”: In late 1969, President Richard Nixon’s first Peace Corps director, Joseph H. Blatchford, announced a set of policies, which he labeled New Directions, that changed its [Peace Corps’] nature and ensured its survival…Without these changes its tenth anniversary (in 1971) would have been a wake mourning the death of the last of the Kennedy era. Peace Corps history buffs may find this book entertaining, even provocative. Searles was . . .

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Blatchford’s 1970’s “New Directions” for the Peace Corps (PC/HQ)

I first published Director Blatchford’s announcement in  May, 1997 — JCoyne • New Directions On my recent trip to Kenya, Libya and Iran I was often the recipient of warm thanks for the work done by others in the past, coming from government ministers truly grateful for a help hand. But just as often I was asked if we couldn’t somehow provide more people trained in vocational education, agriculture, and business management, for example, than are not available. Everywhere the cry was for mean and women with higher priority skills–who can also work with people–to fill priority development needs. To consider these and other problems I called together a task force of 50 distinguished men and women to examine the Peace Corps in ten specific areas. They came from within and without the Peace Corps, from among former Volunteers, staff and men and women of outstanding ability in private life…I have . . .

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Good Peace Corps news from the Senate (Washington)

Thanks to the heads up from Bill Josephson (PC/HQ 1961-66) Dear John, The Senate unanimously passed on March 13 the Nick Castle Peace Corps Reform Act, S. 2286.  It was introduced in the House on March 14.  Attached is section 1(b), the Table of Contents.  It demonstrates the areas of Congressional concern and, therefore, of Congress’s opinion of the Peace Corps failings. In my 57 years of monitoring Peace Corps legislation, I have never before seen such a wide-ranging list of Congressional concerns, even to the records and monitoring of Peace Corps training attendance.  (I’ve always had anecdotal doubts about overseas training.) The Consolidated Appropriation Act continues the Peace Corps funding level of $410 million.  This makes even more important efforts to ensure that the Peace Corps’ 20 percent staff cuts savings go to enlisting more volunteers. The only provision I regret is the easing of the five year flush.  I feel sure it . . .

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Talking with P. David Searles (Philippines & Peace Corps/HQ)

David Searles’ career has included periods during which he worked in international business, government service and education. After service in the United States Marine Corps (1955-58) Searles worked in consumer goods marketing and in general management positions in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Latin America. His business career was interrupted by a brief stint as a high school teacher (1969-71) and longer periods of service with the Peace Corps (1971-76) and the National Endowment for the Arts (1976-1980).  Searles served three years as the country director for the Peace Corps in the Philippines, and two years at Peace Corps headquarters as a Regional Director for North Africa, Near East, Asia, and Pacific (NANEAP) and as Deputy Director under John Dellenback. Following the end of his business career in 1990 Searles earned a Ph. D. from the university of Kentucky (1993), and published two books: A College For Appalachia (1995) . . .

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Come Celebrate the Life of Roger Landrum (Nigeria)

Come Celebrate the Life of Roger Landrum Roger Landrum, whom many of you have known and enjoyed for decades, passed away at home after a battle with cancer on Dec. 9, 2017. His friends will hold a much-deserved Memorial Service to celebrate his life with our words and his, as well as with music and his photographs. This celebration will be held on  Saturday, June 2, 2018, 12:00pm in Washington, DC. Please save the date. And let us know if you plan to attend. We will follow-up more specific information about location, after we receive your responses. We need to have a proper estimate of numbers of attendants (to confirm an appropriate venue), so please respond as soon as possible. Email: Richard Harrill at: rharrill@email.unc.edu Sincerely, Bill Currier, Richie Harrill, and Norma Brooks

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Remembering the murder of PCV Deborah Gardner (Tonga)

In the late Nineties, shortly after I had taken over the job of manager of the New York Recruitment Office for the Peace Corps, I got a call from a reporter at the New York Observer newspaper. I thought he was calling to ask me about the Peace Corps and to write an article about the agency. Well, in a way he was, but he started by asking if I knew anything about the murder of a young woman in Tonga in 1975. The reporter’s name was Philip Weiss and he didn’t realized he had stumbled on an RPCV who was fascinated by the history of the Peace Corps and obsessively collected PCV stories. Phil Weiss was also obsessed, but by the murder of this PCV in Tongo. In 1978, when he was 22 and backpacking around the world, he had crashed with a Peace Corps Volunteer in Samoa named . . .

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 Finding one’s way into book publishing

They are known infamously as “gate keepers.” The men and women who throughout the long history of publishing make the decision on whether a book gets published. These mysterious editors who control the fate of every would-be writer hide away mostly in New York skyscrapers and decide what is worthy of publication. Or at least that is what most would-be novelists think. Perhaps the most famous editor of all book editors was Maxwell Perkins. Perkins published F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe. They were his first famous writers but he would go onto publish a wide range of novelists, from J.P. Marquand to Erskine Caldwell to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, as well as, late in his editorial career, convince James Jones not to pen an autobiographical novel but write instead From Here to Eternity. You might ask: how did these editors become ‘gate keepers’? Well, they start in the . . .

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