Short Works by PC Writers

Short works by RPCVs that do not reference the Peace Corps experience.

1
A Writer Writes: “House of Flowers” — A short story by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay)
2
Fifth Prize Peace Corps Fund Award: “The Stories We Tell” by GraceAnne Heater (Rwanda)
3
Fourth Prize Peace Corps Fund Award: Peace Corps Poems by Earl Huband (Oman)
4
Second Prize Peace Corps Fund Awards: “Samarkand Calling” by Beatrice Hogan (Uzbekistan)
5
“Disillusionment in the Delta” by William Seraile (Ethiopia)
6
“America’s Deaf Team Tackles Identity Politics at Gallaudet University” by Matthew Davis (Mongolia)
7
“Gentle Thunder” by Julie R. Dargis (Morocco)
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One PCV’s Story (Afghanistan)
9
“Late Night Conversations with e.e. cummings” by Tony Zurlo (Nigeria)
10
“Pay The Price” by Robert Gribbin (Kenya)

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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Fifth Prize Peace Corps Fund Award: “The Stories We Tell” by GraceAnne Heater (Rwanda)

  GraceAnne Heater (Rwanda 2014-16) served in Peace Corps Rwanda as an ESL high school teacher. She has won many contests, including a pie eating contest at age 10, a cow milking contest at age 17, and a peeps diorama competition at age 28. She is an avid reader and a passionate but undisciplined writer. She currently resides in Philadelphia with her husband and their adopted Rwandan cat.       • The Stories We Tell by GraceAnne Heater   MURUNDA, MY VILLAGE, was in the only district in Rwanda without a paved road. It was remote, poor, and nearly inaccessible during the rainy season. It was an hour and a half away from the main road, a motorcycle ride that stopped my heart and took my breath, nothing but steep mountains, sharp curves, uneven roads, and views of Lake Kivu with the DRC looming in the distance. Murunda was home . . .

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Fourth Prize Peace Corps Fund Award: Peace Corps Poems by Earl Huband (Oman)

  Earl Huband (Oman 1975-78) worked for the Oman Ministry of Education. During his first two years, Earl taught 1st – 6th year English 4th–9th grade) in Bukha, a small Musandam fishing village in the northern part of Oman, near the mouth of the Persian Gulf. During his third year, Earl worked in Salalah, the capital of Oman’s southern district, splitting his time between teaching English and serving as assistant to that region’s Chief English Inspector. The following are a few of the 28 poems he submitted. • The Journey from the Interior Airborne over the Batinah plain, we skirt the coast en route to Bukha, a small Musandam fishing village near the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Arabian — not Persian — Gulf: these Arabs never say Persian. This Sky Van, this bumblebee of planes, this flying buzzsaw bears the number nine — one — one emblazoned . . .

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Second Prize Peace Corps Fund Awards: “Samarkand Calling” by Beatrice Hogan (Uzbekistan)

  Beatrice Hogan served in the first group of Peace Corps Volunteers in Uzbekistan (1992-94), and in 2001, returned to the region as an International Reporting Project (IRP) Fellow. She’s worked as a book editor, a radio reporter, and a magazine researcher, and her work has appeared in More, Business 2.0 and Marie Claire, among other publications. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Georgetown and a master’s in international affairs from Columbia. • Samarkand Calling WE WERE IN UZBEKISTAN, heading for Bukhara, an historic city about four hours outside Samarkand, when a soldier flagged down our car with a white baton. My husband and I stared at each other nervously as our driver pulled into the checkpoint. I was in Central Asia on a month-long journalism fellowship; Kevin had come along as my photographer. The soldier demanded our passports and disappeared into a roadside shack. I realized that . . .

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“Disillusionment in the Delta” by William Seraile (Ethiopia)

After his Peace Corps service in Ethiopia, William Seraile returned home to earn his masters in ’67 from the Teachers College at Columbia, and a doctorate in American history from the City University of New York in 1977. Now a professor emeritus — after 36 years teaching African American history at Lehman College, CUNY in the Bronx  — Bill lives in New York, and is the father of two and grandfather of four. In a 3-part review published on this site in 2016 of  The Fortunate Few: IVS Volunteers from Asia to the Andes  written by Thierry J. Sagnier (2015), I wrote about Seraile and other RPCVs (33) and Peace Corps Staff (15) who joined the International Voluntary Services (IVS) and went to Vietnam, and I wrote about the four IVS veterans who went from IVS into the Peace Corps. What follows is Bill Seraile’s account of his Vietnam experience. — JC • Disillusionment . . .

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“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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“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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One PCV’s Story (Afghanistan)

  Baktash Ahadi was born in Kabul in 1981. His family had to flee during the Soviet Invasion in 1984. After spending over a year and half in Pakistan between refugee camps and makeshift homes, his family was given asylum in the United States and started their new life in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Baktash started his career as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mozambique from 2005 to 2007. He then went into management consulting with Booz Allen Hamilton before serving as a military translator in Afghanistan for three years. His experience not only brought him closer to his roots, but also instilled a sense of responsibility to educate others on the realities on the ground in Afghanistan. Baktash joined FRAME BY FRAME as an ambassador for that same reason — to shed light on the country’s complexities through human stories. Here is RPCV Baktash Ahadi’s story. — JC     MY STORY . . .

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“Late Night Conversations with e.e. cummings” by Tony Zurlo (Nigeria)

  After six years in retirement contemplating the “Whys” of life, Tony Zurlo (Nigeria 1965-66) has concluded that all the corrupting temptations of 75 years have failed to change him.  He has been honest enough in life to fend off wealth and fame. However, realizing his lack of genius and talent, Tony has achieved just enough in writing and education that he appreciates how remarkable but incomprehensible life is. So in old age, Tony scribbles a poem, now and then, and with great effort plays a tune or two on the saxophone hoping to back up Chuck Berry or Ray Charles in the great hereafter. • Late Night Conversations with e.e. cummings by Tony Zurlo   life is “puddle-wonderful,” e. e., even when city showers linger, we can make up nonsense games, after school in the autumn fog and ignore salespitches for wireless typing machines that double as phones. truth, . . .

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“Pay The Price” by Robert Gribbin (Kenya)

  Pay the Price by Robert Gribbin (Kenya 1968–70) • I WATCHED HIS TWO BROWN FINGERS thump against my arm. “Aha,” he muttered under his breath, then I saw the needle poised slowly before it plunged into the vein. Has it come to this? I thought morosely as I slipped away into somnolence while my blood dripped into the bag. Shortly, I awoke with a start to find Mamadou grinning down at me. “Okay, Jimmie,” he grimaced, “all done.” “You rest until dark, then go. Arrangements are in place. You’ll be safe.” I nodded assent. I was indeed ready to go.   TWO AND A HALF YEARS in Sierra Leone was more than enough. I had dawdled and procrastinated, found myself bound by slippery ties to a place that I didn’t really like and to a culture that I could not fathom. Yet that is partly why I stayed to try . . .

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