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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)
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Luncheon in Celebration and Remembrance of Mary Ann Orlando
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Review — EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR THE BEST by Philip R. Mitchell (Ecuador)
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Meet the “Impact” Woman at the NPCA….Juliana Essen (Thailand)
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Peace Corps Office of the Inspector General -Semiannual Report to Congress
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Paul Theroux’s Peace Corps Prose (Malawi)
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Harris Wofford: The Key to John F. Kennedy’s Presidential Victory
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“Nebaj Notes: Revisiting Peace Corps Guatemala” by Taylor Dibbert (Guatemala)

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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Luncheon in Celebration and Remembrance of Mary Ann Orlando

In Washington, D.C. today, June 2, at the Dacor House there is a special luncheon being held in celebration and remembrance of Mary Ann Orlando, the legendary personal assistant of Sargent Shriver who died on April 19, 2017, in Chevy Chase, Maryland. When Sargent Shriver moved from Chicago, Illinois to Washington, D.C. and became the Director of the Peace Corps he brought only one person with him, and that was Mary Ann Orlando. Mary Ann was born and raised in Chicago and went to work in 1946 at the Chicago Merchandise Mart. In 1948 Shriver took charge of the Mart, owned by his father-in-law, and Mary Ann became his secretary. At the start of the Peace Corps in 1961, she had already worked for Sarge for 13 years. Her title was Confidential Assistant to the Director. Mary Ann would go with Shriver to OEO, and later with him to his private . . .

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Review — EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR THE BEST by Philip R. Mitchell (Ecuador)

  Everything Happens For The Best: A Cross-Cultural Romance During the Early Years of the Peace Corps by Philip R. Mitchell (El Salvador 1964–66) Page Publishing February 2017 $22.12 (paperback), $36.95 (hardcover), $9.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by Bob Criso (Nigeria 1966-7, Somalia 1967–68) • THIS MEMOIR OPENS with Peace Corps Volunteer Philip R. Mitchell returning to his home one night in Bahia, Ecuador when he realizes he is being followed by Leonardo, a disruptive student he kicked out of class earlier in the year. Leonardo, furious at the time, threatened to kill him. Another student informed Mitchell that Leonardo’s older brother had recently been released from prison. Later on, we learn that Leonardo’s mother is a local prostitute whose services Mitchell has utilized. Mitchell takes out his pocket knife, opens the blade and prepares for an attack, but we have to wait until the end of this four hundred and twenty-eight page book to . . .

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Meet the “Impact” Woman at the NPCA….Juliana Essen (Thailand)

As Chief Impact Officer, Juliana Essen strives to heighten NPCA’s capacity as a social impact organization in an integrated and comprehensive way. Her key responsibilities include strengthening strategic thinking and evidence-based decision making; stimulating an environment of learning and improvement; prioritizing communications as a primary vehicle of impact; supporting membership, development, and revenue-generating efforts; building collaborative relationships within and beyond the Peace Corps community; and developing NPCA’s third strategic goal: amplifying the Peace Corps community’s global development impact. Before joining NPCA, Juliana enjoyed a first career in academia. She earned a PhD in cultural anthropology specializing in sustainable development and spent 12 years teaching at a small, private liberal arts college in southern California. In 2015, Juliana left academia for the social impact sector where she could more fully engage her values. She completed a professional degree in social enterprise and launched her new career as Operations Director at Tandana . . .

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Peace Corps Office of the Inspector General -Semiannual Report to Congress

The Peace Corps Office of the Inspector General reports to Congress twice a year. Here is the link to the latest report from the OIG to Congress.  It is of interest because it describes the trial and outcome regarding the  murder of Kate Puzey.  The section dealing with that report is printed here. The OIG also is charged with various audits.  In this report, there is the evaluation of programs in China and Georgia. Semiannual Report to Congress October 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017 https://s3.amazonaws.com/files.peacecorps.gov/documents/inspector-general/OIG_Semiannual_Report_to_Congress_Oct_2016_-_March_2017.pdf  Here is the section describing the investigation into the murder of Kate Puzey (page 24) “The U.S. Government has been assisting the Government of Benin with the ongoing investigation into Ms. Puzey’s death since 2009. Peace Corps OIG’s initial involvement in the case focused on the circumstances surrounding the related disclosure of confidential information, including the role of agency staff and contractors. Subsequently, OIG . . .

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Paul Theroux’s Peace Corps Prose (Malawi)

Paul Theroux’s novel, The Lower River is his most direct use of his Peace Corps experience. Paul’s first three novels: Waldo, Fong and the Indians, and Girls at Play all were East Africa based, but not about the Peace Corps. Girls at Play, set at a girls’ school in western Kenya, has a ‘Peace Corps character,’ and unhappy, Midwest woman. I believe this is the first use of a ‘Peace Corps character’ in a work of fiction. (Mary-Ann Tyrone Smith’s (Cameroon 1965-67) Lament for a Silver-Eyed Woman published in 1987, is the first novel about a Peace Corps Volunteers.) In his collection of nonfiction pieces, Sunrise with Seamonsters (1986), Paul republished a few of his essays that focused on the agency and Africa, and how he was kicked out of the Peace Corps. Theroux wrote a wonderful ‘peace corps’ short story “White Lies” first published in Playboy in 1979. I republished . . .

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Harris Wofford: The Key to John F. Kennedy’s Presidential Victory

Tonight’s CNN program entitled  “Race for the White House” captures the drama of how a high-stakes presidential election can turn on a single issue. The issue involved Harris Wofford who created our Peace Corps with Sargent Shriver but before that ‘saved’ the presidential campaign of JFK with one phone call. If you saw the Monday night CNN program you saw how Martin Luther King was arrested in October 1960 and Coretta King called Harris Wofford, a friend, and asked for his help.  King had been arrested and sentenced by a Georgia judge to four months of hard labor for driving with an out-of-state license. Coretta was afraid that her husband would be killed and she asked Wofford, then working on the Kennedy campaign for the presidency, for his help. As the CNN program details, and as Wofford described in his book, Of Kennedys and Kings, he called Shriver in Chicago . . .

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“Nebaj Notes: Revisiting Peace Corps Guatemala” by Taylor Dibbert (Guatemala)

  Nebaj Notes: Revisiting Peace Corps Guatemala Taylor Dibbert (Guatemala 2006–08) — freelance writer • I RECENTLY DID ONE OF THOSE “security clearance” interviews. A friend of mine listed me as a reference; he had applied for a job with a certain U.S. government agency. I’d never done an interview like this. Minutes into the conversation, I’m reminded that I know a lot about this guy (the person whose background is being ‘checked’), which really shouldn’t come as a surprise. I’ve known this person since 2006; we lived in the same rural town in Guatemala – Nebaj – for two years. We were Peace Corps volunteers. The Peace Corps is an awesome journey. Yet it’s not something that one does alone. Lasting friendships are cultivated during those highs and lows. And some of the strongest relationships are formed in one’s “site.” In our case, rather uniquely, one of the members of our Nebaj . . .

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