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LETTER FROM ECUADOR
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“We’ll Meet Again” (PBS)
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“GO OUT AND GET IN THE MIDDLE OF THINGS” Moritz Thomsen (Ecuador)
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Review — DREAM OF ANOTHER AMERICA by Tyler McMahon (El Salvador)
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Review — A SILHOUETTE OF LIBERIA by Michael Lee (Liberia)
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Globetrotting for Good with Next Step Travel and the NPCA
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Jimmy Kimmel, PCV
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Review — WHY TRAVEL MATTERS by Craig Storti (Morocco)
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Many fans, friends and family of Jody Olsen attend her swearing-in at the Peace Corps Office
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Review of Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit by Chris Matthews (Swaziland)

LETTER FROM ECUADOR

  Moritz Thomsen died in Guayaquil, Ecuador, on August 28, 1991. The official cause of death was listed as coronary thrombosis, but Thomsen had come down with cholera about two weeks before his death. He refused to go to a hospital and, during the last forty-eight hours, refused any and all treatment. After his death, his close and good friend, Mary Ellen Fieweger wrote about Moritz Thomsen and his final days. The following is an excerpt from her letter to a friend of Moritz’s  in California. It is reprinted here with the author’s permission. First published in RPCV WRITERS & READERS in March 1992 His body was cremated, a wish he expressed a number of times over the years. This took place at the only mortuary concern in Guayaquil offering that particular service, Los Jardines de Esperanza, at the southern edges of the port city. To get to the Gardens . . .

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“We’ll Meet Again” (PBS)

  Thanks to the “heads up” from Jane Albritton (India 1967-69) — JCoyne • I wonder whether someone might be able to help me. I am writing from Blink Films, the producers of the PBS documentary series “We’ll Meet Again” with Ann Curry.    We’ll Meet Again | PBS www.pbs.org Join Ann Curry for a new series featuring dramatic reunions of people whose lives crossed at pivotal moments. View history through their eyes and hear stories of heroism, hope and the forging of unbreakable bonds.   “We’ll Meet Again” explores significant historic events that have shaped America and its citizens — told not from the point of view of world leaders, but through the eyes of ordinary people who experienced them directly. Our first season has recently broadcast on PBS, featuring watershed events such as WWII, the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement. Each episode introduces us to two individuals . . .

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“GO OUT AND GET IN THE MIDDLE OF THINGS” Moritz Thomsen (Ecuador)

  GO OUT AND GET IN THE MIDDLE OF THINGS In the late 1970s Craig Storti (Morocco 1970-72) carried on a brief correspondence with Moritz Thomsen (Ecuador 1965-67), living in Ecuador, where he would die in 1991. Thomsen, the author off Living Poor: A Peace Corps Chronicle, one of the classic Peace Corps books, and two other nonfiction accounts of life in Latin America, The Farm on the River of Emeralds, and The Saddest Pleasure: A Journey on Two Rivers, was a man of outrageous opinions—most of which were smart and funny and blunt. He was (and is) the literary patron saint of more than one would-be Peace Corps writer. In these excerpts from letters to Storti, Moritz gives advice about writing, writers, and the writing life.  First published in RPCV WRITERS & READERS in May 1995 •   19 March 1978 Dear Craig: Thanks very much for your nice . . .

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Review — DREAM OF ANOTHER AMERICA by Tyler McMahon (El Salvador)

    Dream of Another America by Tyler McMahon (El Salvador 1999-02) Gival Press February 2018 373 pages $20.00 (paperback), $9.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by Clifford Garstang (South Korea 1976-77) • WITH THE EXCEPTION, perhaps, of Peace Corps Volunteers, most Americans have little understanding of the hardships faced by the poor in developing and underdeveloped countries. Without that understanding, it is easy to demonize those who choose to come to the United States—often illegally—in search of a better future. Certainly President Trump has taken that route, even raising the possibility of deploying troops along the border with Mexico to stop migrants, despite the absence of evidence that there is a growing immigrant threat. Clearly a gap exists between reality and the fear-mongering of some of our political leaders. Dream of Another America by Tyler McMahon (El Salvador 1999-02) may help fill that gap. In this gripping novel, McMahon introduces us to . . .

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Review — A SILHOUETTE OF LIBERIA by Michael Lee (Liberia)

  A Silhouette of Liberia — Photographs: 1974-1977 by Michael H.  Lee (Liberia 1974–76) Michael H. Lee August 2017 136 pages $59.99 (hardcover)   Reviewed by: Danielle Yoder (Panama 2012-2014) • A Silhouette of Liberia Photographs: 1974–1977 exhibits beautiful photography of Liberia’s landscape, architecture and people from a time when very little has been preserved. Mr. Lee walks us through his experience living, serving and working in Liberia. Through his lens he is able to capture what one might see in an ordinary day in Liberia, as well as intimate settings such as illusive secret societies and their traditions. Mr. Lee begins by providing some history of the country that informs both the conditions of the photographs shown from the mid-70s and also alludes to the impending civil war period. These shots show mostly friendly faces as well as typical living conditions and hardships born by denizens. I was surprised how . . .

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Globetrotting for Good with Next Step Travel and the NPCA

  Let me recommend the National Peace Corps Association’s Next Step Travel program. I was on the first trip to Cuba this program had, and let me tell you, if you want to travel with anyone, you want to travel with RPCVs. RPCVs “get it” — especially when traveling to places like Cuba, Colombia, or anywhere else the NPCA goes. You can’t surprise RPCVs with what is waiting once they debark. I had a terrific time in Cuba, as I am sure all of our small group did, even though we had some of the usual incidents you’d expect touring a (still) developing country. (Like, make sure you bring toilet paper with you when leaving the hotel!) Plus, traveling with RPCVs,  you have the opportunity to share those familiar tales that always begin, “One time when I was in  _____ (fill in your site). Next Step Travel/NPCA is well worth the . . .

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Jimmy Kimmel, PCV

  Thanks to a ‘heads up’ from David Jarmul who writes Not Exactly Retired — JCoyne •   Jimmy Kimmel, PCV by djarmul Should Jimmy Kimmel join the Peace Corps? That’s what Rep. Joe Kennedy III jokingly encouraged on Wednesday when he appeared as a guest on the comedian’s late-night show. The exchange was light-hearted but highlighted how little many Americans know about the Peace Corps, and how even fewer regard it as something they might do themselves. Kimmel opened by asking Kennedy about his famous relatives, then switched to his volunteer service in the Dominican Republic. “What goes on in the Peace Corps?” Kimmel asked with a smile. “Do they come to your house and they take you to another country?” “No, you actually have to get on a plane,” replied Kennedy. “That’s the ‘volunteer’ part.” The Massachusetts Democrat went on to describe the Peace Corps as “an organization close to my heart [that] . . .

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Review — WHY TRAVEL MATTERS by Craig Storti (Morocco)

  Why Travel Matters: A Guide to the Life-Changing Effects of Travel by Craig Storti (Morocco 1970- 72) Nicholas Brealey Publisher April, 2018 202 pages $24.95 (hardcover), $13.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962-64) • Most RPCV think of themselves as seasoned travelers. (Well, maybe only me.) Still, after my first trip anywhere in 1962 as a PCV to Ethiopia, I did travel to Europe, lived for several months on one of the Balearic Islands and later spent ten months hitch hiking through twenty-seven countries in Africa. After that, as a travel writer for Travel & Leisure, Diversion, and LuxuryWeb Magazine, I went in 1979 to China, and on dozens of assignments to Europe, Central America, and Brazil. Recently I was on the first NPCA tour to Cuba. I like to think of myself as someone who knows his way around the world. Or, at least as I boast, “I . . .

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Many fans, friends and family of Jody Olsen attend her swearing-in at the Peace Corps Office

On March 30, 2018, Dr. Josephine (Jody) Olsen took the oath of office to become the 20thDirector of the Peace Corps. The oath was administered by Acting Director of Human Resource Management Tina Williams. Jody was accompanied by her daughter Kirsten Andersen.  Olsen has previously served the agency in various capacities, including as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tunisia from 1966-1968.

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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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