Review — HOT MILK ON MY CORNFLAKES (India)

 

Hot Milk on My Cornflakes: Peace Corps India-33 Remembers, A Collection of Vignette
by Donald Clement (India 1966-68), editor;  and authors: Judy Barille (1966-69), Neal Barille (1966-69), Tom Carter (1965-67), Mike Thorburn (1966-68), Ken French(1966-68), Ruth Kister-Berry (1966-68), Tom McGarry (1966-68), Carol Reichert (1966-68), Katy Peek (1966-68)
Createspace
173 pages
September 2017
$4.95 (Kindle), $29.95 (paperback-color)

Reviewed by Bob Arias (Colombia 1964-66)

DONALD CLEMENT AND THE TEN co-authors of Hot Milk On My Cornflakes, were members of India 33, from 1966-1968 during the biggest movement of Peace Corps Volunteers. Jack Hood Vaughn was the Peace Corps Director at that time. 

In the book I like the memories of getting ready to report for Training before you leave home. Going to Philadelphia for staging where you meet your friends for life, and then leaving for Camp Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands where India 33 Trainees will spend three months. During 1966-1968, I was across the islands in Puerto Rico at Camp Radley as the Language Director. At Camp Radley, whenever we got “island sickness,” we would spend the weekend in the Virgin Islands. Often running into staff from Camp Croix at the airport in San Juan.

Author Clement refers to waiting to find some “chicken plucking handshakes” as he begins his three months of training. Better than summer camp, the Trainees begin early (they still do), lots of language training . . . then it was required that Trainees have an FSI level of a 2 (5 being Native) in order to be approved for placement as a Volunteer. In twelve weeks these highly motivated individuals averaged an FSI 2.5!

I enjoyed how these authors added their moments of Training, site placement, community outreach, and work with their counterparts. This closeness is what carries the Volunteers throughout their two years. India is living and working in Kerala’s State Poultry farms for Clement. He finds that his Peace Corps monthly stipend is more than enough to live on, he even has sufficient funds to hire a full time cook and house boy…who introduces him to a lovely young lady that keeps him company, ”home was never like this!”

In reading this delightful collection of stories, no mention of Lillian Carter, who also served as a Volunteer 1966-1968. Ms Lillian was a Volunteer in Mumbai. Also, no mention of Peace Corps Secondary Projects by the Volunteers in group 33. Secondary Projects add to the depth of a Volunteer.

Donald, any chance you can bring us up to date on the other authors? How did the Peace Corps experience add to the lives they led after they COS’d?

I was very impressed with the details of the train and bus trips, worlds apart from anything most of us have experienced, traveling with a monkey! And especially the vacations in Nepal, very moving and has gotten me to consider a trip to Kathmandu, soon. Hot Milk On My Cornflakes will go with me should I stop off in India. A Sipeah in India?

I wanted to see more of your photos, but they seemed a bit too dark . . . even the Porn in Stone. Your cover is awesome, each Volunteer seems ready to share a story.

And what happened to the dog that swallowed the frog? Did you bring the dog home to the USA Judy? If you do a re-write, add stories of the reunion you had in 2005.

Thanks to all of you for sharing your thoughts, concerns, doubts, and moments of happiness. Peace Corps is still that very special place that stays with us to the last day. Volunteers currently have laptops, tablets, even cell phone. But in the early 60’s, we had book lockers and Time or Newsweek subscriptions. There was a time that PCV’s were issued motorcycles . . . I kid you not!

I recommend that the reader take time to see what Volunteers did in 1966 . . . they are still doing great things! I am proud of Peace Corps!

 

Bob Arias (Colombia 1964-66), third generation Mexican-American from East Los Angeles. He was a CARE Rural Community Development PCV in Colombia 1964-66, and Language Director at Camp Radley in Puerto Rico 1966-1968. He was an Associate Peace Corps Director in Colombia from 1968 to 1973, and Peace Corps Country Director in Uruguay and Argentina from 1993 to 1995. He returned to work at the Peace Corps from 2001 to 2003 assisting in establishing the agency’s Safety and Security Office after 9/11. Now retired from Los Angeles County where he served as the County’s Compliance Officer. Bob served as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer (formerly known as Crisis Corps) since 2009, in Paraguay, Colombia, and now for a second time, in Panamá.

 

 

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