China

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Talking China with Michael Meyer
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Michael Meyer’s (China) new book coming In October
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Famous RPCV Journalists: The China Gang
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Talking with Rob Schmitz (China), author of STREET OF ETERNAL HAPPINESS
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Review — STREET OF ETERNAL HAPPINESS by Rob Schmitz (China)
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Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) "An American Hero in China"
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Mike Meyer (China 1995-97) Speaking in Washington, D.C. Monday, March 30th
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Review of In Manchuria by Michael Meyer (China 1995-97)
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Talking to Michael Meyer (China 1995-97)
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Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) Goes Home

Talking China with Michael Meyer

   In the March/April issue of The Writer’s Chronicle I published this interview with Michael Meyer (China 1995-97) about his China books. Michael is one of what I call the “China Gang” who in the late ’90s went to China with the first groups of PCVs and wrote books about their host country. The RPCVs are, besides Meyer, Craig Simons (China 1996-98), Rob Schmitz (China 1996-98), and Peter Hessler (China 1996-98). — John Coyne   Michael Meyer is a recipient of the Whiting Writers Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar award, and a two-time winner of a Lowell Thomas Award for travel writing. His stories have appeared in The New York Times, Time, Smithsonian, Slate, the Financial Times and [on] This American Life. He has also had residencies at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers and the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Italy. He is a current fellow . . .

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Michael Meyer’s (China) new book coming In October

  In 1995, at the age of twenty-three, Michael Meyer, after rejecting offers to go to seven other countries, was selected for the new China program and sent to a tiny town in Sichuan, China. Going there, he wrote Chinese words up and down his arms so he could hold conversations, and per a Communist dean’s orders, jumped into explaining to his students the Enlightenment, the stock market, and Beatles lyrics. Thus began his impassioned immersion into Chinese life. Michael has spent most of the last twenty years living and working on China’s urban and rural halves, learning to understand its people, culture, and conflicts as very few from the West ever have. His new book The Road to Sleeping Dragon chronicles the journey that he made to understand China. As he has done with his other books, Michael puts readers in his novice shoes, introducing them to a fascinating cast . . .

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Famous RPCV Journalists: The China Gang

Although the Peace Corps has given a start to many well-known writers—Paul Theroux, Maria Thomas, Philip Margolin, Bob Shacochis, among them—it has fostered relatively few journalists and editors. One of the first journalist was Al Kamen, a Volunteer in the Dominican Republic during the early 1960s.Recently retired after 35 years at the Washington Post, Kamen wrote a column, “In the Loop,” and also covered the State Department and local and federal courts. He assisted his Post colleague Bob Woodward with reporting for The Final Days and The Brethren. Other Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) of the 1960s who became well-known journalists include Vanity Fair’s special correspondent Maureen Orth, an urban community development volunteer in Colombia, and one of the first women writers at Newsweek, and MSNBC HardBall host Chris Matthews, who served in Swaziland. There are more, of course, with that kind of media power who went into film and the arts . . .

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Talking with Rob Schmitz (China), author of STREET OF ETERNAL HAPPINESS

ROB SCHMITZ (China 1996-98) is the China correspondent for American Public Media’s Marketplace, the largest business news program in the U.S. with more than 12 million listeners a week. He has reported on a range of topics illustrating China’s role in the global economy, including trade, politics, the environment, education, and labor. In 2012, Schmitz exposed fabrications in Mike Daisey’s account of Apple’s Chinese supply chain on “This American Life,” and his report headlined that show’s much-discussed “Retraction” episode. The work was a finalist for the 2012 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award. He has won two national Edward R. Murrow Awards and an award from the Education Writers Association for his reporting on China. Click to hear His Rob’s “Marketplace” stories. We emailed each other over the course of a few weeks for this interview, and I was helped with questions from a press releases from Crown Publishing about Rob’s new book . . .

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Review — STREET OF ETERNAL HAPPINESS by Rob Schmitz (China)

  Street of Eternal Happiness: Big City Dreams Along a Shanghai Road by Rob Schmitz (China 1996–98) Crown May 2016 336 pages $28.00 (paperback), $13.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by Peter Van Deekle (Iran 1968-70)  • How can any Westerner comprehend much less understand the complexities of modern China?  With its vast landmass and diverse populations, its centuries-long dynasties, imposed isolation from the world, and its dynamic political and financial emergence, China represents the ultimate challenge for modern international relations. So, what prospects can an American have for beginning to grasp the conflicting and converging elements of modern China? While these prospects may face any American, Peace Corps service (begun toward the end of the Twentieth Century in China — 1993) offers among the broadest and deepest opportunities for meaningful understanding of China’s ancient traditions and incredibly rapid growth and change today. Rob Schmitz accepted his Peace Corps assignment to China in 1996, and served there for . . .

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Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) "An American Hero in China"

The May 7, 2015 issue of The New York Review of Books carries an essay entitled, “An American Hero in China” that is all about Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) and states how “In China he (Hessler) has been transformed into a writer of cult-figure proportions whose fans analyze his love life, his translator’s finances, and his children’s education.” This essay was written by Ian Johnson, author of ten books, including Travels in Siberia. His connection to Peter is that in 1999 he hired Hessler to be a researcher in the Beijing bureau of The Wall Street Journal. He writes that “he (Peter) had already spent two years in the small Chinese city of Fuling as an English instructor at a teachers’ college.” Hello, Ian, Peter was in the Peace Corps! In this long, long piece in the NY Review of Books, Johnson never once mentions Helller’s Peace Corps connection. I . . .

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Mike Meyer (China 1995-97) Speaking in Washington, D.C. Monday, March 30th

IN MANCHURIA: DOCUMENTING A CHANGING CHINA EVENT | MARCH 30, 2015 New American Fellows In Manchuria: Documenting a Changing China Monday, March 30, 2015 12:15 PM – 01:45 PM 1899 L Street NW, Suite 400 Washington, DC 20036 RSVP Amidst news of the globalization and booming populations in China, the story of the country’s rampant development and fast-paced change often centers on the evolution of its cities. But that’s only part of the story. Nearly half of China’s massive population-about 700 million people-still resides in rural areas, and life in the village has not been insulated from the seismic shifts reverberating from the urban centers. In his new book In Manchuria: A Village Called Wasteland and the Transformation of Rural China, author Michael Meyer chronicles three years he spent in a small rice-growing town in China’s legendary northeast territory. And the saga he tells is one that mirrors drastic change sweeping through many . . .

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Review of In Manchuria by Michael Meyer (China 1995-97)

In Manchuria: A Village Called Wasteland and the Transformation of Rural China by Michael Meyer (China 1995-97) Bloomsbury Press, $28.00 365 pages 2015 Reviewed by Arnold Zeitlin (Ghana 1961-63) Foreigners, especially Americans, living for a spell in China, often are overcome with an irresistible urge to explain China and the Chinese to their countrymen, especially Americans, who may ask a question about how much of a threat China is, then nod politely and change the subject to the latest baseball scores. Many of these same foreigners, especially Americans, after their first year of living among the Chinese, enthusiastically conclude, “why they are just like us.” Then, a year later, they conclude, “they are not like us at all.” Among the latest Americans to tell us about the Chinese is Michael Meyer. He is a writer who first went to China in 1995 as a member of the Peace Corps to . . .

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Talking to Michael Meyer (China 1995-97)

Michael Meyer received a Whiting Writers’ Award for nonfiction after publishing his first book, The Last Days of Old Beijing: Life in the Vanishing Backstreets of a City Transformed. He has also held a Guggenheim Fellowship.  His stories have appeared in Time, The New York Times, Smithsonian, Sports Illustrated, Slate, the Financial Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and on “This American Life.” In Manchuria: A Village Called Wasteland and the Transformation of Rural China has just been published by Bloomsbury Press. Today, Michael teaches nonfiction writing at the University of Pittsburgh and spends his free semesters in Singapore. I recently interviewed Mike about his career, China, and his books. • Mike, where did you serve as a PCV and when? Peace Corps China 2; 1995-1997. . Q. Now you stayed on in China . . . was this so you could write Last Days? No, post-Corps, I moved to Beijing in 1997 . . .

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Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) Goes Home

In the current issue of The New Yorker (March 9, 2015) there is an absolutely wonderful and long piece by Peter Hessler on his return to China for a book tour last September. It is entitled “Travels With My Censor” and focuses on changing censorship in-country, but this piece really is much more than that. Peter spent a total of 11 years in China, first as a college teacher in Fuling, later as a journalist, and then later still to research and write his three books on China. Today, Peter and his family live in Cairo and he is a staff writer for The New Yorker. His latest book is Strange Stones: Dispatches from East and West. His Peace Corps memoir, and first book, is entitled River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze. Read it. The book is one of the best memoirs of the Peace Corps experience to come . . .

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