Colombia

1
“Is It Folly to Be Wise” by Janet Mulgannon Del Castillo (Colombia)
2
Review — TIME PASSAGES by Jay Hersch (Colombia)
3
Maureen Orth (Colombia 1964-66) Writes About the Virgin Mary in National Geographic Magazine
4
Return to Piojo by Dana Dahl Seton (Colombia 1963–65)
5
Journey to the Unknown
6
The Call of the Tropics
7
What Program Was The First Peace Corps Project?
8
¿hablas español? If so watch (and listen) to Maureen Orth (Colombia 1964-66)
9
Colombia PCVs Damaged by Juan Gabriel Vasquez novel, The Sound of Things
10
New Colombia PCVs causing trouble already…Good for them!

“Is It Folly to Be Wise” by Janet Mulgannon Del Castillo (Colombia)

  IS IT FOLLY TO BE WISE? by Janet Mulgannon Del Castillo (Colombia 1964–66) A GREAT ADVANTAGE OF BEING YOUNG is that one has no fear. Young adults are so devoid of knowledge and life experience that they have no concept of failure. I was 19 years old when I went to Colombia, South America, to save the world. I was in the Peace Corps and President Kennedy’s words rang in my ears. “Ask not what your country can do for you — but what you can do for your country!” There I was, in the tiny town of Buena Vista, enlightening the villagers on what latrines were for, how to construct them, and how to use them. The irony was that I had had little knowledge of where water came from or how toilets even flushed before I arrived. But I sure knew how to build a latrine! One sweltering morning . . .

Read More

Review — TIME PASSAGES by Jay Hersch (Colombia)

Time Passages (Peace Corps memoir) Jay Hersch (Colombia 1964–66) A Peace Corps Writers Book October 2015 102 pages $7.99 (paperback), $2.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by Ralph Bates (Colombia 1964–66) . This review was first published in the Winter 2016 issue of Friends of Colombia: Newsletter of the Colombia RPCVs • It isn’t often that a person gets to see paths in his or her life intimately interwoven in the journey of another  — in my case it is the journey of a dear friend. The author of that journey is Jay Hersch and his story is told in his entertaining book Time Passages. Jay and I go back to dormitory days at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1960. We didn’t know each other well, but Jay told me a few years later that he voted for me for Student Senate. Probably that revelation when we met, quite by surprise and . . .

Read More

Maureen Orth (Colombia 1964-66) Writes About the Virgin Mary in National Geographic Magazine

In its December 2015 issue National Geographic carries a cover story by Maureen Orth (Colombia 1964-66) that calls the Virgin Mary, “the most powerful woman in the world”. Award-winning journalist Orth, also a special correspondent for Vanity Fair, has been wandering the world and telling unexpected stories since her days as a PCV. In this article, she has taken a journey through some of the most famous Marian apparitions (including the alleged apparitions of Medjugorje) while mixing the stories of those who benefit from such intercession of the Virgin Mary as well as the process followed by the Church to recognize the supernatural occurrences or not. At one point in the article, Orth also includes a brief reference to the role of Mary in Islam because, although it is little known in the Muslim world, there is also a reverence for whom they also considered the holiest woman: Mary. You can read the whole story here: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2015/12/virgin-mary-text

Read More

Return to Piojo by Dana Dahl Seton (Colombia 1963–65)

Dana was one of the first RPCVs to donate her Peace Corps papers to the Friends of Colombia Peace Corps Archive at American University.  When she returned to Piojo in 2008, she wrote the following essay about her experience.  It, too was donated to FOC Archives at AU.  We print it here through the courtesy of American University. Dana sadly lost her courageous battle with cancer last week. • Return to Piojo by Dana Dahl Seton (Colombia 1963–65) Two events in 2007 conspired to help me realize a 43-year old dream of returning to my beloved Peace Corps site of Piojo, Colombia, in the department of Atlantico on the northwest coast. The first was finding an envelope on my hallway floor postmarked 1973 and bearing the return address of a Colombian family with whom I had lost contact later in the decade. The second was receiving news from the organization . . .

Read More

Journey to the Unknown

On board Avianca flight #98, I’m headed to Bogotá and then Barranquilla. The map on the screen on the seat back in front of me indicates we are over the desert of northern Chile – in spectacular flower. I’m in a state of disbelief. Returning to Barranquilla after 48 years. When I was 23 or 24. I feel I’m returning to my past. Diaphanous clouds of memories drift in my head, of other flights, landscapes and faces of people I knew then: barrio friends, boyfriends. It will all be changed now. Google maps and Streets reveal my old barrio, once a shanty town- invasion barrio, now looks more solid. Some streets are paved! Will they have running water now? Indoor toilets? Will I locate my friends Petra, Fidelia, Dominga’s daughter or my godson Jose? And I have changed, now a white-haired grandmother. Will they recognize me? This is a journey . . .

Read More

The Call of the Tropics

I’ve done it. Reserved a flight for Barranquilla, Colombia in three weeks time. It’s been a long-time wish of mine to return to the barrios in Barranquilla where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Fifty years have passed, yet the imprint left by those experiences and those people continues strong. A formal invitation in Spanish arrived by email announcing a ceremony commemorating a total of twenty-five years of Peace Corps service in Colombia. Not twenty-five consecutive years as for many years as it was considered unsafe to send volunteers there. I’ve been filled with apprehension while taking this decision. Browsing Internet I learn the new reality of the city and the barrios of Las Américas and Santuario. They have changed drastically. Some roads are now paved and shacks have become solidly-built, though still humble, homes. These began as invasion barrios, shanty towns with no plan or organization. I once . . .

Read More

What Program Was The First Peace Corps Project?

If you ever run into any RPCV from Colombia One, the first thing he’ll say (they were all guys) before giving you their name is: “We were first.” Colombia One PCVs are obsessed with this fact and that they are not given their proper pecking order. Recently my friend Ron Schwarz (Colombia 1961-63), wrote this piece on why THEY were the first PCVs, not Ghana. I asked the Director of the Peace Corps to check on this obscure (but important) fact. She was nice enough to come back with this information and statement from the agency’s General Counsel Office and the  Office of Strategic Information, Research and Planning. Start dates for the early programs of the Peace Corps were corroborated and/or updated based on detailed research and analysis conducted by our Office of Strategic Information, Research and Planning on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps. Ghana . . .

Read More

¿hablas español? If so watch (and listen) to Maureen Orth (Colombia 1964-66)

Maureen Orth (Colombia 1964-66) was featured on Colombia’s version of Sixty Minutes on June 1st. Congressman Sam Farr (Colombia 1964-66) is also on the segment as well as images of other early PCVs in country. Here is the link to the program: http://losinformantes.noticiascaracol.com/ As a PCV, Maureen, with the help from coffee growers, established a school in Medellin, Colombia. A decade or so ago, she returned to Colombia and created the Marina Orth Foundation which has established a model education program emphasizing Technology, English and leadership in Colombia. Today, Maureen is a Special Correspondent for Vanity Fair magazine. She is also the author of  Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U.S. History and The Importance of Being Famous, a collection of her pieces from Vanity Fair articles with updates and commentary.

Read More

Colombia PCVs Damaged by Juan Gabriel Vasquez novel, The Sound of Things

Dennis Grubb (Colombia 1961-62) keeper of “all things RPCV Colombia” sent me this email from Jeremiah Norris (Colombia 1961-62) concerning Juan Gabriel Vasquez’s novel, The Sound of Things. In his email to Dennis, Jeremiah wrote: I’m sure you are aware of this book, The Sound of Things Falling, by South America’s newest literary star, Juan Gabriel Vasquez.  A central narrative theme is that PC ag volunteers in the Cauca Valley, under the supervision of a Regional Coordinator, were the originators of Colombia’ drug trade with the U. S. His narrative which was limited to a few volunteers has now been conflated by Amazon.com reviewers, via an insatiable social media mechanism, to be applied to Peace Corps as an institution. Some examples: 1. NPR Book Reviewer, “it is about Peace Corps hippies doing drugs”; 2. “I had no idea Peace Corps was so integral in the growth of Colombia’s drug industry”; 3. “Maybe it started . . .

Read More

New Colombia PCVs causing trouble already…Good for them!

I was forwarded the very fine first edition of the PCV newsletter out of Colombia. New PCVs arrived there a couple months ago. It is called ¿¡Oíste?! In it is a short article I thought was worth reprinting for all of you. It was written by Chance Dorland (great name) about posting a PodCast using the secret name “Peace Corps.” Here’s what Chance Dorland had to say. The message: Beware of using the “Peace Corps” name for online media, even if you get permission in advance. • As a write this, I’m still brain-storming ways to inform people my website has changed. “PeaceCorpsPodCast.com” was easy to remember and straight to the point: it’s a web-site about a podcast I record while in the Peace Corps. Unfortunately, as one staff member told me, “your website is a victim of its own success.” This all is an example of the power Peace Corps has on hand to . . .

Read More

Copyright © 2016. Peace Corps Worldwide.