Venezuela

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“The Non-Matrixed Wife” by Susan O’Neill (Venezuela)
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Review: VENEZUELA SOJOURN by Jon C. Halter (Venezuela)
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Review— DEVIL’S BREATH by Robert Thurston (VENEZUELA)

“The Non-Matrixed Wife” by Susan O’Neill (Venezuela)

When Joseph Blatchford was appointed the director of the Peace Corps in May of 1969 he brought with him a set of “New Directions” to improve the agency. Whether these directives were new or not is endlessly argued, but what was clear was this: Blatchford wanted skilled Volunteers, i.e. “blue-collar workers, experienced teachers, businessman, and farmers.” While the Peace Corps has always found it difficult to recruit large numbers of such “skilled” Volunteers, Blatchford and his staff came up with the idea of recruiting married couples with children. One of the couples would be a Volunteer and the other (usually the wife) would be — in Peace Corps jargon — the “non-matrixed” spouse. The kids would just be kids. It would be in this way, Blatchford thought, that the Peace Corps could recruit older, more mature, experienced, and skilled PCVs. And the Peace Corps would stop being just “BA generalists” . . .

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Review: VENEZUELA SOJOURN by Jon C. Halter (Venezuela)

  Venezuela Sojourn: The Peace Corps Diary of Jon C. Halter Jon C. Halter (Venezuela 1966–68) CreateSpace September 2015 264 pages $12.00 (paperback) Reviewed by Catherine Bell (Brazil 1966–68) • Venezuela Sojourn is a completely unromanticized view of a Peace Corps assignment in Venezuela in the 1960s. All the elements of a typical Peace Corps experience of that era are here — difficulties with the language, attraction to other Volunteers, friction with in-country contacts, parties where you try to figure out who everyone is, the frustration of trying to find something to do, meetings with little result, preoccupations with food and digestion and with deselection and other bureaucratic hurdles against the background of Vietnam, sporadic attempts to find the courage to do the more difficult things that ought to be done. Committed to a test Peace Corps Scout program, Halter is a well-meaning Volunteer — though no idealist. He recounts some success at teaching phys. . . .

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Review— DEVIL’S BREATH by Robert Thurston (VENEZUELA)

Devil’s Breath (Peace Corps novel) by Robert Thurston (Venezuela 1968–70, Staff: Belize 1972–75, Honduras 1975–77) CreateSpace September 2014 176 pages $8.99 (paperback), $2.99 (Kindle) • Review by Bob Arias (Colombia 1964–66) WE GET TO MEET GRINGO MATEO, the volunteer from Mission USA, an organization like Peace Corps in many ways. Mateo is sent to a small village in the remote area of Vainazola to assist the local farmers and the community COOP. But what happens is he gets caught up with the bad guys that do not want a Gringo, especially Gringo Mateo to find that they have been stealing money from the community, lots of dinero! Mateo is framed for the murder of a young lady and the fact that he is the son of a prominent US Congressman causes problems for the American Embassy. This gets better, as we see the local CIA Station Chief involved in gun . . .

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