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2024 Peace Corps Writers Historical Book Award Winner!
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“Pocket Stories” by Kathleen Coskran (Ethiopia)
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2024 Peace Corps Writers Maria Thomas Fiction Award Winner!
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Soraya Bilbano Finds Her Career in Tonga
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PEACE CORPS VICTIM by Patrick Shea (Georgia)
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2024 Peace Corps Writers Best Peace Corps Memoir Award!
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Lost Hollow by Donna S. Frelick (Gambia)
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2024 Peace Corps Writers Best Travel Writing Award Winner!
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Wayne J. Arendt (Dominican Republic) honored for his dedication to Ornithology
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2024 Peace Corps Writers’ Moritz Thomsen Experience Award Winner!
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2024 Peace Corps Writers Paul Cowan Non-fiction Award Winner!
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University Of Michigan’s Africa Oceanography School
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Harris Wofford Service Award, June 2024
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Leader in Arts and Entertainment: Kevin Giglinto (Romania)
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SILENT LIGHT | A new novel by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay)

2024 Peace Corps Writers Historical Book Award Winner!

  “Look Here, Sir, What a Curious Bird”— Searching for Ali, Alfred Russel Wallace’s Faithful Companion by Paul Sochaczewski Boeneo Island 1969-71)     For some 50 years, Paul Sochaczewski (Boeneo Island 1969-71) has been on the trail of famous naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace and his little-known assistant Ali. The result of this quest is an imaginative “enhanced biography” of an illiterate 19th-century teenager from Boerneo who helped Wallace become one of history’s most successful explorers of the natural world. This deliciously speculative book, filled with humor and touching scenes of imagined conversations, takes a hard look at “slippery truth,” and, perhaps most important, asks the question: “Is there someone in your life who has quietly helped you, perhaps without adequate recognition, on your journey?” • • •  In this innovative approach to biography, you’ll discover: New clues that expand our knowledge of Ali’s background and career. Why writing the history of . . .

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“Pocket Stories” by Kathleen Coskran (Ethiopia)

Kathleen Coskran writes: I am currently working on a collection of essays called Married to Amazement (thank you, Mary Oliver for the title), that opens with an essay called “So This Is Paris” that I wrote shortly after leaving Ethiopia. Those two years in Ethiopia were formative for me and prepared me for a life of discovery and even an adventure or two that would never have happened if I hadn’t landed in Addis Ababa in September 1965, 21 years old and ready for….I had no idea, but knew I was incredibly lucky to be there. That’s what these little stories, that I call Pocket Stories, are because they are so short and would fit in a pocket (inspired by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers poem “Keep a Poem in Your Pocket.” I write more stories than poems, but some of them are as short as poems so I post them . . .

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2024 Peace Corps Writers Maria Thomas Fiction Award Winner!

    One Beats The Bush, The Max Donovan Adventures #1 by Riall Nolan (Senegal 1965–68)   Riall Nolan (Senegal 1965-68) grew up in upstate* New York, and joined the Peace Corps after graduating from college. He was sent to Senegal, in West Africa, an experience from which he has never fully recovered. While there he began to notice that many development projects didn’t work very well, largely because outside experts lacked basic cultural understanding of local communities. That’s when he decided to become an anthropologist. He headed to the University of Sussex in England where he obtained a doctorate, and began working around the world as a development planner. He spent nearly twenty years overseas, in places like Papua New Guinea, Senegal, Tunisia and Sri Lanka. When he returned to the US at long last, he became a university administrator in charge of international education at several large research . . .

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Soraya Bilbano Finds Her Career in Tonga

In the news – Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Bob Arias (Colombia 1964-66)       Soraya Bilbao says the South Pacific is where she “fell in love with teaching.” She was a Peace Corps volunteer teacheing in a classroom in Atata, an outer island in the Kingdom of Tonga, a nation of 170 islands located west of the Cook Islands and east of Fiji. She taught in a classroom in an area where she was unfamiliar with the native language. So at the same time she taught English, she struggled to learn the language her students spoke, Tongan. It was a challenge that Bilbao sought and embraced. At the time, she was working in the nonprofit sector. Bilbao, who now teaches at Danbury High School, said because of her three years in Tonga, she learned she wanted to become an educator. “It just never crossed my mind to be . . .

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PEACE CORPS VICTIM by Patrick Shea (Georgia)

  Peace Corps Victim: A Peace Corps Volunteer Story of Trauma and Betrayal Patrick Shea (Georgia 2016-17 —  Medically Separated) Friesen Press 258 pages $21.99 (Paperback); $ 9.99 (Kindle); $35.99 (Hardcover) • • • Witness the harrowing true story of an idealistic American Volunteer who ventured into the heart of Eastern Europe with the honorable intention of serving in the United States Peace Corps. What awaited him in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia was a nightmare difficult to comprehend. Struggling to aid the people he came to help, he found himself targeted by those he least expected, nearly killed by locals, assaulted by a fellow volunteer, and ensnared in a web of psychological manipulation orchestrated by a Peace Corps Country Director with sinister ties to military intelligence and the CIA. As he battled to uphold the values he believed in, he encountered a shocking reality: the Peace Corps, an institution revered . . .

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2024 Peace Corps Writers Best Peace Corps Memoir Award!

  Taking the Plunge Into Ethiopia: Tales of a Peace Corps Volunteer by William L. Hershey (Ethiopia 1968-70)   William Hershey  served as the only Peace Corps Volunteer in the small Ethiopian town of Dabat. He taught seventh and eighth grade students the English that they would need to continue their educations and brighten their futures. He became part of the community, eating the local food and doing his best to communicate in Amharic. He also navigated cultural gaffes — having his house stoned by disgruntled students angered at being assigned to clean the outhouses; and nearly sparking international trouble by clashing with a player from a rival school during a heated basketball game. Decades later as a journalist, he used his once-in-a-lifetime Peace Corps experience to reflect on immigration, global goodwill and the hope the United States should share with the rest of the world. William Hershey spent more . . .

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Lost Hollow by Donna S. Frelick (Gambia)

Lost Hollow by Donna S. Frelick (Gambia 1976-78) (335 pages) July 2024 $2.99 (Kindle 2298 KB) Book 1 of 1 Alienville Series       Dr. Moira McCann worries when her mercurial twin Claire fails to show up for a rare sisterly visit. Claire’s last text was from a small town in the North Carolina mountains—Allenville. And now Claire won’t respond to any texts or calls; her phone is dead. Which means Moira—the responsible sister—has to go looking for her. Allenville Police Chief Seth Call juggles the usual town disputes and the everyday trouble outsiders get into in his remote county. But early summer brings a special kind of chaos: it’s mating season in these mountains for a certain vicious species, and anyone is prey if they wander too far off the known paths. When Moira seeks his help finding her sister, Seth can’t hint at any of the real . . .

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2024 Peace Corps Writers Best Travel Writing Award Winner!

The One-Way Ticket Plan: Find and Fund Your Purpose While Traveling the World   by Alexa West (Bulgaria)   In 2011, Alexa West sat on her bedroom floor, packed her life into a backpack, and got on a one-way flight with just $200 in her pocket. She turned that $200 into over ten years of full-time travel. She went from budget backpacker to solo female travel expert — and she now teaches thousands of women how to travel alone and make money from anywhere. The One-Way Ticket Plan reveals her decade’s worth of lessons, regrets, embarrassments, love stories, shortcuts, and problem-solving strategies — all packed into a hilarious page-turner and actionable plan for a total life makeover. From real-world advice on how travel can lower your cost of living to guidance on traveling safely, using strange toilets, avoiding tourist traps, dealing with unfamiliar foods, and coping with friendships, romance, and loneliness, . . .

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Wayne J. Arendt (Dominican Republic) honored for his dedication to Ornithology

In the news –   PressRelease — Wayne J. Arendt, PhD, has been selected for inclusion in Marquis Who’s Who. As in all Marquis Who’s Who biographical volumes, individuals profiled are selected on the basis of current reference value. Factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility, and prominence in a field are all taken into account during the selection process. For nearly half a century, Dr. Arendt has been a prominent figure in ornithology. His field research commenced in California, following a three-year tenure in the US Army (1966-1969), which included two years in Alaska as a 4.2 mortarman and Battalion mail clerk, and one year as a military policeman at Ft. Carson’s maximum-security stockade. In 1975, he investigated the life-history of the California Thrasher and its adaption to mesquite cover in the Anza Borrego Desert. Subsequently, he joined the Peace Corps (1976-78) serving in the Dominican Republic under the . . .

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2024 Peace Corps Writers’ Moritz Thomsen Experience Award Winner!

  Immense Missed Opportunities – IMO  by Helene Ballman Dudley (Colombia 1968-70; Slovakia 1997-99)   Immense Missed Opportunities – IMO draws on the author’s 23 years of experience building sustainable micro-loan programs in marginalized communities around the world. Based on her experience, and backed by research and recommendations from renowned experts, IMO identifies the vast and largely untapped potential for high-impact, low-cost interventions to reduce poverty, food insecurity, economic migration and gender-based violence. Extreme poverty has marginalized people who are living on the front lines of those problems and who have, perhaps the greatest potential to help solve those problems. People living on under $2 per day require all their energy and problem-solving skills to meet the most basic needs for their families. IMO offers examples of what they can accomplish when they are freed from abject poverty. The book closely follows a group of market vendors and subsistence farmers in . . .

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2024 Peace Corps Writers Paul Cowan Non-fiction Award Winner!

  The Showgirl and the Writer: A Friendship Forged in the Aftermath of the Japanese American Incarceration by Marnie Mueller (Ecuador 1963-65)   The Showgirl and the Writer, A Friendship Forged in the Aftermath of the Japanese American Incarceration, by Marnie Mueller (Ecuador 1963-65), is a hybrid memoir/biography. It encompasses Mueller’s own story, beginning at her birth to Caucasian parents in the Tule Lake Japanese American High-Security Camp in Northern California, and tells the tale of her long friendship with Mary Mon Toy, a Nisei performer who was incarcerated in the Minidoka Japanese American Camp in Idaho during WWII. The two met by chance in 1994. By then, Mueller was a published author, and Mary Mon Toy, by necessity of old age, had retired from an unusually successful career on stage and television, for an Asian American actor of her time. After Ms. Mon Toy’s death, Mueller penned the previously . . .

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University Of Michigan’s Africa Oceanography School

In the news —   Oceanography School Receives Funding From Schmidt Sciences By Iednewsdesk Jun 14, 2024 A University of Michigan-led summer school for oceanographers in Ghana and Nigeria is part of a project to receive funding from Schmidt Sciences, a philanthropic organization started by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Wendy Schmidt. The Coastal Ocean Environment Summer School In Nigeria and Ghana, or COESSING, was founded by Brian Arbic, a physical oceanographer and U-M professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. The summer school, which is endorsed by the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030), is set to receive $125,000 each year from 2025-2028 and split between U-M and the University of Ghana. The school funding is included in a larger project called Ocean Margins Initiative. OMI is one of five projects that are part of the Ocean Biogeochemistry Virtual Institute, an initiative funded by Schmidt Sciences. OBVI has . . .

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Harris Wofford Service Award, June 2024

  WASHINGTON, DC— AmeriCorps and Peace Corps awarded the first Harris Wofford Joint Service Award to more than 200 individuals in Houston, Texas at the annual Points of Light Conference. Honoring the legacy of the late Senator Harris Wofford, who helped establish both the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps, the award recognizes individuals who have already chosen to serve their country at home and abroad through both programs, as well as the thousands more who make that same commitment in the future. WATCH: Harris Wofford Award Ceremony “As we commemorate the inaugural Harris Wofford Joint Service Awards, I am proud and grateful for the more than 200 changemakers who have served their country at home and abroad through AmeriCorps and Peace Corps” said Michael D. Smith, AmeriCorps CEO. “These awards serve as a call to action in remembrance of Harris Wofford’s remarkable life and legacy, to find ways big and small to give . . .

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Leader in Arts and Entertainment: Kevin Giglinto (Romania)

In the news — Kevin Giglinto (Romania 1994-96) joined the Marcus Performing Arts Center in Milwaukee  in July 2023 as its new president and chief executive officer, with more than 25 years of experience. Over the past nine months, Giglinto’s initiatives have led to a 32% increase in venue attendance, the launch of a new series, and an investment in tools to broaden MPAC’s digital reach, according to Lori Craig, senior vice president, market leader for PNC Private Bank and chair of the Marcus Center board. “He was instrumental in creating MPAC’s latest performance lineup, the Culture Collective, designed to celebrate and elevate the contributions of artists of color across a spectrum of artistic disciplines. This new series aligns with MPAC’s commitment to racial equity, diversity and inclusion,” Craig said. Giglinto also launched a new internship program at the Marcus Center, providing young people a chance to explore a career . . .

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SILENT LIGHT | A new novel by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay)

  Silent Light by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay 1978-80) OB Books June 2024 340 pages $18.95 (paperback)   At the start of Mark Jacob’s remarkable new novel ― his first book in thirteen years ― thirty-seven-year-old Smith wins a “stash” of diamonds in a poker game. The only catch: he has to find them. A Louisiana native, Smith is currently employed on an oil platform off the west coast of Africa, while the diamonds are somewhere in the immense, war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo. But Smith’s grown tired of the platform and he hates the idea of wasting a full house. One last adventure, he tells himself, and then, diamonds or no diamonds, he’s heading home to Louisiana. In Kinshasa, Smith meets a young woman named Béatrice, who hails from a village on the other side of the country. But this village, she tells Smith, is where his diamonds are . . .

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