Archive - March 5, 2009

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Why did you join the Peace Corps?
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Down on the Farm (pun intended)
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Brazaitis Speaks Many Languages
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Back on the Farm

Why did you join the Peace Corps?

People are still asking that question as we approach the half century of the agency. Back in May of 1966, Joseph Colman, who was then the Acting Associate Director of the Peace Corps for Planning, Evaluation, and Research published a paper in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences and Marian Beil recently asked if I knew about it. I tracked down a copy of Colman’s paper that reports on several studies of motivation for joining the agency, based on a 1962 study of 2,612 applications’ replies to a motivational question on the application form; a 1963 interview study of why people who apply later decline a specific invitation to enter training; and a 1964 interview study of college series’ interest in the Peace Corps. Colmen’s paper concludes that Volunteers can be successful in the Peace Corps with a variety of motivations for joining. Well, no . . .

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Down on the Farm (pun intended)

BOOK REVIEW Dominic Cibrario (Nepal 1962-64) is one of the many RPCVs who are publishing their novels as PODs. He sent it to me a few months ago and I’m happy to be able to showcase Tucker Clark who also served in Nepal, review the novel about farm life in Wisconsin. Secrets of the Family Farm by Dominic Cibrario (Nepal 1962-64) Booksurge, 2008 Reviewed by W. Tucker Clark (Nepal 1967-70) It was puzzling to me why John Coyne asked me to review this book. It was written by someone I had never heard of from the first Peace Corps Volunteer to Nepal. I thought I was fairly knowledgeable about writers, particularly about India and the Peace Corps (thanks to this wonderful webizine), but Dominic Cibrario was new to me. I recently found myself too busy with the Presidential race to start Dominic Cibrario’s self-published paperback, but I knew I had to . . .

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Brazaitis Speaks Many Languages

BOOK REVIEW Mark Brazaitis who is an award winning short story writer as well as a fine novelist also writes poetry, and here another award winning RPCV poet, Phil Dacey, writes a review of Mark’s latest collection. The Other Language: Poems by Mark Brazaitis (Guatemala, 1991–93) ABZ Poetry Press 2009 Reviewed by Philip Dacey (Nigeria 1963–65) I wish Mark Brazaitis had been chosen to present the Presidential inaugural poem instead of Elizabeth Alexander, whose lackluster effort probably won few converts to poetry and disappointed most poets I know.  Brazaitis, on the other hand, would have told a story rich in character and resplendent with language that while familiar — not straining to be poetic — nevertheless rose to the level of memorable song, precisely what was needed on January 20th.  As he writes at the very end of the book: “I don’t know her nor she me. / Today this . . .

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Back on the Farm

BOOK REVIEW A few years ago Professor of Economics at George Mason University,  Carrie Meyer, went home to the Midwest and stumbled upon a cardboard box of diaries kept by her grandmother. She turned them into a history lesson, love letter, and wonderful story. Days on the Family Farm: From the Golden Age to the Great Depression by Carrie A. Meyer (Dominican Republic 1980–83) University of Minnesota Press 2007 Reviewed by M. Susan Hundt-Bergan (Ethiopia 1966-68) In 2000, Carrie Meyer’s family stumbled upon a cardboard box of diaries in their grandmother’s attic in Guilford Township, Illinois.  Most of these diaries were kept by May Lyford Davis, their grandfather’s cousin’s wife, about her life on the very farm where Carrie Meyer had grown up.  Out of these diary notations, Ms. Meyer, an economist at George Mason University, has crafted the story of May and Elmo Davis, their lives and that of . . .

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