Archive - June 2009

1
A Comment on President Obama's Cairo Address
2
Reading About Novelist James Jones
3
RPCV Matt Davis From Mongolia Writes Memoir of Peace Corps Days
4
The Peace Corps In The Age of Obama
5
You Can Change History: An Open Letter to Congresswoman Nita Lowey
6
The Genius of Moritz Thomsen

A Comment on President Obama's Cairo Address

Doug Worthington ( Ethiopia 1963-65) writes: “As I listened to Obama’s sensitive and culture-bridging talk in  Cairo, I tried to imagine myself as a returned PC volunteer giving a similar speak. I think each of us, having travelled and lived aboard, could have given a similar speech. Obama seemed like a PCV to me. In a sense, he has had the Peace Corps experience. He sees the world from a different perspective than does the average American.” Well said, Doug!

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Reading About Novelist James Jones

I have been reading the galleys of a memoir that will come out in September. It is a book that has nothing to do with the Peace Corps, and was written by Kaylie Jones, the daughter of the novelist James Jones. You might have seen the movie made of her first book, A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries which starred Kris Kristofferson and Barbara Hershey. This book is again about her famous father, and their early life together. Jones died when she was 16. However, what interests me is when he was writing his first and most famous novel, From Here to Eternity. This is a great war novel (you have seen the very good movie of it, I’m sure) and with The Naked And The Dead, the two best books (plus, of course, Catch 22) about WWII. Anyway, I read both of these novels when I was a teenager and while the prose is not perfect (unlike . . .

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RPCV Matt Davis From Mongolia Writes Memoir of Peace Corps Days

Matt Davis (Mongolia 2000-02) stayed in-country for a year after his Peace Corps tour,  then returned home and found his way to Iowa’s famous writing program where in 2007 he earned an MFA in non-fiction. Matt recently sold his first book When Things Get Dark: A Mongolian Winter’s Tale to St. Martin’s Press. The book, he says, “is in large measure a memoir of my time as a PCV in the Mongolian countryside.” There is no firm publication date set, though it looks like the book will come out in early 2010.  Davis now is working on revisions and fact checking and living in Washington, D.C. and getting another masters, this time at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in DC. After finishing his MFA in the writing program at Iowa he had a fellowship where he worked for the International Writing Program in Iowa City. It was during this period that he became  interested in the idea of cultural . . .

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The Peace Corps In The Age of Obama

There is a piece today-June 2-in the LA TIMES on the Peace Corps. It was written by Chris Kraul, a special correspondent, who is in Sana Fe, Panama. The piece focuses on the new PCVs to Panama, but talks about President Obama’s commencement address at Arizona State University last month where he said the Peace Corps was an American institution that shows “our commitment to working with other nations to pursue the ideals of opportunity, equality and freedom that have made us who we are.”  At the Peace Corps they are talking about the “Obama effect” and how the Internet requests for “starter applications,” is up 40% from last year. Requests are running around 25,000. That is on top of a 16% increase in completed applications submitted in 2008. (Was that due to the “I Hate Bush And Want Out Of  The Country Effect?”) By the way, requests from people 50 and . . .

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You Can Change History: An Open Letter to Congresswoman Nita Lowey

Well known, and well published RPCV Writer Laurence Leamer ( Nepal (1964-66), has been waging a war of words on The Huffington Post, the Internet Newspaper, for the Peace Corps to double in size.  Today, he sent an Open Letter, via the Huffington Post, to New York  Westchester Congresswoman Nita Lowey  the person who will finally decide the growth of the Peace Corps next year. Read what Larry has to say, and then volunteer once more and call Nita and tell her that we want dramatic expansion and fundamental reform in the Peace Corps. Dear Congresswoman Lowey: On June 18th you will have an opportunity to change the course of history. You are an astute, principled politician who for years has voted for what is right and true, not what is always popular. Time and again you have seen your judgment vindicated by history. You have stood bravely as champion of an America that reaches . . .

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The Genius of Moritz Thomsen

A new publication from Quito, Ecuador, is out with a scholarly look at the writings of Moritz Thomsen (Ecuador 1965–67). It is the online publication LiberArte, from the Universidad de San Francisco de Quito. Contributors to LiberArte are primarily professors and students at the university. The journal, first published in January, 2005, features articles on literature, film, and critical trends in Ecuador. Last year there was a conference on Thomsen’s writing held in Quito. If you are interested in any reports from that conference, contact Martin Vega (vegamart@gmail.com) Martin also welcomes comments and critiques of Thomsen from those who knew him. I asked Martin if he knew Moritz and he said he didn’t, but that Alvaro Aleman, who heads up their journal, did know Moritz and often visited him in Guayaquil and spoke with him at length about authors and books. [Thomsen, for those who don’t know, died of cholera in Guayaquil, Ecuador on . . .

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