Archive - August 2009

1
Review: TWO YEARS IN POLAND by Lawrence Biddall (Poland)
2
The Peace Corps Volunteer As A Fictional Character
3
New Books By RPCV Writers
4
The House On Churchill Road, Part 4
5
Which Way The Peace Corps On PeaceCorpsOnLine
6
Review: The Peace Corps Latrine Reader
7
The House on Churchill Road, The Final Episode
8
The House on Churchill Road, Part 6
9
The House On Churchill Road, Part 5
10
A Peace Corps Advisory Committee?

Review: TWO YEARS IN POLAND by Lawrence Biddall (Poland)

  • Two Years in Poland, and Other Stories: A Sixty-Seven-Year-Old Grandfather Joins the Peace Corps and Looks Back on His Life by Lawrence Brane Siddall (1997–99) Pelham Springs Press 2008 255 pages $16.95 Reviewed by David Gurr (Ethiopia 1962–64) • In Poland, Lawrence Brane Siddall taught English in the town of Swidnica, pronounced as shvid-NEET-sa, according to the author. He was the only PCV assigned to that city of 65,000 in southwest Poland, and replaced a Volunteer who had taught English the previous two years at the secondary school to which he was assigned. Parts I and III of his book are devoted to his experience in Swidnica, travel to major cities in Poland, one of them as part of his in-service training, as well as a six-week summer project organized by another Volunteer followed by a vacation in Russia. Sandwiched in between these two parts is Part II, . . .

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The Peace Corps Volunteer As A Fictional Character

From the first days of the agency, Peace Corps Volunteers have been rich characters for novels not written by PCVs. The first books about the Peace Corps were young adult novels. In 1963, Breaking the Bonds: A Novel about the Peace Corps, written by Sharen Spence, had a short introduction by Sargent Shriver and was dedicated to “All Peace Corps Volunteers serving the world with discipline, determination, endurance, and a rare idealism.” This novel is set in Nigeria. Then in 1965 came a series of young adult novels entitled Kathy Martin: Peace Corps Nurse, about a Volunteer in Africa. Another “nursing novel” for a YA audience was written by Rachel G. Payes and published by Avalon Books in 1967. In 1968 came the most well known of all “Peace Corps novels,” The Zinzin Road, by the very successful commercial novelist and political writer, Fletcher Knebel, who worked briefly as a Peace . . .

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New Books By RPCV Writers

Allah’s Garden Thomas Hallowell (Morocco) Tales Press 198 pages March 2009   The 38 Million Dollar Smile by Richard Stevenson (aka Richard Lipez (Ethiopia 1962-64) mlrpress September 2009   Four Corners: The Vineyards and Wineries of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado By Starley Talbott (South Africa, 2001) Plainstar Press 2009 Trade Paperback $24.95   San Francisco Tenderloin true stories of heroes, demons, angels, outcasts & a psychotrherapist (Expanded Second Edition) by Larry Wonderling (PC/COR Puerto Rico 1968-70; Afghanistan 1970-73; early ’80s Central and Latin America; late ’80s Africa) Cape Foundation Publications, $24.95 408 pages 2008   Portrait of a Peace Corps Gringo By Paul Arfin (Colombia 1963-65) Self-Published, $17.99 356 pages 2009 paularfin@gmail.com La Ranfla and other New Mexico Stories By Martha Egan (Venezuela 1967-69) Papalote Press, $24.95 200 pages 2009 www.papalotepress.com Rock Worn by Water (Poems) By Florence Chard Dacey (Nigeria 1963-65) Plain View Press, $14.20 77 pages . . .

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The House On Churchill Road, Part 4

Progress continued on Churchill Road: more kids were dropped off at the French School, herds of livestock moved up to market, the crowd on the sidewalk thinned, and with my new red Ethiopian Airlines flight bag full of students’ composition books slung over my shoulder, I walked a mile downhill to the Commercial School on Smuts Street just beyond Haile Selassie’s Square, and through the open entrance into the school’s compound nodding to the guard who bowed in my direction and let me pass into the enclosed school compound. The Commercial School, when I was in Ethiopia, was one of the three or four best secondary schools in the Empire. It had five buildings, a large faculty, and over 450 students. The three main buildings were grouped around a quadrangle, the fourth side opened onto Smuts Street. The quadrangle was large and covered with stone; in the center was a . . .

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Which Way The Peace Corps On PeaceCorpsOnLine

Hugh Pickens (Peru 1970-73) who started www.peacecorpsonline.org back in the early days of 2001 as a news service to the Peace Corps community has collected the various documents relating to what Aaron Williams should do, now that he is about to be sworn in as the new director. Check out the ideas at:  ttp://peacecorpsonline.org/messages/messages/2629/3216275.html

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Review: The Peace Corps Latrine Reader

Americans Do Their Business Abroad The Peace Corps Latrine Reader (A collection of essays by RPCVs) edited by Jake Fawson (Gabon 2000–02) and Steve McNutt (Gabon 2000–02) Other Places Publishing December 2008 $16.95 Reviewed by Travis Leger (East Timor (2005–06) reviews the our site. I submitted to this book when Fawson and McNutt put out their request for stories. I had just returned from East Timor, though prematurely. We were the last group there before they evacuated the entire program. I submitted a story about our adopted dog when she was in heat and one of her lovers, Stubby.  And since the editors didn’t choose it I am going to use this opportunity to publish it here: Stubby We called the dog Stubby. I don’t even remember its real name. It was our neighbor’s and it barked at us incessantly.  We had just moved into the house, a small, two-bedroom . . .

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The House on Churchill Road, The Final Episode

The Headmaster at the Commercial School, Ato Seifu Felleke, was a man I deeply respected. In fact, all the PCVs who taught at the school had the greatest respect for this man. He was slight, like most Ethiopians, and underweight, like most Ethiopians, and seem to always be smoking two cigarettes at a time. Like most Ethiopians. He was not handsome in the way many Ethiopian men are, but he had a presence and a commend of situations that demanded our full attention. He had been schooled in India, not Europe or America, and he had a wonderful no bullshit western approach that made us pay attention. He didn’t mess with our teaching, still he knew exactly how good or bad we were in the classroom, and over the years the Peace Corps administration in Ethiopia went to him for advice, to seek him out for his wise words, to ask . . .

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The House on Churchill Road, Part 6

The Rastafarian in leather skins and rags had fixated on me, frozen me with his fierce eyes, and something told me that a friendly Tenyais tillin and Indeminadderu might not get me through this situation. What I remember most clearly was his bushy beard, the dreadlocks, and his overpowering smell. I had grown up on a farm and in the close confines of this classroom the wild man brought back to me all the barnyard smells of my youth. I took another step closer, still clutching a handful of composition books, as if they were any sort of weapon to defend myself, and the man made a lunge, stopping me in my tracks. Two girls sitting in the front row screamed and knocked books to the floor. In the doorway the guard took another tentative step forward into the classroom. He raised his club as if to strike but didn’t. . . .

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The House On Churchill Road, Part 5

My first two morning classes were with 2E. This was an experimental class. They were at a second year level, but had one less year of schooling. The hope was that if the experiment worked, education could be cut to eleven years, which would enable the Empire to produce more students, quicker. There were twenty-two boys in the class and two girls and they were all bright kids, ranging in age from 15 to 23. The classroom was on the ground floor; it faced the courtyard and when I sat at the teacher’s desk with the door it open, I could see the Haile Selassie bust, the open front gate, and the rush of traffic on Smuts Street. And this is what happened that morning in early October in 1962. The students stood when I walked in and said Tenyais tillin. I answered the same, they asked Indeminadderu? (How did . . .

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A Peace Corps Advisory Committee?

In the very early days of the Peace Corps, Shriver had a “top-level National Advisory Committee” that he saw as being able to “generate public support, and to permit criticism and review by some, he said, “of the best men and women in the field of world development.” Shriver proposed that Johnson be Chairman of this Committee, then added, “His assistant, Bill Moyers, who is keenly interested in the Peace Corps, could serve as the Vice President’s liaison man on this, perhaps as Secretary of the Advisory Committee, thus assuring active concern in the Vice President’s office.” Moyers who, of course, become more important to the Peace Corps than just the secretary of the advisory committee which met regularly in the Peace Corps Office. I remember in the fall of ’64 jumping onto the elevator and joining Janet Leigh, one of the first Peace Corps advisers. (Yes, Janet Leigh, and don’t . . .

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