Archive - April 2010

1
Martha Dunlop Peterson (Sierra Leone 1982-84)
2
A. Radlott (Dominican Republic 1963-65)
3
Tony D'Souza In India Reviews Paul Theroux's A Dead Hand: A Crime in Calcutta
4
Award Winning Travel Writer Mo Tejani (Thailand 1979–80)
5
Happy Easter! Two RPCV Catholics Ask Why?
6
Writing Advice/Review: J. P. Jones's A Witness in Tunis
7
Another Award Winning RPCV Writer: Chris Conlon (Botswana 1988-90)
8
Once Again My Favorite Hobby Horse: One Laptop Per Child
9
Mad Men And Their Cigarettes
10
Mad Woman At The Peace Corps: Elizabeth Forsling Harris, Part Six

Martha Dunlop Peterson (Sierra Leone 1982-84)

  Monday, November 21 4:39 pm Martha Dunlop Peterson and her husband, John, served in Bo and Freetown, Sierra Leone, both were music teachers. They also taught in the School for the Blind, teaching all subjects, as well as taught at the Milton Margai Teachers College. She read from a letter home to her father dated February 6, 1984. It is excerpted here. Dear Pa, I’ve met a missionary who has a library so I’m plowing through her books. I feel like a slouch after reading about David Livingstone in Africa – missionary, discoverer, geologist, botanist and surgeon. In my small way I’m throwing out some good vibrations. I’m feeling OK. Despite sore throat, sore feet, stiff arm, sore stomach, I just “keep on truckin’” as this too shall pass. I’m coaching a lovely school teacher in advanced piano. She’d like a scholarship to study in America so I wrote . . .

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A. Radlott (Dominican Republic 1963-65)

Monday, November 21 4:42 pm In the spring of  1963 while a senior at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, I joined the Peace Corps. Your vision of the future, words of encouragement and faith in the ability of volunteers like myself presented too great a challenge to pass up. I was part of D.R. VII, the first Urban Community Development group in the Dominican Republic. Training, which began in July, was to end in October, but was extended until mid-November due to a military coup and resultant uncertainty about that country’s readiness for a seventh volunteer group. On the Friday of the first week home between training and leaving the United States I head: “President Kennedy has just been shot in Dallas,” as I prepared to shop for things I was told I’d need in Santo Domingo. In retrospect, the shock and national tragedy of that fatal event underscored . . .

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Tony D'Souza In India Reviews Paul Theroux's A Dead Hand: A Crime in Calcutta

Reviewer Tony D’Souza’s novel, Whiteman, received the Peace Corps Writers Maria Thomas Prize for Fiction, and is loosely based on his Peace Corps service in an Ivory Coast headed for civil war. His second novel, The Konkans, is loosely based on his mother’s Peace Corps service in India from 1969 to 1970 where she met and married his father. Tony has contributed fiction and essays to The New Yorker, Playboy, Esquire, Outside, Granta, McSweeney’s, the O. Henry Awards, and Best American Fantasy, and is the recipient of two NEA Awards, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and gold and silver medals from the Florida Book Awards. He lives in Sarasota, FL, with his wife Jessyka and two young children, Gwen, 18 months, and Rohan, 6 months. The D’Souzas are spending the next few months traveling in India. Here, Tony reviews Paul Theroux’s A Dead Hand: A Crime in Calcutta. • A Dead Hand: . . .

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Award Winning Travel Writer Mo Tejani (Thailand 1979–80)

Mohezin Tejani (Thailand 1979-80) is the author of  A Chameleon’s Tale: True Stories of a Global Refugee, and one of those hardy band of RPCVs writers who lives and works [mostly as travel writers] around the world, publishing on-line and in many travel magazines. He is also an award winning writer. For example.    The Solas Awards and BestTravelWriting.com were created by Travelers’ Tales,  a division of Solas House, Inc., a publisher of travel literature in Palo Alto, California. In 2004 they published their first collection of Best Travel Writing and in 2005 added The Best Women’s Travel Writing. In 2006 they launched the Solas Awards and BestTravelWriting.com to honor fine writing from the great travel storytellers.   Extraordinary stories about travel has been the cornerstones of their books since 1993. With the Solas Awards they honor writers whose work inspires others to explore. They look for the best stories about travel and the . . .

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Happy Easter! Two RPCV Catholics Ask Why?

The Catholic Church must confess By Chris Matthews (Swaziland 1968-70) MSNBC (Remarks delivered on the air Wednesday evening.) Let me finish tonight with the thoughts of a layman on the problem under which the Roman Catholic Church is now suffering. The tragedy begins with the molestation of children. It does not end there. Young boys who were sent to Catholic school, who will become altar boys, serve under the authority of the church. They are subject to taking orders. Every minute, they are in a school or in a sacristy. This is more than a secular discipline. It is empowered by the authority of God. Priests stand before these young boys as representatives of God, with all the august authority that comes with it. In this case, to a young child being brought up with the fullest belief in God, and what he come to firmly believe is his church. . . .

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Writing Advice/Review: J. P. Jones's A Witness in Tunis

Reviewer Tony D’Souza’s first novel, Whiteman, received the Peace Corps Writers Maria Thomas Prize for Fiction, and is loosely based on his Peace Corps service in an Ivory Coast headed for civil war. His second novel, The Konkans, is loosely based on his mother’s Peace Corps service in India from 1969 to 1970 where she met and married his father. Tony has contributed fiction and essays to The New Yorker, Playboy, Esquire, Outside, Granta, McSweeney’s, the O. Henry Awards, and Best American Fantasy, and is the recipient of two NEA Awards, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and gold and silver medals from the Florida Book Awards. He lives in Sarasota, FL, with his wife Jessyka and two young children, Gwen, 18 months, and Rohan, 6 months. The D’Souzas are spending the next few months traveling in India. Here, Tony uses J.P. Jones’s novel A Witness in Tunis to offer advice to RPCVs . . .

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Another Award Winning RPCV Writer: Chris Conlon (Botswana 1988-90)

He Is Legend, the anthology of short stories honoring author and screen writer Richard Matheson, edited by Christopher Conlon (Botswana 1988-90) has won the 2009 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Anthology. The book (which features stories by Stephen King, Joe Hill, Joe R. Lansdale, Whitley Strieber, F.Paul Wilson and many more) was available as a limited edition from Gauntlet Press and is now sold out — until the TOR hardcover trade edition comes out September 2010. HE IS LEGEND Edited by Christopher Conlon (Botswana 1988-90) Tor $25.99 352 pages September 2010

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Once Again My Favorite Hobby Horse: One Laptop Per Child

I was watching Worldfocus this evening and they are running a series on Africa and the final segment was on Rwanda and the program of  One Laptop per child that the President Paul Kagame began. There are 2,3 million primary kids and he wants to use them to make his country first in Africa with these $100 computers. He was the leader after the 1994 genocide where 800,000 were killed. It is a surprisingly positive story after so much tragedy and without books, materials, etc., these computers are giving children an edge of all of the students in Africa. Kagame is a genius. Why the Peace Corps doesn’t work out an arrangement with the MIT folks who developed this inexpensive computer is beyong me. Do any of you have any ideas how we might make this leap forward in the thinking of the agency? Meanwhile, check out www.worldfocus.org You can see . . .

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Mad Men And Their Cigarettes

If you watch Mad Men you know all about the office atmosphere and the thick layer of smoke that filled the offices. It was no better in the Peace Corps during those early years in 1960s. Flipping though pages of old Peace Corps publications, I see half a dozen people who I knew, all with cigarettes in their hands. Al Meisel in the Training Division; Charlie Peters, head of Evaluation; Jim Gibson, head of Agricultural Affairs. He liked cigars and smoked them in the building! The wonderful Jules Pagano.  Another heavy smoker. Howard Greenberg in Management; Jack Vaughn, the second director, and Frank Mankiewicz; evaluator Dick Elwell, (as I recall, everyone in evaluation smoked and drank and wrote great prose). Doug Kiker and his crew in Public Affairs knew how to light up. And so did Betty Harris. With her cigarette holder. When the Mad Men weren’t smoking, they were drinkings. Warren Wiggins told me that . . .

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Mad Woman At The Peace Corps: Elizabeth Forsling Harris, Part Six

In Come As You Are: The Peace Corps Story,Coates Redmon tells how Shriver came back from Hyannis Port that following Monday morning and charged into the Conference Room  “waving the two memos” and declared, “I have talked to my wife, Eunice. I have talked to my sister-in-law, Ethel. And I have talked to General Maxwell Taylor. They all believe that married Peace Corps Volunteers should be able to have their babies overseas.” The Mad Men of the Senior Staff sat stunned and silent. The Medical Division stared at Sarge in disbelief. Betty Harris tried hard not to look smug. What had really transpired in the mythical Kennedy compound at Hyannis Port? Betty Harris would reach this conclusion: “What Sarge was revealing in all innocent candor was that the Kennedy family felt fully  empowered to influence Peace Corps policy on matters of family. The Kennedy family would proclaim and decree at this level. Of course. . . .

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