Archive - November 2010

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Mark Brazaitis at Kent State on December 7, 2010
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George Packer Bashes Bush's Book
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Fast Company Magazine salutes the Peace Corps this month with Facts & Figures
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Review of RJ Huddy’s Learn Thai With Me
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Robert Textor and his Cultural Frontiers
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Columbia River Peace Corps Association Supports RPCV Writers
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A reading by David Meth from his novel A Hint of Light
8
Peace Corps Records from Overseas Posts – Current Retention Schedule
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November 2010 Peace Corps Books
10
Bob Herbert Remembers "A Gift From Long Ago"

Mark Brazaitis at Kent State on December 7, 2010

Mark Brazaitis is the author of The Other Language: Poems, winner of the 2008 ABZ Poetry Prize. He is also the author of The River of Lost Voices: Stories from Guatemala, winner of the 1998 Iowa Short Fiction Award, and Steal My Heart, the novel that won the 2001 Maria Thomas Fiction Award given by Peace Corps Writers. Brazaitis served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala from 1990 to 1993 and as a Peace Corps technical trainer in the same country from 1995 to 1996. Currently, he directs the Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program at West Virginia University. On December 7, 2010, Mark will be reading at the Kent State Student Center, Room 306, and answering questions about the Peace Corps! There’s a Facebook page for the reading: http://en-gb.facebook.com/event.php?eid=150186528348926&index=1 Check it out!

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George Packer Bashes Bush's Book

Often when an RPCV book is reviewed on this site and receives a negative review I get an angry email from the irate author who says something to the effect, “I wrote it, therefore, it is good!” Well, having published something like twenty-five books and received more than my ‘fair share’ of negative reviews, I can understand the feeling. But if a writer —  especially a ‘self-publishing writer — has the audacity (yes, audacity!) to publish anything and then put the book out into the market place for others to buy and read, then, well, they have to suffer the slings and arrows, and perhaps praise, for what they wrote. That’s what publishing is all about. But if you are George W. Bush and you write your memoir and it gets into the hands of George Packer (Togo 1982–83) to review it for The New Yorker . . . well, watch out. Packer does a . . .

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Fast Company Magazine salutes the Peace Corps this month with Facts & Figures

The 50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps Infographic: Peace Be With You Typography by Julie Teninbaum By: Jeninne Lee St. John, FastCompany.com November 1, 2010 Fifty years ago this month, President John F. Kennedy gave a name to his idea to send Americans abroad “to encourage mutual understanding between Americans and other cultures of the world.” A look at the numbers behind the venerable Peace Corps. The FIRST group of volunteers, 51 strong, arrived in Ghana on August 30, 1961. Since 1961, more than 200,000 Americans have served in the Peace Corps. 7,671 volunteers now serve in the Corps. In 1966, there were more than 15,000 in the field. The Peace Corps’ operating budget this fiscal year is $400 MILLION, about 1% of the federal government’s foreign-operations budget. Peace Corps volunteers here been trained in more than 250 local languages. 60% of ACTIVE Corps members are women. Today, the Corps . . .

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Review of RJ Huddy’s Learn Thai With Me

Learn Thai With Me by RJ Huddy (Morocco 1981–82) XPat Fiction $12.00 (free to read online) 224 pages 2010 Reviewed by Thomas Coyne (Morocco 1981–82) SAUDI ARABIA IS A HARD PLACE TO WRITE ABOUT. The western mind gets easily distracted by such cultural flash points as hijabs and theocracies. The Saudi sensibility seems clannish; not so interested in advertising its lifestyle to the rest of the world. So surprise, Learn Thai With Me, the second novel from RJ Huddy, (a nom de plume of a Moroccan RPCV) is a rare example evoking the Saudi Arabia of the 1980’s. Of course, this is really a book about Americans — Degenerates Abroad perhaps — and not so much about Saudis or Thais. There are some other caveats. For one thing, Learn Thai With Me will not teach you much — if any — Thai. In fact, we are given not a single . . .

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Robert Textor and his Cultural Frontiers

The mentioning of Cultural Frontiers of the Peace Corps, edited by Robert B. Textor, with a foreword by Margaret Mead, on this blog brought comments from a few readers, and brought me to pulling Textor’s book off my shelf of Peace Corps books (God, there are so many Peace Corps books!) to look again at this important book on the agency published in 1966 by The M.I.T. Press. Robert Textor, for those who weren’t around at the beginning of the Peace Corps, was a early consultant to the Peace Corps, starting in the summer of 1961 while a Ph.D. student at Harvard. He was asked to Washington to help plan the training program for the first PCVs to Thailand. He would make other important contributions to the agency during those early first years, including writing the memo that outlined the In-Up-Out policy for the Peace Corps staff, a memo  Textor sent on December 11, 1961, . . .

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Columbia River Peace Corps Association Supports RPCV Writers

Bill Stein (Niger 1990-93) President of the Columbia River Peace Corps Association sent out a notice on upcoming meetings with RPCV authors.  Bill and his group are supporting our writers. Thanks, Columbia River! Monday, December 6, 2010:  Tinker, Irene: Crossing Centuries: A Road Trip Through Colonial Africa (2010).  The website now contains transit directions to Irene Tinker’s home in the Mirabella Portland. Wednesday, January 12, 2011: Moritz  Thomsen (Ecuador 1965-67) Living Poor: A Peace Corps Chronicle (1969).   Note that this book was earlier slated for discussion in February. Mid-February 2011 (date TBA): Peter Hessler (China 1996-98): River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze (2001).  Peter Hessler will be at Powell’s City of Books on 2/15 reading from his latest book, Country Driving: A Journey Through China from Farm to Factory (2010), and he’s graciously offering to meet with us some time during his Portland visit that’s not booked by his publicist.  We’re . . .

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A reading by David Meth from his novel A Hint of Light

Westport author David L. Meth [Korea 1971–72] reads from his new novel, “A Hint of Light,” at the Westport CT Public Library. Written by Nancy Burton for Patch.com When Westport writer David L. Meth was a Peace Corps volunteer in the early 1970s in Seoul, Korea, he “walked the streets” to pick up the cultural vibes. Now he has self published his first novel based on real characters who have haunted his psyche ever since. Meth gave a reading from his book, A Hint of Light, at the Westport Public Library on Monday, sharing passages of prose of sometimes exquisite piquancy. The main character is a street urchin named Byung-suk, who is 9 years old when the book opens. Byung-suk is the product of a tryst involving a Korean prostitute and a black American soldier stationed in Seoul. Byung-suk’s mother died in an alleyway during childbirth and he grows up a . . .

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Peace Corps Records from Overseas Posts – Current Retention Schedule

  The Retention Schedule dictates the official disposition of public records from federal agencies, including the Peace Corps. Records are designated as temporary or permanent; to be destroyed or ultimately archived when they are not longer needed for day-to-day operations. Each agency develops its own recommendations on this phase of record management, which are then submitted to the National Archives and Records Administration for approval. This summary is the current Retention Schedule for Peace Corps records from Overseas Posts. I received this information in response to a FOIA request. The response is dated March 17, 2010. I do not know how long such instructions have been in effect. The Retention Schedule and its description of records is public information. However, I presume that many of the individual records may not be considered public information, depending on how the content is ultimately classified. This is a summary of the information from . . .

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November 2010 Peace Corps Books

Visions of Place: Regionalism and Architecture Edited and co-authored by William Bechhoefer (Tunisia 1967–69) plus colleagues and former students University of Maryland School of Architecture, Preservation, and Planning $17.95 + $4.00 shipping (contact RoseMarie Tate rtate@umd.edu) 191 pages May, 2010 • Controlled Crash: An Airline Odyssey from Eels and Ethics to Blimps and Drunken Bears by Eldon Brown (Gabon 1962–63; Jamaica 1963–65) iUniverse $14.95 148 pages 2009 • From Microsoft to Malawi: Learning on the Front Lines as a Peace Corps Volunteer (Peace Corps experience) by Michael Buckler (Malawi 2006–08) Hamilton Books $19.95 228 pages November 2010 www.FromMicrosofttoMalawi.com • La Ranfla and Other New Mexico Stories (new paperback edition) by Martha Egan (Venezuela 1967–69) Papalote Press $15.00 200 pages November 2010 • A Wedding in Samar: A Memoir of an Early Peace Corps Experience, Philippines 1961–1963 by John Francis Halloran (Philippines 1962–63) Edited and introduced by John Durand (Philippines 1962–63) . . .

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Bob Herbert Remembers "A Gift From Long Ago"

In Bob Herbert’s Op-Ed column today (Tuesday, November 23, 2010) he writes: “It was a half-century ago this month that John F. Kennedy won the presidency in a thrilling and heart-stoppingly close election against Richard Nixon. You’d probably be surprised at the number of Americans who are clueless about when Kennedy ran: ‘It was 1970, right?’ ‘Wasn’t it in the ’40s, soon after the war?’ Or whom he ran against: ‘Eisenhower?’ Herbert goes on: “Kennedy’s great gift was his capacity to inspire. His message as he traveled the country was that Americans could do better, that great things were undeniably possible, that obstacles were challenges to be overcome with hard work and sacrifice.” And then Herbert recalls the Peace Corps: “Kennedy the cold warrior was also the president who created the Peace Corps, which Ted Sorensen, who died just last month (and whose daughter Juliet was a Peace Corps volunteer), described . . .

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