Archive - December 2010

1
Review of David L. Meth's A Hint of Light
2
The Peace Corps Library – Part II
3
Talking with Larry Lihosit (Honduras 1975-77) about his Peace Corps Chronology
4
The Peace Corps as a Plot Gimmick
5
Review of Patrick Chura's Thoreau The Land Surveyor
6
Kentucky RPCVs tell their tales
7
Wisconsin RPCVs Do It Again! The 2011 International Calendar
8
Fear, Loathing, and Thanks in the Home Depot Parking Lot
9
Peter Hessler's Book Makes NYTIMES List of 100 Notable Books of 2010
10
The Peace Corps Library – Part I

Review of David L. Meth's A Hint of Light

A Hint of Light by David L. Meth (Korea 1971–72) CreateSpace Writers’ Productions $14.95 303 pages August 2010 Reviewed by Barbara E. Joe (Honduras 2000–03) THIS NOVEL, REPORTEDLY WRITTEN by an award-winning playwright, chronicles the life of a black-Korean street boy, Byung-suk, born in 1960, who dreams of living in America, his unknown GI father’s home. Indeed, with its prolific dialogue and rapidly shifting graphic scenes, the book has aspects of a play or even of a film script. According to the cover blurb, the author, David Meth, spent years doing research, including in Korea and Japan. The narrative starts out with a bang, offering a gritty, dramatic tale of the squalor, violence, and unrelenting challenges of young Byung-suk’s struggle for survival in an Oliver Twistian underworld of prostitution, thievery, drunkenness, extortion, and physical deprivation. The early sections, depicting the tumultuous post-war era of the author’s Volunteer service in Korea . . .

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The Peace Corps Library – Part II

  “How did we get here and where do we want to go?” Surely, my site buddies and I were not the only PCVs to ponder that question. It could even serve as one theme for the 50th Anniversary. However, in the context of the Peace Corps administrative history of information services, it sounds like the message  Peace Corps Director Loret Ruppe gave to her staff after Peace Corps gained its independence from ACTION in 1982. The Peace Corps Library had been providing support services to domestic operations and now had to refocus on Peace Corps.  What would be the best way to support overseas staff as well as Washington Headquarters and avoid duplication and competition between ICE and the Library?  Rupert ordered a study to answer precisely that question. The study included a review of previous studies, documents and memos all of which had been carefully archived in the . . .

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Talking with Larry Lihosit (Honduras 1975-77) about his Peace Corps Chronology

Next week on this site we’ll be publishing a review of Lawrence Lihosit’s new book, Peace Corps Chronology: 1961–2010. The review is by P. David Searles (CD Philippines 197174; PC/W 1974-76) who writes of Lihosit’s book: “A lot can happen in fifty years, as demonstrated by Lawrence F. Lihosit’s superb book: Peace Corps Chronology, 1961-2010. Lihosit has carefully sifted through an immense cache of Peace Corps data from a wide variety of sources, some of which are familiar and some of which were previously unknown, at least to me. In the book he gives a detailed account of the critical happenings – year by year, decade by decade – from 1961 to the present.” In anticipation of David’s review, I emailed Larry a few questions about why he undertook the task of doing all of this research on the agency. Here’s what he had to say. What is Peace Corps . . .

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The Peace Corps as a Plot Gimmick

I read where Brooke White, an “American Idol” Season 7 finalist, will star in Change of Plans, a TV movie presented by Fox. The 27-year-old singer-turned-actress will play a woman who becomes the legal guardian of four children after her best friend dies while serving in the Peace Corps.  (Wait, a PCV with four kids?) This is just the latest in a series of movies (and books) that uses the Peace Corps as a plot gimmick. The most famous one, and one of the first, was the very lowbrow movie Volunteers starring  Tom Hanks years before Hanks was an Oscar-winning megacelebrity.  In this silly movie, Hanks meets and stars with Rita Wilson who Tom later married. Volunteers is set in 1962–back when the Peace Corps was all the rage–and Hanks, speaking with an unfortunate accent meant to represent aristocratic wealth, plays a compulsive gambler, recently graduated from Yale, whose father suddenly refuses to pay his debts. To escape . . .

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Review of Patrick Chura's Thoreau The Land Surveyor

Thoreau the Land Surveyor by Patrick Chura (Lithuania 1992-94) University Press of Florida $34.95 212 pages October 2010 Reviewed by Mike Tidwell (Zaire 1985–87) MOST OF US WOULD LIKE TO BELIEVE HENRY DAVID THOREAU was as pure in his personal life as the natural world he extolled in books like Walden and The Maine Woods. But the man supported his writing habit by working as a land surveyor, actually laboring for some of the same companies who clear-cut the woods around Walden Pond and built the railroads that hastened the industrial dominance he so detested. Yet somehow author Patrick Chura makes sense of all these contradictions while creating another improbability: a scholarly book that’s as beautiful as it is unput-downable. Chura is himself the son of a land surveyor. He accompanied his dad on many surveying outings in and around St. Louis, Missouri during the 1970s and 80s. He is . . .

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Kentucky RPCVs tell their tales

Over the last several years, authors Angene Wilson & Jack Wilson (Liberia 1962–64) interviewed Returned Peace Corps Volunteers from Kentucky,  and this coming March, 2011, the University of Kentucky Press will publish: Voices From The Peace Corps: Fifty Years of Kentucky Volunteerswith a Foreword by Senator Christopher Dodd (Dominican Republic 1966–68). Recently I emailed Angene and Jack and asked them about their book and how it all came about. This is what they had to say. • Angene and Jack — why did you decide to do the book? Actually we decided to do the interviews first.  In spring 2004 I — Angene — was retiring after 29 years as a professor at the University of Kentucky, and looking for a new project. Jack was already retired. Both Jack and I were Liberia I volunteers and he was staff in Sierra Leone and Washington and then Director in Fiji and . . .

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Wisconsin RPCVs Do It Again! The 2011 International Calendar

The 2011 International Calendar produced by the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Wisconsin is now available. It honors the Peace Corps by featuring the first 13 countries to host Volunteers. This 2011 calendar is another beautiful (and useful) publication by this RPCV group. And it is one more step in fulfilling the third goal of the Peace Corps: To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans. Proceeds from its sale support development projects at home and aboard. Over $900,000 has been donated since the 1988 edition was created by the Madison, Wisconsin group. How’s that for Third Goal work by RPCVS! Congratulations are due these RPCVs. You can order your new International Calendar by writing, calling or emailing the group. The cost is $12.95. Returned Peace Corps Volunteers P.O. Box 1012 Madison, WI 53701-1012 #608.829.2677 e-mail: calendarmail@rpcvcalendar.org www.rpcvcalendar.org

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Fear, Loathing, and Thanks in the Home Depot Parking Lot

Life is unfair as we know and sometimes we have to go to Home Depot on a weekend morning,  even a weekend morning during the Christmas season when every one is buying trees and tools (i.e. toys) for Dad, and what-have-you.  I actually don’t mind the store, but the parking lot is a minefield of loose, lost, and dangerous nails, screws, and other tire-piercing pieces of metal, so I was proceding cautiously through the maze of  car lanes trying to select an area which most likely would have the least heavy metal and came upon an elderly gray-haired guy (well, lets say someone my age!) who was jaywalking down the middle of the car lane. I hit the brakes. He looked around angrily alarmed by my sudden arrival. I did the only sensible suburban thing I could think of: I smiled at him and passed by. Well, when I parked safely (I hoped) and got out of the . . .

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Peter Hessler's Book Makes NYTIMES List of 100 Notable Books of 2010

Country Driving: A Journey Though China From Farm to Factoryby Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) made the The New York Times Book Review(December 5, 2010) list of 100 notable books for the year. This book, the third of Hessler’s “China books,” chronicles the effects of an expanding road network on the rapidly changing lives of individual Chinese.

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The Peace Corps Library – Part I

  The first official mention of a Peace Corps Library is in a July 1965 memo to Charles J. Patterson, a former Acting Associate Director, supporting such a library “for the primary purpose of improved overseas staff orientation.” It was proposed that the agency “gather together in one convenient place a copy of fundamental materials which reflect our experience and which will help overseas staff. Of course these materials would prove of considerable value to the entire Peace Corps. If properly set up it will save the government time, space, and money and will help the agency learn what it has learned already: thus each new employee need not be condemned to relearn for himself what the agency already knows.” (Peace Corps ICE/Library Study December 22, 1982, page 2)   Nineteen sixty-five was an important year for Peace Corps. The agency was four years old, had weathered the assassination of . . .

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