Archive - April 2011

1
Change.org Joins First Response Action Efforts
2
Review of Kelly Clancy's Soldiers of God
3
Review — FROM THE SAN JOAQUIN by Barry Kitterman (Belize)
4
Review of Roland Merullo's (Micronesia 1979-80) A Russian Requiem
5
Andrew Clark’s unfinished memoir, Lost and Found in West Africa, 3
6
Andrew Clark's unfinished memoir, Lost and Found in West Africa, 1
7
Andrew Clark's unfinished memoir, Lost and Found in West Africa, 2
8
Andrew Clark's (Senegal 1978-80) Last Words on Senegal
9
Books by RPCVs and the Peace Corps Staff
10
Paul Theroux's Novels of Africa
11
The Peace Corps Volunteer as a Fictional Character
12
The Famous Peace Corps Book Lockers
13
Huntsville Times Article on Virginia Gilbert (Korea 1971-73)
14
Vietnam Journeys
15
The Peace Corps Slogan Lives On

Change.org Joins First Response Action Efforts

Change.org has taken an interest in First Response Action’s efforts to advocate for an improved response from Peace Corps for Volunteers. They launched a petition today advocating for  proposed legislation to cement changes to support Peace Corps Volunteers who are victimized. You can sign and share the petition here: http://www.change.org/petitions/tell-peace-corps-protect-volunteers-back-anti-sexual-violence-legislation. They already received 1,432 signatures in the last 24 hours! Members of First Response Action recently spoke with Peace Corps staff members and they shared their improvements within the organizaton. Those improvements to support Volunteers and victims of sexual and physical violence are listed here in a post they created to celebrate the steps Peace Corps has taken to improve training and response. There are many steps yet to be taken, accordding to First Response Action, but these initial improvements are a good sign. The post was also in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which is April. The House Foreign Affairs Committee is tentatively scheduled . . .

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Review of Kelly Clancy's Soldiers of God

Soldiers of God (graphic novel) by Kelly Clancy (Turkmenistan 2004–06) Sixta Comics (www.thedivinebanquet.com) $15.00 256 pages 2010 Reviewed by Ian Kreisberg IF YOU ARE INTERESTED in reading a smart, challenging, visceral, slightly unnerving comic which compellingly and uniquely shares the converging story of two people in a style that is both familiar and foreign authored by someone who spent two years in Turkmenbashi, Turkmenistan and paid for by the co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, then may I suggest Soldiers of God by Kelly Clancy? Or, to expostulate, there is something about Soldiers of God that is flawlessly unsettling (not the same as unsettlingly flawless, the book has flaws) and embedded in the book’s DNA. There are patches of narration that unsettle because you don’t know who the speaker is, you only know that you believe in them and, when they combine with the spidery scrawl of the lettering, . . .

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Review — FROM THE SAN JOAQUIN by Barry Kitterman (Belize)

From the San Joaquin: Stories by Barry Kitterman (Belize 1976–78) Southern Methodist University Press $23.95 208 pages 2011 Reviewed by Marnie Mueller (Ecuador 1963–65) IN ANTICIPATION OF WRITING THIS REVIEW I read Barry Kitterman’s award winning debut novel, The Baker’s Boy (The Maria Thomas Award for Fiction), which I admired greatly, but which didn’t prepare me for the muscular, thoroughly authentic voice of From the San Joaquin. From the San Joaquin has been compared to Winesburg, Ohio; it’s more a novel in form than a collection of short stories as well as a decidedly American story of small town life, but unlike Winesburg it never flirts with the grotesque, nor panders to notions of quaintness. Covering a forty year span, Kitterman subtly weaves the lives of half a dozen main characters and a dozen subsidiary ones into a complex, multileveled narrative. It’s set in Ivanhoe, California in Tulare County, the . . .

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Review of Roland Merullo's (Micronesia 1979-80) A Russian Requiem

A Russian Requiem Roland Merullo (Micronesia 1979–80) AJAR Contemporaries March 2011 461 pages Paperback $22 Reviewed by Tony D’Souza (Ivory Coast 2000–02; Madagascar 2002–03) ROLDAN MERULLO’S 1993 NOVEL, A Russian Requiem, has been re-released by AJAR Contemporaries. Coming new to the book, I can’t help but draw parallels between his take on the last days of the USSR and the contemporary changing of the guard we are fortunate to be witnessing in North Africa, bloody as it’s been. For those of us old enough — yes, there is already a generation too young to remember drunk Boris Yeltsin waving the Russian flag from the hood of a tank in Red Square — the lightning quick obliteration of the Iron Curtain seemed, to me, at least — having practiced hiding under my school desk in Chicago through the ’80s as the nuns conducted our nuclear attack drills — something so monumental . . .

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Andrew Clark’s unfinished memoir, Lost and Found in West Africa, 3

This essay (# 3) is the last from Andrew Clark’s (Senegal 1978-80) unfinished memoir Lost and Found in West Africa. While there is much more in this manuscript, it would be up to the family (Michiko Clark especially) to publish it as a book. But for now, thank you, Michiko, for sharing these short pieces with us.] Birth After I had been in Bidiancoto about a month, a very special event occurred. I knew that Ruby Diallo, Mamadou Boye Sow’s only wife, was expecting their second child. No one ever talked directly about pregnancy, fearing bad luck and “evil spirits.” Nevertheless, it was obvious Ruby was expecting, and very soon. One of my friends remarked that Ruby’s stomach “wasn’t just full of millet and leaf sauce.” That was as close as anyone came to saying that Ruby was expecting. I spent a lot of time in the compound with Ruby, and in many . . .

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Andrew Clark's unfinished memoir, Lost and Found in West Africa, 1

[This essay (# 1) is from Andrew Clark’s (Senegal 1978-80) unfinished memoir Lost and Found in West Africa. His niece, Michiko Clark, was kind enough to send me the manuscript that the family found after Andrew’s death earlier this year.  This is one of three short sections that I culled from the book.  These pieces show how well Andrew understood Senegal, and it gives us all a feeling of how much he loved his host country. In the old days we would have called  him a Super Vol.] Arrival Perhaps the greatest gift that Senegal and Africa gave me was the ability, on a mere moment’s notice, to plunge right back into that world, see once again the faces, recall snatches of conversations, hear voices and laughter and cries, and relive experiences as if they had only just happened minutes before. Even in the dead of a bitter Midwestern winter, I could close my eyes . . .

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Andrew Clark's unfinished memoir, Lost and Found in West Africa, 2

[This essay is from Andrew Clark’s (Senegal 1978-80) unfinished memoir Lost and Found in West Africa. His niece, Michiko Clark, was kind enough to sent me the manuscript that the family found after Andrew’s death earlier this year.  This is one of three short sections that I culled from the book.  These pieces show how well Andrew understood Senegal, and it gives us all a feeling of how much he loved his host country. In the old days we would have called  him a Super Vol.] Assimilation, Acclimation, and Accommodation In the early days, one of the main problems with the language was figuring out the different tenses without a common language. After some perplexing experiences, I realized that Mamadou didn’t clearly understand tenses in French because he had never learned them. I was, therefore, on my own when it came to deciphering past, present, and future in Pulaar. As long as I had those . . .

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Andrew Clark's (Senegal 1978-80) Last Words on Senegal

Michiko Clark wrote me recently. She works for Pantheon, the book publisher, and she helped to promote a Peace Corps book awhile back, but she was writing now about her family, especially about her uncle Andrew Clark, who recently passed away. In her email, she wrote:   “I come from a family of Peace Corps Volunteers. My father was in Nigeria and Uganda, 1966-68. Then his two brothers, Andrew (Senegal, 1978-80) and Peter (Paraguay, 1988-90) joined. The next wave includes a cousin in Mauritania (2000-02) and my sister in the Dominican Republic (2003-2005). “But it was my uncle Andrew who never really ended his Peace Corps experience. After his service in Senegal, he went on to get his doctorate in African History and became a professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, spreading his knowledge and stories of Senegal and West Africa with his students, and encouraging many of them to join the Peace . . .

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Books by RPCVs and the Peace Corps Staff

Marian Haley Beil (Ethiopia 1962–64) has done us a great service by pulling together our Peace Corps books! These are books written by RPCVs and the Staff about the Peace Corps experience and the agency over the last fifty years. Take a look. There are 223 books that are only the books written by Peace Corps Volunteers about their Peace Corps experience. There is also a list of books on the agency. And another list by members of the Peace Corps family. Marian has done these lists in preparation for the Library of Congress Luncheon next September in Washington, D.C., the first events of the 50th Anniversary. The lists will then be linked to the Library of Congress website. Take a look at: Bibliography of the Peace Corps Experience Peace Corps History The Peace Corps Experience – staff and family

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Paul Theroux's Novels of Africa

My recent blog on novels that featured ‘Peace Corps fictional characters’ has generated some interest in novels written by RPCVs with Peace Corps characters. And that, naturally, leads us to Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-65). Theroux’s first three novels were set in Africa: Fong and the Indians (1968); Girls at Play (1969); Jungle Lovers (1971). Years later the books were combined into a single edition from Penguin (1996) and published as On The Edge of the Great Rift: Three Novels of Africa. In the Preface to this volume, Theroux writes: “At the age of twenty-two, hoping to avoid being drafted into the US army, but also wishing to see the world, I joined the Peace Corps. When I went to Malawi in 1963 it was called the Nyasaland Protectorate.” After the Peace Corps and his ‘dismissal,” which he has written about elsewhere, he went to Uganda and signed a four-year contract to teach at Makerere . . .

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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 source for  “characters” in novels not written by RPCVs. The first books about “PCVs” were YAs, young adult novels, not serious fiction. In 1963, Breaking the Bonds: A Novel about the Peace Corps, written by Sharon Spencer, 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. 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 popular of all “Peace Corps novels,” The Zinzin Road. Written by a very successful commercial novelist and political writer, Fletcher Knebel, worked briefly as a . . .

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The Famous Peace Corps Book Lockers

[In the early days of the agency, PCVs were ‘equipped’ with a book locker when they went off to their sites. From what I have been able to find out, it was Eunice Shriver who came up with the idea of sending PCVs overseas with a box of books. Books for their own enjoyment and to use as ‘starter’ libraries in villages and towns in the developing world. By the mid-60s, however, these book lockers for Volunteers were discontinued, too expensive for the agency. However, in an early memo to PCVs, Sarge Shriver explained to the Volunteers what the book lockers were all about:] “We know you need books,” he wrote. “This Booklocker of paperbacks and other inexpensive publications is designed to meet that need. It includes classics and contemporary writing by both American and foreign authors, as well as titles on American history, politics, and social thought. There are also books on the area where you are . . .

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Huntsville Times Article on Virginia Gilbert (Korea 1971-73)

Huntsville poet describes Peace Corps influences during Washington, D.C., conference Thursday, April 21, 2011 By Ann Marie Martin The Huntsville Times The Peace Corps promises to give you “the toughest job you’ll ever love” helping people around the world. When you’re a poet, the Peace Corps also gives you experiences that can inspire your art for a lifetime. Acclaimed local poet Virginia Gilbert discussed how her time in the Peace Corps has fueled her writing during “Broadening the Poet’s Vision Through the Peace Corps Experience,” a panel presentation she led during the Association of Writers & Writing Programs’ 2011 Conference & Bookfair in Washington, D.C., in February. Gilbert, professor emeritus of English at Alabama A&M University, is the author of the poetry collection “That Other Brightness.” Her poems also have appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, The Seneca Review, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Now, The North American Review, Southern Poetry Review, New . . .

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Vietnam Journeys

The other day I received in the mail a beautiful coffee table size book, Vietnam Journeys, from the publish, Gail Fields. The photos for this lovely book were done (I believe) by her husband, Charles Fields, a first class photographer who is a member of the Photography Arts Collective, the Provincetown Art Association, and the American Society of Media Photographers. He is one serious photographer. However, we review and promote only PCV and RPCV and Peace Corps Staff writers and their books. What gives? Why am I getting this lovely book? Then I noticed that the text was done by Mary Ann Braggs, who lives in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and who is a journalist. She was in the Peace Corps from 1980-82, serving in Lobatse, Botswana and that qualifies Vietnam Journeys for a listing in our new books for April and an upcoming review on this site.

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The Peace Corps Slogan Lives On

[I found this following comment on a blog run by Adil Syed who lives in Pakistan. The blog item was written by Sharon Housley who manages marketing for FeedForAll http://www.feedforall.comsoftware for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for NotePage http://www.notepage.net a wireless text messaging software company.] “Let’s take a look at slogans and how just a few words can say volumes. A slogan is a memorable phrase used in conjunction with a political, commercial, or religious advertisement. Slogans are used to convey a deeper meaning. Slogans can be used to elicit emotions, or the slogan might paint a visual image that implies something more. “When considering a slogan or a tagline, keep in mind your objectives. What image do you wish to portray? Slogans should be short, but not to the point of being pithy. Slogans should conjure positive images and distinguish the value your company . . .

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