Archive - February 2012

1
Chris Conlon (Botswana 1988-90) Nominated for Bram Stoker Award
2
Interview: Richard Tillotson (Malaysia 1967-69) Author of Acts of God While On Vacation
3
The Death of Kennedy and Haile Selassie Remembered
4
When Presidents Greeted PCVs on the South Lawn of the White House
5
The Practical Idealism of The Peace Corps, Essay by Jamie Price
6
Leaving El Salvador for the First Time 9.1.79 – 3.31.1980 Part One
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Don Messerschmidt (Nepal 1963-65) Wins National Award for Dog Book
8
Innocent RPCV Imprisoned in Nicaragua
9
Heather Kaschmitter — A Writer Writes
10
Review of Terry Marshall's Soda Springs: Love, Sex and Civil Rights

Chris Conlon (Botswana 1988-90) Nominated for Bram Stoker Award

Poet, writer, and editor Christopher Conlon (Botswana 1988–90) has been named one of six finalists for the prestigious Bram Stoker Award in the category of Superior Achievement in a Novel for his book A Matrix of Angels (Creative Guy Publishing, 2011). The Stokers have been given annually in a variety of categories since 1987 by the Horror Writers Association, and they are considered the premier award in the field. This year’s winners will be announced at a gala banquet March 31 at the World Horror Convention in Salt Lake City. “It’s very exciting,” says the author. “I won a Stoker a couple of years ago, but that was an award for my work as an editor. I’m thrilled that this time around the HWA has seen fit to recognize my writing.” Past winners of the Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Novel have included Stephen King, Peter Straub, and . . .

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Interview: Richard Tillotson (Malaysia 1967-69) Author of Acts of God While On Vacation

Interview: Richard Tillotson, Author of Acts of God While On Vacation By April Pohren, BLOGCRITICS.ORG Published 09:00 p.m., Sunday, February 12, 2012 Richard Tillotson has been a Peace Corps volunteer, a playwright in New York, a copywriter in Hawaii, and is a relative of an English Lord, all of which helped him write Acts of God While on Vacation, a National Semi-Finalist for the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and named “Hawaii’s best fiction book of 2011” by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser. He works in Honolulu and vacations in Washington DC. Please tell us a bit about your book and what you hope readers take away from reading it. The novel begins with a death threat received by a philandering general manager of a lavish Hawaii resort, jumps to an anthropologist researching headhunters in the jungles of Borneo, then to a demonic, scandal-mongering paparazzo in New York, and on to a gorgeous, party-loving . . .

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The Death of Kennedy and Haile Selassie Remembered

Continuing for a moment on the theme of JFK and Peace Corps Volunteers, I happen to get hold of an early copy of Mark K. Shriver’s book on his father entitled, A Good Man, that Henry Holt is publishing in June.  My wife is a magazine executive and her staff is trained to give her copies of any book about the Peace Corps or Ethiopia that arrives at the office! Mark’s book has the subtitle of Rediscovering my Father.  Sarge, as we know, died in January 2011 at the age of 95.  And in the last years of his long life he suffered from Alzheimer. A story Mark tells in his book  is about the immediate aftermath of Kennedy’s death, and the gathering of world dignitaries in Washington, D.C. for the state funeral. Shriver more or less ran the wake and funeral and on the day of the Mass and burial the White House was jammed with heads of state. Angie Duke, then the chief . . .

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When Presidents Greeted PCVs on the South Lawn of the White House

Lee Tuveson (Nepal (1962–64) was nice enough to send me a copy of the address that John F. Kennedy made to 600+ Peace Corps Trainees in Washington, D.C. on August 9, 1962. Lee , who was in attendance, was headed off to Nepal with that country’s first group of PCVs,  and Marian Beil and I, who were there as well, were leaving after Labor Day with the first group of Volunteers to Ethiopia. Here are JFK’s remarks to us, but really, Kennedy’s comments were for all the PCVs who would join the Peace Corps in the years to come. It would be great now to get comments from other departing Trainees who were on the White House lawn that August afternoon, and from those PCVs who were at “send-offs” by other presidents, or by Peace Corps Directors, in later years. What do you remember? • Ladies and gentlemen: We are very glad to welcome you here to the White House. This occasion . . .

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The Practical Idealism of The Peace Corps, Essay by Jamie Price

Maureen Orth (Colombia 1965-67) was kind enough to forward to me an article  entitled “Practical Idealism: How Sargent Shriver Built the Peace Corps”  in the February 10, 2012 issue of Commonweal magazine. The article was written by Jamie Price, the Director of the Insight Conflict Resolution Program at George Mason University and Executive Director of the Sargent Shriver Peace Institute. Commonweal, if you don’t know the publication, is a wonderful liberal independent journal of opinions published by lay Catholics. Their offices are located on the West Side of New York City, and as they say, they have “a good view of the Hudson River and beyond.” The Jamie Price piece is too long to re-print so let me just quote a few paragraphs. Jamie Price writes: “Fifty years ago the Peace Corps represented a brand-new idea. Nothing like it had ever been tried by the U.S. government, and the nation greeted it with widespread enthusiasm–one Harris . . .

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Leaving El Salvador for the First Time 9.1.79 – 3.31.1980 Part One

When is a country too dangerous for Peace Corps Volunteers to remain? And who decides? Host Country officials? Peace Corps staff?  Peace Corps Volunteers? Or, the State Department?  These questions are foundational issues for Peace Corps.  The collection, “El Salvador: The Making of U.S. Policy, 1977 -1984” (National Security Archive, George Washington University, Washington D. C)- includes 20 public documents in which we can see how Peace Corps answered these questions during a turbulent time in El Salvador, some 32 years ago.  The website for the National Security Archive is: www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/ Please note: “These materials are reproduced from www.nsarchive.org with the permission of the National Security Archive.” The documents consist of correspondence between Peace Corps in country staff and Peace Corps Washington; between Peace Corps staff and the State Department; and, between Peace Corps Volunteers assigned to El Salvador and Peace Corps Washington. Today, Peace Corps has withdrawn programs from Honduras . . .

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Don Messerschmidt (Nepal 1963-65) Wins National Award for Dog Book

Don Messerschmidt (Nepal 1963–65), anthropologist and writer, has won national recognition for his recent non-fiction book, Big Dogs of Tibet and the Himalayas: A Personal Journey (Orchid Press). His book received the Dog Writers Association of America’s (DWAA) prestigious Maxwell Medallion for Excellence at their annual meeting in New York City in early February.           Big Dogs is the result of Don’s life-long love of Tibetan mastiffs and other large canines of the Himalayan regions. He first went to Nepal as a Peace Corps Volunteer in 1963, and returned later as an anthropologist. After he encountered the big dogs of the Himalayan region he began nearly a half-century of research on their place in local cultures and as livestock (yak and sheep) guardians. The book, based on his in-depth research is part memoir, part history and cultural description, and part reference book about the Tibetan mastiffs, with sections on three . . .

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Innocent RPCV Imprisoned in Nicaragua

By Ashley Fantz, Jason Puracal, a 34-year-old American, is seen in this image shot last year, imprisoned in Nicaragua. Well-known human rights attorneys, FBI agent, Iran hikers defend imprisoned American Jason Puracal, 34, was a real estate agent working in Nicaragua No evidence was presented to support his conviction and 22-year sentence, defense says Supporters: Puracal has been behind bars for 15 months, is seriously ill (CNN) — Since last summer, a former Peace Corps volunteer from Washington state has been wasting away in a Nicaraguan prison, wrongfully convicted of international drug trafficking, money laundering and organized crime, his supporters say. A growing chorus of defense attorneys, investigators, human rights activists and lawmakers is calling for 34-year-old Jason Puracal’s release. Puracal’s advocates include the director of the California Innocence Project, the human-rights attorney who helped win freedom for Burmese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and an ex-FBI . . .

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Heather Kaschmitter — A Writer Writes

A Writer Writes Heather Kaschmitter was a Youth and Community Development Volunteer on the island of Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia. She was in the 69th group of PCVs to be sent to Micronesia. While there, she started a library at an elementary school and taught English part time, and all the while, she gathered stories of the island that someday she hoped to build into a book. Here is one of the stories she’ll tell. • Sakau Moon Ring by Heather Kaschmitter (Micronesia 2002–04) Disclaimer For me to write about sakau, I beg the forgiveness of the Pohnpeians, and any other culture that drinks kava.  As an American, there is no way I will ever be able to understand or appreciate the importance of this beverage completely. My understanding is that sakau was historically a sacred beverage. In the past, women were forbidden from drinking, and it is still looked down upon, even though women . . .

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Review of Terry Marshall's Soda Springs: Love, Sex and Civil Rights

Soda Springs: Love, Sex and Civil Rights by Terry Marshall (Philippines 1965–68; Solomon Islands & Kiribati Co-CD 1977–80, PC Washington 1980–82) Illustrations by Chuck Asay Friesen Press 367 pages Hardcover $30.39, paperback $19.13, Kindle $7.79 December 2010 Reviewed by Tony D’Souza (Ivory Coast 2000–02, Madagascar 2002–03) IF A POLITICALLY-CORRECT, TWO-DIMENSIONAL  soap opera  featuring twenty-year-old virgins is what you’re looking for, then Terry Marshall’s novel Soda Springs: Love, Sex and Civil Rights is the book for you. One of the reasons I found the novel irksome — just as with another recent book by a former Peace Corps Country Director, J. Larry Brown and Peasants Come Last — is Marshall’s heavy-handed marketing of Soda Springs. Unlike most review books that come my way, Soda Springs was accompanied by a leaflet campaign touting the cumbersome tome as, “Soda Springs, a place you’ll never forget. A book you can’t put down. You’ll laugh. . . .

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