Archive - March 2012

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Toby Lester's (Yemen 1983-85) New Book: Da Vinci's Ghost
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Under the Elms
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Todd Fredson (Ivory Coast 2000-02) Wins 2011 Patricia Bibby First Book Prize
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Are PCVs and RPCVS at Risk for Taking Mefloquine?
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Where Have All The Men Gone? Well, Maybe It Is A Good Thing…
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Charlie Peters Has More To Say!
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Kluge's New Novel Reviewed in NYTIMES Today!
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The RPCV who quit money (and the writer who told his tale)
9
PC/W Talks Cooperation with RPCVs in D.C.
10
Calling All Peace Corps Writers!

Toby Lester's (Yemen 1983-85) New Book: Da Vinci's Ghost

Here is a quick summary of  Toby Lester’s (Yeman 1983–85) new book Da Vinci’s Ghost: Genius, Obsession, and How Leonardo Created the World in His Own Image that has already been published, to great reviews, in England, and is now available in the U.S. This is the story of Vitruvian Man: Leonardo da Vinci’s famous drawing of a man in a circle and a square. Deployed today to celebrate subjects as various as the nature of genius, the beauty of the human form, and the universality of the human spirit, the figure appears on everything from coffee cups and T-shirts to book covers and corporate logos. In short, it has become the world’s most famous cultural icon, yet almost nobody knows anything about it. Leonardo didn’t summon Vitruvian Man out of thin air. He was playing with the idea, set down by the Roman architect Vitruvius, that the human body could be . . .

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Under the Elms

Marnie Mueller (Ecuador 1963–65) writes about her story: Though not immediately obvious there is a link between my story, Under the Elms, and my reasons for joining the Peace Corps. Ever since I was born, a half-Jewish, white child in a Japanese American Internment camp, my life has been inextricably entwined with issues of race, class, ethnicity and religion in our country. My parents were highly educated with advance d degrees from major universities, but because my father was a community organizer and because, as a result, we were poor, I grew up in poor and working class neighborhoods. My friends were German American farm children in southeastern Ohio whose parents blamed “the Jews” for WWII, French Canadian children of factory workers in Winooski, Vermont who were looked down upon by the dominant New England population, and, as in this story, children of working class poor, and single-mother families in . . .

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Todd Fredson (Ivory Coast 2000-02) Wins 2011 Patricia Bibby First Book Prize

Todd Fredson (Ivory Coast 2000–02) has won the 2011 Patricia Bibby First Book Prize for his collection of poems entitled, The Crucifix-Blocks. This annual prize is from Tebot Bach Publishing of Huntington Beach, CA. and is open to any poet who has not published a full length collection. The prize offers $1000, publication of the book, and promotional support. The judge for the 2011 competition was David St. John. Of his new collection of poems, Todd Fredson says, “I wanted to  explore that time in the Ivory Coast, such as it was — revolutionary — and  to explore the haunting of my dad’s Vietnam experience — they seemed companionable events in my life. I ended up really exploring the limits of speakability, and on the consequences of hitting those limits, which certainly provided its own commentary on the subjects.” Today, Todd is getting his PhD in Creative Writing from the . . .

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Are PCVs and RPCVS at Risk for Taking Mefloquine?

The Huffington Post has a piece on line today that Bonnie Lee Black (Gabon 1996-98) emailed  me about on how the military scrambled to limit the use of the notorious anti-malaria drug called mefloquine (you might have known it as  Lariam) after that soldier’s attack on innocent children. Are you at risk,  we might ask? Remember how we took that drug in Africa and elsewhere? Here’ is the Huff Post article written by Mark Benjamin, an investigative reporter in D. C.,  that points the finger at mefloquine as a possible cause of Bales’ tragic behavior. WASHINGTON — Nine days after a U.S. soldier allegedly massacred 17 civilians in Afghanistan, a top-level Pentagon health official ordered a widespread, emergency review of the military’s use of a notorious anti-malaria drug called mefloquine. Mefloquine, also called Lariam, has severe psychiatric side effects. Problems include psychotic behavior, paranoia and hallucinations. The drug has been implicated in numerous . . .

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Where Have All The Men Gone? Well, Maybe It Is A Good Thing…

Board of Directors Elections 2012 The Governance Committee of the NPCA Board of Directors announces the 2012 elections for member-elected representatives to the NPCA Board of Directors. NOMINATIONS ARE NOW CLOSED.  Voting will take place primarily online between March 30 and April 30, 2012. All eligible voters will receive an election flyer in the mail with instructions on how to vote. Each candidate was asked to state (in 100 words or less) “why you want to serve on the NPCA board and what you hope to accomplish as a board member.” Voting is open to current NPCA members only. To renew your membership and/or update your contact information, log into the NPCA membership database here.(Note the “forgotten your password” link under the login boxes, if needed.) The candidates up for election are as follows. Please click on the names below to read their biographies and nomination statements.  Note that you may also . . .

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Charlie Peters Has More To Say!

[This Op-Ed by Joe Nocera appeared in the NYTIMES this morning. Nocera writes about a man many of us remember fondly, Charlie Peters. A lawyer, WWII Veteran, Kennedy campaigner,  Master’s in English and former West Virginia Legislator, Charlie was chosen by Shriver to run the first evaluation unit in a federal agency at the Peace Corps. Peters did so with relish, hiring professional journalists and fanning them out overseas to independently evaluate the new Peace Corps programs, many times these reporters wrote evaluations that upset the people back in HQ who had created those programs. The RPCVs who were around in those early days remember him fondly. Well, Charlie is still at it, spinning out words of wisdom after all these years. And what Charlie has to say about government agencies, and the personnel in them, still rings true. The Peace Corps attempted to avoid stagnation with the unique policy of  “In, Up and Out.” The . . .

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Kluge's New Novel Reviewed in NYTIMES Today!

The very tough New York Times reviewer Janet Maslin gives a rave review of P.F. Kluge’s new novel, The Master Blaster, in Monday, March 26, 2012 edition, calling Kluge’s novel, “stingingly funny.” She goes onto write: “Mr. Kluge, who went to Saipan as a Peace Corps volunteer in 1967 and has made repeated visits ever since, makes a fine alter ego out of the Master Blaster. Both the writer and his trouble-making character are seasoned ironists, expert connoisseurs of corruption.” Kluge peoples his novel with a great cast of characters who all arrive on the same plane and make a bet about who will stay longest: George Griffin, a travel writer, “George is the best kind of hack: a smart one…” Stephanie Warner, an academic recruited for a college on Saipan. “(What does it say about this college, she wonders, that its only advance meeting with her was conducted at the food . . .

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The RPCV who quit money (and the writer who told his tale)

In 2000, a man in Moab, Utah left his life savings — $30 — in a phone booth and walked away. Twelve years later that man — Daniel Suelo — enjoys an apparently full and sane life without money, credit, barter or government hand-outs, as he fulfills a vision of the good life inspired by his spiritual guides: Jesus, Buddha and wandering Hindu monks. Suelo, whose real name is Daniel Shellabarger, is an RPCV who served in the village of El Hato in the Andes, Ecuador (1988-89) as a health PCV. A friend of Suelo’s, former river guide and now writer Mark Sundeen, has written a book that traces the path and the singular idea that led Suelo to his extreme lifestyle. In The Man Who Quit Money, Sundeen delivers a myth for our times — one that happens to be a true story . The Man Who Quit Money . . .

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PC/W Talks Cooperation with RPCVs in D.C.

Kristina Owens (Bolivia 2000-02), the ‘Strategic Partnership Director’ of RPCV/W sent out the following email to ‘RPCV friends and supporters’ of the group. She was  relating what she titles, “A Successful RPCV/W Peace Corps Town Hall Meeting!” held last week in Shriver Hall at PC/HQ. Here it is, reprinted. Dear RPCV Friends and supporters, Last week’s Peace Corps Town Hall Meeting was a resounding success, in part because of the interest and questions from the RPCV community. Over 100 RPCVs came to listen to the Peace Corps Leadership and participated in the Q & A session. RPCV/W President Chris Austin began the hour by reflecting on how our community came together to commemorate 50 years of the Peace Corps; it was a tribute to a diverse community who understood that Peace Corps affected each of us in an important way.        This effort continues to inspire RPCV/W to facilitate new and creative initiatives . . .

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Calling All Peace Corps Writers!

Award winning novelist Joseph Monninger (Burkina Faso 1975-77) has a good idea. He suggested that www.peacecorpsworldwide.org start publishing on this site–perhaps one a month–a short story written by an RPCV. As Joe wrote me, “everyone has one fiction story sitting in our desk with nowhere to publish”….true enough. (In fact, I have more than one.) So if you all are up for it—and to make my life even more complicated than it is–Marian and I will can start publishing short stories–fiction only–on the site, and when we have enough, publish the best as a PeaceCorpsWriters book? Some ground rules: 1) The story can be on any topic–fiction only–and we would like an international angle. 2) Stories can’t be longer than 10,000 words (unless it is really, really good!) 3) Send it to me by email. 4) We will publish it for free; you’ll keep all rights. 5) Send a short narrative bio of yourself, where you were in the . . .

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