Archive - July 2012

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RPCV Tara Smith Designs Lingerie in Cameroon
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Latest on PCVs in Ghana
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The Man Who First Said 'Peace Corps'
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More on PCVs in Ghana
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My Menorca, Part II
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Review of Paul Theroux's The Lower River
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Two PCVs Arrested for Killing HCN in Ghana
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My Menorca, Part One
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Peter Hessler Writes From Cairo in Latest New Yorker
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A Writer Writes: Bulo Burte Blues

RPCV Tara Smith Designs Lingerie in Cameroon

When RPCV Tara Smith buys lingerie, she thinks of women in West Africa-and she wants intimate apparel enthusiasts everywhere to feel the   same way. The 26-year-old co-founder of Cherie Amie-a fair-trade intimate apparel company with operations in Cameroon and the first of its kind to contribute 100 percent of its profits to sustainable antipoverty measures for women-will say as much on Saturday when she holds a lingerie launch party at Dallas-based Swallow Lounge to celebrate her Indiegogo.com video campaign. Her goal with the video: To raise $15,000 for her first lingerie line by Friday, August 31. Shot in a high-rise penthouse above Dallas, the video features three models posing tantalizingly in baby dolls, teddies, and panties handcrafted and sewn by artisans in Cameroon.  A brief description under the video explains why the company needs $15,000 to jumpstart a lingerie line.  Smith  explains why she felt the need to start a lingerie line . . .

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Latest on PCVs in Ghana

Ghana’s attorney general is examining whether to open a formal investigation after a PCV stabbed a robber who subsequently died. PCV Andrew Kistler used a knife in self-defense and stabbed the attacker in the chest late Friday in the northern town of Wa, regional police commander Kofi Adei-Akyeampong said.  During the attack, Kistler, who was accompanied by a second PCV, was injured with a machete. The police found him with a bandaged hand and a bloody shirt at his house early Saturday. “One of the assailants tried to slash him with a machete,” said deputy regional commander Osei Ampofo-Duku. One of the two attackers, identified by police as Eliasu Najat, 22, was found dead Saturday morning. The case has been sent to the attorney general, who will decide whether it warrants prosecution. “It is possible they committed a crime … but everyone knows they were trying to defend themselves and this . . .

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The Man Who First Said 'Peace Corps'

John Peter Grothe died on Saturday, June 16th in Los Altos, California from brain injury caused by a fall. He was 81. Peter was an early and important person in the world of the Peace Corps. He lived a long life, and had made accomplishments, but what he was most proud of was a memo he wrote back in early 1960s that gave the Peace Corps its name. At the time, he told me, he was just a kid working for Senator Hubert H. Humphrey and drafted a memo for the senator that included the name Peace Corps in an idea floating around Official Washington, the idea of sending young people overseas, not to fight, but to help others. A lot of people disliked the term: Peace Corps, thinking it was too military, but Humphrey ran with it, and when he lost to Kennedy, he gave the idea to Kennedy who introduced the concept to . . .

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More on PCVs in Ghana

Despite initial reports from Ghana that the pair was arrested, a State Department official said Ghanaian police did not detain the PCVs. “We are closely monitoring the situation and are providing consular assistance,” State Department spokesperson Patrick Ventrell told a news briefing, adding that the incident was under investigation by Ghanaian officials. A police officer in the northern town of Wa said the incident happened over the weekend when the volunteers were attacked by two robbers. Maureen Knightly, the director of communications for the Peace Corps, said both volunteers had been released and picked up by the organization’s staff. “They voluntarily reported the incident to the local authorities later that morning, were interviewed by local police and released later that day,” Knightly said. The U.S. embassy in the capital Accra confirmed that police were investigating an incident. Nearly 5,000 Peace Corps volunteers have worked in Ghana since 1961.

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My Menorca, Part II

She was an enchanted island, lost in the midst of the sea. Her people lived their lives wedded to their tasks, knowing nothing of other lands or other skies or other seas. Because for them there was no other world beyond their own. From A Menorcan Romance by Gumersindo Riera From the air, Menorca lies open like one’s palm, smooth and pink, and crisscrossed with twisting and narrow roads that appear like so many lifelines. The island, one also sees from the air, crowds its coasts. High-rises hotel complexes and sprawling urbanizations hem in rocky coves and patches of Mediterranean sand, leaving the interior landscape to a few towns, miles of low, rock walls, and isolated whitewashed farmhouses. What is new to me, arriving this summer after three decades away, are the dozens of  the tall, thin white wind generators. As I mentioned, when I first arrived in ’67 Menorca was . . .

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Review of Paul Theroux's The Lower River

The Lower River Paul Theroux (Nyasaland/Malawi 1963-1965) Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 323 pages Hardcover $25 May 2012 Reviewed by Tony D’Souza (Ivory Coast 2000-02, Madagascar 2002-03) PAUL THEROUX HAS HAD A LONG and storied career. After collaborating with Moses on the travel sections of the Old Testament, he then wrote a novel about the writing of Tristram Shandy, which he witnessed, before following up with a non-fiction book retracing the retracing of his quinquireme voyage from Nineveh to distant Ophir, scrimshawing notes the whole way. Later, he had a tragic falling out with both Johnson and Bierce concerning ‘pled’ versus ‘pleaded’ before shaking hands with Mr. & Mrs. Lech Walesa, all drunk, at the marriage of the maharani of East Timor. In the same calendar year. While contributing to Smithsonian. Or something like that. I believe that The Lower River is the fourth book I’ve reviewed by Theroux in the past . . .

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Two PCVs Arrested for Killing HCN in Ghana

The police in Ghana have arrested two Peace Corps Volunteers in Ghana in connection with the killing of a local man who tried to rob them, police said on Monday. A police officer in the northern town of Wa said the incident happened at the weekend when they were attacked by two robbers. One Peace Corps volunteer fought back with a knife, fatally wounding one of the assailants, said the officer, who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak to media. The U.S. embassy in the capital Accra confirmed that police were investigating an incident involving Peace Corps volunteers. “They were involved in a safety and security situation in the early hours of Saturday and the police are investigating,” embassy spokeswoman Sara Stryker said.

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My Menorca, Part One

The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there. The Go-Between L. P. Hartley Pity this busy monster, manunkind, Not. Progress is a comfortable disease: e.e. cummings In the fall of ’67 I arrived on the tiny island of Menorca, the most easterly of the Balearic Islands. I arrived from the highlands of Ethiopia after finishing up two-years as an APCD. I arrived on a DC-3 in the last year before the island’s new airport opened for jets and package tours from England, Germany and the Low Countries. I arrived in Menorca before the way of life on that tiny island changed forever. It was a golden time and I thought it might last forever, this quiet eye in the hurricane rush of summer tourism to the Mediterranean. I remember how on the first evening in Mahon I walked from my hotel through the tight, winding streets of . . .

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Peter Hessler Writes From Cairo in Latest New Yorker

In the double issue (July 9 & 16) of The New Yorker, Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) weights in with a Talk of the Town item on wasta,  the term for ‘connections’ in the Arab world. Peter tells the story of Mohamed Morsi, not the new president, but ‘another’ Mohamed Morsi (Hessler says is a distinctive name) who Peter met at the headquarters of the Freedom and Justice Party in downtown Cario… “Two Sundays ago, ninety minutes after Mohamed Morsi was named the winner of  the first free Presidentail election in Egyptian history. ” In his short piece, Peter tells one man’s story, and at the same time he tells us a lot about what is going on on the ground in Cairo. He takes an incident: this man in nearly a hundred degree heat walked an hour from El Madabegh to the headquarters of the Muslin Brotherhood to cash in on wasta because he didn’t have . . .

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A Writer Writes: Bulo Burte Blues

Bulo Burte Blues by Bob Criso (Nigeria & Somalia 1966-68) From the moment the plane landed in Mogadishu, I was a stranger in a strange land. I was a lame duck, a refugee from Nigeria. Evacuated during the Biafran War with eight months left of my two years, I was given the option of going to another country in Africa. I chose Somalia. After adjusting to the hot and buggy tropics, I arrived in a dry and sterile desert. Just when my Igbo had become serviceable, I had to try to decipher Somali. Ask me anything about the history of Nigeria and I might know the answer. But Somalia?   My first stop was the Peace Corps office where I overheard a Volunteer yelling, threatening to kill himself if they didn’t get him out of “this fucking country” within twenty-four hours. It was jolting. I was told Somalia had the . . .

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