Archive - May 2013

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Review of Life in Guatemala 1963-65: Recollections of our Peace Corps Service 1963
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Peace Corps Poem on YouTube
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Looking for a Summer Writing Workshop? Look at West Virginia University!
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Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) and Michael Meyer (China 1995-97) Talk China at the Asia Society
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Peace Corps Deputy Director Remarks to Family and Friends at the Celebration of the Life and Service of RPCV Ambassador Chris Stevens
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Molly Melching (Senegal 1976-79) Changing Minds in Senegal to Protect Girls From Genital Cutting
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Review of Eugene T. Caruso (Malawi 1990-92) This Is Africa: Peace Corps Malawi and The Liberian Civil War
8
Film On Baseball and Political Turmoil in Manipur, India
9
Former Morocco Country Director David Burgess Remembers Chris Stevens
10
Review of Burgess Needle's (Thailand 1967-69) Thai Comic Books

Review of Life in Guatemala 1963-65: Recollections of our Peace Corps Service 1963

Recollections of our Peace Corps Service 1963-65: Kick-Off, Life in Guatemala, and Afterwards Compiled by Ramona Whaley, edited by Dave Smits Peace Corps Writers, $13.75 288 pages 2012 Reviewed by Leita Kaldi Davis (Senegal 1993-96) Recollections of Our Peace Corps Service 1963-65 is a unique compilation of stories and essays written by an entire group of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, “Guatemala III,” a “mixed bag” that included an African American, Japanese Chomorro, Jews, and Hispanic Americans.  The book is divided into three sections: (1) Roads to the Peace Corps and the Training Experience; (2) Service in Guatemala; (3) Thereafter.  Each writer recalls being inspired by JFK’s unforgettable “ask not” speech, and they all share the “black anguish” of his assassination.  Several participated in the March on Washington in 1963 and heard Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “mountaintop speech” that filled them with an idealistic, determination to promote justice, equality . . .

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Looking for a Summer Writing Workshop? Look at West Virginia University!

Summer Writing Workshop Offers Discount to Peace Corps Writers Anyone connected with the Peace Corps who writes (or would like to write) is invited–at a Peace Corps discount–to attend the West Virginia Writers’ Workshop July 18 to July 21 on the campus of West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia. This program is run by Mark Brazaitis (Guatemala 1990-93). Mark’s books include The Incurables: Stories and The River of Lost Voices: Stories from Guatemala. He directs the West Virginia Writers’ Workshop. Over four productive and thrilling days, attendees will participate in intimate (no more than 12 people) writing workshops under the guidance of nationally recognized authors of fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and screenplays, including RPCVs Sandra Meek (Botswana 1989-91) and Mark Brazaitis (Guatemala 1990-93); will engage in interactive craft talks; will listen to and participate in readings of creative work; and will learn how to navigate the sometimes intimidating world of . . .

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Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) and Michael Meyer (China 1995-97) Talk China at the Asia Society

Peter Hessler: Strange Stones   “Strange Stones” (Harper Collins, 2013), by Peter Hessler (R). (Hessler photo: Darryl Kennedy) Two members of the famous “China Gang” of Peace Corps writers, Peter Hessler and Mike Meyer, will be talking about China and Peter’s new book, Strange Stones at the Asia Society on Tuesday, May 21, 2013, at 6:30 p.m to 8:30 p.m. Here are the details: ChinaFile Presents: Peter Hessler, author of the recently published Strange Stones: Dispatches from East and West, a collection of essays and writing on China and the United States over the past decade. He will be in discussion with author Michael Meyer and Susan Jakes, Editor of ChinaFile. Strange Stones is a far-ranging, thought-provoking collection of Hessler’s best reportage from The New Yorker over the past decade. During this time, Hessler lived in both Asia and the United States, writing as both native and knowledgeable outsider in . . .

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Peace Corps Deputy Director Remarks to Family and Friends at the Celebration of the Life and Service of RPCV Ambassador Chris Stevens

Marian Beil (Ethiopia 1962-64) and Tino Calabia (Peru 1963-65) set up a petition on SignOn  on October 19, 2012 to rally the Peace Corps Community to ask the Peace Corps to honor RPCV and Ambassador Chris Stevens (Morocco 1983-85) at the Peace Corps Headquarters. A month later, in mid November, the Acting Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet (Western Samoa 1981-83) said  the agency would do so, and on May 2, 2013, in Shriver Hall an event was held by the agency.  The Celebration of the life and Service of The Honorable J. Christopher Stevens was a simple and touching event, with short words of rememberance from former Morocco Country Director David Burgess; fellow Morocco Peace Corps Volunteer Amie Bishop; Ambassador Stevens’ Father Jan Stevens; Ambassador Stevens’ Sister Hilary Stevens; and Ambassador Stevens’ Mother Mary Commanday. The special event was opened and closed with remarks from the Peace Corps Deputy Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet. Good Afternoon.  It’s my pleasure to welcome you . . .

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Molly Melching (Senegal 1976-79) Changing Minds in Senegal to Protect Girls From Genital Cutting

[I caught this program tonight, Thursday, May 9, 2013, on the PBS News Hour….if you can, catch it. And, read this account. Now here is an RPCV still at work in her host country. She is amazing, and she is making amazing progress.] Changing Minds in Senegal to Protect Girls From Genital Cutting] By: Fred de Sam Lazaro  NewsHour special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro asks Molly Melching about her efforts to educate Senegalese women about the harms of genital cutting. Molly Melching didn’t think she had much more than curiosity — and a love of the French language — when she ventured off soon after college for Senegal. It turns out that this product of a conservative Midwestern Lutheran upbringing may have brought exactly the qualities and experiences needed to help engineer one of the most sweeping shifts in social norms and behavior in history. Her organization, Tostan, has . . .

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Review of Eugene T. Caruso (Malawi 1990-92) This Is Africa: Peace Corps Malawi and The Liberian Civil War

This is Africa: Peace Corps Malawi and the Liberian Civil War by Eugene T. Caruso (Malawi 1990–92) CreateSpace $9.99 120 pages 2013   Reviewed by Jack Allison (Malawi 1966-69) Perhaps an ambitious title for such a short book which documents the author’s adventures as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi which began in late 1990, then on to Liberia in early 1994 with the United Nations. Since I was posted as a PCV just seven miles north of Balaka (1967-68-69), I resonated with many of his experiences, including our both having suffered through two bouts of malaria. The first 102 pages of this 120 page book reveal Caruso’s reflections on Malawian culture, including his introduction to Chichewa, the national language; locally available foods, such as nsima, the national staple made from maize flour; his newly found joy of walking (“Malawi provided me with an appreciation of walking during the time . . .

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Film On Baseball and Political Turmoil in Manipur, India

[This documentary film was shown the other evening at the Asian Film Festival in New York City. The film was done by a good friend, Mirra Bank, and my wife, the Executive Editor of MORE magazine, later interviewed Mirra for the MORE website. I thought that the RPCV Community, especially PCV who served in India, would like to know about the film, and would enjoy reading the interview.] One Woman’s Power of Persistence Award-winning director Mirra Bank heard about the plight of a people halfway around the world and decided she wanted to help-but it took six years. Here, the story of what she did, the film she made (“The Only Real Game”), the obstacles she overcame…and how you can help now by Judith Coyne Devika, a mother in Manipur, India, hopes to support her family by becoming a baseball coach.Photograph: Axel Baumann for Baseball Dreams, LLC More: The film, The Only . . .

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Former Morocco Country Director David Burgess Remembers Chris Stevens

A Salaam Alaykum. We’re here today to remember Chris Stevens – particularly his service as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco from 1983 to 1985.  In some respects that’s a bit of an oxymoron:  In three decades, I haven’t come across anyone who met Chris Stevens who didn’t remember him quite well.  He was truly a remarkable person and made a profound impression on people he met. So we do remember him. Thirty years ago next month, Chris Stevens had his first encounter with North Africa when he arrived for Peace Corps training in Azrou, a predominantly Berber town in Morocco’s Middle Atlas Mountains.  And North Africa had its first encounter with Chris Stevens. It was evidently love at first sight, for North Africa and the Middle East kept calling him back; and Chris spent the better part of his life either working there, or moving the necessary levers so . . .

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Review of Burgess Needle's (Thailand 1967-69) Thai Comic Books

Thai Comic Books Poems from my life in Thailand With the Peace Corps by Burgess Needle (Thailand 1967-69) Big Table Publishing, $14.00 60 pages 2013 Reviewed by Tony Zurlo(Nigeria 1964-66) In the Tucson Weekly, Author/Critic Jarret Keene wrote that in the poem “Who Collects the Eggs” Burgess Needle is exposing how the “teacher inevitably becomes a student, and how a child’s perspective is often more realistic and more enlightening than any so-called grown-up’s.” I concur absolutely; indeed, Needle’s collection Thai Comic Books is about this maturation, a process that perhaps most volunteers experience. An experience that seems to validate why the Peace Corps in the 1960s and still today is worthy of expansion  (Congress please take notice). Postcard photos of ducks in Boston intrigue his Thai school children. They ask who owns the ducks . He answers that nobody owns them: PUBLIC ducks. What does that MEAN? Why do children . . .

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