Archive - October 2013

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Talking with Mark Wentling(Honduras 1967-69, Togo 1970-73; staff: Togo, Gabon, Niger 1973-77)
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The Grownup Train by Chris Honore’ (Colombia 1967-69)
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Yes, Virginia, There Is Still A Peace Corps
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Review — THE QUIET REBEL by Peggy Dickenson (Bolivia 1965-67)
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Maureen Orth (Colombia 1964-66) Writes Big Story For Vanity Fair
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Remarks in Bonn at the Signing of a Charter Establishing the German Peace Corps, 24 June 1963 – President Kennedy
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Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-65) & Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) In Current New Yorker
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Review of Susan Kramer O'Neill (Venezuela 1973-74) Calling New Delhi For Free

Talking with Mark Wentling(Honduras 1967-69, Togo 1970-73; staff: Togo, Gabon, Niger 1973-77)

Talking with Mark Wentling John Coyne interviews Mark Wentling about his new novel Africa’s Embrace that has just been published by Peace Corps Writers. Africa’s Embrace is Mark Wentling’s (Honduras 1967-69, Togo 1970-73; staff: Togo, Gabon, Niger 1973-77) fictional account of the adventures of a young man named David from Kansas who travels to Africa to follow his destiny, and becomes caught up in a mystical, larger-than-life adventure. . Mark, first congratulations on your novel. How in the world did a PCV in Latin America end up in Africa? I always wanted to go to Africa and was hoping to go there when I first signed up for the Peace Corps. After leaving Honduras in May 1969, I traveled about Europe with two other Honduras PCVs. I returned to Wichita in September 1969 and finished my bachelor’s degree. In May 1970, I re-joined the Peace Corps and did training in . . .

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The Grownup Train by Chris Honore’ (Colombia 1967-69)

[Chris Honore’ was born in occupied Denmark, during WWII. After the war, he immigrated to America. He went to public schools and then attended San Jose State University and the University of California, at Berkeley, where he earned a teaching credential, an M.A. and a Ph.D. After teaching high school English for two years, he joined the Peace Corps. He’s a freelance journalist based in Ashland, Oregon. His wife owns a bookstore on Main Street. His son is a cinematographer, living in Southern California.] THE GROWNUP TRAIN by Chris Honore’ They stood on the train platform, eyes narrowed, bodies angled to the right, looking down the track, waiting. A train had just passed through. Another would be along shortly. They were hardcore, their posture and dress conveying a self-conscious, determined insouciance: shoulders hunched, knees slightly bent, baggy denim shorts riding precariously low on their hips, their hair a shag carpet . . .

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Yes, Virginia, There Is Still A Peace Corps

PRESIDENT CLINTON AND CHELSEA CLINTON [This article by the President and Chelsea Clinton originally appeared in the Chicago Tribune on September 22, 2013. The Peace Corps gets a ‘passing’ reference.] Great Americans: Community Service Is at the Core of our Country’s National Character The idea of community service is as old as America itself. Older really. Benjamin Franklin helped form the first volunteer fire department in Philadelphia in 1736, spawning a movement that continues to this day in communities throughout the country. Alexis de Tocqueville, in the 1830s, contrasted America with his native Europe by saying that the central difference was that in America, people didn’t wait for the state to solve problems. They just got organized and tried to figure out what to do about them. Service is at the core of our national character. In 1933, in the depths of the Depression, FDR created the Civilian Conservation Corps, . . .

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Review — THE QUIET REBEL by Peggy Dickenson (Bolivia 1965-67)

The Quiet Rebel: A Memoir of My Peace Corps Adventures in Bolivia by Peggy Dickenson (Bolivia 1965-67) Self-Published $9.00 150 pages 2013 Reviewed by Barbara E. Joe (Honduras, 2000-03) The Quiet Rebel is a slender book, 30 short chapters, 150 pages in large type with extra space between each paragraph, and lots of photos interspersed, many showing author Peggy Dickenson in various places and situations during her service. Its title derives from her mother’s description of young Peggy’s decision to join the Peace Corps. The book, appearing now almost 50 years after her service and reportedly requiring five years to write, expresses gratitude for the assistance provided by former fellow volunteers, friends, and family in recalling events, and in editing and publishing the book. The result is a fast-moving narrative still retaining the wide-eyed freshness and immediacy experienced by an innocent abroad, written in a simple, perky style, as if . . .

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Maureen Orth (Colombia 1964-66) Writes Big Story For Vanity Fair

Maureen Orth (Colombia 1964-66) was on the TODAY show this morning and talked about her article on Mia Farrow in the new Vanity Fair. Maureen said she asked Farrow if her son, Ronan Farrow, was not Woody Allen’s son, but Frank Sinatra’s child. Farrow replied, “possibly.” “I asked her point blank,” said Orth. “I said, ‘Is Ronan Frank Sinatra’s son?’ and she said, ‘Possibly,’”  (Farrow and Sinatra were married from 1966-68.) “No DNA tests have been done. But they never really broke up. Obviously they got divorced. She was only 21 when she married him, he was 50, she lost her virginity to him … she said he was the love of her life.” Also, noted Orth, Ronan “looks a lot like Frank Sinatra and he sings like Frank Sinatra.” Added Orth, “He’s very close to the Sinatra family … Ronan told me that Nancy Sinatra senior fusses over him . . .

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Remarks in Bonn at the Signing of a Charter Establishing the German Peace Corps, 24 June 1963 – President Kennedy

The JFK Library is shut down,but its website remains operational. Many more Peace Corps items have been digitalized from the Kennedy years and can be read, heard or viewed. Among them is this gem: Kennedy speaking about the creation of the German Peace Corps. It is all the more powerful because it occurred during JFK’s trip to Europe at the height of the Cold War. Surrounded by displays of military machinery and flanked by armed soldiers, JFK spoke of Peace and how unarmed Volunteers might win it, not with  bombs, but with helping hands. To listen to the audio, here is the link http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/JFKWHA-196-004.aspx Kennedy’s tour of Europe, June 23 to July 2, 1963, is captured on film and available to view. Kennedy visited Germany, Ireland, Britain and Italy. The film records his “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech. No one knew that this was to be Kennedy’s farewell tour. The . . .

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Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-65) & Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) In Current New Yorker

The October 7, 2013 issue of The New Yorker carries a Letter From Egypt column entitled, “Keeping The Faith” written by Peter Heller (China 1996-98) that focuses on Sheikh Mohammed Fakeeh, a blind preacher from a poor farming family on the banks of the Nile who for the first time gave a sermon at Aziz Bellah, and influential mosque in eastern Cairo. In recent days, a few Cairo imams had been suspended, and all of them had been warned not to preach directly about politics. Certain words and phrases were regarded as off limits: “coup,” “legitimacy,” “injustice,” “military rule.” But avoiding the subject entirely was also a risk. If a sermon seemed too bland or apolitical, members of the congregation might shout down the preacher. • Also in the same issue is a new short story by Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-65) entitled, “I’m The Meat, You’re The Knife” which is . . .

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Review of Susan Kramer O'Neill (Venezuela 1973-74) Calling New Delhi For Free

Calling New Delhi For Free (Essay) By Susan Kramer O’Neill (Venezuela 1973-74) Peace Corps Books, $10 (paperback); $3.99 ebook 131 pages 2013 Reviewed by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith (Cameroon 1965-67) I pulled Calling New Delhi for Free out of the mailer excited to be reviewing a collection of essays.  Nothing like a good essay to satisfy and inspire a writer.  I especially love painfully brilliant essays that make me want to say to the writer:  I know, I know; I’ve been there; I’m with you. (Example:  Love, Loss and What I Wore, by Ilene Beckerman.) I turned the book over.  The quotes on the back are hilarious.  Here’s the first one: Almost NOBODY buys essays, UNLESS you’re FAMOUS.” NAT SOBEL, of Sobel Weber Associates, Inc., my (former) agent. And so, I also love humorous essays as long as they’re screamingly funny.  Everything the late Nora Ephron wrote immediately comes to mind, . . .

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