Archive - January 2014

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Talking with Meredith W. Cornett (Panama 1991-93) author of Heart of Palms: My Peace Corps Years in Tranquilla
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Recent Books by Peace Corps Writers — December 2013
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Review — VATICAN WALTZ by Roland Merullo (Micronesia)
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Ben East (Malawi 1996-98) Green
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Review of Aaron Barlow’s (Togo 1988-90) Hard As Kerosene
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Talking with Will Lutwick (Fiji 1968–70) author of DODGING MACHETES
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Talking to Aaron Barlow (Togo 1988-90) Author of Hard as Kerosene
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Thelma Firestone’s Daughter by William Siegel (Ethiopia 1962-64)
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Review of Douglas Cruickshank (Uganda 2009-12) Somehow: Living on Uganda Time
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Is The Peace Corps Worth the Price of a Cup of Coffee? Otto Koester (Ethiopia 1968-69 & Ghana 1970) Says Yes

Talking with Meredith W. Cornett (Panama 1991-93) author of Heart of Palms: My Peace Corps Years in Tranquilla

Meredith W. Cornett (Panama 1991-93) is the author of Heart of Palms: My Peace Corps Years in Tranquilla soon to be published by the University of Alabama Press, and editor of Peace Corps in Panama: Fifty Years, Many Voices published by Peace Corps Writers (2013). • Meredith, how did you find your way into the Peace Corps. Well, I was born and raised in Atlanta, and I went to Oberlin College in Ohio and majored in   biology. This is where I had my Peace Corps interview. After my tour with the Peace Corps, I attended the University of Minnesota for a MS and PhD in Forestry. . Were you involved with forestry as a PCV? Yes, I was a community forester in Panama from 1991 to 1993. It was a beautiful location in Chagres National Park in the tiny village of Tranquilla on the shores of Lake Alajuela. . What got . . .

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Recent Books by Peace Corps Writers — December 2013

To purchase any of these books from Amazon.com, click on the book cover or the bold book title — and Peace Corps Worldwide, an Amazon Associate, will receive a small remittance that will help support our annual writers awards. • • 44 Days Backpacking in China: The Middle Kingdom in the 21st Century, with the United States, Europe and the Fate of the World in Its Looking Glass by Jeff J. Brown (Tunisia 1980–82) 44 Days Publication $15.99 (paperback) 392 pages August 2013 • India Basin Triangle: A San Francisco Noir Thriller by Craig Carrozzi (Colombia 1978–1980) CreateSpace $14.99 (paperback), $7.99 (Kindle) 200 pages October 2013 • The Glory of the Kings (Novel) by Dan Close (Ethiopia 1966–68) The Tamarac Press $19.95 393 pages November 2013 • Somehow: Living on Uganda Time (Essays and photographs) by Douglas Cruickshank (Uganda 2009–12) Verflectin Media $60.00 420 pages 2013 • Pieces of You . . .

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Review — VATICAN WALTZ by Roland Merullo (Micronesia)

Vatican Waltz Roland Merullo (Micronesia 1979–80) Crown Publishing Group $23.00 (hardcover), $9.59 (Kindle), $29.95 (audio CD) 293 pages 2013 Reviewed by Patricia Taylor Edmisten (Peru 1962-64) • Cynthia Clare Pantedosi, the innocent, young protagonist of Roland Merullo’s novel, Vatican Waltz, enjoys a rich prayer life. Raised a Catholic in Boston, Cynthia senses that God may be communicating with her through visions, but she’s aware that they might simply be foolish day dreams. She’s a serious, humble woman who studies nursing and cooks for her father whose English still reflects his deep, Italian roots. She discusses her visions with Father Alberto, a liberal Catholic priest who comes to accept that Cynthia is not disturbed, and that God may be calling her to the priesthood. It is Father Alberto who gives Cynthia the nudge she needs to meet with the bishop who, after interviewing Cynthia, reluctantly points her toward Rome. The novel . . .

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Ben East (Malawi 1996-98) Green

[Ben East taught English in Malawi before taking up various teaching and diplomatic assignments with the state department in West Africa, the Middle East, and throughout the Americas.  A native of Connecticut, he recently returned to the States after nearly two decades overseas.  He lives in Virginia with his wife (also a Malawi RPCV) and two sons, and is working on his third novel.  His fiction has appeared in The Foreign Service Journal, Atticus Review, and Umbrella Factory Magazine. Of Green Ben writes, “The story got its start in the deep sense of loneliness and isolation I felt on a rainy afternoon tucked away in the bush, no mail, no friendly voices, not even a stick of dry firewood to cook my oats — Jungle Oats — for which I had as seasoning only Rajah curry powder.  That loneliness, the sense of adventure that inspired me to seek it, and the wonderful discoveries of . . .

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Review of Aaron Barlow’s (Togo 1988-90) Hard As Kerosene

Hard as Kerosene (novel) by Aaron Barlow (Togo 1988–90) Peace Corps Writers Book $9.95 (paperback), $1.99 (Kindle) 257 pages 2013 Reviewed by Brendan Held (Madagascar 2008–09, Mali 2009–10) If there is such a thing a typical Peace Corps narrative, Hard As Kerosene isn’t it. Aaron Barlow (Togo 1988-90) shows us four years of West Africa through the eyes of Paul, a young American struggling to define what he wants out of life. The story follows Paul through loneliness, loss, adventure and peril as he rambles from place to place avoiding confrontation with his past. Peace Corps weaves in and out of the plot, but it isn’t quite the central theme of the book. Gone are the long descriptions of service projects and community dynamics. Instead, Barlow exposes some neglected facets of the Peace Corps gestalt as Paul morphs from idealistic tourist, to roving itinerant, to frustrated Volunteer, to cynical ex-pat. . . .

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Talking with Will Lutwick (Fiji 1968–70) author of DODGING MACHETES

I recently interviewed Will Lutwick (Fiji 1968–70), author of Dodging Machetes: How I Survived Forbidden Love, Bad Behavior, and the Peace Corps in Fiji, published by Peace Corps Writers in 2012. Our conversation follows. — JC • Will, where are you from? Actually, I was born in New Rochelle, New York, the town next to where you live today, and when I was four, my family moved to Richmond, Virginia, and I grew up there. I went to Duke and got a BA in ’67, then I picked up an MBA at the University of Michigan in 1968. . And you were in the Peace Corps when? I was assigned to Fiji from 1968 to 1970 working with co-operatives first and then doing marketing research for Fiji’s government. . Why the Peace Corps? Academically, I had been grooming myself for a business career, but as I got into the job interview . . .

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Talking to Aaron Barlow (Togo 1988-90) Author of Hard as Kerosene

Here is a conversation I recently had with Aaron Barlow, author of  Hard as Kerosene published by Peace Corps writers. — JC • Aaron, where were you a PCV? In Togo from 1988 to 1990. . Where are you from in the States? Though I was born in North Carolina, I grew up primarily in the Midwest, with stops back South and in the Northeast. I attended Beloit College in Wisconsin for my undergraduate degree and the University of Iowa for my MA and PhD. . Then you joined the Peace Corps? No. I had spent two years in Burkina Faso as a Senior Fulbright Lecturer and had met many PCVs and admired them all. From them, I learned that there is much more to African life than can be found in the cities. I joined so that I could live in a village and discover a part of Africa . . .

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Thelma Firestone’s Daughter by William Siegel (Ethiopia 1962-64)

[For all of us of a certain age, seeing the new film Inside Llewyn Davis brings us back to those years and the romance of living in New York City and on the edge of society as we tried to make our way as writers, artists, and folksingers. Within the ranks of the Peace Corps, we have a few very successful professional writers and a few really good guitar players, and one of them, Will Siegel, not only played the guitar professionally, but he is also a successful writer and editor. Will Siegel went to Greenwich Village after his Peace Corps (Ethiopia 1962-64) tour, playing in and hung out at the clubs made famous by Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, and now dramatized in this new movie featuring a character named Llewyn Davis. In his time in the village, Will performed as “Will Street” at Gerde’s Folk City and The . . .

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Review of Douglas Cruickshank (Uganda 2009-12) Somehow: Living on Uganda Time

Somehow: Living on Uganda Time by Douglas Cruickshank (Uganda 2009-12) Verflectin Media, San Francisco http://douglascruickshank.com/ $60.00 400 pages 2013 Reviewed by Don Messerschmidt (Nepal 1963-65) Douglas Cruickshank’s Somehow: Living on Uganda Time, is a big book, and its 400 pages of photos and text are heavy, amazingly so. Not as in ‘heavy going’, but as in profoundly engrossing. To both the author-photographer and his friends the Ugandans, it is heavy with special meanings; stimulating, fascinating, captivating and… You get the idea. When he joined the Peace Corps and went to Uganda Douglas Cruickshank was 56 and had recently downsized his life. He called it the “Great Shedding of Things”, having sold and given away most of his possessions and encumbrances – except his camera, a sense of adventure and his way of seeing and capturing the essence of life digitally. He entered Uganda as a stranger in a strange land, . . .

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Is The Peace Corps Worth the Price of a Cup of Coffee? Otto Koester (Ethiopia 1968-69 & Ghana 1970) Says Yes

The Peace Corps: Well worth a cup of coffee per year by Otto Koester (Ethiopia 1968-69 & Ghana 1970) With the first 50 years of the Peace Corps behind us, it’s time for us to take stock of its original purpose and consider what still needs to be done. When President Kennedy proposed the Peace Corps in 1961, he envisioned 100,000 volunteers each year, but the maximum has been 15,000. In 2006, former President George W. Bush called for a doubling of the Peace Corps’ size, but to no avail. The current number of volunteers is just over 7,000. Montana has done its share to support Peace Corps’ effort. Relative to population, we rank seventh nationally for the number of Montanans sent overseas. Among mid-sized universities, the University of Montana is 12th, and Montana State University 16th. In 2012, Missoula as a community was second nationwide for cities its size, . . .

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