Archive - February 2014

1
Review of Wanderlust Satisfied by Kay Gillies Dixon (Colombia 1962-64)
2
Review: I Loved You More by Tom Spanbauer (Kenya 1969-71)
3
Talking with Kevin Finch (Honduras 2004-06) Author of Paradise in Front of Me
4
The Grownup Train by Chris Honore’ (Colombia 1967-69)
5
The Peace Corps–#4 of 29 (Small Agencies) Best Place to Work in Government
6
Review: Bridges by W. S. Williamson (Cameroon 1994-96 & Ecuador 1996-98)
7
NYTIMES Letter by Bob Vila (Panama 1969-70)
8
Review of Mark Brazaitis (Guatemala 1991-93) Julia & Rodrigo
9
Why a Peace Corps Library/Archives, fully funded, with an adequate research staff is necessary
10
The Peace Corps Partners with Six New Colleges and Universities to Prepare Students for International Service

Review of Wanderlust Satisfied by Kay Gillies Dixon (Colombia 1962-64)

Wanderlust Satisfied by Kay Gillies Dixon (Colombia 1962–64) Peace Corps Writers 159 Pages $12.00 (paperback), $3.99 (Kindle) 2013 Reviewed by Helene Ballmann Dudley (Colombia 1968–70, Albania/Slovakia 1997–99) One aspect of a good memoir is its ability to identify commonality in the human experience.  I thought Kay Gillies Dixon had borrowed my mother and my life for the first section of her book.  Kay, like myself, wanted something more than the rather limited path laid out for her to follow. Her roots were deep in western Pennsylvania, but her eyes were scanning the horizon for adventures unknown and definitely not understood in her small town. While Kay paints a vivid picture of growing up in Pennsylvania, including more than I ever wanted to know about Thanksgiving turkeys, she left me wanting more about her Peace Corps experience.  Perhaps it was because, as she writes “Our efforts in urban community development work . . .

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Review: I Loved You More by Tom Spanbauer (Kenya 1969-71)

I Loved You More by Tom Spanbauer (Kenya 1969–71) Hawthorne Books & Literary Arts $18.95 466 Pages April 1, 2014 Reviewed by Marnie Mueller (Ecuador 1963-65) I began reading Tom Spanbauer’s new novel, I Loved You More, with high expectations. When I Googled him I had found that he was an acclaimed author with four previous novels. When I read the French flap of the beautifully produced book, I was even more intrigued.  It was a story of a triangle, two men and one woman, two of whom are straight and one a gay man who at times loved women. It was also partially set New York City in the 1980’s during the first confused whisperings of the AIDS plague, a time I remember all too well, when fear and later terror permeated all our lives. We didn’t know what was happening, why friends, lovers, neighbors, and family were getting . . .

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Talking with Kevin Finch (Honduras 2004-06) Author of Paradise in Front of Me

[Paradise in Front of Me is a collection of inspirational, heartbreaking, and comical short stories about a Peace Corps couple’s experiences in a small  site in Central America called El Paraíso. The village is nestled in the mountains of southeast Honduras. Although its name means “paradise,” the town is a place of extreme poverty. In 2004, Kevin and Cristina Finch, were assigned to El Paraíso, and as PCVs focused on AIDS education and community development. Life in El Paraíso was at first a tough go, and Kevin and Cristina were about to ET when strange changes begin to transpire. Through a variety of characters, humorous events, and life-changing experiences, Kevin’s memoir describes how their lives were transformed. As Kevin writes, “Perhaps paradise does exist where one least expects.” Here is my interview with Kevin about his new book published by Peace Corps Writers.] Kevin, where are you from in the . . .

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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 . . .

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The Peace Corps–#4 of 29 (Small Agencies) Best Place to Work in Government

Peace Corps Mission To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women, promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served and promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans. Best Places to Work Ranking 2013 The Peace Corps: # 4 of 29 small agencies Top Five 1) Surface Transportation Board 2) National Endowment for the Humanities 3) Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service 4) The Peace Corps 5) Federal Retirement thrift Investment Board. Note: The Peace Corps ‘dropped’ in ‘Like Me’ from 81.5% in 2012 to 78.2% in 2013. C’mon everyone at HQ, start saying ‘hello’ on those elevators! Invite an RPCV to lunch! Smile at a HCN! More (much more) information about the Agency at: http://bestplacestowork.org/BPTW/rankings/overall/small

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Review: Bridges by W. S. Williamson (Cameroon 1994-96 & Ecuador 1996-98)

Bridges: An Extraordinary Journey of the Heart (Peace Corps Novel) W. S. [Wendy Sue] Williamson (Cameroon 1994–96, Ecuador 1996–98) Agapy Press $12.95 (paperback), $7.50 (Kindle) 215 pages April 2014 Reviewed by Angene Wilson (Liberia 1962–64) THIS NOVEL can be placed in the categories of spiritual fiction, adventure thriller, and mystery and suspense and suggests a relationship to The Alchemist, The Celestine Prophecy, and The Shack. The front cover shows a bridge that might be anywhere, connecting to somewhere, probably representing the journey of the protagonist’s heart, the heart of the young Peace Corps Volunteer, Jessie. So Bridges is not a Peace Corps memoir, although it was first written after author Wendy Sue Williamson served as a volunteer in Ecuador and Cameroon. It may be partly autobiographical. After a career as a study abroad director and author of a student travel guide, Study Abroad 101, Williamson found the Bridges manuscript again . . .

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NYTIMES Letter by Bob Vila (Panama 1969-70)

[A letter in the New York Times, (2/18/14) from Bob Vila (Panama 1969-70) on Ernest Hemingway’s papers and Bob’s involvement with the Finca Vigía Foundation.] To the Editor: Re “A Mutable Feast” (Arts pages, Feb. 11), about digital copies of Ernest Hemingway’s papers available at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston: The fascinating journey of the Hemingway document images was the work of many: the diplomatic efforts of Representative James P. McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat, who launched the project; the wise decisions made by both the Cuban and United States governments; the tireless work of the Finca Vigía Foundation, which is responsible for document conservation and digitization; and the technical support of the EMC, Intel and Emulex Corporations. For the last 10 years, despite the contentious embargo, this collaboration between the foundation and Cuba, built upon trust and mutual respect, has benefited both the United States . . .

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Review of Mark Brazaitis (Guatemala 1991-93) Julia & Rodrigo

Julia & Rodrigo By Mark Brazaitis (Guatemala 1991–93) Gival Press $20.00 (paperback) 215 pages 2013 Reviewed by Ann Neelon (Senegal 1978–79) I was thirteen in 1968, when Franco Zeffirelli’s lush version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet hit the big screen. It was also the year of the Tet offensive, the year Peter Arnett reported that a United States military officer had insisted, on the record, that his unit had had to destroy a village in order to save it. The banality of evil embraced by the U.S. government in drafting its young men and sending them to Vietnam resonated with that of the Montaques and Capulets in sacrificing their children to a murderous feud. As Romeo and Juliet, Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey — who were not trained Shakespearean actors but teenagers themselves-proved the ultimate flower children, making love not war. To watch the film was not just to fall . . .

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Why a Peace Corps Library/Archives, fully funded, with an adequate research staff is necessary

Looking at “Selection” Part I How did Peace Corps initially select who would serve as a Volunteer and who would not? I argue that question is impossible to answer today. The data and the records that could answer that question may no longer exist.There is no one to ask and no place to go to research the question. Yet, it is a critically important one. These are some of the research questions necessary for such a study that should be answered and I don’t think they can be, without tremendous research resources and the will to use them. Research Questions Was the criteria and process for selecting the first Volunteers, those in training programs that began with the number 1, identical? If so, what was it? If not, what was the process and criteria for each of those pioneer programs? What was the process used to review each subsequent application? . . .

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The Peace Corps Partners with Six New Colleges and Universities to Prepare Students for International Service

Peace Corps Press Release WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 4, 2014 – The Peace Corps today announced new partnerships with six universities and colleges accepted into the Peace Corps Prep Program. The collaboration offers students a unique combination of undergraduate coursework and community service that prepares them for work in international development. Students at Arcadia University; Georgia Gwinnett College; Hiram College; University of Washington, Tacoma; Ursinus College; and Wilmington College can apply to their school’s new Peace Corps Prep Program for enrollment beginning fall 2014. “We are thrilled to partner with each of these schools to expand the Peace Corps Prep Program,” Peace Corps Acting Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said. “This program is a wonderful example of our growing efforts to foster stronger collaboration with colleges and universities nationwide to prepare civic-minded students for international service.” Each school independently designs its program based on specified criteria that reflects Peace Corps’ grassroots, integrated approach. A . . .

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