Archive - January 2015

1
Ask Not What Can You Do For Your Country, But Why Can You Do for Coca-Cola?
2
St. Francis’ Garden
3
Patricia Garamendi's (Ethiopia 1966-68) 'Heads Up' About Living On A Dollar A Day
4
Ron Arias (Peru 1963-65) First Novel is Back as EBook
5
Lost Girl Found by Laura DeLuca (Kenya 1987-89) Picked by Kaci Hickox for WSJ's Book of the Year List
6
Best Politician in the McConnell House? It May Not Be Mitch
7
Review: UNDER CHAD’S SPELL by Michael Varga (Chad)
8
Review: Mongolia Monologues by Joanne Nussbaum (Mongolia 2010-12)
9
Bill Moyers Says Tenastelign, Adios, Zai Jian and Ciao
10
A Yearful

Ask Not What Can You Do For Your Country, But Why Can You Do for Coca-Cola?

Peace Corps is in partnership with 42 public and private organizations.  Coca-Cola is one such effort. Together with USAID and Coca-Cola, Peace Corps Volunteers work on promoting clean water projects. Such programs are certainly worthwhile. The training materials that Volunteers distribute have the USAID emblem, the Coca-Cola name and the Peace Corps logo. My question is simply” Who benefits most from this “branding”? Here is the link to the Peace Corps 2012 press notice  announcing  the new partnership: http://www.peacecorps.gov/media/forpress/press/2129/ The National Peace Corps Association webpage described a Congressional briefing, arranged by the Peace Corps Forum, to describe the various partnerships.To read the article, here is the link: http://www.peacecorpsconnect.org/2014/10/hill-briefing-highlights-peace-corps-innovation/ From that article: “These efforts were highlighted on Capitol Hill at an October 28th briefing sponsored by the House Peace Corps Caucus. The briefing featured the agency and several of its newest partners, who discussed upcoming programs and innovations. Curt Tarnoff, a specialist . . .

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St. Francis’ Garden

It was probably the hottest day of the year yesterday – over 90 degrees and definitely hotter along the sizzling sidewalk of the Alameda, downtown Santiago’s main artery at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. I had considered postponing my appointment, but, no, Franciscan Brother Jaime and I had each reconfirmed twice that we’d meet at this hour at the museum of the old seventeenth century San Francisco Church. It was dark and wonderfully cool inside the museum’s thick adobe walls, hung with large colonial religious paintings. Why did colonial artists paint their scenes in such lugubrious colors? A young guide directed me to Brother Jaime’s office in a corridor bordering a central garden, where he met me at the door with the traditional Chilean peck on the cheek, though we hadn’t met before. I had expected him to be clad in the brown Franciscan habit, but instead, was met by . . .

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Patricia Garamendi's (Ethiopia 1966-68) 'Heads Up' About Living On A Dollar A Day

Patricia Garamendi (Ethiopia 1966-68) has brought to my attention a fascinating new book that anyone who served in the Peace Corps might find of value. The book Living On A Dollar A Day:  The Lives And Faces Of the World’s Poor was written by Thomas A. Nazario, with photographs by Renée C. Byer. The book features 215 images bvRenée C. Byer and has a forward by the Dalai Lama.  David Griffin the former director of photography at National Geographic helped photo edit and designed the book which recently was awarded 1st prize documentary book award at IPA (International Photography Awards.) Writer Thomas A. Nazario is the founder and president of The Forgotten International, a nonprofit organization that does poverty alleviation work in several parts of the world. Renée C. Byer is an American documentary photojournalist best known for her in-depth work focusing on the disadvantaged and those who otherwise would . . .

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Ron Arias (Peru 1963-65) First Novel is Back as EBook

The Bilingual Press at Arizona State University has released 11 of its titles as ebooks, including Ron Arias’, The Road to Tamazunchale. The ebooks are available through Amazon, Apple iTunes Store, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Overdrive, and can be linked to ebook versions from the Bilingual Press website. The project to convert the titles to ebook formats was supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.” When the book was published, Library Journal wrote, “The Road to Tamazunchale is one of the first achieved works of Chicano consciousness and spirit.” Of the book, the Midwest Book Review said: “This skillful and imaginative Chicano novel (nominated for the National Book Award) tells the story of Don Fausto, a very old man on the verge of death who lives in the barrio of Los Angeles. Rather than resigning himself, he embarks on a glorious journey in and . . .

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Lost Girl Found by Laura DeLuca (Kenya 1987-89) Picked by Kaci Hickox for WSJ's Book of the Year List

The Wall Street Journal asked 50 of 2014’s most influential people for their book picks. Kaci Hickox, a Doctors without Borders nurse who treated Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, selected Lost Girl Found, and this is what she had to say about it. (You may remember Kaci Hickok as the nurse who refused Ebola  quarantine in Maine and New Jersey.) Although this year seemed to be filled with oldies but goodies, at the top of my list of new books is Leah Bassof and Laura DeLuca ‘s (Kenya 1987–89) “Lost Girl Found.” Having read many books about the “lost boys” of Sudan, this was a refreshing piece of fiction highlighting the struggles and triumphs of a young female Sudanese refugee. Poni, the main character, describes her life of extremes, saying: “When I dance, I can jump out of my pain for just a moment.” Here’s an excerpt from my May . . .

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Best Politician in the McConnell House? It May Not Be Mitch

Best Politician in the McConnell House? It May Not Be Mitch by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, The New York Times Senator Mitch McConnell is a skilled politician. But he may not be his family’s best. That honor might go to his wife, Elaine Chao. As the sometimes-dour Mr. McConnell took command of the Senate yesterday, Ms. Chao roamed the corridors of the Capitol, happily shaking hands with veteran members, welcoming freshmen and their spouses (all of whose names she seemed to know) and parrying with reporters. “Today is not so much about my husband becoming majority leader — today is the day that, I hope, the country will take a new direction,” she said. Asked why her husband never sought to be president, she had an explanation at the ready: “He’s always been a creature of the Senate.” If that sounds practiced, there is a reason: Ms. Chao has deep experience in Washington, . . .

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Review: UNDER CHAD’S SPELL by Michael Varga (Chad)

Under Chad’s Spell (Peace Corps novel) by Michael Varga (Chad 1977–79) CreateSpace August 2014 378 pages $16.99 (paperback), $9.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by John Kennedy (Ghana 1965–68) • Under Chad’s Spell is a fine book. I enjoyed reading it from start to finish. It’s an easy read. Michael Varga’s story kept me entertained on many levels. I recommend this book to all over the age of eighteen. Read this book and you will know more about Chad, the people of Chad, and the experience of being a Peace Corp Volunteer in Chad. I also believe that if you are open to exploring the possibilities of how your life might have been different if you had been a PCV in Chad, you will learn something about yourself, your past and possible future by reading this book. That’s a heavy burden to place on a book, but for me, Under Chad’s Spell did . . .

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Review: Mongolia Monologues by Joanne Nussbaum (Mongolia 2010-12)

Mongolia Monologues: The Trials, Tribulations, Triumphs and Truths of a Feisty, Fifty-Something Peace Corps Volunteer by Joanne Nussbaum (Mongolia 2010–12) BookBaby November 2014 103 pages $3.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by Bob Arias (Colombia 1964–66) Age is just a Number! Young at heart, Joanne, a mother,  sets out to become a Peace Corps Volunteer in 2010 at the age of 53. “Can I make it,” she asks herself, “and Peace Corps wants to send me to Mongolia . . . where is that?” Training is rough and so are her first six months in beautiful Mongolia. Joanne tries, but the Mongolian language is difficult and she never is able to master it. But her heart is with her new community, and is full of the Peace Corps spirit to learn from others. Her students see her as a true friend and someone they trust, and they enjoy spending time together. These are HER students! . . .

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Bill Moyers Says Tenastelign, Adios, Zai Jian and Ciao

Bill Moyers told public television stations last week that his interview program “Moyers & Company” would end with the Jan. 3 show, keeping to the two-year timetable he and the program’s funders committed to when he came out of a 20-month retirement in January 2012. The news was first reported by the trade publication Current. Bill Moyers began to work at the Peace Corps in 1961 as the Associate Director for Public Affairs, leaving the staff of Vice President Johnson to work for the agency. Moyers, who was born in Hugo, Oklahoma, was raised in Marshall, Texas, where he quickly established himself as one of the brightest students that the state of Texas had ever produced. Moyers graduated from the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary at Fort Worth, receiving his degree in Divinity Studies and was preparing to teach at Baylor when Senator Johnson called from Washington and his career plans . . .

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A Yearful

Time to put up the new calendar. I liked this past year’s so much that I bought the same for 2015, “Nature’s Peace” with watercolors by Molly Hashimoto and words of John Muir. Each watercolor allows me a fleeting entry into the green wonders of nature. Like a butterfly at a buddleia flower, I alight into scenes of woods and meadows for daily sustenance. Aside from the pleasure of my new calendar, the passage from one year to the next – the fireworks, confetti, noise makers, and merrymaking – has never had much meaning for me. But I decided to search for some personal significance. I’d look back through my 2014 datebook for the most memorable, joyful moments: Digging deep into my writing self at our Santiago Writers’ retreat in the country Traveling by land across the Andes to Mendoza, Argentina Setting my eyes on our first grandson (after three . . .

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