Archive - June 2016

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A Poem: “Minorca” by John Coyne (Ethiopia)
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Review — HEALING THE MASCULINE SOUL by Gordon Dalbey (Nigeria)
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Peace Corps Writers MFA Program: Now Open for PCVs and RPCVs
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“Peace Corps Crown” — A poem by Ada Jo Mann (Chad)
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Review — WHY STOP THE VENGEANCE? by Richard Stevenson [Richard Lipez (Ethiopia)]
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Famous RPCV Journalists: The China Gang
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A set back for RPCVs in North Carolina — maybe temporarily.
8
Advice for the graduate who wants to work in International Affairs
9
“The Peace Corps Radicalized Me” by Thomas Pleasure (Peru)
10
“Escaping Vietnam” — a poem by John Holley (Colombia)

A Poem: “Minorca” by John Coyne (Ethiopia)

I first went to Menorca in the fall of 1967 having just finished a tour as an APCD in Ethiopia. I was looking for a place to live while working on my novel. In my last months in-country I combed the back pages of advertisements in the old International Herald Tribune looking for a place to rent, and it was Mark Foster (Ethiopia 1965-67), reading over my shoulder one day, who spotted an ad for an apartment in Mahon, Menorca, that was renting for $1 a day. “I’ve been to this island with my mother,” Mark said. “We sailed over from Mallorca. No Americans ever go there.” That was just what I wanted to hear! I left Africa in early September and spent the fall of that year on the island. I have been returning to Menorca ever since. Here’s why.     MENORCA From the red tile terrace of the Port Mahón Hotel I . . .

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Review — HEALING THE MASCULINE SOUL by Gordon Dalbey (Nigeria)

  Healing The Masculine Soul: How God Restores Men to Real Manhood Gordon Dalbey (Nigeria 1964-1966) Thomas Nelson 2003 (first published in 1988) 244 pages $12.70 (paperback), $ 4.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by Michael Varga (Chad 1977-1979)  • There’s a tear in the western masculine soul and many men struggle with how to make themselves whole, given this wound. Gordon Dalbey draws on a ritual he witnessed during his Peace Corps tour in Nigeria to suggest potential solutions. Based on the “calling out” ceremony of the Igbo tribe, a male initiation rite, where a boy is required to leave his mother’s hut and join the men of the tribe, Dalbey asserts that in western societies most men never have a clear-cut opportunity to bond with men, often including their fathers. They remain tied to their mothers, and thereby often never mature enough to have satisfying relationships with other adults. In his work . . .

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Peace Corps Writers MFA Program: Now Open for PCVs and RPCVs

Peace Corps Writers MFA Program: Now open for PCVs and RPCVs Do you want to earn your Master’s Degree in Creative Writing while serving in the Peace Corps? Or do it today as an RPCV and not have to step onto a college campus? Would you like to write a memoir or book about your Peace Corps experience? Here is your chance to do both! I have arranged with National University in California to offer an online only Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree program for Peace Corps writers. This MFA is sponsored by the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA). PCVs & RPCVs will receive a tuition discount. The tuition for the MFA is in the area of 20K. National University is the second-largest private, nonprofit institution of higher education in California and the 12th largest in the United States. It is one of the very few universities that offer a . . .

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“Peace Corps Crown” — A poem by Ada Jo Mann (Chad)

  In her retirement, RPCV Ada Jo Mann is writing poetry and participates in a Poetry Circle at Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington, D.C. Recently her writing group was studying the contemporary poet, Patricia Smith, who writes complicated “crown sonnet” poems. Ada Jo decided to write a crown sonnet poem about her Peace Corps experience. The poem is actually 15 sonnets with the 15th sonnet made up of the first lines of each of the previous 14 sonnets, and her whole poem is focused on just one topic, her Peace Corps country, Chad. • Peace Corps Crown By Ada Jo Mann (Chad 1967-69) The toughest job you’ll ever love, they say And certainly a better choice than war A two-year stint on some forgotten shore So far from friends and family, should I stay? Or say my sad goodbyes and fly away. The choice is made-go forth and join the Corps Soon . . .

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Review — WHY STOP THE VENGEANCE? by Richard Stevenson [Richard Lipez (Ethiopia)]

  Why Stop the Vengeance? (A Donald Strachey Mystery — Volume 14) Richard Stevenson [Richard Lipez (Ethiopia 1962–64)] MLR Press 2015 248 pages $14.99 (paperback), $6.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by Robert Keller (Albania 2008–09) • Well, I’m hooked. I put down Why Stop at Vengeance? ready to pick up another Donald Strachey mystery novel. And if the others are anything like this one, then they’re perfect summertime, beach reads. The lead, Donald Strachey, is a good-at-heart but slightly ambiguous private detective who rolls around Albany, NY getting into and out of trouble with less than reputable characters. Some are saints, others are down toward the other end of the spectrum. Why Stop at Vengeance? centers around an unholy alliance of right wing Christian zealots who spend millions to terrorize African countries with anti-gay propaganda and legislation. Strachey comes to the aid of a poor African man under political asylum; a man . . .

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Famous RPCV Journalists: The China Gang

Although the Peace Corps has given a start to many well-known writers—Paul Theroux, Maria Thomas, Philip Margolin, Bob Shacochis, among them—it has fostered relatively few journalists and editors. One of the first journalist was Al Kamen, a Volunteer in the Dominican Republic during the early 1960s.Recently retired after 35 years at the Washington Post, Kamen wrote a column, “In the Loop,” and also covered the State Department and local and federal courts. He assisted his Post colleague Bob Woodward with reporting for The Final Days and The Brethren. Other Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) of the 1960s who became well-known journalists include Vanity Fair’s special correspondent Maureen Orth, an urban community development volunteer in Colombia, and one of the first women writers at Newsweek, and MSNBC HardBall host Chris Matthews, who served in Swaziland. There are more, of course, with that kind of media power who went into film and the arts . . .

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A set back for RPCVs in North Carolina — maybe temporarily.

The Washington Times published the following AP report from the North Carolina legislature.  Associated Press, Wednesday, June 1, 2016 RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Bipartisan legislation allowing North Carolina public school teachers and government employees with previous Peace Corps service to improve their pensions has been side-tracked in the House after a strong majority originally supported the legislation. The House initially voted 94-14 Tuesday for the bill, which would require workers to pay both their personal contribution and the government’s share to “buy” retirement credits for up to five years in the Peace Corps. But several Republican lawmakers asked Speaker Tim Moore to have their “yes” votes changed to “no,” setting the stage for procedural motions to cancel the previous approval. Some legislators then criticized the bill, saying Peace Corps veterans shouldn’t be treated the same as military veterans, which have a similar option. The bill was then returned to a committee.” . . .

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Advice for the graduate who wants to work in International Affairs

Morgan Courtney is a “Design thinker + foreign policy/international development practitioner working for social impact” who wrote an article for the Huffington Post.  She offers  ten points of advice for the “Graduate Who Wants to Work in International Affairs.” Of interest to the Peace Corps community and prospective applicants is #2 from Courtney. Get field experience. Many field jobs in international development require prior field experience. It’s a Catch-22. How do you get field experience if jobs require you to already have field experience? There are a couple of different ways. Firstly, your summer or semester in South Africa doesn’t count as much as you think it does. Sorry. What employers are looking for is real work experience, not classroom time, in another country. (What IS good is language proficiency from your time abroad!) So what can you do after college to get field experience? In my estimation, the very best . . .

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“The Peace Corps Radicalized Me” by Thomas Pleasure (Peru)

The following article was published on Argonaut Online — the web presence of The Argonaut, a local newspaper for the westside of Los Angeles — on June 1, 2016 under the title “Opinion Power to Speak.” We are delighted to have received permission from the author to repost it here. •   •  The Peace Corps Radicalized Me by Thomas Pleasure (Peru 1964–66)   SINCE FRANK MANKIEWICZ’S DEATH in 2014, activists, historians, cineastes, journalists and spinmeisters had been awaiting publication of his posthumous memoir, So As I Was Saying . . . My Somewhat Eventful Life. I imagine we all felt that Frank — son of “Citizen Kane” writer Herman Mankiewicz, nephew of director Joseph Mankiewicz and a political force of the 1960s and ’70s in his own right — had a special message for us. We were right. Movie buffs will lap up Frank’s tales of growing up in Hollywood and his conversation . . .

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“Escaping Vietnam” — a poem by John Holley (Colombia)

  A Writer Writes • Escaping Vietnam   Prime draft bait I was: twenty-four years old and able-bodied, with my educational deferment fast expiring as the enraged war machine scrambled to find fodder to cast into the useless Vietnam whirlpool deathtrap it could never convincingly justify. To avoid the inevitable and stall the military until the magic age of twenty-six when recruits were rejected for their resistance to blind obedience, I had applied for alternative service in the Peace Corps, which while still promising a warm and distant clime, would be of more merit than killing, safe, and maybe even fun. It was an angry and turbulent time: emerging from my tiny student garret where I hungrily pursued graduation as my ticket to physical survival, I found the university surrounded by blue uniforms in response to protests against the war I was trying to avoid: classes and exams were canceled . . .

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