Archive - January 2017

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The Peace Corps cuts deal with Small Business Administration to help RPCVs
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Review: JOURNEY TO THE HEART OF THE CONDOR by Emily Creigh (Paraguay)
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Jason McFarland (China) publishes ANNOUNCING THE FEAST
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Kay Gillies Dixon (Colombia) publishes TALES OF FAMILY TRAVELS
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The rules for writing A Peace Corps book
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Books That Bred The Peace Corps
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Review: FROM FREEBORN TO FREETOWN AND BACK by Patrick O’Leary (Sierra Leone)
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Write about Your Peace Corps Experience and Earn an MFA Degree
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Write and Publish Your Memoir…A Text Book to Get You Started
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“The Peace Corps Blew It” by Bob Criso (Nigeria)

The Peace Corps cuts deal with Small Business Administration to help RPCVs

SBA Administrator and Obama Cabinet member Maria Contreras-Sweet and the Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet (Western Samoa 1981-83) signed a five-page set of commitments designed to deepen the working relationship between the two organizations. One key feature of the agreement includes enhancing employment opportunities for returned Peace Corps Volunteers. Another involves intentionally supplying current Volunteers with information relating to targeted SBA programs. This information will help Volunteers expand business and job creation opportunities in the countries where they serve. “It gives me great pride that the Peace Corps recognizes the value of empowering its volunteers to expand business and job creation in the areas where they serve,” said Contreras-Sweet. “Small businesses are the engine of job creation in the United States. With the new SBA/Peace Corps agreement, this entrepreneurial spirit can be exported to improve living conditions around the world.  At the same time, our agency will proudly continue to recruit . . .

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Review: JOURNEY TO THE HEART OF THE CONDOR by Emily Creigh (Paraguay)

Journey to the Heart of the Condor: Love, Loss, and Survival in a South American Dictatorship Emily C. Creigh (Paraguay 1975–77) and Dr. Martín Almada Peace Corps Writers February 2016 470 pages $17.50 (paperback), (Kindle)   Reviewed by Kay Gillies Dixon (Colombia 1962-64) • Two stories, two people co-existing, contrasting but not connected yet together in Paraguay. In Journey to the Heart of the Condor, author Emily Creigh chronicles her coming of age experiences as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay in the 1970s while Dr. Martin Almada narrates his ordeal as a political prisoner in Paraguay during the same time period. The heart of the book is Dr. Almada’s gripping narrative. Imprisoned for 1,000 days during the dictatorship of President Alfredo Stroessner, Dr. Almada describes the atrocities of his and others prison existence. His doctoral dissertation Paraguay: Education and Dependency, inspired by the Panamanian model of educational reform, as well as the works of . . .

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Jason McFarland (China) publishes ANNOUNCING THE FEAST

  Jason McFarland (China 2012–14) taught at Zunyi Normal College in Guizhou, Western China and while there he learned Chinese and continued his academic career with the hope of pursuing post-doctoral research in Chinese liturgy after his tour, and before he returned to the US. An avid amateur chef, he also spent his free time learning to cook Sichuan cuisine, as well as learning to play the Chinese gourd flute and also dabbling in Chinese meditation techniques. His academic research interests include liturgical-theological method for the interpretation of non-textual primary sources, liturgical ecclesiology in light of contemporary modes of belonging, the intersection of liturgical studies with ritual studies and ethnomusicology, the dialectic tradition and creativity in liturgical praxis, and the function of liminal phases in religious ritual. Jason has an extensive background in liturgical music, holding undergraduate and postgraduate music degrees. Music is also the topic of his first book: . . .

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Kay Gillies Dixon (Colombia) publishes TALES OF FAMILY TRAVELS

  In Kay Gillies Dixon’s new book, Tales of Family Travel: Bathrooms of the World, she chronicles her family’s globe trotting through Rome, Kenya, Cyprus and parts beyond. Returned Peace Corps Volunteers parents Kevin and Kay Dixon embraced a passion for travel that they hoped to imprint on their four daughters. In the late 1970s, Kevin landed a contract to work in Saudi Arabia. The Dixons could not pack their bags fast enough. This was the opportunity to provide two fundamental values to their children – roots and wings. The author narrates their story with finesse and descriptions that take you along on the journey. Their child-centric exploits lead them to unimaginable experiences that otherwise might have been missed. A day visiting a Maasai settlement nearly takes a deep dive when their precocious toddler wanders away. Determined to go on an elephant safari in Nepal sends them river rafting after . . .

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The rules for writing A Peace Corps book

There are no rules. And that is what is so great about writing a book. Bonnie Lee Black (Gabon 1996-98) a successful writer/editor/creative writing professor and RPCV, author of How To Cook a Crocodile: A Memoir with Recipes, sent me these wise words on how Peace Corps writers should go about the task of writing a book. Her list: Hopeful Peace Corps writers should take writing courses from reputable instructors to learn the basics and to have the opportunity to workshop their writing among peers. They should also read lots of good How-To books on the craft. There are a gazzillion of them out there. They should avoid at all costs: exclamation points, stereotyping, cliches, and all other proofs of lazy writing. They should plan on revising each chapter or piece at least ten times. Quality writing is all about revision. They should NOT confuse explicit, titillating, borderline-pornographic sex scenes . . .

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Books That Bred The Peace Corps

During the 1950s, two impulses swept across the United States. One impulse that characterized the decade was detailed in two best-selling books of the times, the 1955 novel by Sloan Wilson, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, and the non-fiction The Organization Man, written by William H. Whyte and published in 1956. These books looked at the “American way of life,” how men got ahead on the job and in society. Both are bleak views of the corporate world. As an editor for Fortune magazine, Whyte was well placed to observe corporate America. It became clear to him that the American belief in the perfectibility of society was shifting from one of individual initiative to one that could be achieved at the expense of the individual. With its clear analysis of contemporary working and living arrangements, The Organization Man rapidly achieved bestseller status. The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit was one of the great publishing successes . . .

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Review: FROM FREEBORN TO FREETOWN AND BACK by Patrick O’Leary (Sierra Leone)

  From Freeborn to Freetown & Back Patrick O’Leary (Sierra Leone 1966–68) Peace Corps Writers September 2016 146 pages $14.95 (paperback), $10.00 (Kindle) Reviewed by Ruth Alliband (India 1966–68) • I read Patrick O’Leary’s Peace Corps memoir From Freeborn To Freetown & Back with special interest. Both Patrick and I were accepted into Peace Corps training in 1966. We trained at roughly the same time. I left for India in late October of 1966 after two months’ Peace Corps stateside training in Albany, NY on a chartered Air India flight. In addition to two training groups of India Volunteers on board that plane, there was a contingent of Volunteers who had trained for Tanzania. They left the Air India flight in Brussels to make connections for their flight to Africa. Patrick’s experience of being reassigned and repurposed is a variation of my own. It seems to me that the uncertainties of . . .

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Write about Your Peace Corps Experience and Earn an MFA Degree

Write about Your Peace Corps Experience and Earn an MFA Degree Have you ever wanted to tell the story of your Peace Corps experience or the stories of the people you met in your service? The Master in Fine Arts Program at National University is running a special cohort of students comprised of current or returned PCVs, employees of the National Peace Corps Association, or other members of the NPCA that have been closely involved with the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps Cohort will take three writing workshop classes together that will focus on writing about your Peace Corps experience and explore notable texts by other Peace Corps veterans. All three classes will be led by returned Peace Corps volunteer and noted author, John Coyne. The rest of the classes required to earn the MFA degree in Creative Writing will be taken with our experienced MFA faculty and our diverse . . .

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Write and Publish Your Memoir…A Text Book to Get You Started

If you are starting the new year with the resolution to write the Great Peace Corps Memoir you might take a few hours and read Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras 1975-77) paperback ($13.95) entitled: Peace Corps Experience: Write and Publish Your Memoir. The paperback came out in 2012 and it is up-to-date and useful, down to the simplest details for writing and self-publishing. The book is also available as a Kindle e-book for $3.99. You can reach Larry by email:  lawrenceflihosit@gmail.com if you have questions about the book. Good luck with the writing.      

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“The Peace Corps Blew It” by Bob Criso (Nigeria)

  I HAD JUST GRADUATED from college in January 1966 when I picked up the New York Times and read about the bloody military coup in Nigeria. The Prime Minister and a number of other top government officials were killed. Nigeria’s budding democracy ended two weeks before I’d be leaving for Peace Corps training. Mmmm. “Do you know what you’re getting into?” my Uncle Ralph asked.   FOUR MONTHS LATER  I was settled into a teaching assignment in Ishiagu, Eastern Nigeria, and pretty content. Nice house, great students, companionable colleagues and a village culture that fascinated me. I rolled up the sleeves of my new dashiki and plunged right in — lots of palm wine, kola nuts and cultural-exchange-talk in mud homes, my Igbo vocabulary expanding in the process. When I was invited to a local wedding, I felt like I had been granted honorary citizenship. It wasn’t long before the BBC . . .

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