Archive - May 2017

1
Phoenix Rising & Reading!
2
F.F. Quigley (Thailand) seeks a way to raise the numbers at Marlboro College
3
The Peace Corps in the Time of Trump, Part 12
4
“America’s Deaf Team Tackles Identity Politics at Gallaudet University” by Matthew Davis (Mongolia)
5
“That Day”: A poem by Ada Jo Mann (Chad)
6
Leita Kaldi Davis wins Lillian Carter Award (Senegal)
7
Stephen King takes on Paul Theroux (Malawi)
8
“Gentle Thunder” by Julie R. Dargis (Morocco)
9
WALLED IN, WALLED OUT published by Mary Dana Marks (Iran)
10
SPIES AND DESERTERS published by Martin Ganzglass (Somalia)

Phoenix Rising & Reading!

    Last week in Phoenix there was a “double reading” and an evening of enjoying host country food. Mike Walker (Guatemala 1971-73), who has just published his memoir Different Latitudes with Peace Corps Writers and Mike Stake (India 1966-68), author of Ripples in the Pond — also published by Peace Corps Writers, read from their books, and then invited guests — RPCVs from Moldova, Liberia, Samoa, Dominican Republic, and Venezuela — to share their Peace Corps tales. Of the evening of readings, storytelling, and wonderful home-cooked food, Mark wrote, “My Guatemalan wife, Ligia, brought Guatemalan goodies like black beans and Rosa de Jamaica (hibiscus juice) and Mike and his wife brought Indian delicacies. It made for quite an international exchange. I felt that this is what sharing our books and appreciation of different cultures is all about.” The next such event in downtown Phoenix is on May 25th at the Pomelo Restaurant, hosted by . . .

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F.F. Quigley (Thailand) seeks a way to raise the numbers at Marlboro College

Kevin Quigley (Thailand 1976-79 & CD Thailand 2013-15 plus the former head of the NPCA) has a new problem as the president of Marlboro College, in Vermont. A recent study by the National Association of College and University Business Officers is showing that tuition discounting at private colleges and universities is straining colleges and their enrollment is still weak. Colleges are now worried about the sustainability of their tuition discounting strategies. “We offer an incredibly generous financial aid package, and someone else increases it by $10,000 or $15,000,” Kevin is quoted in an interview with Inside Higher Education. “We talk to the students or parents and they say, ‘We love Marlboro, we love what you do there, but they just sweetened the pot by $10,000 or $15,000.’ What can you do about it?” Marlboro is in many ways an extreme example of the pressures placed on small colleges. It enrolls . . .

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The Peace Corps in the Time of Trump, Part 12

When Gaddi Vasquez left the agency on September 7, 2006, he was replaced quickly by another Republican, Ron Tschetter, on September 26. Ron was an RPCV, having served in India with his wife from 1966-68. Ron was from Wisconsin, had a career in finance, and after the Peace Corps would move to Florida and retirement. At the agency, I’m told, he focused his attention on getting older Volunteers. (I will forgive him from changed the name I had given my idea, “Crisis Corps” to “Response Corps.”) Ron would be Director until January 16, 2009. During his tenure, the attrition rate increased to 35%, the highest since the first Gulf War. But there were positive movements with the Peace Corps for Ron. In the fall of 2007, 59% of all Volunteers were women. (In the 1960s, 65% of all PCVs were men.) Ethnic minority Volunteers jumped to 17%. Unfortunately, he would not . . .

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“America’s Deaf Team Tackles Identity Politics at Gallaudet University” by Matthew Davis (Mongolia)

  Matthew Davis Mongolia 2000–02) writes . . . IN ORDER TO SURVIVE, Gallaudet University has to blend a diverse student body from very different backgrounds: Deaf Culture and Hearing Culture. Can football players show the school how?   The homecoming game falls on a brilliant, unseasonably warm Saturday afternoon in late October 2016. The sun streams through the multicolored leaves of oak trees and dapples thousands of alumni and fans in patches of light and shade. Pop-up booths have been erected behind the football stadium: The Class of 2019 is selling crepes; the Class of 1992 is selling T-shirts; writers for the student newspaper, The Buff and Blue, are hawking the latest issue. Little kids terrorize the person dressed as the school mascot, a bison, by pulling his tail and then squealing in delight. The smells of fraternities grilling cheeseburgers waft through the air. Previous classes gather in anticipation of their march around . . .

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“That Day”: A poem by Ada Jo Mann (Chad)

  That Day By Ada Jo Mann (Chad 1967–69) It seemed like just an ordinary day Safe in bed next to my husband as we lay under the Peace Corps issued mosquito net, listening to the lulling sounds of millet pounded rhythmically each day in the time-tested  traditional way. Soon our cook would arrive and begin rattling pots and pans in the  room we called the kitchen I heard the children running fast to school fearing the grass whip’s unfriendly sting, if they were late and made to play the fool because they failed to hear the school bell ring. I rolled out from beneath the gauzy net making sure to check for creatures hiding in my well worn  LL Bean slipper set before padding off to what looked like a well-equipped bathroom, but was powered by gravity from a rain barrel on the roof. Delicious anticipation of an upcoming trip . . .

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Leita Kaldi Davis wins Lillian Carter Award (Senegal)

  Leita Kaldi Davis wrote — The Lillian Carter Award is given to Peace Corps Volunteers who enter service over the age of 50, in honor of President Jimmy Carter’s mother, Lillian, who went to India with Peace Corps in her sixties. It is also awarded to Returned PCVs who continue the third goal of Peace Corps, “bringing the world home to America.” So, I’m thrilled to tell you that I have won this award! We’ll be going to Atlanta to the Carter Center May 10 to receive the award from the hands of President Jimmy Carter. I’m so happy to share this news with you. Leita Kaldi Davis (Senegal 1993-96) • Leita Kaldi Davis worked for the United Nations and UNESCO, for Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and Harvard University. She worked with Roma (Gypsies) for fifteen years, became a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal at . . .

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Stephen King takes on Paul Theroux (Malawi)

  MOTHER LAND By Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-65) 509 pages An Eamon Dolan Book/ Houghton Mifflin Harcourt $28.00 Reviewed by Stephen King New York Times — May 9, 2017 At the outset of this long slog, the narrator, J P (Jay) Justus, passes on a story his mother told him as a child, with a smile and a nod of satisfaction. Once upon a time there was a man condemned to be hanged. As a last request, he asked for a word with his mother. She was taken to the foot of the gallows, where he stood handcuffed. Instead of speaking to her, he bit off a piece of her ear, spat it out and screamed, “You are the reason I’m here, about to die!” What follows this fable are 500 or so pages in which Justus bites not only his mother’s ear but those of six siblings. Only the seventh, . . .

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“Gentle Thunder” by Julie R. Dargis (Morocco)

  Gentle Thunder by Julie R. Dargis (Morocco 1984-87)  • BEING, AND WORKING WITH PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEERS throughout Africa, allowed me to experience some of the more exotic cross-cultural aspects of venturing into an environment different from one’s own. But, even with the divisiveness of the political climate of late, I don’t believe that humanity wants or needs to be fractured. As I once wrote, what I have learned from many cultures around the world is that “ . . . notwithstanding our many cultural differences—at our very core, we are all the same.” Now that I am home, through a program at the California Institute for Human Science (CIHS), I am learning that energy fields surround us all, and gravity does not discriminate. The essence of communication is sound, and its vibration has the ability to promote our own capacity to heal. Sound comes in many forms. One of the more mysterious elements . . .

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WALLED IN, WALLED OUT published by Mary Dana Marks (Iran)

  About Walled In, Walled Out — A Young American Woman in Iran by Mary Dana Marks (Iran 1964–66) • WHILE THE UNITED STATES leaps on and off a collision course with Iran, Americans forget we have not always been enemies. This memoir is set in 1960s Iran, when the Shah reigns, American consultants abound, the word ayatollah is rarely heard, and SAVAK, Iran’s secret police, wields uncompromising power. In the west, Persia evokes images of colorful carpets, wealthy oil sheiks, and glamorous royalty. Leaders of the 1979 Iranian Revolution are in elementary school when Mary  answers  John F. Kennedy’s call to “ask what you can do for your country” and joins the Peace Corps. The setting is Kerman, a conservative provincial capital on the stark Iranian plateau where she’s assigned to teach English to high school girls. Problems soon appear. As she struggles with the basics of everyday life, Iranians . . .

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SPIES AND DESERTERS published by Martin Ganzglass (Somalia)

  About Spies and Deserters — A Novel of the American Revolution by Martin R. Ganzglass (Somalia 1966–68) SPIES AND DESERTERS FOLLOWS eighteen-year-old Will Stoner, a Lieutenant in General Henry Knox’s artillery regiment, and his friend, Private Adam Cooper, an African American in the Marblehead Mariners, from the bleak, disease ridden camp at Valley Forge through the cauldron of the summer heat of the Battle of Monmouth Courthouse, to the bloody, vicious guerrilla war between Whig and Tory militias and irregulars in southern New Jersey. By drawing on diaries, original letters, military orders and broadsheets, Spies and Deserters creates an accurate picture of the everyday lives of ordinary soldiers, merchants and farmers, women, Whigs, Loyalists and Hessians, all caught up in the revolution. Spies and Deserters is my fourth novel about the American Revolution published by Peace Corps Writers. Like the others in the series, Cannons for the Cause, Tories and Patriots, and Blood Upon . . .

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