Archive - May 2019

1
“What Writers Write & Why” by Marnie Mueller (Ecuador)
2
Melinda Gates speaks to Women’s Issues on Book TV
3
Richard Lipez (Ethiopia) publishes 16th Donald Strachey Mystery
4
Holbrooke as a Country Director in the Peace Corps
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More about the September RPCV Writers Workshop
6
It’s Publication Day for Clifford Garstang’s The Shaman of Turtle Valley (Korea)
7
A Writer Writes — “Stop the Killing” by Robert Wanager (Cameroon)
8
Four Best Selling Books Published This May By RPCV Writers
9
Review–George Packer on Richard Holbrooke, the Last Great Freewheeling Diplomat (Togo)
10
New Peace Corps program in Montenegro

“What Writers Write & Why” by Marnie Mueller (Ecuador)

    Approximately ten years ago, Marnie Mueller was invited as visiting faculty to Bennington College where she gave the following talk to the MFA students in the college’s prestigious graduate school writing program. — John Coyne • What Writers Write & Why by Marnie Mueller (Ecuador 1963-65)   When I returned in the mid-1960s to the United States from a two year stint in the Peace Corps in Guayaquil, Ecuador, I was in a sorry way, deeply traumatized, subject to dark silent rages, nightmares, and a terror of being in crowds. At first I drank alone to calm the turmoil, then I found a shrink, and eventually I sought solace in reading novels. I found refuge in the books by young men of my generation who had fought in Vietnam, particularly in a work by Tim O’Brien. In Going after Cacciato I identified with his character being in such . . .

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Melinda Gates speaks to Women’s Issues on Book TV

(Thanks to Beverly Hammons (Ecuador 71-73) for this video reference) Melinda Gates, wife of Bill Gates, has written a book, The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World, on her life and work with women around the world.  She discusses the book and her experiences working in the Developing World.  Empowering women and girls is a continuing program focus for Peace Corps.  For so many RPCVs, especially women, Gates’ experience and the concerns of the women with whom she talked and worked, will seem very familiar. More than fifty years ago, as a Peace Corps Health Education Volunteer, I would give “charlas”, little talks about health to women in my rural community.  After the talk, I would always ask what would they like to know.  The question varied, but always the same concern.  As one woman said, so eloquently,:  “I want to keep the children I have, alive, . . .

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Richard Lipez (Ethiopia) publishes 16th Donald Strachey Mystery

    It’s a family reunion in the era of American tribal politics, and what could go wrong? Plenty, including murder, when the Callahan clan convenes at a New England country inn and one of the most politically outspoken relatives is the victim of a bizarre poisoning. Timothy Callahan and his long-time spouse, Albany PI Don Strachey, contend not just with dampened spirits, but with injustice when a misguided local cop zeroes in on an innocent Callahan. PI Strachey has to unearth a complicated family’s hidden history, nail the real killer, and expose an act of long-contained violent rage in this disturbing tale of the way we live now. • Richard Stevenson (Richard Lipez) will meet and greet anybody willing to consider buying KILLER REUNION, the 16th Donald Strachey mystery, at The Bookstore, 11 Housatonic St., Lenox, Mass on Friday, June 7 at 5:30 p.m. • Killer Reunion A Donald Strachey . . .

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Holbrooke as a Country Director in the Peace Corps

    Reading though George Packer’s (Togo 1982-83) 590 page book: Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and The End of the American Century I came across two paragraphs on Holbrooke’s brief career working for the Peace Corps. On page 144 of his book, Packer writes how Holbrooke left his position with Kissinger and the State Department and decides to leave the country. George writes, “After working on staffs for five years, he [Holbrooke] also wanted to be in charge of something. That was impossible for an FSO-4, which he had just become, on the normal unimaginative embassy career path. So he looked into the Peace Corps, asked for a country program to run, and studied Arabic at the Foreign Service Institute….” He was given Morocco by Joe Blatchford, the Peace Corps Director, and he lasted one year (1970-71) on the job. Packer writes: There isn’t much to tell you about the . . .

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More about the September RPCV Writers Workshop

  Our Peace Corps tours have been great experiences. Many RPCVs have felt an urge to capture in prose and poetry that experience. Over the years I have been amazed by the wonderful stories and insights that have come out of our two years as Volunteers in the developing world. We have all benefited in our lives from those years. I am also amazed by the insightful and heartfelt slices of history of these nations written by RPCVs. Everyone’s story is uniquely different and there are many tales to tell by RPCVs. But telling one’s story is not easy. It takes time, dedication, and many drafts. All of the published writers we have gathered for our September Workshop have not had the same experience in writing their stories. They have told their Peace Corps experiences in poems, short stories, essays, memoirs, and in novels. One writer I know took twenty-five . . .

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It’s Publication Day for Clifford Garstang’s The Shaman of Turtle Valley (Korea)

About the book: Set in the 1990s, the novel is about Aiken Alexander, the scion of Scots-Irish settlers who came to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia in the mid-18thCentury. An Army veteran, Aiken is estranged from his wife, Soon-hee, a young Korean woman he fell in love with when stationed in Seoul. While Aiken is struggling to provide for Henry, their four-year-old, Soon-hee’s erratic behavior creates greater tension and her practice of traditional Korean shamanism is at odds with the Alexander family’s Appalachian folkways. On top of that, Aiken’s cousins seek to solve a Turtle Valley mystery that threatens to pull the family apart. Pre-publication Buzz: Amy Hawes of Book Club Babble calls The Shaman of Turtle Valley a “perfect book club read.”  If you or someone you know is in a book club and might be interested in choosing the book for one of your reads, Clifford would love . . .

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A Writer Writes — “Stop the Killing” by Robert Wanager (Cameroon)

  Stop the Killing by Robert Wanager (West Cameroon 1969-71) • I and my fellow Volunteers arrived in the grasslands of West Cameroon late in 1969. But, much too soon, I was back on the plane and leaving the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Now, in stories such as “Cameroon on Brink of Civil War” (Ashley Gilbertson, New York Times, Oct. 6, 2018), I learn that the grasslands have been assailed by horrors straight out of Southeast Asia. And that friends are dying, charred in cruel “Zippo missions,” wasted and left to die on dusty village roads…. And so, for the sake of the people I love I must speak out…. The West and the East joined to become states of the Federal Republic of Cameroon in 1961. But, the parts didn’t fit and the union really didn’t work. For example, the West, once part of Nigeria, was of . . .

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Four Best Selling Books Published This May By RPCV Writers

A young woman accuses a prominent local college athlete of rape. Convicted with the help of undisputable DNA evidence, the athlete swears his innocence and threatens both his lawyer and his accuser as he’s sent to prison. Not long after, there’s another rape and the DNA test shows that the same person committed both rapes―which is seemingly impossible since the man convicted of the first rape was in prison at the time. Phillip Margolin (Liberia 1966-68)         A groundbreaking revisionist history of the last days of the Vietnam War that reveals the acts of American heroism that saved more than one hundred thousand South Vietnamese from communist revenge. Thurston Clarke (Tunisia 1968)           Drawn by a fascination with Egypt’s rich history and culture, Peter Hessler moved with his wife and twin daughters to Cairo in 2011. He wanted to learn Arabic, explore Cairo’s . . .

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Review–George Packer on Richard Holbrooke, the Last Great Freewheeling Diplomat (Togo)

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Marian Haley Beil (Ethiopia 1962-64) Richard Holbrooke, and the End of the American Century by George Packer (Togo 1982-83) Reviewed by Walter Isaacson The New York Times May 9, 2019 Richard Holbrooke was a large man with gargantuan appetites — for food and women and movies and acclaim and, above all, diplomatic and undiplomatic maneuvering — appetites that struggled to feed an outsize ego that was matched only by his insecurities. As the last great freewheeling diplomat of the American Century, Holbrooke, with his turbocharged zeal and laughable lack of self-awareness, earned fervent admirers and fevered enemies, including a few longstanding colleagues who fell passionately and paradoxically into both camps. In fact, Holbrooke himself was caught in this duality of being his own most fervent admirer and worst enemy (although when someone once commented that he was his own worst enemy, a national security adviser . . .

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New Peace Corps program in Montenegro

      WASHINGTON – Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen (Tunisia 1966-68) and Montenegrin Deputy Prime Minister Zoran Pažin signed a historic agreement May 6 establishing a new Peace Corps program in Montenegro, the agency’s 142nd country of service. “Today’s signing is a testament to the close partnership between the United States and Montenegro,” said Olsen, who met with the deputy prime minister in the capital Podgorica. “And it is a testament to our commitment to a common vision of a brighter future for Montenegro and its neighbors in the Western Balkans.” Deputy Prime Minister Pažin said the Peace Corps program in Montenegro is another confirmation of the partnership, support and friendship of the U.S. Government and American people to Montenegro and its citizens. “We see the service of the U.S. Peace Corps volunteers in Montenegro as another opportunity for Montenegrin and U.S. citizens to enrich their lives and to . . .

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