Archive - December 2019

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RPCV Writers 2020 — Happy New Year Vols!
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More from Sister Martha on the Governor of Central Jawa’s visit (Indonesia)
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Let’s End the Year on a Sad Note: Trump Destroying the Foreign Service. Will the Peace Corps be Next?
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RACE ACROSS AMERICA by Charles B. Kastner (Seychelles)
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Christmas Greetings from an RPCV in the Order of Cistercians (Indonesia)
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ERADICATING SMALLPOX IN ETHIOPIA by 15 PCVs (Ethiopia)
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A Writer Writes — “Margarita Sonrise” a short short story by Chris Honore’ (Colombia)
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David Jarmul (Nepal, Moldova) publishes NOT EXACTLY RETIRED with Peace Corps Writers
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Early Days — When the Peace Corps Had Innovative Training
10
President Kennedy Reassures a Little Girl that Santa Claus Will Be Safe

RPCV Writers 2020 — Happy New Year Vols!

A Work in Progress: RPCV Authors Thirty-one years ago, Marian Haley Beil and I (both Ethiopia 1962-64) began to identify Peace Corps Writers. It was our Third Goal Project to spread the story of the Peace Corps in developing countries by promoting the writings of RPCVs here at home.  We did this as two former volunteers, not connected to the Peace Corps agency or the NPCA. We began in April 1989 with a newsletter Peace Corps Writers & Readers and now on a website: www.peacecorpsworldwide.org We announce new books, have them reviewed, interview authors, and publish writings by RPCVs. We also started with Create Space/Amazon a line of Peace Corps Writers Books. Marian Beil is the creative publishing genius behind these projects. She receives help from her gifted son, Noah, who is also a tech genius. (It runs in the family. Husband and father Don Beil ((Somalia 1964-66)) is the . . .

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More from Sister Martha on the Governor of Central Jawa’s visit (Indonesia)

December 24, 2019 We had a very unique experience this vigil of Christmas – a visit of the Governor of Central Jawa, the third-largest province of Indonesia with a population of about 40 million. He is a moderate Muslim and a good governor in his second term. Every Christmas he visits a number of Christian places to see their Christmas activities and share good cheer and promote unity and respect among different religions.  We were only told on Saturday that he wanted to come, Sunday evening four of his staff came to see the location and explain to Ibu Cory, Cathrin and me what was going to happen. We made a program with them and told the community. The vigil of Christmas is usually one of the busiest days of the year with preparations in the kitchen, the guesthouse, the church, the refectory as well as regular work and all . . .

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Let’s End the Year on a Sad Note: Trump Destroying the Foreign Service. Will the Peace Corps be Next?

State Department From RPCV long-time journalist with Newsweek Magazine in Asia You are hearing right.  The exodus is quite serious and runs deep. People talk literally of desks piled in the halls ways at State. It’s reached the highest levels, so there are no assistant secretaries. They are losing so many and such experiences that it will take years to recover, say people who know about these things. The institutional memory and professional experience is disappearing.  It’s quite serious. And while it’s not as bad, a similar loss of expertise is taking place at the C.I.A. (One little ironic silver lining which benefits us old-timers is that many retired foreign service officers are called back into service and to serve six-month temporary duty in places that are shorthanded. That’s how Taylor ended up a temporary ambassador to Ukraine.) Yes, of course, it is Trump and his inconsistent foreign policy.  And . . .

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RACE ACROSS AMERICA by Charles B. Kastner (Seychelles)

  Race across America: Eddie Gardner and the Great Bunion Derbies by Charles B. Kastner (Seychelles) On April 23, 1929, the second annual Transcontinental Foot Race across America, known as the Bunion Derby, was in its twenty-fifth day. Eddie “the Sheik” Gardner, an African American runner from Seattle, was leading the race across the Free Bridge over the Mississipi River. Along with the signature outfit that earned him his nick name white towel tied around his head, white shorts, and a white shirt — Gardner wore an American flag, a reminder to all who saw him run through the Jim Crow South that he was an American and the leader of the greatest footrace in the world. Kastner traces Gardner’s remarkable journey from his birth in 1987 in Birmingham, Alabama, to his success in Seattle, Washington, as one of the top long-distance runners in the region, and finally to his . . .

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Christmas Greetings from an RPCV in the Order of Cistercians (Indonesia)

    Mother Martha Driscoll, O.C.S. O., (Ethiopia 1965-67) graduated from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service (at that time, women were not allowed in the undergraduate A&S College) and joined the Peace Corps. After Training at the University of Utah, she went to Ethiopia as a secondary school teacher in Addis Ababa, where, as a wonderful singer and actress, she also “starred” in several play productions staged by British Ex-pats in the city. After her tour, she returned to New York City and Staten Island where she had grown up and worked for a while in New York before going to Boston and earning an MFA in Theater from Brandeis University. It was during this period, she told me, that she began to question what she wanted to do with her life, and on a trip to Europe she visited and then entered a monastery in Italy where she . . .

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ERADICATING SMALLPOX IN ETHIOPIA by 15 PCVs (Ethiopia)

    Eradicating Smallpox in Ethiopia: Peace Corps Volunteers’ Accounts of Their Adventures, Challenges and Achievements Editors: Gene L. Bartley (Ethiopia 1970-72, 1974-76), John Scott Porterfield (Ethiopia 1971-73), Alan Schnur (Ethiopia 1971-73), James W. Skelton, Jr. (Ethiopia 1970-72) Peace Corps Writers 486 pages November 26, 2019 $ 19.95 (paperback)   This book contains a wide variety of unique and perceptive stories about the experiences of the Peace Corps Volunteers who worked in the Smallpox Eradication Program (SEP) in Ethiopia between 1970 and 1975. There are 21 chapters, written by 15 former PCVs, Dr. D. A. Henderson, the Director of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global SEP, and Dr. Ciro de Quadros, WHO Epidemiologist in charge of field operations in Ethiopia. All of the stories provide insights into the personal, practical and technical aspects of the work. The PCVs’ stories include vivid, first-hand descriptions of the living and working conditions in . . .

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A Writer Writes — “Margarita Sonrise” a short short story by Chris Honore’ (Colombia)

      Margarita Sonrisa By Chris Honore’ (Colombia 1967-69) • My mouth going dry, my heart side stroking toward my throat, I turned slowly, squinting into shadows. Suddenly, Margarita Sonrisa was standing there, wearing a long silk nightgown, wispy spaghetti straps, the outline of her lovely shape lushly revealed. She was something, Margarita Sonrisa. A come hither voice that could chase a note to the deepest corners. Her latte skin smooth, lovely, darkened by the shimmering white of her gown, the front marred only by a delicate spatter of blood. Margarita Sonrisa. You tell me. She sang at a local nightspot, Las Palmas, a dusty place off the strip, all white stucco and neon outside, dim and stale inside. Most nights she stood alone at a microphone singing desperate songs that snapped your heart and dropped it at your feet and made me, like all the other mooks in . . .

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David Jarmul (Nepal, Moldova) publishes NOT EXACTLY RETIRED with Peace Corps Writers

    About NOT EXACTLY RETIRED: A Life-Changing Journey on the Road and in the Peace Corps by David Jarmul (Nepal 1977–79; Moldova 2016–18)  • Americans approaching retirement can redefine their lives and find new fulfillment by pursuing international adventure and service instead of drifting in their familiar jobs. That’s the message of Not Exactly Retired: A Life-Changing Journey on the Road and in the Peace Corps. Author David Jarmul is a widely published writer, world traveler and former head of news and communications at Duke University. He describes how he walked away from his job to travel with his wife across the United States and Nepal, and then serve together as Peace Corps Volunteers in Moldova, in Eastern Europe. Readers in more than 100 countries followed their journey on David’s popular blog Not Exactly Retired, and in news stories. Not Exactly Retired is a book for anyone seeking inspiration . . .

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Early Days — When the Peace Corps Had Innovative Training

    Early Days — When the Peace Corps Had Innovative Training   One of the first and most unique Training site programs for the Peace Corps was in October of 1962 with 90 training for Colombia. They went to train in slum neighborhoods in New York City. Manhattan’s lower East Side, East Harlem, and Chelsea. Organized by the New York School of Social Work of Columbia University, the Training program had seven hours a day of community work with New York City welfare agencies, in addition to classes in social work and in Spanish. This phase of Training for Colombia followed eight weeks of training at the University of New Mexico and four weeks in Puerto Rico. The total Training program of 16 weeks at the time was the longest ever undertaken by the Peace Corps and the first to include fieldwork in a specifically urban environment. The New . . .

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President Kennedy Reassures a Little Girl that Santa Claus Will Be Safe

http://www.lettersofnote.com/2013/09/you-must-not-worry-about-santa.html   In 1961, immediately after overhearing her parents discuss the possibility of Soviet nuclear tests at the North Pole, 8-year-old Michelle Rochon grabbed a pencil and wrote a letter to U.S. President John F. Kennedy, in which she asked him to prevent the tests for one particular reason. Her letter, and the reply she soon received from Kennedy, can be read below. (Source: The Letters of John F. Kennedy, published by Bloomsbury Press on October 29, 2013; Photo above: 8-year-old Michelle holding Kennedy’s letter.) Dear Mr. Kennedy, Please stop the Russians from bombing the North Pole because they will kill Santa Claus. I am 8 years old. I am in the third grade at Holy Cross School. Yours truly, Michelle Rochon ————————– THE WHITE HOUSE October 28, 1961 Dear Michelle: I was glad to get your letter about trying to stop the Russians from bombing the North Pole and . . .

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