Archive - December 2019

1
“The Road Taken” — Hank Fincken (Peru): Fulfilling the Third Goal of the Peace Corps
2
Review — SAYONARA SACRIFICE by Robert Cochrane (Morocco)
3
“Our Wonderful Cook, Aragash Haile” by Richard Lyman (Ethiopia)
4
Review — THE ADVOCACY by Melissa Fischer (Ghana)
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“Remembering Zewale Zegeye” by Richard Lyman (Ethiopia)
6
RPCV is fictional character in new African novel (Ghana)
7
Dan Douglas (Botswana) — Fulfilling the Third Goal of the Peace Corps — Global Citizen
8
Talking with Nancy Heil Knor (Belize), author of WOVEN
9
Glenn Blumhorst represents RPCVs at USS John F. Kennedy Christening
10
New screening dates and places for “A Towering Task”

“The Road Taken” — Hank Fincken (Peru): Fulfilling the Third Goal of the Peace Corps

      The Road Taken by Hank Fincken (Peru 1970-72) • In June of 1970, I arrived on the coast of Peru a week after the worst earthquake in the country’s modern history.  What a beginning! I saw PCVs at their finest; delivering aid, and I saw the military government at its worst, confiscating supplies — although it took me almost two years to know enough to talk about it. My Peace Corps work was with el Programa National del Arroz. Our goal was to make Peru self-sufficient in rice, no imports necessary. Because rice is a twice-a-day staple, self-sufficiency would provide huge national budget relief.  We succeeded and then we didn’t. To tell that story I would need to know that my readers suffer insomnia. I enjoyed the outdoor work, the people and the irregular adventures. For example, in early December, my Peruvian co-worker and I were sent . . .

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Review — SAYONARA SACRIFICE by Robert Cochrane (Morocco)

      Sayonara Sacrifice by Robert Cochrane (Morocco 1981–83) Xpat Fiction 320 pages November 2019 $15.00 (paperback)   Reviewed by Richard Lipez (Ethiopia 1962-64) • You have to wonder what gets into some writers’ heads when they decide to land on some remote time and place nobody currently is giving a scintilla of thought to and then go ahead and do everything it takes to bring that time and place magically to life. God knows why he chose to do it, but Robert Cochrane has pulled off just such a—I want to say “stunt,” but that’s too feeble a word for the weight and richness of this lovely novel. There are lots of World War II novels, but how many World War II baseball novels are there, especially World War II baseball novels set in Japan whose main character is American? I am guessing none, so Cochrane gets additional points . . .

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“Our Wonderful Cook, Aragash Haile” by Richard Lyman (Ethiopia)

    Our Wonderful Cook, Aragash Haile by Richard Lyman (Ethiopia 1962-64)   Marty Benjamin, John Stockton, Dallas Smith and I who shared a house in Gondar had the naïve notion that we were going to be self-sufficient and live without servants. Little did we realize that in Gondar servants had servants. It took us several months to put aside the quaint notion of complete independence and hire much-needed help. The fact that of the four of us only Dallas liked to cook should have been a red flag from the start. Within a week we opened a charge account at Ato Ghile Berhane’s “Ghile’s Store.” It was a wide glass-fronted store just around the corner on the Asmara road from the post office. Behind a tall counter were two engaging young men who would retrieve what we wanted from the floor to ceiling shelves. Our bulk purchases like rice . . .

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Review — THE ADVOCACY by Melissa Fischer (Ghana)

    The Advocacy Melissa  Fischer (Ghana 1992–94) Kilometer Thirteen 472 pages November 2019 $19.99 (paperback), $9.99 (Kindle) Review by D.W. Jefferson • RPCV Melissa Fischer has written a novel that reads like a memoir based upon her own experience in Ghana. The protagonist, Louisa Lehmann, is what I would label a super-Volunteer. Other RPCVs will recognize the type. Not only is she an experienced civil engineer, she spent most of the early years of her life in Libya so she understands African cultures better than most PCVs do. The narrative is complex with the primary thread of the plot involving her work for the Advocacy, an agency that works with local villages to help them obtain clean water and sanitation in an area profoundly affected by an open-pit gold mine. But the reader also learns about her neighbors, her living quarters, her perceptions of her coworkers, how she relates . . .

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“Remembering Zewale Zegeye” by Richard Lyman (Ethiopia)

    Remembering Zewale Zegeye by Richard Lyman (Ethiopia 1962-64)   It was better than any college or high school reunion to see old friends and colleagues with whom 49 years ago I shared an adventure and life-changing experience. On September 13th, The Embassy of Ethiopia, in honor of the fiftieth year anniversary of the founding of the Peace Corps, hosted a reception and delicious Ethiopian buffet for Peace Corps volunteers who served in Ethiopia from 1962 through the start of the turmoil in the ’70s. It was my honor to be a member of “Ethiopia I,” among the first 280+ Peace Corps teachers invited to Ethiopia by Emperor Haile Selassie in 1962. At the time the secondary schools of Ethiopia were a bottleneck through which too few students were able to graduate and pass on for additional training and/or attendance at the University. Twelve of us were assigned to . . .

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RPCV is fictional character in new African novel (Ghana)

    A few non-RPCVs writers have used the Peace Corps and PCVs in plots for their books over the years, most famously Tama Janowitz’s novel, A Cannibal in Manhattan published in 1987 by Crown. In the early days of the agency, there was also a series of YA books about Peace Corps Volunteer nurses, mostly set in Africa. Also, Tom Hanks in his 1985 movie Volunteers is a rich playboy who avoids gambling debts by jumping on a plane full of PCVs heading for Thailand. You might have seen that very funny movie. Now, a well-known Ghanaian-American mystery writer, Kwei Quartey, has written The Missing American, about a 68-year-old RPCV who returns to Ghana to track down the internet fraudster who scammed him out of a lot of money. Kwei Quartey was born in Ghana and raised by a black American mother and a Ghanaian father. A retired physician, he . . .

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Dan Douglas (Botswana) — Fulfilling the Third Goal of the Peace Corps — Global Citizen

    To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans — the Third Goal, Peace Corps Act     My Contribution to the “Third Goal” I went to Botswana as a Peace Corps Volunteer in 1968 with a master’s degree in classical history – and I actually taught some history in the secondary school to which I was assigned.  But I was also asked to teach English, and that became my passion and my main contribution to the young men and women of Botswana.  When I returned to the United States in 1970, I enrolled in another MA course, English as a Second Language, at the University of Hawai’i, and then a PhD in Applied Linguistics at Edinburgh University in Scotland. I didn’t begin “educating America” quite yet, though, as my wife (whom I had met and married in Botswana) and I spent several . . .

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Talking with Nancy Heil Knor (Belize), author of WOVEN

    Nancy, where and when did you serve in the Peace Corps? I had the privilege of serving in the village of San Pedro Columbia in Belize, Central America, from 1989–1991. I loved it! The village is inhabited by K’ekchi Mayan families who are mostly subsistence farmers. When I lived there, the population was about 1,000 people; it was one of the larger Mayan villages in the southernmost district of Belize. What was your Peace Corps project assignment? Originally, I was sent to the village to teach the villagers how to plant carrots in order to increase their intake of Vitamin A. Vitamin A helps prevent vision loss — something that many of the K’ekchi experience. The project, which was called Relevant Education for Agricultural Production (REAP), was a district-wide initiative, but, unfortunately, we Volunteers found it difficult to implement. Most of us were trained as teachers and had . . .

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Glenn Blumhorst represents RPCVs at USS John F. Kennedy Christening

      On Saturday, December 7, NPCA President and CEO Glenn Blumhorst (Guatemala 1988-91) represented the Peace Corps community at the christening of the USS John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) nuclear-propelled aircraft carrier being constructed at the shipyards in Norfolk News, VA. Over 20,000 attended the event, including shipyard laborers who had worked on the construction of the ship. Speakers including Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly, Former NASA Administrator Major General Charles Bolden, and Former Secretary of State John Kerry. The Honorable Caroline Kennedy, sponsor of the USS John F. Kennedy (CVN 79), smashed the ceremonial bottle of champagne over the hull of the ship that bears her father’s name.  This is the second aircraft carrier to be named after the 35th president, the first being the conventional-powered CVA 67, also christened by Caroline in 1967.  

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New screening dates and places for “A Towering Task”

    For future information: https://www.peacecorpsdocumentary.com/screenings-event       Chicago Cultural Center  78 E. Washington St Wednesday, December 11, 2019 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM (map) VIEW EVENT → Clinton Street Theater  — Portland 2522 SE Clinton Street Sunday, December 15, 2019 2:30 PM 5:30 PM VIEW EVENT →    Williwaw Restaurant — Anchorage, Alaska 609 F  Street Anchorage, AK — 99501 Thursday, December 19, 2019 5:30 PM 8:00 PM

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