Archive - 2019

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A Writer Writes — “Oral Traditions in Writing” by Jeanne D’Haem (Somalia)
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Review — THE BILOXI CONNECTION by David Mather (Chile)
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Review — BREAKING KOLA: An Inside View of African Customs by Katherine Onyemelukwe (Nigeria)
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Review — INTERPRETIVE THEME WRITER’S FIELD GUIDE by Jon Kohl (Costa Rica)
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A Writer Writes — “Development Is Down This Road” by Abigail Calkins Aguirre (Cameroon)
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Martin Ganzglass (Somalia) publishes THE PRICE OF FREEDOM — #6 of a series
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A Writer Writes — “Punch” a Short Story by Chris Honore’ (Colombia)
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“The Visit” by Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras)
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How to “Be There” for the Premiere of A Towering Task
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Review — UNORTHODOXY by Joshua A.H. Harris (Mali)

A Writer Writes — “Oral Traditions in Writing” by Jeanne D’Haem (Somalia)

A Writer Writes     Oral Traditions in Writing by Jeanne D’Haem (Somalia 1968-70) • Somalis are known throughout East Africa for their beauty and for their poetry. In this oral tradition, poems are used to communicate, to share news and even to settle disputes. A poet insults another clan in a poem. For example, “You have mistaken boat-men and Christians for the Prophet.” News and other communication had to be oral because the Somali language was not written even when I lived there in 1968.  This was due to a dispute over what kind of letters should be used. Religious leaders wanted an Arabic alphabet, business people wanted a modern Latin one. When Siad Barre, a military dictator, took over the county in 1969, his goal was rapid modernization under communism. He sent a delegation to China where Chairman Mao held similar views.  When Mao was informed about the dispute, . . .

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Review — THE BILOXI CONNECTION by David Mather (Chile)

    The Biloxi Connection by David Mather (Chile 1968–70) Peace Corps Writers June 2019 387 pages $14.95 (paperback) Review by D.W. Jefferson • 374 pages, 37 short chapters plus a Prologue and an Epilogue, The Biloxi Connection is another opportunity to enjoy David Mather’s unforgettable characters from Florida’s rural Big Bend region on the gulf coast, also known as the Redneck Riviera. This is another page-turner, leaving you wondering where the time went after spending a couple hours immersed in the story. And the chapters are short enough that you feel like you could read just one more! I strongly recommend that you read the whole three book series starting with Crescent Beach, followed by Raw Dawgin’and finally this volume. But this well-written novel also stands on its own very well. Rusty, the now retired state trooper, plays a major role. In this book he goes after the hired assassin that . . .

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Review — BREAKING KOLA: An Inside View of African Customs by Katherine Onyemelukwe (Nigeria)

      Breaking Kola: An Inside View of African Customs Katherine Onyemelukwe (Nigeria 1962–64) Peace Corps Writers November 2018 251 pages $14.62 (paperback); $9.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by Tom Hebert (Nigeria 1962-64)   • Like military veterans, Peace Corps Volunteers never put their stories and accomplishments behind them. As we say, “Once a Peace Corps Volunteer, always a Peace Corps Volunteer.” But very few of us have been as totally immersed in a new culture as the author of this intense but bright and sunny book. Having taught cross cultural communication at the State Department, I knew this author wrote truthfully when I read these words on page 16: “Breaking Kola is my attempt to explain African, especially Igbo customs that that build this deep sense of community.” I mention that because for over 58 years more than 235,000 Americans have served in 141 countries. And, when they return to this country, . . .

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Review — INTERPRETIVE THEME WRITER’S FIELD GUIDE by Jon Kohl (Costa Rica)

    Interpretive Theme Writer’s Field Guide: How to Write a Strong Theme from Big Idea to Presentation by Jon Kohl (Costa Rica 1993–95) InterpPress Publisher 164 pages $29.00 (paperback) November 2018  Reviewed by Jerry Norris (Colombia 1963-65)  • Que le provoca? (what provokes you) According to the UN’s latest report on population growth rates, there are now 7.5 billion inhabitants of planet earth. The author, Jon Kohl, can take a well-deserved bow for bringing to light a subject heretofore obscure—most certainly in my own case, and I’m sure no less so with many others. That is: how to write a strong theme from big ideas to presentation. The author is absolutely clear in his admonition to interested parties: “this Field Guide cannot make you a theme writer, it can only help you along the way.” In this manner, his Field Guide “is the first of its kind to dedicate itself . . .

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A Writer Writes — “Development Is Down This Road” by Abigail Calkins Aguirre (Cameroon)

    Development Is Down This Road by Abigail Calkins Aguirre (Cameroon 1987–90) FEW RECOGNIZE ME without my trademark Suzuki. Now I have this red Yamaha DT they gave me to replace it. I’m still white, though, or so they keep insisting as I pass by the shouting voices trying to get me to stop to do a favor, chat, or taste the latest in palm wine. I know I have a bike, but how do you say “I’m not a taxi” in the local language? I’m late, I’m in a hurry, I’ve got to help a women’s group plant rows of plantains and pineapple in their community farm. This road could jostle my insides right out of me. My thighs are sore from being abused as non-stop shock absorbers. Yet, nothing beats a forestial commute: a time to take in the bushmeat hanging for sale along the way. Someone . . .

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Martin Ganzglass (Somalia) publishes THE PRICE OF FREEDOM — #6 of a series

    About The Price of Freedom  Number 6 in the series of novels about the American Revolution by Martin R. Ganzglass (Somalia 1966–68)   The Price of Freedom is my sixth and final novel in a series on the American Revolution. The first book, Cannons for the Cause, begins in the brutal winter of 1775 when the principal character, fifteen-year-old Will Stoner and his teamster father, are engaged to haul heavy cannons from Lake George, New York to Cambridge, Massachusetts, as part of Colonel Henry Knox’s “Noble Train of Artillery.” This last novel begins after the crucial victory at Yorktown in October 1781, and ends in the summer of 1784 in liberated New York City when Patriots and former Loyalists begin to overcome their wartime differences. The underlying theme throughout the series is the important role ordinary people, including the “invisible minorities” — African Americans, women and Native Americans — played . . .

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A Writer Writes — “Punch” a Short Story by Chris Honore’ (Colombia)

    PUNCH by Chris Honore’ (Colombia 1967-69)   For a time, my family and I lived in Watson, a small farming town in California’s Central Valley – flat, nondescript, a sepia photograph slightly out of focus. Everyday I walked to school and back along dusty, rutted roads bordered by wide irrigation ditches usually filled with green-brown water. The water was controlled by a series of concrete locks that could be opened by turning upright, wire-spoked wheels allowing the water to flood out into the fields, sluicing along parched rows of cotton. In late spring and all through the relentless summer, we swam in the water nearest the locks where it was deepest, diving off the concrete abutments, splashing one another, whooping and hollering, playing like young seals. One hot day in late May, I was walking home with Ben and his younger brother, Marshall, who everyone called Punch. Except . . .

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“The Visit” by Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras)

      The Visit by Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras 1975-77)   Armando Votto Paz wasn’t just any Community Development foreman. He not only got us what we needed but stood by us whistling away the dark clouds. I didn’t want to let him down but being young, my genes were jumping. I was in love and had just slunk back from a clandestine trip to Mexico City. Secrets (like a Mexican girlfriend) are easier heard than kept. I feared the worst when Armando surprised me at my La Ceiba office where I was typing legends for my own maps. He paged through my report’s appendix, checking calculations and smiled before suggesting that I take the day off. He had to visit another volunteer in an isolated village. Since I had never been to the place and he could use some company, he thought it a good fit. We climbed . . .

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How to “Be There” for the Premiere of A Towering Task

  The following announcement gives specific information on obtaining tickets for the Premiere of A Towering Task as well as program details for the many other events.  September 22nd will be a celebration of Peace Corps at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. https://mailchi.mp/peacecorpsdocumentary/reach-event?e=d09090d4d IT’S OFFICIAL! Join us for the first screenings of A Towering Task: The Story of the Peace Corps The REACH’s Justice Forum @ The Kennedy Center Sunday, September 22nd  |  4pm & 7pm Join us as we build a community of global citizens We’ve teamed up with the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA), the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Washington, DC (RPCV|W), and The REACH at the Kennedy Center to host a full day of events to celebrate the Peace Corps and global citizenship. The festivities begin in the REACH’s Justice Forum and Studio F at 10am! From oral storytelling to a life-size replica home to augmented reality stations, it . . .

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Review — UNORTHODOXY by Joshua A.H. Harris (Mali)

    Unorthodoxy by Joshua A.H. Harris (Mali 1996-98) Atmosphere Press December 2019 $8.99 (Kindle), $8.69 pre-release price Reviewed by Sue Hoyt Aiken (Ethiopia 1962-64) • This story takes place in the summer of 2012 in Berkeley, CA, which is the perfect setting for all that unfolds and unwinds in this story.  I grew up in Berkeley back in the 40’s and 50’s so all streets traveled by the story teller, Cecil Reitmeister, are familiar well traveled locations. We meet Cecil in his increasingly decrepit home where he grew up as he reveals his beliefs and personal habits that are part of his Plan!  Staying true to his Plan keeps him focused on how he conducts his life even as he slowly unwinds from reality.  This is a story of how an isolated, lonely adult has matured from an equally lonely childhood filled with weirdness and isolation to an awareness . . .

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