Archive - January 2020

1
The Non-Matrixed Wife by Susan O’Neill (Venezuela)
2
Review–Love Began in Laos by Penelope Khounta (Thailand)
3
Write About Your Peace Corps Experiences in San Rafael
4
Out of the Mouths of RPCV Writers
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Paul Theroux (Malawi) interviewed in Conde Nast Traveler
6
Review — ASIA WITHOUT BORDERS by Steve Kaffen (Russia)

The Non-Matrixed Wife by Susan O’Neill (Venezuela)

When Joseph Blatchford was appointed director of the Peace Corps in May of 1969 he brought with him a set of “New Directions” to improve the agency. Whether these directors were new or not is endlessly argued, but what was clear was this: Blatchford wanted skilled Volunteers, i.e. “blue-collar workers, experienced teachers, businessman and farmers.” While the Peace Corps has always found it difficult to recruit large numbers of such “skilled” Volunteers, Blatchford and his staff came up with the novel idea of recruiting married couples with children. One of the couples would be a Volunteer and the other (usually the wife) would be — in Peace Corps jargon — the “non-matrixed” spouse. The kids would just be kids. It would be in this way, Blatchford thought, that the Peace Corps could recruit older, more mature, experienced, and skilled PCVs. And the Peace Corps would stop being just “BA generalists” . . .

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Review–Love Began in Laos by Penelope Khounta (Thailand)

Love Began in Laos The Story of an Extraordinary Life by Penelope Khounta (Thailand 1989-91) PBK Press 338 pages August 2017 $16.95 (paperback); $5.99 (Kindle)   Reviewed by Jim Jouppi (Thailand 1971-73) Before the Air Force arrived in Thailand, before the unimproved road to Nakhon Phanom was replaced with a two-lane highway which ran all the way to Bangkok, and before Royal Thai Air Base had been built, two female Peace Corps TEFL volunteers were sent to teach at a boy’s secondary school in town.  They liked their teaching job as far as they went, but there wasn’t much to do for entertainment.  They could have visited volunteers stationed in other provinces of Thailand, but, as author Penelope Khounta writes in Chapter 2 of her memoir Love Began in Laos, the Story of an Extraordinary Life, a chapter she calls “The Starting Point: 1962”, that wasn’t something they really liked . . .

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Write About Your Peace Corps Experiences in San Rafael

Write About Your Peace Corps Experiences! January 18, 2020 • 9 AM-12Noon  Global AIDS Interfaith Alliance 2171 Francisco Blvd. East, Suite I, San Rafael, CA 94901 (west end of Richmond-San Rafael Bridge)  Meredith Pike-Baky, Facilitator Togo, ’71-’73 • Rwanda ‘09 Do you have memories from your time with Peace Corps that are worth sharing? Join us on January 18 from 9-12 to write about some of those memories. We’ll share examples, practice some effective storytelling techniques then conclude with a solid plan for moving forward. Refreshments and materials will be provided. Don’t worry if you don’t consider yourself a writer. As a longtime writing teacher and author of Tales of Togo, I’ll help you get started. Send an RSVP by January 10 to mpikebaky@mac.com. I’ll reply with what you’ll need to know and bring.

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Paul Theroux (Malawi) interviewed in Conde Nast Traveler

    The January/February issue of Conde Nast Traveler has an interview with Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-65) done by Francesca Babb entitled “The Globetrotter” and the headline: “The novelist and master of travel writing, who made his name journeying from the U.S. to Japan and back by train for The Great Railway Bazaar, hit the open road for his latest book.” (The interview is on page 113 of the thick issue subtitled: THE GOLD LIST 2020.) Theroux’s new book is On the Plain of Snakes A Mexican Road Trip. The interviewer, however, doesn’t so much focus on the new book as ask Paul about his life and travels. While his time in the Peace Corps doesn’t come up, there are nevertheless interesting questions and replies. A few exchanges . . .   What is the greatest train route on earth? “Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi. It was built after the . . .

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Review — ASIA WITHOUT BORDERS by Steve Kaffen (Russia)

    Asia Without Borders — Crossing the South Asian Expanse: Thailand, Burma, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bhutan by Steve Kaffen (Russia 1994-96) SK Journeys Publisher 285 pages 2018 $14.00 (paperback) Reviewed by D.W. Jefferson • I read a travel book for one of two reasons. Either when seeking up-to-date information on traveling in a given country or region — a guidebook — or when I primarily want to enjoy the story of traveling through a region or visiting a specific place at a given time in the past. Steve Kaffen made his journey across South Asia in the 1980s. His book is 284 pages, and over 150 photos from 9 countries constituting a treasure trove of travel related stories. Reading this book is like going to the annual membership gathering of your local RPCV group (Here in the Midwest this will most likely be a . . .

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