Archive - 2021

1
Winners of the 2021 Peace Corps Writers Book Awards
2
Establishing the Peace Corps–what we remember 60 years later
3
FEEDING THE KIDS TO THE SHARKS by JJ Martin (Papua New Guinea)
4
Winner of the 2021 Peace Corps Writers Maria Thomas Fiction Award
5
China’s Reform Generation Adapts to Life in the Middle Class by Peter Hessler
6
Christmas and Living in Ecuador
7
Charlie Peters, Washington Monthly Founder and Mentor to Leading Journalists, Turns 95
8
New York Times review of CREATIVE TYPES by Tom Bissell (Uzbekistan)
9
Christmas in The Land of the Eternal Spring (Guatemala)
10
Christmas Letter from Emdeber, Ethiopia….1967

Winners of the 2021 Peace Corps Writers Book Awards

  Winner of the 2021 Peace Corps Writer of the Year Award For her entire body of work Mildred D. Taylor (Ethiopia 1965-67)     Winner of the 2021 Peace Corps Writers Maria Thomas Fiction Award Streets of Golfito: A Novel by Jim LaBate (Costa Rica 1973-75)   Winner of the 2021 Peace Corps Writers Paul Cowan Non- fiction Award Every Hill A Burial Place: The Peace Corps Murder Trial in East Africa by Peter H. Reid (Tanzania 1964–66)     Winner of the 2021 Peace Corps Writers’ Moritz Thomsen Peace Corps Experience Award Between Inca Walls: A Peace Corps Memoir by Evelyn Kohl La Torre (Peru 1964-66)     Winner of the 2021 Peace Corps Writers’  Marian Haley Beil Best Book Review Award Rich Wandschneider (Turkey 1965-67) for review of An Indian Among Los Indigenas by Ursula Pike     Winner of the 2021 Peace Corps Writers’ Rowland Scherman Award . . .

Read More

Establishing the Peace Corps–what we remember 60 years later

The current issue of WorldView (online at the NPCA site) has an informative interview with Bill Moyers and Bill Josphenson on the creation of the Peace Corps. The interview introduces new information about those formative days of the agency. Here is an essay I wrote in the late ’90s about creating the Peace Corps based on interviews I had done with founders like Warren Wiggins and Harris Wofford and others who had been part of the Mayflower Gang that created the Peace Corps.    Establishing the Peace Corps Let me start with a quote from Gerard T. Rice’s book, The Bold Experiment: JFK’s Peace Corps: In 1961 John F. Kennedy took two risky and conflicting initiatives in the Third World. One was to send five hundred additional military advisers into South Vietnam; by 1963 there would be seventeen thousand such advisers. The other was to send five hundred young Americans . . .

Read More

FEEDING THE KIDS TO THE SHARKS by JJ Martin (Papua New Guinea)

• “Maybe you and Mommy should hav thought a little more before you had us kids!!!” ~ Devon Martin, age 7 • The attempt to be a stay-at-island dad was, at first, a failed experiment. I blame biological evolution. My wife points to me losing the kids in a jungle on the side of a mountain. Someone once said, “In bringing up children, spend on them half as much money and twice as much time.” In an effort to do just that, we left our whirlwind workaholic world in Washington, D.C. with our two daughters, then ten and seven years old, and moved to Micronesia – specs of sand stretched across one million square-miles of water in the Western Pacific Ocean – where my wife accepted a position as the Peace Corps deputy director for the region. At long last, time was on our side. Be careful what you wish . . .

Read More

Winner of the 2021 Peace Corps Writers Maria Thomas Fiction Award

  Streets of Golfito: A Novel by Jim LaBate (Costa Rica 1973-75) Mohawk River Press 252 pages October 2020 $9.99 (Kindle); $19.95 (Paperback Review by James W. Skelton, Jr. (Ethiopia 1970-72) • Jim LaBate has crafted an exceptional Peace Corps novel that takes place in Golfito, Costa Rica, the same town in which he served as a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) in the 1970s. One of the main characters is, coincidentally, named Jim, a prospective PCV, who has just arrived in Costa Rica in 1974 to train for his assignment as a Sports Promoter. While attending in-country orientation in San Jose, one of the Peace Corps administrators advises Jim to change his name if he really wants to immerse himself into the culture. The PC official’s reasoning is that Costa Ricans seem to accept the PCVs more readily if they use a name that’s familiar to them. So, Jim adopts the . . .

Read More

China’s Reform Generation Adapts to Life in the Middle Class by Peter Hessler

China’s Reform Generation Adapts to Life in the Middle Class Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) made an unexpectedly early return to the U.S. this past summer. In 2019, the New Yorker correspondent, who served with Peace Corps China 1996–98, moved to the city of Chengdu to teach — more than 20 years after he taught at Fuling Teachers College as a Volunteer. He was planning on a five-year sojourn with his wife and daughters. In May he learned that his contract for teaching nonfiction at Sichuan University-Pittsburgh Institute had not been renewed. What happened? The university emailed a statement to Reuters explaining that they had been unable to reach terms for renewing Hessler’s contract. Reuters also noted that in March, Hessler participated in the China Development Forum, “a high-profile government-run event, where he spoke on a panel on media perspectives of how the COVID-19 outbreak was handled in Wuhan.” And as Foreign Policy noted, the government of . . .

Read More

Christmas and Living in Ecuador

by Marnie Mueller (Ecuador 1963-65) When the request to write remembrances of our first in-country Peace Corps Christmases arrived in my email box, I thought, no way am I going to tell mine.  \And as the beautiful, joyful, meaningful stories appeared, I was further reluctant to share one of the worst experiences of my young life. As I write this, I can almost hear people saying, oh, here Marnie goes again with her dark twist on the Peace Corps experience. I said as much to Coyne and he said, “just write it.” The backstory: Soon after I arrived at my site assignment in March of 1964, in the rough and tumble urban barrio of Cerro Santa Ana, Guayaquil, Ecuador, I began to hear neighborhood people call out to me, “Romy, Romy.” I had no idea why because my name was Margarita to most of my neighbors on the Cerro. It . . .

Read More

Charlie Peters, Washington Monthly Founder and Mentor to Leading Journalists, Turns 95

After helping to found the Peace Corps, the former West Virginia legislator started this magazine in 1969 and molded it for 32 years.  by Matthew Cooper December 22, 2021 A little over 20 years ago, I made a short film in honor of Charlie Peters, the founding editor of the Washington Monthly. The American Society of Magazine Editors was inducting my old boss and mentor to its Hall of Fame, a kind of Cooperstown of glossies. Held at a glitzy luncheon at New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel, the editors of venerable titles lavishly toasted themselves as the National Magazine Awards were handed out. (In retrospect, it had an end-of-an-era feeling, with 9/11 and the collapse of so many publications in the offing.) My short film was a precis to Charlie getting his Thalberg. It began with shots of the Time-Life Building, the Newsweek building, and the Condé Nast tower, followed by . . .

Read More

New York Times review of CREATIVE TYPES by Tom Bissell (Uzbekistan)

  This Sunday’s New York Times, December 26, 2021, has a review of Tom Bissell’s (Uzbekistan 1996) Creative Types And Other Stories. written by Zachary Lazar. Reviewing Tom’s collection, Lazar sums up: “Vigilantes, bullies, expats: To tell you the “subjects” of these stories is to tell you almost nothing about the experience of reading them, their stylistic flair, the unpredictability of their movements. They reminded me of how fiction can be not just a form of escape but a way to get lost in the actual strangeness of this world, those crooked roads that lead us through flashes of horror, delight and sudden recognition.” Creative Types and Other Stories By Tom Bissell (Uzbekistan 1996) Pantheon 225 pages March 2021 $12.99 (Kindle); $25.95 (hardback), $14.70 (Audible)

Read More

Christmas in The Land of the Eternal Spring (Guatemala)

MY LIFE IN THE LAND OF THE ETERNAL SPRING: THE COFFEE PLANTATION BY Mark D. Walker (Guatemala 1971-73) Though I had lived and worked in Guatemala for seven years, it was a brief encounter with my young daughter, Michelle, on the San Francisco Miramar coffee plantation, perched on the side of the Volcano Atitlan that would determine my direction in life. It was a few days before Christmas, and I was strolling through the “Big House” when I came upon her in the living room. She stood, her feet planted on the orange tile floor, hugging her new Airedale puppy, Tiky, and gazing with wonder at the Christmas tree twinkling with colored lights and filled with handmade decorations. Below the tree, a number of brightly wrapped packages sat in contrast to the stark white walls. On the wall was a number of photographs of my wife’s family members It was . . .

Read More

Christmas Letter from Emdeber, Ethiopia….1967

  Dear Folks, As a matter of fact, Christmas was quite merry this year, even without snow. Friday, Phil, Mr. Rowat, Bernie, and I went out in search of a tree. What we were looking for was not a Eucalyptus tree or a false banana tree but for a more symmetric and Christmasy cedar, and sure enough down on the banks of the Gogeb River we found a prime candidate. We lost little time hacking it down with our stone-age ax but were startled when along came some village folks who wondered what we were up to. Phil being more quick-witted than the rest of us, and more fluent in the local dialect said we were taking it to help welcome the Provincial Governor who just happened to be coming for an annual visit the next day. Well, that made perfect sense all around, and we gleefully hauled off the . . .

Read More

Copyright © 2022. Peace Corps Worldwide.