Archive - 2021

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2021 Special Book Award Winner — OWLS OF THE EASTERN ICE: A Quest to Find and Save the World’s Largest Owl by Jonathan Slaght (Russia)
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Another review — AFGHANISTAN AT A TIME OF PEACE by Robin Varnum
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Grateful for vision, leadership that led to creation of Peace Corps
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Tennis Clubbed, Snubbed and Rubbity-Dub Dubbed by Eric Madeen (Gabon)
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Review of LOVE IN ANY LANGUAGE by Evelyn LaTorre
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“We Called Him Sarge” By Evelyn Kohl LaTorre (Peru)
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Crisis and Cure: Writing Both Political and Personal
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September 11 and the “Third Goal” of Peace Corps
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2021 Peace Corps Writers’ Marian Haley Beil Award for Best Book Review to Rich Wandschneider (Turkey) for AN INDIAN AMONG LOS INDIGENAS by Ursula Pike
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Peace Corps stories on a map from the Museum of Peace Corps Experience

2021 Special Book Award Winner — OWLS OF THE EASTERN ICE: A Quest to Find and Save the World’s Largest Owl by Jonathan Slaght (Russia)

  This haunting memoir by a former Peace Corps volunteer is not about his Peace Corps experience. Rather, it is a book that explores the mind and heart of the wilderness that could have come from the pen of Jack London, had the author lived a century later and been a volunteer. This tale of a young American traveling in eastern Russia resembles “Call of the Wild” in its sensitivity to the powerful forces of nature, and its passion for human survival. Yet the author’s modern story chronicles the efforts to save a non-human species — the elusive Blakiston’s fish owl — from extinction. • Owls of the Eastern Ice: A Quest to Find and Save the World’s Largest Owl by Jonathan Slaght (Russia 1999—02) Ferrar, Straus and Giroux August 2020 358 pages $28.00 (Hardcover); $11.89 (paperback); $14.99 (Kindle); $23.29 (audio CD); $13.08 (audiobook) Reviewed by: John C. Rude (Ethiopia . . .

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Another review — AFGHANISTAN AT A TIME OF PEACE by Robin Varnum

  Afghanistan at a Time of Peace by Robin Varnum (Afghanistan 1971–73) Peace Corps Writers June, 2021 201 pages $25.00 (paperback), $10.00 (Kindle) Reviewed by John Chromy (India 1963–65) • Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Robin Varnum (Afghanistan 1970-72) has brought to us a wonderful reminder of how Peace Corps operated in faraway lands 50 years ago.The Volunteers remembered President Kenndy’s “ringing call to service” and they were ready to go to the ends of the earth to serve, to learn and to teach. Ms. Varnum’s narrative begins with the three day PRIST (pre-Invitational Staging) program in Chicago in which the potential volunteers were briefed, provided with vast amounts of information on Peace Corps and Afghanistan, and given the choice to go to Afghanistan or not. If they said yes, two months later they were on their way to Kabul and three months of in-country training. The description of sights, emotions, excitement and . . .

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Grateful for vision, leadership that led to creation of Peace Corps

Peace Corps volunteers examine a map of Guatemala in 2016. (Alan Dep/Marin Independent Journal) By Frank Price (Côte d’Ivoire 1969-71) September 18, 2021 at 1:37 p.m. The assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963 did not kill the dream he inspired within me. A senior in high school, I knew that I would join the Peace Corps and go to a Francophone Africa nation. On Wednesday, we will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Peace Corps Act. Although it was created in 1961, the Peace Corps was inspired a year earlier by what Kennedy — then a candidate on the campaign trail — said in a 2 a.m. speech in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I was not there that early morning, but his words still stick with me. Addressing a large crowd from the steps of the University of Michigan Union, he posed an improvised historic question to . . .

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Tennis Clubbed, Snubbed and Rubbity-Dub Dubbed by Eric Madeen (Gabon)

A NOVEL SET IN THE LAND OF THE RISING SUN … In historically rich Yokohama, the wicked shiver of the tennis snub pits David Adams against K: a puffed-up, xenophobic tyrant who rules over the courts of a club that has as its anthem, ironically, the promotion of international friendship. Off the courts, David labors on a “McContract” at a Japanese university while married to the proverbial nail that sticks up, a fiery medical doctor who rides a 1200cc rice-rocket Yamaha. A heady tale of comparative culture and revenge, Tennis Clubbed goes down like a cocktail of pure fire … served up in the hall of the mountain king. Tennis Clubbed, Snubbed and Rubbity-Dub Dubbed (Novel) by Eric Madeen (Gabon 1981-83) Absolute Author Publishing House 171 pages September 2021 $2.99 (Kindle); $9.99 (Paperback)    

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Review of LOVE IN ANY LANGUAGE by Evelyn LaTorre

  Love in Any Language: A Memoir of a Cross-Cultural Marriage by Evelyn Kohl LaTorre (Peru 1964-66) She Writes Press 320 pages September 2021 $9.95 (Kindle); $16.95 (Paperback)   Reviewed by Mark D. Walker (Guatemala 1971-73) • I have a soft spot for books written by tough, honest women who bring an inner sense of who they are and what’s different and unusual around them. I also appreciate simply told memoirs from fellow travelers, especially Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. As I told the author, her timing couldn’t be better (the book drops later this month), since my Guatemalan wife and I are closing in on our 50th anniversary, making this an opportune time for me to appreciate, reflect and celebrate our matrimonial journey and what makes for a successful blended marriage. I’ve already reviewed the author’s most recent book, Between Inca Wall, and according to the president of the National . . .

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“We Called Him Sarge” By Evelyn Kohl LaTorre (Peru)

  Rarely do I recall precisely when and where I met someone from my past, especially when it was decades ago. But I remember the three times I saw Sarge — between 1963  and 2002. I expect that a great many of those who met the first director of the Peace Corps, like me, felt his cheerful and empathic spirit. In August 1963, I’d just spent the summer in Mexico — my first trip out of the U.S. I’d been part of a large group of college students who lived and worked in small Mexican towns performing community development work. I departed from my town of Apaseo el Grande, Guanajuato, two weeks before my twelve colleagues, to attend the National Federation of Catholic College Students (NFCCS) convention in Minneapolis as my college’s delegate. Sarge delivered the keynote speech there on August 27, 1963, to an overflowing auditorium of young people. . . .

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Crisis and Cure: Writing Both Political and Personal

This blog was originally meant as an attempt to make sense of the election of 2016 and the disasters that befell the nation as a result. However, recently, it has expanded to include non-political and personal writing, and even some fiction and poetry. Still, be warned, there will be a lot of politics here, and most of it will be liberal or left of center.   Afghanistan Then And Now by Elaine Parmenter (PC Staff) August 30, 2021     I’m embarrassed.  And angry.  With the Biden administration.  What were they thinking to remove the troops from Afghanistan and THEN  to try to figure out how to help US citizens, permanent residents, and Afghan friends and helpers exit the country?  Any housewife knows to straighten up and send the kids outside before she begins cleaning the house!  Was it the administration’s advisors or a stubborn old president who decided to close down shop and then figure . . .

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September 11 and the “Third Goal” of Peace Corps

Quote of the Week from the Sargent Shriver Peace Institute In our post-September 11 world, the Third Goal of the Peace Corps, “to teach Americans about the developing countries,” is more important than ever. [ . . . ] Our relationships with the people of Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe are vitally important. We must increase and teach understanding and tolerance before we can hope to achieve world peace! — Sargent Shriver | Washington D.C. | June 21, 2002   Our Quote of the Week invites us to remember the third of the “Three Goals” of Peace Corps, and inspires us to work towards a more unified, peaceful world. At the age of 87, Sargent Shriver appeared at the 2002 National Peace Corps Association Conference, where he spoke these words. At the time, nine months had passed since the terrorist attacks of September . . .

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2021 Peace Corps Writers’ Marian Haley Beil Award for Best Book Review to Rich Wandschneider (Turkey) for AN INDIAN AMONG LOS INDIGENAS by Ursula Pike

  The Peace Corps Writers’ Best Book Review Award is named in honor of Marian Haley Beil (Ethiopia 1962-64), co-founder and publisher since 1989 of the Peace Corps Writers newsletter, website, and book imprint. Following her tour of service, Marian worked for 4 years in the Office of Reports and Special Studies at Peace Corps Headquarters. She founded the Ethiopia & Eritrea RPCV group in 1991, and later co-founded Rochester RPCVs. Rich’s Review My two-year Peace Corps experience ended with a 20-kilometer minivan trip from our Turkish-Kurdish village to the train station in the city of Diyarbakir, in southeastern Turkey. When my village partner Barb and I got to the platform with our bags and boxes, other minivans showed up with a dozen or more of our village friends. The picture of that leaving and the faces and dress of some of those villagers have been fixed in my mind . . .

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Peace Corps stories on a map from the Museum of Peace Corps Experience

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from John Rude (Ethiopia 1962-64) The Museum of Peace Corps Experience has assembled 50 short vignettes submitted by RPCVs.  Readers may see the stories on a Google Earth map by clicking HERE. Like any global adventure worth its salt, you may need a few navigational tips — You’ll see a list on the left with a list of RPCV authors and dates of service.  Click on any name to open a story. Photos appear at the top, with the stories beneath.  If there are several photos, click the left or right arrows to see them. To see the whole globe, return to Projects/Peace Corps Stories and click the left arrow at the top. Next, click the Menu (upper left) to again click a left arrow symbol, next to Google Earth. With the entire globe visible, you may hold the left-click button on your mouse and . . .

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