Archive - February 2021

1
The Peace Corps at 60 — Bonnie Black (Gabon)
2
Ghana I — The First Peace Corps Volunteers
3
Review — QUICK & QUOTABLE by William Hershey (Ethiopia)
4
Review — THE JOURNEY OF MAX BRAVERMAN by Chris Honore (Colombia)
5
FOR THE LOVE OF THE STRUGGLE by Andres [Drew] McKinley (El Salvador)
6
HISTORICAL BELGIUM by Steve Kaffen (Russia)
7
Peace Corps at 60: Inside the Volunteer Experience 
8
A Writer Writes — “Mr. Tidy” by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay)
9
RPCV’s letter published in the Washington Post
10
Review-We Are Akan: Our People and Our Kingdom in the Rainforest (Ghana)

The Peace Corps at 60 — Bonnie Black (Gabon)

    A Peace Corps Memory by Bonnie Black (Gabon 1996-98)   Sixty years ago, on March 1, 1961, President Kennedy — heartthrob to me and all of my fellow teenage girlfriends at the time — established the United States Peace Corps. I was not among the thousands of idealistic young people who flocked to answer JFK’s call to “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country” and sign up for Peace Corps service. No. In characteristic glacial fashion, I took a lot longer. I was fifty years old when I joined. Looking back now, I can see it was a risky decision, for which I was rightly criticized by some friends and family. For one thing, if I hadn’t dropped out of the workforce for two years to become a Peace Corps volunteer in Gabon, Central Africa, from 1996-98 — and . . .

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Ghana I — The First Peace Corps Volunteers

  by John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962–64), editor • In mid-August 1961, Ghana I was ready for Ghana. Nobody was more pleasantly surprised than the Africanists, who at the outset had believed that it would take nearly two years to prepare the Volunteers adequately, given the fact of their youth, inexperience, Kennedy connection, and accompanying media hype. Too much, it was felt, hung on their performance. The Ghana I group, numbering fifty, had become “one”; there was an unspoken sense of being special due to their having been so closely associated with America’s top four people in African studies and the ever-attentive point man from Washington headquarters, Pat Kennedy, first Director of the Office of Peace Corps Volunteers. They hadn’t paused to absorb the daunting fact that they would be absolutely the first Volunteers (Tanganyika I had started and finished its training program earlier but would trail Ghana I to Africa . . .

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Review — QUICK & QUOTABLE by William Hershey (Ethiopia)

  Quick & Quotable: Columns from Washington, 1985–1997 (Bliss Institute series) William L. Hershey (Ethiopia 1968–70) The University Of Akron Press March, 2020 246 pages $24.74 (paperback) Reviewed by Kathleen Johnson Coskran (Ethiopia 1965-67) • Quick and Quotable is just that, and I would add amusing, insightful, and always interesting even if the main “characters” are new to the reader. The temptation for the reviewer is to simply quote Hershey’s best quotable lines, but then the review would  be almost as long as the book. The columns are from Hershey’s 13 years (1987—1997) as the Akron Beacon Journal’s Washington correspondent. He was charged to report news pertinent to Akron readers and wrote weekly columns “to take a look behind the headlines,” to engage and inform as well as entertain, and he thought of them “as sending letters back home from a foreign country.” For the reader in 2020, at least a . . .

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Review — THE JOURNEY OF MAX BRAVERMAN by Chris Honore (Colombia)

  The Journey of Max Braverman by Chris Honoré (Colombia 1967-69) Independent Publishing 424 pages January 2018 $16.oo (paperback Reviewed by David Arnold (Ethiopia 1964-66) • If a novel can be a re-imagined life of an observant writer, which would be more difficult for one of us whose published work is reviewed in The Peace Corps Worldwide blog: the characters and events that we recall from a long-ago life in Colombia, or fiction we create from a more familiar American adolescence? The Journey of Max Braverman is the debut novel of freelance writer, journalist and former California high school English teacher Chris Honoré. In his case, Honoré–who served in Colombia in the late 60s and now lives in the small university town of Ashland, Oregon—chose to write about the innocence of teenagers coming of age that eventually encounters the social reality of America’s struggle with White supremacy. The Journey of . . .

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FOR THE LOVE OF THE STRUGGLE by Andres [Drew] McKinley (El Salvador)

  From his home in El Salvador, the author shares an intimate personal and political memoir that follows his remarkable journey from the comfort and security of a picturesque New England town to a stirring and heroic engagement in common cause with the struggle for peace and justice in El Salvador. After four years as a Peace Corp worker in northern Liberia beginning in the late 1960s, followed by a stretch back in the United States as a street worker in the ghettos of North Philadelphia, McKinley finds himself in Central America as an aid worker in 1978. He quickly becomes engulfed by the political violence of the region and engaged with the people and their struggles against five decades of military dictatorship, centuries of poverty and exploitation. The story is marked by terror, adventure and courage, by trials and tragedy redeemed by the beauty and transcendence of people in . . .

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HISTORICAL BELGIUM by Steve Kaffen (Russia)

  Belgium’s long and rich history is on display in its cities and towns. Join author Steve Kaffen on a photographic journey to historical Belgium. The capital Brussels is home to the magnificent Grand Place, a medieval square and open-air marketplace from the 11th century. It is surrounded by historic buildings, notably the Town Hall, the square’s centerpiece; King’s House, home of the Brussels City Museum and its fine tapestries; and ancient guild houses of artisans and merchants. Steve visits at a unique time when, on even years in mid-August, it is covered with begonias. The floral presentation, called the Flower Carpet, is created by volunteers using pre-determined designs. The adjacent pedestrian zone of cobblestone streets contains buildings of earlier eras, and street-level shops strive to outdo each other with elaborate window displays and inviting interiors. On a side street is an old Theatre de Vaudeville that is rentable for . . .

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Peace Corps at 60: Inside the Volunteer Experience 

March 3th at 7 pm ET Virtual Opening   We are pleased to announce the exhibition Peace Corps at 60: Inside the Volunteer Experience with links to register for the virtual opening event on Wed. March. 3 at 7 pm ET. We invite you to enjoy the exhibition catalog and attend the virtual opening. Read the exhibition catalog here.  Register for Wednesday, March 3, 7 pm ET virtual opening here. Numerous Volunteers in the Museum of the Peace Corps Experience partnered with Jack Rasmussen, Director of American University Museum and AU Museum staff to create this exhibit. Now available virtually, the physical exhibit is installed until August 2021 and will be viewable at American University Museum, Washington DC, when the pandemic situation allows the campus to open publicly. — Pat Wand (Colombia 1963-1965) — Nicola Dino (Ecuador 1994-1997)

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A Writer Writes — “Mr. Tidy” by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay)

    Mr. Tidy by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay 1978-80 • The first time Dean Birch watched Mr. Tidy rise up out of the swimming pool in the back yard, he thought it was odd. He assumed he had not read the manual thoroughly, another sin of omission Nancy could hold against him. Once the robot cleaned the pool to its own digitally imprinted standard, it climbed the steps, motored over to the flagstones, and waited for the command to clean again. Whoever had the marketing contract for Convenience Machines, which made the robot, had blown it. They should have advertised the self-parking feature. Dean was at the breakfast nook with a mugful of coffee. He stared through the sun-flooded window at Mr. Tidy; robot rest. He was glad they had sprung for the thing. Who had time to clean the pool? Nancy had left for work. She must have turned . . .

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RPCV’s letter published in the Washington Post

  In its February 16, 2021 issue,  the Washington Post published a news article describing  how hydrofluorocarbons, a dangerous environmental pollutant, were leaking from supermarket freezers. It also described the Biden administration’s efforts to regulate and eliminate the problem. https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2021/02/15/these-gases-your-grocerys-freezer-are-fueling-climate-change-biden-wants-fix-that/ RPCV Evelyn Ganzglass  (Somalia 1966-68) wrote this letter to the Washington Post urging consumer action to deal with the  pollution issue. The Post published it, included that she was a  member in the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers for Environmental Action.  In her letter, Ganzglass stresses pollution is a global problem and hurts everyone all over the world. Thank you to Evelyn Ganzglass for sharing the letter. • “Consumer activism could have a real impact on the environment. Let’s all use the money we spend on groceries to exert market pressure on supermarkets to immediately fix leaks in refrigeration systems that release hydrofluorocarbons into the atmosphere and accelerate the pace of replacing these . . .

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Review-We Are Akan: Our People and Our Kingdom in the Rainforest (Ghana)

  We Are Akan: Our People and Our Kingdom in the Rainforest — Ghana, 1807 by Dorothy Brown Soper (Ghana 1962–65), author; and  James Cloutier (Kenya 1962–66), illustrator Luminare Press October 2020 358 pages Reading level : 9 – 12 years October 2020 $8.99 (Kindle); $19.99 (Paperback) Reviewed by Sue Hoyt Aiken (Ethiopia 1962–64) • Imagine this reader’s surprise to see the date of 1807 implying this was a historical story, in Africa!  Lucky would be the kids in school today who get to read about a powerful, intelligent, community-minded kingdom located in Ghana in West Africa, in 1807! The story follows young people going about their daily lives doing work for and about the community.  Their “educations” are mapped out and led by elders or older relatives. Women do honorable work and most important of all, each child’s experiences and attempts to accomplish tasks are rewarded with warm words of . . .

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