Archive - February 2021

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10 Must-Read Books About the Peace Corps
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The Volunteer who stamped “Done” on Peace Corps’ 3rd Goal — Profile in Citizenship
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Review — AFRICA MEMOIR by Mark G. Wentling (Togo)
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Review — AMERICA’S BURIED HISTORY: Landmines in the Civil War by Kenneth R. Rutherford (Mauritania)
5
We All Need an Editor — Jane Albriton (India)
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Carolee Buck’s (Senegal) Pandemic project gets presidential approval
7
My Eritrean Sister by Laurel West Kessler (Ethiopia)
8
Acting Director Carol Spahn’s Letter to the Peace Corps Community
9
Growing Dreams: A Peace Corps Volunteer reflects on his service in Nepal
10
The Peace Corps in the post-Trump era

10 Must-Read Books About the Peace Corps

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Dan Campbell (El Salvador 1974-77)   By Laura Posted in Travel Resources   Looking for inspiring, international reads? It’s no secret that Peace Corps Volunteers have incredible stories to tell about, or inspired by, their service. No two Peace Corps Volunteers have the same experience, even when serving in the same country. Match that with the ever-changing nature of the Peace Corps as an agency and advancements in developing countries, and you’ve got a near-endless supply of unique, international book reads. So, whether you’re an aspiring Peace Corps Volunteer, a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, or an armchair traveler, we’ve got excellent recommendations about Peace Corps related stories for you. • Hey, there! Looking for a Peace Corps read? I’ve written a novel series, Messages, that was inspired, in part, by my service in Panama. You can download it for free if you have Kindle Unlimited, or purchase it . . .

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The Volunteer who stamped “Done” on Peace Corps’ 3rd Goal — Profile in Citizenship

  By Jeremiah Norris (Colombia 1963–65)    And … that would be Dona Shalala, a Volunteer that catapulted herself from a field assignment in Iran to the august halls of the U. S. Congress — after being a Cabinet Secretary and president of several universities along the way! Dona received a degree in 1962 from Ohio’s Western College for Women. On that year and through 1964, she was among the first Volunteers to serve in the Peace Corps. Her placement was in Iran where she worked with other Volunteers to develop an agricultural college. In 1970, she earned a Ph.D. from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. In 1970, Dona began her academic career as a political science professor at Baruch College. In 1972, Dona became a Professor of Politics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, a post she held until 1979.  She became . . .

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Review — AFRICA MEMOIR by Mark G. Wentling (Togo)

  Africa Memoir by Mark G. Wentling (Togo 1970-73) Open Books Publisher 255 pages August 2020 $9.99 (Kindle); $21.95 (Paperback Reviewed by Robert E. Hamilton (Ethiopia; 1965-67) • To review fairly this first volume of three in the Africa Memoir trilogy, it will be generally useful to remember what it is, as a book and concept, rather than what it is not. It is not, for example, a history of the 54 countries in Africa, all of which Mark Wentling has visited (some only briefly). Neither is it a guide book which you would expect, like Lonely Planet or a Rick Steves publication, to be updated annually or regularly. Wentling says in his Foreword: The central purpose of this book is to share my lifetime of firsthand experiences in Africa. I also attempt to communicate my views about the many facets of the challenges faced by each of Africa’s countries. . . .

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Review — AMERICA’S BURIED HISTORY: Landmines in the Civil War by Kenneth R. Rutherford (Mauritania)

  America’s Buried History: Landmines in the Civil War by Kenneth R. Rutherford (Mauritania 1987-89) Savas Beatie Publisher 216 pages April 2020 $17.95 (Kindle) $29.95 (Hardback) Reviewed by Paul Aertker (Mauritania 19988-89) • With exciting prose and perfectly chosen Civil War quotes, America’s Buried History weaves a little-known thread through a well-known story. This history of landmines is the first Civil War book I’ve read in a long time, and the first on the subject that I’ve ever read. For a non-fiction book, I was surprised by the thrilling pace, and at times the narrative felt like it was in the hands of great non-fiction masters like Sebastian Junger and Jon Krakauer. While it’s easy to see this book on a college Civil War syllabus, its educative value is matched equally by its readability. What’s more, the author’s use of war vocabulary — “abatis,” “fraise,” “glacis” — is “lagniappe”* to an . . .

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We All Need an Editor — Jane Albriton (India)

  An RPCV Editor for Your Memoir, Fiction or Non-Fiction Book   Jane Albriton (India 1967-69) is an award-winning journalis,t and the president of Tiger Enterprises Writing Consultants. She is the creator and series editor of four books of Peace Corps stories published in 2011 on the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Peace Corps. In 2011 the series won the Peace Corps Collection Award from Peace Corps Worldwide. As a business journal writer, her beats have been the hospitality industry and food. Among other publications, she has written for Edible Front Range Magazine, The O&P Edge (orthotics and prosthetics), Southwest Art, and the Colorado Business Report. As the editor of other writers’ book length manuscripts, her goal is to improve the manuscript without leaving any fingerprints, to let the editing vanish into the writer’s style, language, and rhythms. For that reason, she only works on complete manuscripts that have . . .

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Carolee Buck’s (Senegal) Pandemic project gets presidential approval

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Laurel West Kessler (Ethiopia 1964-66)   by Jim Flint for the Mail Tribune Sunday, February 7th 2021     An Ashland woman’s pandemic project of putting together a memory book about her Peace Corps experiences in the late 1960s in Senegal led to a personal invitation from Senegal’s president to revisit the country.   Carolee and Art Buck (Senegal 1968-70) met years ago at the University of California at Santa Barbara and discovered they shared a desire to work and travel around the world. “We were young, starry-eyed dreamers,” Carolee said. They were inspired to join the Peace Corps by the compelling stories of people doing good works in foreign cultures and by the words of John F. Kennedy’s inaugural speech, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” They got married and joined the . . .

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My Eritrean Sister by Laurel West Kessler (Ethiopia)

By Laurel West Kessler (Ethiopia 1964-66)   Mhret clasped my hand as she pulled her filmy shawl over her face, looked down at her lap, and shed silent tears. Sitting on low stools on her patio, we were looking at photos of her son, Tefera, who was living in our city in California. He had gone there in 1991 to earn a soccer coaching license. Now in 1996 my husband, Wayne, and I were living in their country, Eritrea. Mhret wondered when and if she would see her only child again.  Her diabetes — which occasionally put her in the hospital — certainly gave her reason to worry. I had first noticed Mhret and Tefera in October 1964, when they arrived by bus in Adi Teclesan, the village in Eritrea where we were Peace Corps teachers.  In the crowd of arriving and departing passengers, they stood together holding hands, a . . .

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Acting Director Carol Spahn’s Letter to the Peace Corps Community

“February 5, 2021 The following is an open letter to Returned Peace Corps Volunteers from Acting Director Carol Spahn (Romania 1994-96)   To the Peace Corps community, It’s been just over two weeks since I stepped in as Acting Director of the Peace Corps in the middle of a tumultuous January. As the ground continues to shift under our feet here at home and overseas, I am reminded of the importance of our shared experiences as ambassadors of peace and friendship. Our primary goal during this critical time is returning Peace Corps Volunteers back to the countries we know and love. We are also committed to taking on the work necessary to return to service in a way that promotes racial equity and justice. Peace Corps is in the process of reviewing our structures, programs and policies to identify how we can best recruit and support a diverse cohort of . . .

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Growing Dreams: A Peace Corps Volunteer reflects on his service in Nepal

by Teagen Barresi (Nepal 2016-18)   I joined the Peace Corps because I was looking for a way to serve. Simultaneously, I wanted to give myself an opportunity to grow and learn more skills. I had previously learned about food systems in the U.S., and I wanted to test what I knew about food systems in another part of the world. The Peace Corps gave me the opportunity to learn an enormous amount while working to make a positive impact in the lives of others. I credit my aunt who served in the Peace Corps in the Solomon Islands in the 1990s with inspiring me to serve. Her experience there, and the stories she told, were always in the back of my mind. It was the final push I needed to send in an application. During my two years in Nepal, I lived and worked in a rural agricultural village. Most members . . .

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The Peace Corps in the post-Trump era

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from  Alana de Joseph (Mali 1992–94)   Here are three arguments for why a Biden-Harris administration should prioritize this federal agency — and key steps to get there.   by William G. Moseley (Mali 1987–89) MinnPost Feb. 3, 2021   Americans suffer from a tendency to look inward, an affliction exacerbated by isolationist political winds as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. Now more than ever, the United States needs the Peace Corps, the brainchild of the late Minnesota Sen. and Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, to help our citizens engage with the rest of the world; cultivate future foreign service leaders, and foster a more climate-friendly international development approach. Here are three arguments for why a Biden-Harris administration should prioritize this federal agency — and key steps to get there. First, the Peace Corps could help the U.S. emerge from four years of isolationism by rebuilding . . .

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