Archive - August 2021

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RPCV Suanna Ausema (Guatemala) writes I SPY . . . ISLE ROYALE
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Sweet William (Peru) publishes JFK & RFK MADE ME DO IT: 1960–1968
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RPCV Author Madeline Ko-I Bastis, Editor, Artist and Buddhist Priest (Ethiopia)
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FIRST VOLUNTEERS TO SERVE: On this day — August 28, 1961
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Two Novels by Eric Madeen (Gabon)
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Winner of the 2020 Writers Short Stories: Joseph Monninger (Burkina Faso)
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I MISS THE RAIN IN AFRICA – by Nancy Wesson (Uganda)
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Winner of the Rowland Scherman Award for Best Photography Book (Iran)
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National Peace Corps Association Shows How to Help Haiti and Afghanistan
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Winner of the 2020 Young Adult Fiction–Bright Shining World by Josh Swiller (Zambia)

RPCV Suanna Ausema (Guatemala) writes I SPY . . . ISLE ROYALE

  U.P. Notable Book Club features Susanna Ausema, author of “I Spy🔎… Isle Royale” on Sep 9th 2021   The Crystal Falls  [MI] Community District Library, in partnership with the U.P. Publishers and Authors Association, has scheduled author events with winners of the U.P. [Upper Peninsula] Notable Book List. The ninth event is with U.P. author and park ranger Susanna Ausema (Guatemala 1988-91), who will present her award-winning children’s book “I Spy… Isle Royale.” The talk is set for 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 9, on the Zoom platform. To participate in the program, contact Evelyn Gathu in advance by email at egathu@uproc.lib.mi.us or call 906-875-3344. These talks are open to all U.P. residents free of charge. They recommend participants borrow a copy of the book from the local library or purchase from a bookseller in advance to get the most out of the events. Currently the book can be purchased from . . .

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Sweet William (Peru) publishes JFK & RFK MADE ME DO IT: 1960–1968

  In this fast-paced, fact-packed memoir of The Sixties, a veteran social activist recalls the idealism of the Kennedy Brothers’ push for peace and how it shaped him and others to become peacemakers. With eloquent words the brothers laid out their peace agenda — from JFK’s call in 1960 to join the New Frontier to RFK’s “End the War” Presidential Campaign of 1968.   In June of 1963, JFK’s “Strategy of Peace” speech given in response to the nuclear-war standoff with Russia, motivated a recently graduated UCLA couple to volunteer for the Peace Corps. They were assigned to serve in Peru. This richly informed memoir documents how these two Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs), and others, made a difference in U.S. international relations in ways that money could never buy.  The emotional heart of this book is the emergence of RFK. Following his 1964 election to the U.S. Senate, he visited Peru . . .

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RPCV Author Madeline Ko-I Bastis, Editor, Artist and Buddhist Priest (Ethiopia)

  Madeline A.Bastis from Jamaica, New York, joined Ethiopia One (1962-64) after graduating with a B.A. in art from the Catholic College Marymount Manhatten in New York City. She also worked part-time while in college for a print and lithographing company and in college was art editor of the school literary magazine and active in stage and set designing for student shows. In Ethiopia, she taught English and had an art club at Medhame Alem Secondary School in Harar. After the Peace Corps she was an editor of art books for Harcourt Brace and then had a landscaping business in the Hamptons. Then her life changed. “Like many people,” said Madeline, “I began my meditation practice when I didn’t know what else to do. There was a spiritual and emotional emptiness in my life.” After taking a simple adult education class in meditation, she started to see miraculous results. My . . .

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FIRST VOLUNTEERS TO SERVE: On this day — August 28, 1961

From National Peace Corps Association   FIRST VOLUNTEERS TO SERVE: On this day — August 28, 1961 — Peace Corps Director R. Sargent Shriver leads 80 Volunteers who are headed for Ghana and Tanganyika, now Tanzania, to the White House, where President John F. Kennedy will give them a personal send-off. JFK thanks them for embarking on their service, “on behalf of our country and, in the larger sense, as the name suggests, for the cause of peace and understanding.” On August 30, 1961, after a 23-hour flight form Washington, 51 Volunteers will land in Accra, Ghana, to begin their service as teachers. We’re grateful to them and the communities that have worked together with Volunteers over six decades. The mission of the Peace Corps, then as now, is to build peace and friendship. As if we needed reminding, that’s work far from finished. Photograph by Rowland Scherman, Peace Corps, . . .

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Two Novels by Eric Madeen (Gabon)

  MIXING IT UP ON THE ASIAN TRAIL …”So I get up at dawn … marveling at fog burning off into mist tumbling down like the finest mosquito netting of silk … The hills beyond the confluence, like shoulders of a woman undressing, the way the shroud of mist lifts off feminine curves, higher and higher … I tingle all over, feeling there on Borneo the dream tug of Joseph Conrad’s fiction.” By turns pathbreaking and intimate, this smorgasbord of travel essays scales down the sprawl of Asia by focusing on the unique and revelatory in sharp, crisp prose. See up close and personal the razzmatazz of novice monks at play in northern Laos, the hustle of pedicab drivers in Ho Chi Minh City, the rainforests blazed on gutsy treks across Borneo and Thailand’s Elephant Island …Served up nice and spicy, Asian Trail Mix is travel at its most sumptuous. . . .

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Winner of the 2020 Writers Short Stories: Joseph Monninger (Burkina Faso)

A Cup of Stars (Short stories) Joseph Monninger (Burkina Faso 1975–77) Wood Heat Press May 2020 458 pages $10.99 (paperback), $4.99 (Kindle) Joe Monninger’s work has appeared in American Heritage, Scientific American, Reader’s Digest, Glamour, The Boston Globe, Sports Illustrated and Ellery Queen, among other publications. He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Upper Volta, now Burkina Faso, from 1975-77. Over his 30 years writing journey through multiple genres in fiction, nonfiction, and young adult novels, Monninger has attracted significant praise: Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Richard Eder, reviewing Monninger’s 1991 novel The Viper Tree, compared him to renowned author Graham Greene; in 2007, NPR’s Bill Littlefield said Monninger’s historical boxing book, Two Ton, deserves a spot among that sport’s classic literature. His young adult novel, Baby, was awarded the 2008 award for best children’s literature from the Peace Corps Writers.  It was also chosen as a top ten book by YALSA, . . .

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I MISS THE RAIN IN AFRICA – by Nancy Wesson (Uganda)

At a time when her friends were planning cushy retirements, Nancy Wesson instead walked away from a comfortable life and business to head out as a Peace Corps Volunteer in post-war Northern Uganda. She embraced wholeheartedly the grand adventure of living in a radically different culture, while turning old skills into wisdom. Returning home became a surreal experience in trying to reconcile a life that no longer “fits.” This becomes the catalyst for new revelations about family wounds, mystical experiences, and personal foibles. Nancy shows us the power of stepping into the void to reconfigure life and enter the wilderness of the uncharted territory of our own memories and psyche, to mine the gems hidden therein. Funny, heartbreaking, insightful and tender, I Miss the Rain in Africa is the story of honoring the self, discovering a new lens through which to view life, and finding joy along the path. The Author Writes: . . .

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Winner of the Rowland Scherman Award for Best Photography Book (Iran)

RPCV Dennis Briskin “The Face of Iran Before…” Palo Alto photographer publishes images of pre-revolution Iran by Karla Kane / Palo Alto Weekly September 3, 2020 Palo Alto resident Dennis Briskin (Iran 1967-69) has published two books of photographs he took while serving in the Peace Corps in pre-revolution Iran. Courtesy Dennis Briskin. When Dennis Briskin was preparing to move to Iran for a few years in the late 1960s, he had a thought: “Maybe I should get a camera.” Though he didn’t have any prior photography experience, he read up a bit, got a basic camera and, fresh out of college and inspired by Life and Look magazines, was on his way. “The best advice I got was, ‘Film is cheap; take lots of photos,’” he recalled. The Palo Alto resident has now compiled many of his favorite photos and published two books: “Iran Before” (released in 2019) and “The Face . . .

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National Peace Corps Association Shows How to Help Haiti and Afghanistan

  Right Now, We Need to Honor Peace Corps Ideals by Helping in Humanitarian Crises in Afghanistan and Haiti Here is what we’re doing to bolster efforts by the Peace Corps community. By Glenn Blumhorst It should strike us with no small significance that today, August 19, is World Humanitarian Day — a day to advocate for the survival, well-being, and dignity of people affected by crises. In just the past week, a devastating earthquake hit Haiti; thousands have been killed and injured. In Afghanistan, on Sunday the capital of Kabul fell to the Taliban. A chaotic U.S. exit and collapse of the Afghan military has created a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions — and fears of retribution and horrific treatment of women and girls under a new regime. Many of us in the Peace Corps community have deep personal ties to these countries. Volunteers served in both in years past. Many . . .

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Winner of the 2020 Young Adult Fiction–Bright Shining World by Josh Swiller (Zambia)

Winner of 2021 Young Adult Fiction Bright Shining World by Josh Swiller Bright Shining World by Josh Swiller (Zambia 1994-96) Knopf Children’s Book, grades 7-9 304 pages November 2020 $10.99 (Kindle); $14.99 (Hardcover) Reviewed by Peter Deekle (Iran 1968–70) • Josh Swiller credits his deafness for his resilience. A contributing asset — be it a reinforcement or trial — might be his service as a Peace Corps volunteer in Zambia that is evident in his perceptive insights into human nature. As a writer, Josh has demonstrated a “keen ear” for the internal motivations and interpersonal interactions of the characters in his new book. Bright Shining World (Knopf, 2020) is a novel about young people coming of age in a chaotic and disturbing world. Its publication could hardly be timelier, given the COVID-19 pandemic and the fraught social and political climate of today. The author recounts that “anyone could feel — how battered . . .

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