Archive - November 2021

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Review: Kwamboka’s Inquiry by Arthur Dobrin (Kenya)
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Review — LOVE AND LATRINES IN THE LAND OF SPIDERWEB LACE by Mary Lou Shefsky (Paraguay)
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11/22/63 — Ask not . . . by Jerry Norris (Colombia)
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Peace Corps and Vietnam
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In Celebration of and in Thanksgiving for the Life of W. Dennis Grubb
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Peace Corps Volunteers Fall Through the Cracks of a Student Loan Fix
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Review — THE SERPENT OF THE NILE – A Novel by Robert Gribbin (Kenya)
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Peace Corps Writers on the 60th Anniversary
9
The New Peace Corps Sexual Assault Report
10
Art for Art’s Sake: El Paso Sculptor, Satirist and Political Advocate Ho Baron (Nigeria & Ethiopia)

Review: Kwamboka’s Inquiry by Arthur Dobrin (Kenya)

Kwamboka’s Inquiry by Arthur Dobrin (Kenya 1965-67) Nsemia Inc. Publishers 146 pages March 2017 $8.99 (Kindle); $25.73 (Paperback)     Reviewed by Stephen Foehr (Ethiopia 1965-67) The opening scene: Funeral preparations in a churchyard for a murder victim, the respected co-founder of a Kenyan school, who was inexplicably shot to death in her home. Nothing was stolen. Inspector James Dingiria, from Nairobi, outside the district, was sent to investigate. This is the set-up of Arthur Dobrin’s novel, Kwamboka’s Inquiry, which is much about Kenyan society as a murder mystery. Dobrin has an acute eye for physical details that puts the reader on the scene, and an understanding of the underlying social, tribal, and economic tensions that inform the story. He and his wife served in the Peace Corps in Kenya, which made them first-hand witnesses. Initially, the murder was thought to be the work of the Sungu Sungu, originally formed . . .

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Review — LOVE AND LATRINES IN THE LAND OF SPIDERWEB LACE by Mary Lou Shefsky (Paraguay)

  Love and Latrines in the Land of Spiderweb Lace: A Peace Corps Memoir by Mary Lou Shefsky (Paraguay 1974–76) Blurb, 2021 218 pages $38.89 (paperback – full color), $9.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by Kim Herman (Dominican Republic 196  ) • I thoroughly enjoyed reading this Peace Corps memoir because the book demonstrates Mary Lou Shefsky’s deep connections and commitment to the people and families she met during her service. I found the details in the book both surprising and enjoyable as she describes her work, her problems, and the deep relationships she develops with her Paraguayan friends and “family.” She also writes about her many continuing visits with them, both in Paraguay and the US, following her service, which is a common theme among returned Volunteers who shared many great experiences with host country nationals and the people they served. The many photographs in the book add a great deal to . . .

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11/22/63 — Ask not . . . by Jerry Norris (Colombia)

  As a Peace Corps Volunteer, I was assigned to La Plata, a difficult to find village on any map, set in the foothills of Colombia’s Andean mountains. On this soon to be fateful morning of November 22, 1963 I had taken a bus into Neiva, the Departmental capital, to obtain some governmental authorizations for Community Development Funds for one of our projects. Like most every bus in our area, firmly set above the driver’s head were three pictures with Christmas tree lights around them: Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and President John F. Kennedy. Later that afternoon, about 3:30 PM or so, before boarding the bus for the trip back, I stopped at a newsstand next to the Hotel Neiva to see if it had a recent copy of Time Magazine. There was one copy left! In my excitement to read while paying for it, I paid little attention to . . .

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Peace Corps and Vietnam

Peace Corps has been working to establish a program in Vietnam since  2004 and today much has been done in anticipation of Peace Corps in Vietnam next year.  Read: “Annual Report July 2020 to July 2021 Building a Foundation” Peace Corps Vietnam From that report: “The Peace Corps opening in Viet Nam represents decades of work involving hundreds of people with a collective vision for promoting closer people-to-people ties between the United States and Viet Nam. In 2004, Le Van Bang Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs formally invited Peace Corps to Vietnam. Two years later, Peace Corps sent a four-person assessment team led by John L. Williams, the then Peace Corps Thailand Country Director, to Viet Nam to conduct a new country assessment. The report concluded that Viet Nam would provide a welcoming environment in which Volunteers would be successful. On May 24, 2016, during President Obama’s only official trip to . . .

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In Celebration of and in Thanksgiving for the Life of W. Dennis Grubb

Memorial Service          November 16, 2021 Time: 12 pm ET Location: Washington National Cathedral Address: 3101 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016  live stream link to the service for anyone who can’t travel to D.C. but wish to join online is here: https://youtu.be/qbjbNMRznrE W. Dennis Grubb  Member of Colombia One group of Peace Corps Volunteers (1961-1963), Dennis peacefully entered into eternal rest on October 25, 2021. The Peace Corps, education, global development, and the church have propelled his lifelong service to help others in developing nations on five continents.  “I have worked in 23 countries, which included some of the world’s poorest nations. I experienced suffering and plain simple happiness first hand. I have left many of these countries leaving behind most of my belongings, as I felt the poor people needed my clothes and shoes more than I did.” (sermon St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church, 2014). Sargent . . .

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Peace Corps Volunteers Fall Through the Cracks of a Student Loan Fix

  Peace Corps Volunteers Fall Through the Cracks of a Student Loan Fix “Your Money” By Ron Lieberm New York Times Nov. 13, 2021   A deserving group of dedicated people has been left out of the government’s latest patch for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.   When the Education Department announced fixes for its deeply dysfunctional Public Service Loan Forgiveness program last month, hundreds of thousands of long-suffering borrowers were suddenly given a chance at the kind of relief that the federal government had long promised them. But a small, highly deserving group was left out, even though its volunteers passed through a particularly venerable government service program: the Peace Corps. Many Peace Corps alumni say they — like others who are now getting help, including members of the armed forces — received bad advice that set back their attempts to wipe away their loans. But the federal government hasn’t seen . . .

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Review — THE SERPENT OF THE NILE – A Novel by Robert Gribbin (Kenya)

  The Serpent of the Nile: A Novel by Robert Gribbin (Kenya 1968-70) Independently Published August, 2021 138 pages $13.99 (Paperback), $3.99 (Kindle) This novel is about an RPCV who is now a Nairobi based free-lance journalist pursuing stories of corruption, arms smuggling and human trafficking in war-torn South Sudan. He becomes caught up in the violence and intrigue that plagues the world’s most desperate nation. Set against the grim reality and history of the region, this novel accurately portrays the despair, hope and aspirations of South Sudan’s beleaguered people. Reviewed by Alan Johnston (Kenya 1968-71) • The last place that you want to end up is in a prison cell in some remote part of Africa, whether that cell is controlled by a rebel group, an opposition warlord, or a government.  Especially if you happen to be a journalist. Bad things happen in those cells. Yet that is exactly . . .

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Peace Corps Writers on the 60th Anniversary

Here is our new list — as of November 2021 — 407 RPCV & staff authors who have published two or more books (of any type). If you know of someone who has and their name is not on this list, then please email me at: jcoyneone@gmail.com. I know I don’t have all the writers who have been Volunteers or Staff in the Peace Corps over these last 60 years. Thank you. Jerome R. Adams (Colombia 1963–65) Tom Adams (Togo 1974-76) Thomas “Taj” Ainlay, Jr. (Malaysia 1973–75) Elizabeth (Letts) Alalou (Morocco 1983–86) Jane Albritton (India 1967-69) Robert Albritton (Ethiopia 1962-65) Usha Alexander (Vanuatu 1996–97) James G. Alinder (Somalia 1964-66) Richard Alleman (Morocco 1968-70) Hayward Allen (Ethiopia 1962-64) Diane Demuth Allensworth (Panama 1964–66) Paul E. Allaire (Ethiopia 1964–66) D. Allman (Nepal 1966-68) Nancy Amidei (Nigeria 1964–65) Gary Amo (Malawi 1962–64) David C. Anderson (Costa Rica 1964-66) Lauri Anderson (Nigeria 1963-65) Peggy . . .

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The New Peace Corps Sexual Assault Report

    Peace Corps Continues to Strengthen Sexual Assault Risk Reduction and Response Work with Release of New Report November 10, 2021   Today, the Peace Corps released a Sexual Assault Advisory Council (SAAC) report outlining recommendations for the agency to further strengthen its Sexual Assault Risk Reduction and Response (SARRR) program. In April, Acting Director Carol Spahn requested that the SAAC, an independent advisory council established by Congress, examine the group’s last five years of recommendations and provide updated guidance on how the agency can bolster its systems to mitigate risk of sexual assault and provide victim-centered and trauma-informed care to survivors. “I am very grateful to the Sexual Assault Advisory Council members for their service. These leaders are at the cutting edge of their respective fields and have come forward at a time when we are called to help tackle an issue that is all too pervasive – both here . . .

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Art for Art’s Sake: El Paso Sculptor, Satirist and Political Advocate Ho Baron (Nigeria & Ethiopia)

  by Mary K. Cantrell November 9, 2021 Photos by Cody Bjornson • “I’m not a Buddhist. I’m not anything. I’m an artist. I’m a fool,” Ho Baron (Nigeria 1966-67, Ethiopia 1968) muses on his identity early one morning while wandering the brick paths of his self-made sculpture garden outside of his home in El Paso’s Manhattan Heights Historic District. Baron wears a T-shirt, cargo shorts, white tube socks, and a mischievous expression. Baron, 79, is surrounded by totemic, surreal creatures of his own making. His “gods for future religions,” a tongue-in-cheek concept, are humanoid figures cast in bronze and stone. With deep grooves and maze-like textures, they appear simultaneously ancient and futuristic. The artist decided to capitalize on his ability to reach an audience, given his house’s location right off of the busy Piedras Street, and set up a public sculpture garden with twelve primary pieces, which he jokingly refers . . .

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