Archive - 2021

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Peace Corps milestone to feature historic gathering
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Review — THE TIN CAN CRUCIBLE by Christopher Davenport (Papua New Guinea)
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FAST FOOD FOR THOUGHT — poetry by Eldon Katter (Ethiopia)
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In The Peace Corps — They Dated Every Sunday Night on the Phone. Here’s How They Got to Marriage.
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WAITING FOR THE SNOW by Tom Scanlon (Chile)
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Mildred D. Taylor (Ethiopia) wins 2021 Children’s Literature Legacy Award
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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)

Peace Corps milestone to feature historic gathering

  UW-Madison will celebrate the 60th anniversary of Peace Corps with a panel discussion featuring former directors of the global organization on March 1. On March 1, 1961, President John F. Kennedy signed an executive order that established the Peace Corps. That order has led to more than 240,000 Americans serving worldwide, including over 6,400 Wisconsinites, nearly 3,300 of which attended UW–Madison. In celebration of the 60th anniversary of Peace Corps, UW–Madison will be hosting a gathering of past directors in a live panel discussion. The event, which will take place online on March 1 at 6 p.m. Central, will include heads of Peace Corps, from the 1970s to 2021. Participating former directors include: Jody Olsen, Carrie Hessler-Radelet, Aaron Williams, Ron Tschetter, Gaddi Vasquez, Mark Schneider, Mark Gearan, Carol Bellamy, Elaine Chao, and Dick Celeste. Former UW–Madison Chancellor Donna Shalala, one of the first to serve in Peace Corps (Iran, . . .

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Review — THE TIN CAN CRUCIBLE by Christopher Davenport (Papua New Guinea)

  The Tin Can Crucible: A Firsthand Account of Modern-day Sorcery Violence by Christopher Davenport (Papua New Guinea 1994-96) Lume Books 237 pages December 2020 $12.08 (Paperback) Reviewed by Leo Cecchini (Ethiopia 1962-64) • The Tin Can Crucible is a fascinating description by a Peace Corps Volunteer of how he is inculcated into the customs, morals, values, and way of life by the inhabitants of a village where he trains for his teaching assignment in Papua New Guinea. The process is so complete he comes to ultimately accept what would be in his previous life a totally reprehensible act, the murder by the villagers of a woman accused of witchcraft. The writer uses his impressive command of the language to carefully build the step by step process that leads him to comply with his new “family” and their customs. In essence, the Peace Corps experience changes him, not the people he . . .

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FAST FOOD FOR THOUGHT — poetry by Eldon Katter (Ethiopia)

  FAST FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Poetry to Ponder by Eldon Katter (Ethiopia I, 1962-64)   About My Book First let me say that this soft cover book of poetry, Fast Food for Thought, has nothing to do with food. The title is meant to suggest that the poems are short, easy to read, and worth mulling over. The poems touch upon a wide range of subjects from identity, choice and change to aging and the environment. I have grouped seventy poems, some written during the Covid pandemic, into six thematic sections with “menu headings” to serve as guides for thinking about some very basic human behaviors: Adapting, Relating, Reflecting, Engaging, Caring, and Opining. Throughout the book, on every other page, I have included an “amuse bouche” —  a “small bite to delight” or “something to chew on,” before the titled poem on the opposite page. In all, this little book . . .

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In The Peace Corps — They Dated Every Sunday Night on the Phone. Here’s How They Got to Marriage.

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Marnie Mueller (Ecuador 1963-65)   This couple met as Peace Corps Volunteers, and built their relationship mostly remotely, while working on different islands in Fiji.   By Gabe Cohn NY Times Feb. 12, 2021   On a handful of days in 2017 and 2018, when the humidity was low and the sky was free of smoke from burning sugar cane, Benjamin Hampton Ewing was able to look out from a ridgeline on Viti Levu, the main island in Fiji, and see something special. At 6 a.m., Mr. Ewing would board a bus in the mountains of Viti Levu, where he was living. The bus would lumber toward Suva, Fiji’s capital, zigzagging through switchbacks woven into the mountains. About 15 minutes into the trip, the riders would reach a ridgeline that looked out over peaks and valleys, and into the ocean beyond. Most of the time, . . .

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WAITING FOR THE SNOW by Tom Scanlon (Chile)

  In 1962 Father Hesburgh, President of Notre Dame University, went to Chile to visit the Volunteers who had trained at Notre Dame. One of them was Tom Scanlon, a recent ND graduate. Tom told Father Hesburgh a story about his job so far as a PCV. Hesburgh would write a letter to Sarge Shriver, a good friend, and tell Sarge what Scanlon said.  Shriver would write Hesburgh back and say, “I am delighted to hear it….In fact, all the people here at Peace Corps Headquarters liked it so much we’re using it as the opening section of our presentation to the United States Congress.” Shriver also would pass on what Father Hesburgh told him to his brother-in-law, John F. Kennedy. In the early days of the Peace Corps, President Kennedy greeted the first Peace Corps Trainees on the White House lawn and even invited the first Volunteers to Colombia . . .

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Mildred D. Taylor (Ethiopia) wins 2021 Children’s Literature Legacy Award

  CHICAGO – Mildred D. Taylor (Ethiopia 1965-67) is the winner of the 2021 Children’s Literature Legacy Award honoring an author or illustrator, published in the United States, whose books have made a significant and lasting contribution to literature for children. Her numerous works include “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry” (Dial, 1976) and “All the Days Past, All the Days to Come” (Dial, 2020). The award was announced today, during the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits, held virtually Jan. 22–26. The award is administered annually by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the ALA. “Taylor’s storytelling shows how courage, dignity, and family love endure amidst racial injustice and continues to enlighten hearts and minds of readers through the decades.” said Children’s Literature Legacy Award Committee Chair Dr. Junko Yokota. Mildred Taylor was born in Mississippi, grew up in Ohio, and now lives . . .

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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 Donna 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! Donna received a degree in 1962 from Ohio’s Western College for Women. In 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, Donna began her academic career as a political science professor at Baruch College. In 1972, Donna 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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