Archive - 2021

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Review-We Are Akan: Our People and Our Kingdom in the Rainforest (Ghana)
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The Volunteer Who Became Peace Corps Director
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Smithsonian Folklife Festival Peace Corps Event OnLine
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Peace Corps Language Week — March 6
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Acting PC Director Carol Spahn replies to Jerry Norris’ letter about the work of RPCV Maureen Orth
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Review — MICHAEL GOLD: THE PEOPLE’S WRITER by Patrick Chura (Lithuania)
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Dan Rooney (Niger) back in Africa . . . This time Madagascar
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Awesome Woman — Mae Jemison, Peace Corps Staff (Sierra Leone, Liberia)
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THE ADVOCACY — a ‘novel’ approach to civil engineering by Melissa Fischer (Ghana)
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Review — CREATIVE TYPES and Other Stories by Tom Bissell (Uzbekistan)

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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The Volunteer Who Became Peace Corps Director

By Jeremiah Norris (Colombia 1963–65)    Ever since Carrie Hessler-Radelet was seven years old, she had wanted to become a Peace Corps Volunteer. In an extensive interview with MSNBC’s ‘The Oath’, she traced this early childhood ambition to hearing about Peace Corps from her aunt who was a Volunteer in Turkey — being the 10,000th Volunteer to be sworn in worldwide. Actually, Carrie went on, “the one thing that is unique about my family is that it is a multi-generational Peace Corps family.  Her grandparents served in Peace Corps/Malaysia after they retired, and a nephew served in Mozambique”.  When Carrie joined with her husband in Peace Corps/Samoa, that rounded out the generational family linkage. Carrie graduated from Boston College with a degree in Political Science and Economics, then joined Peace Corps as a Volunteer in Samoa, 1981-84.  Her Peace Corps family was with a mother aged 32, named Losa along . . .

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Smithsonian Folklife Festival Peace Corps Event OnLine

  The Peace Corps at 60 and Beyond  A Towering Task Screening & Discussion     When: Thursday, March 4, 7–8 p.m. ET Where: Streaming online Category: Narrative Session Accessibility: ASL interpretation, real-time captioning available   The Smithsonian Folklife Festival began in 1967, not long after the Peace Corps, with many similar goals—especially to promote a greater understanding and appreciation of world cultures. In 2011, the Folklife Festival commemorated the agency’s fiftieth anniversary with a program that featured Peace Corps volunteers and their partners from sixteen countries. In 2021, the Festival once more explores the agency’s significance and impact through a panel discussion and a screening of the 2019 documentary film A Towering Task: The Story of the Peace Corps. Join us on March 4 at 7 p.m. ET for the discussion with Peace Corps acting director Carol Spahn, Rayna Green, Rahama Wright, and the film’s director, Alana DeJoseph, all Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. We offer two . . .

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Peace Corps Language Week — March 6

    Peace Corps Language Week, March 6, 2021 @PeaceCorps #PeaceCorpsLanguageWeek began in 2014 in recognition of the agency’s deep investment in language learning. This year, we’re starting our weeklong celebration with 11 facts you might not know about Peace Corps languages.    

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Acting PC Director Carol Spahn replies to Jerry Norris’ letter about the work of RPCV Maureen Orth

  Jerry Norris (Colombia 1963-65) has been researching efforts of RPCVs in pursuit of the Third Goal and posting them here as “Profiles in Courage.” Maureen Orth (Colombia 1964-66) was one such Profile. Jerry Norris wrote Acting Peace Corps Director Carol Spahn about the Orth Foundation which helps Colombian students become bilingual and skilled in computer technology. See: https://peacecorpsworldwide.org/a-profile-in-citizenship-colombia/ • He shares Spahn’s response here: Dear Mr. Norris: Thank you for reaching out to share the story of RPCV Maureen Orth and her inspiring work with the Marina Orth Foundation, as it relates to the Peace Corps’ domestic dividend. As you point out, both she and Donna Shalala have truly gone above and beyond when it comes to our Third Goal. It’s always nice to hear from Returned Volunteers and I so appreciate that you felt compelled to respond to my open letter. As you say, the full impact of the . . .

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Review — MICHAEL GOLD: THE PEOPLE’S WRITER by Patrick Chura (Lithuania)

  Michael Gold: The People’s Writer by Patrick Chura( Lithuania 1992-94) 354 pages SUNY Press December 2020 $33.95 (Kindle); $95.00 (Hardback) Reviewed by Marnie Mueller (Ecuador 1963-65) • Counterintuitively, the hardest to write book reviews are for ones you most admire.  And Patrick Chura’s biography, Michael Gold: The People’s Writer is one such book. Reading Chura’s text has been an intimate labor of love for me. In the very last pages of his story of the life of Michael Gold a sentence stood out to describe my deep attachment.  “. . . (Michael) Gold managed the challenge of proving the existence of another America, and how difficult it made his life.” In writing of Michael Gold, an avowed and uncompromising Marxist, a man who has fallen out of the literary canon, out of the political history of America, despite his major contributions and successes, Chura has told the story of . . .

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Dan Rooney (Niger) back in Africa . . . This time Madagascar

Dan Rooney in Africa Again by Colleen Jurkiewicz Catholic Herald CRS Rice Bowl is the annual Lenten program of Catholic Relief Services, which is the official relief and development agency of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Seventy-five percent of donations to CRS Rice Bowl supports the work of CRS around the world, while 25 percent stays in the local diocese to support hunger and poverty alleviation efforts. Since its inception in 1975, CRS Rice Bowl has raised nearly $300 million. • For Dan Rooney (Niger 2000-02), Lent was always synonymous with the Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl campaign. “If you were to ask almost anyone in my class, they would all remember it. It was a pretty poignant event for us every year, from kindergarten through eighth grade,” said Rooney, who was a student at Blessed Sacrament Parish School in the 1980s. “A couple of days before Lent . . .

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Awesome Woman — Mae Jemison, Peace Corps Staff (Sierra Leone, Liberia)

  How many Americans are multilingual, let alone fluent in Swahili, Japanese, and Russian? Mae Jemison is an engineer and physician as well as a U.S. astronaut – an exceptional achiever by any measure. She was born in 1956 in Decatur, Alabama; her family soon moved to Chicago, for a chance at better schools and jobs. As a child, she remembers assuming that she would one day escape terrestrial confines: “I thought by now we’d be going into space like you were going to work.” Though her teachers were not especially supportive of her interest in science, her parents encouraged her; she was also attracted to the art of the dance and studied ballet, jazz, modern, and African dance. She graduated early and started at Stanford University at age 16 on a National Achievement Scholarship, graduating in 1977 with a degree in chemical engineering; she also fulfilled the requirements for . . .

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THE ADVOCACY — a ‘novel’ approach to civil engineering by Melissa Fischer (Ghana)

  An interview by Ben Walpole Senior Manager, Content Development ASCE’S NEWS AND INFORMATION HUB American Society of Civil Engineers • Melissa Fischer’s first novel, The Advocacy, published in 2019, mixes all the human drama, emotional stakes, plot twists, and character development that you’d expect from a great work of fiction with a realistic portrayal of a working civil engineer. It’s not often that civil engineering and literature show up in the same sentence. Melissa Fischer, P.E., M.ASCE, is aiming to change that. Fischer, who identifies as nonbinary, is a supervising engineer for the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts, but lately they’re probably better known as a novelist. Fischer’s first novel, The Advocacy, published in 2019, mixes all the human drama, emotional stakes, plot twists, and character development that you’d expect from a great work of fiction with a realistic portrayal of a working civil engineer. Fischer discussed the book on a recent . . .

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Review — CREATIVE TYPES and Other Stories by Tom Bissell (Uzbekistan)

  Creative Types and Other Stories By Tom Bissell (Uzbekistan 1996) Pantheon 225 pages March 2021 $12.99 (Kindle); $25.95 (hardback), $14.70 (Audible) Reviewed by Tony D’Souza (Ivory Coast 2000-02, Madagascar 2002-03) • TOM BISSELL’S LATEST SHORT STORY COLLECTION, Creative Types and Other Stories is an absolute pleasure to read if you are a Tom Bissell fan. First time readers of Bissell, however, will be lost in a nerdy, introverted world where conflicted couples make self-flagellating and embarrassing attempts at sex, where all sex is generally intellectually over-analyzed and very, very bad, and the reader begins to wonder just a few stories in whether Bissell’s own sex life — he has tellingly and unnecessarily noted that ‘This is, emphatically, a work of fiction’ — is as horrible as all the pages of this book seem to suggest. That Bissell has profound and embarrassing issues with sex is no secret to anyone . . .

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