Archive - 2022

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SO FAR by Kamaka Dias (Madagascar)
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The Lion in the Gardens of the Guenet Hotel (Ethiopia)
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Review — NEIGHBORS: Oral History from Madera, California, V.3 by Lawrence R. Lihosit (Honduras)
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RPCV–made beer to help Ukraine
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“The Mad Man and Me at the Commercial School in Addis Ababa”
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Mark Walker (Guatemala) essay wins Bronze in Solas Literary Competition
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Peace Corps Fund sponsors second RPCV Writers’ Workshop
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President Biden has nominated Carol Spahn to be Director of the Peace Corps
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The Volunteer who photographed the Summer of Love & then went on to slake a great thirst — Bill Owens (Jamaica)
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Who Is RPCV Donald Lu?
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Fletcher Eurasia Club organizes humanitarian aid drive for Ukraine
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Review — EVERY DAY SINCE DESENZANO by Patrick Logan (Thailand)
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INDIA BY RAIL AND ROAD by Steve Kaffen (Russia)
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Bob Dylan, “Desolation Row,” and A Rat in the Kitchen (Ethiopia)
15
Barry Rosen (Iran), who was held hostage by Iranian militants 1979–81, went on hunger strike in January

SO FAR by Kamaka Dias (Madagascar)

  So Far is a  collection of writings, poems, pictures, and nonsense from Kamaka Diasʻs (Madagascar 2016-19) three years living in Madagascar serving in the Peace Corps. In this book, Kamaka shares his unique experiences and perspectives through his blog-style writing and brutal honesty. He promises to never use big words, only his big heart. As soon as you pick up this book youʻll be embarking on a journey unlike any other. No matter what walk of life you come from, youʻll find something that will resonate with you in So Far. Kamaka  is a native Hawaiian from Hilo, Hawaii. He grew up on the Big Island of Hawaii and attended a Hawaiian immersion school all of his life until his senior year when he moved to Oʻahu and graduated from Kaiser High School. He attended The University of Hawaii at Mānoa and studied abroad in Spain and Argentina. Immediately . . .

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The Lion in the Gardens of the Guenet Hotel (Ethiopia)

    by John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962–64) •   In the final days of our in-country Peace Corps training in Ethiopia, we had a celebration dinner at the Guenet Hotel in the Populari section of the capital, Addis Ababa. The Guenet Hotel, even in 1962, was one of the older hotels in Addis Ababa. It wasn’t in the center of town, but south of Smuts Street and down the hill from Mexico Square, several miles from where we were housed in the dormitories of Haile Selassie I University. While out of the way, this small, two-story rambling hotel, nevertheless, had a two-lane, American-style bowling alley, tennis courts, and a most surprising of all, an African lion in its lush, tropical gardens. At that time in the Empire, no Ethiopian was allowed to keep a lion, the symbol of the Emperor, Haile Selassie, whose full title was “By the Conquering Lion . . .

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Review — NEIGHBORS: Oral History from Madera, California, V.3 by Lawrence R. Lihosit (Honduras)

  Neighbors: Oral History from Madera, California – Volume 3 Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras 1975–77) Independently published February 2022 150 pages $16.00 (paperback) Reviewed by Stephen Foehr (Ethiopia 1965–66) • Madera, in California’s San Joaquin Valley, does not seem exceptional at first glance. The city (pop. 65,860) twenty-five miles north of Fresno straddles Rt. 99 on the flat plains of the Central Valley. There are no natural wonders or exceptional architecture. The population is a mix of Anglo-American, African, Native American, Asian, with Hispanic (78.4%) being the largest group. The median household income is $16,00 below the national average. But peel back the ordinary, and you find “bravery, loyalty, patience, persistence, what boxers call heart – the sheer will to get back up,” writes Lawrence Lihosit in his three-volume Madera trilogy. Lihosit, former Peace Corps volunteer (Honduras 1975-77) and travel writer, has lived in Madera since 1995. For the trilogy . . .

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RPCV–made beer to help Ukraine

  ABQ brewery providing a ReSource for Ukraine by Elaine D. Briseño / Albuquerque Journal staff writer PUBLISHED: WEDNESDAY, APRIL 6TH, 2022 AT 1:46PM     Sipping on beer might seem like an unremarkable activity but one brewery is hoping that simple pleasure will help people on the other side of the world. The owners of ReSource Brewing Co., Stephanie and Shawn Wright, are releasing “Our Lady of Immaculate Fermentation” and categorizing what is usually called a Russian Imperial Stout as a Ukrainian Imperial Stout. The beer will be released Friday, April 8. Stephanie Wright said the brewery will donate 100% of the proceeds to help the people in Ukraine. “Eastern Europeans are known for their love of strong drink,” Stephanie Wright (Moldova 1999-01) said. “Vodka and imperial beers among the top picks. Shawn and I thought it would be fun to take the Imperial Stout moniker away from Russia . . .

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“The Mad Man and Me at the Commercial School in Addis Ababa”

  by John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962-64) • We 275 PCVs, the first to be assigned to Ethiopia, arrived in-country in early September of 1962. Addis Ababa, the capital, was at an altitude of 7,726 feet. It has one of the finest climates to be found in the world. It was once a ramshackle city, which years before the travel writer John Gunther described as looking as if someone had tossed scraps of metal onto the slopes of Entoto mountain. I was assigned to live and teach in Addis, and lived my first year in a large stone house on Churchill Road, a main artery of the city that led uphill to the center of the city — the Piazza, with four other PCVs. That house, like most in Addis, had a tin roof and it was pleasant to wake early on school days during the rainy season and hear the heavy, . . .

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Mark Walker (Guatemala) essay wins Bronze in Solas Literary Competition

Mark Walker’s (Guatemala 1971-73) review of “Tschiffley’s Epic Equestrian Ride: Over the Andes Through Guatemala to Washington D.C.” (Part of the Yin and Yang of Travel Series), in Revue Magazine, April, 2021, received a Bronze in the Solas Literary Competition for “Best Travel Writing” in the Travel Adventure category. The winning review includes stories from his Peace Corps experience in Guatemala. He looked at the complete winners list and didn’t recognize any RPCVs, but remembers that Paul Theroux was the editor for one of Review Magazine’s annual “Best Travel Series.” Last year one of Mark’s essays received an Honorable mention in the competition. According to Mark, his review of “Letters of the Peace Corps in Honduras” by R. Scott Berg received many positive responses.  

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Peace Corps Fund sponsors second RPCV Writers’ Workshop

  Thursday, September 15 to Sunday the 18th on Broad Creek in Maryland Want to spend three days in September on the Eastern Shore of Maryland discussing your Peace Corps memoir, fiction, or non-fiction with other RPCV writers and published authors? Peace Corps Writers, with support from the Peace Corps Fund, is arranging its second workshop for ten to fifteen RPCVs and former Peace Corps staff working on their own Peace Corps or related creative works. Founded in 2003, the Peace Corps Fund is a 501-c-3 nonprofit organization founded by Returned Peace Corps Volunteers to support the Third Goal of the Peace Corps — to increase the understanding of the people served on the part of Americans. The workshop will be held at Shore Retreats on Broad Creek, on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland. Costs range from $100 for those on tight budgets, $250 for those of modest means, . . .

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President Biden has nominated Carol Spahn to be Director of the Peace Corps

  Carol Spahn has been serving as Chief Executive Officer of the Peace Corps, and was officially Acting Director from January 20, 2021 until November 16, 2021. Under her leadership, the agency is returning Volunteers to overseas service after being evacuated for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the agency created a domestic service initiative for only the second time in Peace Corps’ history, working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to support vaccination campaigns across the United States, and launched a new strategic plan which focuses on re-imagining service, advancing equity, and delivering quality. Prior to serving as Acting Director, Spahn served as Chief of Operations in the Africa Region covering Eastern and Southern Africa, and before that, served a five-year term as Country Director of Peace Corps/Malawi. Her Peace Corps roots extend back to her service, with her husband, as a Volunteer from 1994 to . . .

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The Volunteer who photographed the Summer of Love & then went on to slake a great thirst — Bill Owens (Jamaica)

  A Profile in Citizenship by Jeremiah Norris (Colombia 1963–65) •   (This Profile of Bill Owens, Jamaica 1964-65, was largely drawn from in interview conducted by Tony D’Souza, Ivory Coast 2000-02 and Madagascar 2002-2003.)   Early on in his career, Bill took iconic photos of the Hells Angels beating concertgoers with pool cue sticks at the Rolling Stones’ performance during the Altamont Speedway Festival in California four months after Woodstock on December 8, 1969. Altamont is considered by historians as the end of the Summer of Love and the overall 1960s youth ethos. Bill was so fearful of retribution by the Hells Angels that he published the photos from the festival under a pseudonym fearing they would “come and murder’ him. Some of the negatives were later stolen, he believed by the Hells Angels.   In 1964, Bill joined the Peace Corps and was assigned to teach high school in . . .

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Who Is RPCV Donald Lu?

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Sunday revealed the name of the US official who allegedly threatened the PTI government, putting the ties with Washington at risk. The premier had made the revelation during an interaction with the party lawmakers after a televised address in which he congratulated the nation for “foiling the international conspiracy” and announced that he has advised the president to dissolve the assembly. While briefing his MNAs about the political situation in the country, he had said that US State Dept official Donald Lu (Sierra Leone 1988-90) is behind this “conspiracy” against the PTI government due to an independent foreign policy. PM Imran Khan in a public rally on March 27 had claimed that a foreign power had interfered in the national affairs of the country and attempted to dislodge his government. At that time he did not name the country and the official but in his . . .

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Fletcher Eurasia Club organizes humanitarian aid drive for Ukraine

  By Alex Thomas The Fletcher School  April 4, 2022   On Wednesday, March 2, 2022, The Fletcher Eurasia Club began organizing a campus-wide humanitarian drive to assist Ukrainians impacted by Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine. Spearheaded by Eurasia Club co-presidents Nastia Kukunova and Karl Afrikian (Ukraine 2018-20), the drive intended to provide physical material goods for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Ukraine. While it began as an email sent out on the campus-wide “Social List” listserv, the efforts quickly transformed into a community-driven initiative. “We asked the Fletcher community for help, and we were completely blown away at the support we got,” Kukunova said. “We were expecting people to drop off some of the spare supplies they had lying around the house, but we ended up getting Costco-sized supplies in bulk.” Over the week, package after package was dropped off at the Fletcher School’s campus and then . . .

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Review — EVERY DAY SINCE DESENZANO by Patrick Logan (Thailand)

  Every Day Since Desenzano: A Tale of Gratitude Patrick  Logan (Thailand 1984-86) Peace Corps Writers 150 pages September, 2021 $9.35 (paperback), $6.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by Donald Dirnberger (Eastern Caribbean/Antigua 1977–79) • It is not the road chosen but rather the life one lives upon the journey taken. (An understanding of the poem by Robert Frost.)   Every Day Since Desenzano, A Tale Of Gratitude by fellow RPCV Patrick Logan is a book written about a father and a son living their lives through their words and their gift of giving and sharing through service to others. Learning the importance of family often takes many years, and carries each on different journeys, but in time we come to cherish those who, with gratitude, understand us, even when we did not. In his book, Patrick Logan recounts, through his father’s, his mother’s, his family’s and his own searching and seeking, and . . .

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INDIA BY RAIL AND ROAD by Steve Kaffen (Russia)

  India is the epitome of a continent-in-a-country. It is a living museum of ancient towns, moated forts, colonial hill stations, desert outposts, and frenetic cities. It is the birthplace of Hinduism and Buddhism and with Muslims, Sikhs, Jains, and Christians playing important spiritual roles. Indeed, opportunities for spiritual awareness, including group and individual meditation, exist throughout the country. India’s extremes stretch the emotions. Its economic and social issues of poverty and wealth assault one’s sensitivities, while its natural beauty — the Himalayan mountains, Rajasthan desert, forested northern hill towns, and sprawling beaches and winding canals of the southwest — is visual overload. The energetic and uninhibited lifestyle of the residents — never a dull moment — seems to transform the country into an improvisational stage show. Using some 400 representative pictures complemented by descriptions and narrative, Steve takes us on a grand tour of the best of India: its . . .

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Bob Dylan, “Desolation Row,” and A Rat in the Kitchen (Ethiopia)

  by Karl Drobnic (Ethiopia 1966-68) March 31, 2022 • Bob Dylan, head slightly cocked, stared at me from the wall of my Peace Corps home, a dirt and wattle hut in a remote Ethiopian village. Highway 61 Revisited flickered, hanging on a thread I’d snaked through the the album cover, glossy in the candlelight of my little house that had no electric, no water, and most of all, no record player. “Stupid situation,” I imagined Dylan saying, an abrupt harmonica wail highlighting the “stupid”. A friend had gifted me the then-new album while I packed for two years in the African back-country. “Stay in touch,” she said. “Lots is happening in America, too.” A few days later, I was in my village, two miles up on the high escarpment of southern Abyssinia. Just behind the town, mountains jutted skyward another 4,000 feet, catching fluffy clouds that drifted above thorny acacia trees and . . .

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Barry Rosen (Iran), who was held hostage by Iranian militants 1979–81, went on hunger strike in January

As a hostage held for 444 days in Iran I know Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s joyful family reunion is complex   Barry Rosen (Iran 1967-69) was held in appallingly brutal conditions by Iranian militants, subjected to mock executions. He tells Kasia Delgado about the reality of returning to his wife and children, and why he feels such anger at Boris Johnson. By Kasia Delgado,  inews.com March 31, 2022 • The joyful photographs of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe  being reunited with her husband, Richard, and daughter, Gabriella, showed a family back together, her horrendous six years being held hostage in Iran finally over. Yet those gleeful images of a homecoming are not the end of the story. For hostages, resuming ordinary life after the homecoming can be an immense challenge. Learning how to live with his hostage experience has been a long, difficult process for Barry Rosen, who was one of 66 Americans seized inside the US embassy . . .

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