Archive - January 2023

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Review | GROWING MANGOS IN THE DESERT by Katherine Baird (Mauritania)
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Review | DEEP SOUTH by Paul Theroux (Malawi)
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Leslie Boby (Kenya) | Southern Regional Extension Forestry Coordinator
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EarthCorps in Seattle founded by Dwight Wilson (Chile & Honduras)
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Review | A LEGACY OF AMERICA’S GLOBAL VOLUNTEERISM
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Number of Peace Corps Volunteers and Trainees as of October 31, 2022
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Swearing in of Carol Spahn as Peace Corps Director (Romania)
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New books by Peace Corps writers | November-December 2022
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Novels by A. J. Valdois (Republic of Georgia)
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 City grant coordinator Lydia Caudill (Paraguay) focuses on relationships
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Albert Bernales returns to Fiji
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Justice Jackson working on a memoir, titled “Lovely One”
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Review | BIKE RIDING IN KABUL — not written by an RPCV
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Here’s a RPCV Game to Play (on this rainy day)
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Peace Corp volunteers pursue community mission

Review | GROWING MANGOS IN THE DESERT by Katherine Baird (Mauritania)

  Growing Mangos in the Desert: A Memoir of Life in a Mauritanian Village by Katherine Baird (Mauritania 1984–86) Apprentice House Press 2022 380 pages $19.99 (paperback), $32.99 (hard cover), $6.49 (Kindle) Reviewed by Lucinda Wingard (Nigeria 1966 – 68)  • Among more than two dozen young volunteers trained for agricultural service in Mauritania in 1984, Katherine Baird was one of ten remaining by her second year. She had survived the rigors of wielding her short-handled hoe in blistering heat, had adapted to eating meals from a common bowl with her neighbors, and had successfully threaded through baffling local hierarchies. Mauritania needed Peace Corps to help staff a fledgling initiative funded with foreign money: growing rice along a desolate part of the Senegal River. Baird brought no experience to help her fulfill this work, but her diligent note-taking and detailed records show she pitched into her assignment with a will. “Keyti” . . .

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Review | DEEP SOUTH by Paul Theroux (Malawi)

  Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963–65) Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 485 pages $9.40 (Kindle), $34.74 (hard cover), $9.89 (paperback) Reviewed by Mark Walker (Guatemala 1971-73) • I’ve read and reviewed the last eight books by the “Dean of Travel Writing” — Paul Theroux.  I wrote my latest book, My Saddest Pleasures: 50 Years on the Road, in honor and appreciation of Theroux, and another travel writer, “who personally knew and was inspired by Moritz Thomsen and passed their enthusiasm on to me.” Thomsen wrote the Peace Corps experience classic,Living Poor: A Peace Corps Chronicle. Theroux’s book, The Tao of Travel, celebrates 50 years of travel writing and inspired my series, “The Yin & Yang of Travel.” Theroux is probably the most prolific of the Returned Peace Corps writers, with 33 works in fiction and 53 books overall. He describes his passion for long “road trips” as follows, “My experience of . . .

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Leslie Boby (Kenya) | Southern Regional Extension Forestry Coordinator

  Leslie Boby (Kenya 1999-01) is the Coordinator for the Southern Regional Extension Forestry Office (SREF), and has been leading the office since January 2019. Leslie’s work entails facilitating connections and regional programs among the 13 southern land-grant universities, the USDA Forest Service, state forestry agencies and other southern forestry community members. These efforts include education, technology transfer and extension programs that can serve the entire region. She has worked for the SREF office since 2011 and is based at the University of Georgia, in Athens, GA. Leslie has a Masters degree in Forest Ecology from the University of Florida, a Bachelor’s degree in biology from University of Illinois, and is currently pursuing a doctorate at the University of Georgia in Adult Education and Leadership. Prior to joining SREF, Leslie worked in various locations nationwide, and for multiple agencies. She worked for the Audubon Society in California, as a wild . . .

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EarthCorps in Seattle founded by Dwight Wilson (Chile & Honduras)

EarthCorps family kids volunteers Join EarthCorps on MLK, Jr. Day to plant trees and restore park space. naturalnewd.com By Cheryl Murfin Young adults and those who mentor them at the Seattle-based nonprofit EarthCorps have a big vision: an equitable world where all people and nature thrive together. The EarthCorps mission sets out the organization’s role in bringing about this world. How EarthCorps fulfills its mission The organization brings young adults from around the country and around the world who are passionate about preserving the environment to participate in a year-long leadership training program in Seattle. Their class? The diverse ecosystem of Puget Sound. Each year, 40 new program participants between the ages of 18 and 25 join EarthCorps as crew members. Thirty crew members come from across the United States and their positions are funded by the national Americorps, while 10 crew positions are filled by young people from around . . .

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Review | A LEGACY OF AMERICA’S GLOBAL VOLUNTEERISM

  A well-written, informative history of a groundbreaking 20th-century volunteer organization. Kirkus Reviews • Former International Voluntary Services workers provide insights into their organization in this detailed historical anthology.   A nonprofit organization founded in 1953, International Voluntary Services, according to former IVS volunteer and United States Ambassador to Pakistan Wendy J. Chamberlin, “occupies a special place as a pioneer for fielding volunteers” that served as a model for the Peace Corps and a host of subsequent NGOs. The anthology, divided into four sections, is a historical overview of IVS’s endeavors from the 1950s through the 2000s. While IVS was an officially nonsectarian organization, the anthology explains that many IVS members came from Mennonite, Quaker, and Christian pacifist backgrounds, and the organization offered an alternative approach to international relations in the wake of World War II and the start of the Cold War. In its half-century of activism, IVS sent . . .

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Number of Peace Corps Volunteers and Trainees as of October 31, 2022

  This information is from FOIA 23-0021: “A search conducted by the Office of the Chief Financial Officer provided the following information: there are 506 Peace Corps Volunteer Trainees, 345 Peace Corps Volunteers; and 53 Peace Corps Response Volunteers. In total, there are 904 Volunteers in service as of October 31, 2022. I am closing this case in our Office. There are no fees associated with this response.” I made this FOIA request on November 13, asking for the number of Serving Peace Corps Volunteers, the number of Peace Corps Trainees and the number of Peace Corps Response Volunteers, as of October 31, 2022.  I received a response today.  It is, of course, not a current count.  I received no explaination for the long delay in responding,

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Swearing in of Carol Spahn as Peace Corps Director (Romania)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Peace Corps today celebrated the ceremonial swearing of Carol Spahn (Romania 1994-96) as the 21st Director of the agency, following her unanimous confirmation by the United States Senate in December 2022. She was joined by Representative John Garamendi (D-CA), (Ethiopia 1966-68) who administered the oath of office and other invited guests, including Jody Olsen, Director of the Peace Corps (2018-2021); Carrie Hessler Radelet, Director of the Peace Corps (2012-2017); Aaron Williams, Director of the Peace Corps (2009-2012); Mark Schneider, Director of the Peace Corps (1999-2001); and Former Transportation and Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, Director of the Peace Corps (1991-1992). “It is the honor of a lifetime to serve as the 21st Director of the Peace Corps, an agency with a mission I believe in deeply,” said Peace Corps Director Carol Spahn. “At this pivotal moment in history, we all have the responsibility to be intentional in both . . .

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New books by Peace Corps writers | November-December 2022

  To purchase any of these books from Amazon.com — CLICK on the book cover, the bold book title, or the publishing format you would like — and Peace Corps Worldwide, an Amazon Associate, will receive a small remittance from your purchase that will help support the site and the annual Peace Corps Writers awards. We include a brief description for each of the books listed here in hopes of encouraging readers  to order a book and/or  to VOLUNTEER TO REVIEW IT.  See a book you’d like to review for Peace Corps Worldwide? Send a note to Marian at marian@haleybeil.com, and she will send you a free copy along with a few instructions. P.S. In addition to the books listed below, I have on my shelf a number of other books whose authors would love for you to review. Go to Books Available for Review to see what is on that shelf. Please, please join in our . . .

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Novels by A. J. Valdois (Republic of Georgia)

  Stone of Athaen by A.J. Valdois (Republic of Georgia 2006-08) Independently Published 479 pages September 2021 $14.99 (Paperback), $3.99 (Kindle) “Someone is manipulating Kiara… but who?” Smuggler Kiara Antoria has been living as a drifter and an alien in a foreign country ever since the brutal conquest of her homeland, Beldane. The last thing she wants is to face her past, but abetted by a mysterious mage, a local politician is forcing her to journey back to Beldane on a trivial errand. Kiara will do anything she can to escape his control, but the errand is not as trivial as it seems. As she becomes entangled in the conspiracies of the magical city of Shinar, Kiara must confront her past in order to rediscover a destiny she thought she had lost forever… or die trying. • The Channeler’s Daughter by A. J. Valdois (Republic of Georgia 2006-08) Trelerre Books . . .

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 City grant coordinator Lydia Caudill (Paraguay) focuses on relationships

  Lydia Caudill in her office at City Hall on Thursday, Jan. 5. • When the city of Walla Walla, Washington hired Lydia Caudill in 2021 to be the Community Development Block Grant Coordinator, Caudill brought her unusual experiences to the table. The grant program helps connect federal funds to local programs and projects, benefiting residents in need through various agencies and services such as Blue Mountain Action Council. Caudill had spent three years in Paraguay (2011-14) with the Peace Corps, where she worked in agriculture and food systems, part of the connection between food and community development. When the mission ended, Caudill embarked on her next adventure: biking from Paraguay to Colombia — alone — for 5,000 miles. She was pedaling a human powered bike, no gas or electric motors involved.   Lydia Caudill on her bike in Northern Argentina in spring 2015   Caudill’s travel allowed for her to explore her Mexican-Colombian heritage and . . .

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Albert Bernales returns to Fiji

  Albert Bernales (Fiji 2020-   ) By Todd R. Hansen Daily Republic  • FAIRFIELD – More than 7,000 Peace Corps volunteers, working in more than 60 countries, were evacuated in March 2020 due to the onset of the Covid-19 emergency. Albert Bernales, 26, of Fairfield, is one of the first to return back into service. He has been assigned to Fiji. Formed in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, more than 240,000 Americans have served in 142 countries. Like Kennedy’s daring mission to send America to the moon, it was then Sen. Kennedy, running for the White House in 1960, who challenged college students and young adults to get involved in public service. “How many of you who are going to be doctors, are willing to spend your days in Ghana?” Kennedy asked the more than 10,000 University of Michigan students who came out to his campaign stop. “Technicians or engineers, . . .

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Justice Jackson working on a memoir, titled “Lovely One”

  By Hillel Igalie, Assoicated Press January 5, 2023 • NEW YORK (AP) — Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson is working on a memoir. Jackson, the first Black woman appointed to the court, is calling the book “Lovely One.” “Mine has been an unlikely journey,” Jackson said in a statement released Thursday by Random House. “But the path was paved by courageous women and men in whose footsteps I placed my own, road warriors like my own parents, and also luminaries in the law, whose brilliance and fortitude lit my way. This memoir marries the public record of my life with what is less known. It will be a transparent accounting of what it takes to rise through the ranks of the legal profession, especially as a woman of color with an unusual name and as a mother and a wife striving to reconcile the demands of a high-profile . . .

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Review | BIKE RIDING IN KABUL — not written by an RPCV

  Bike Riding in Kabul is the story of Jamie Bowman, a woman who works as foreign aid in several post-war countries. The author’s story is a unique take on the travel memoir genre. We don’t just read countless stories of an individual eating world-class dishes and laying on the beach; we watch someone help entire countries find their own peace. Through it all, we learn about the invaluable pieces of wisdom she learned along the way. From learning how to truly help people and understanding how many of these countries found themselves in their situations, there is so much wisdom to devour. • A review published by Literary Titan  January 4,2023   Bike Riding in Kabul: The Global Adventures of a Foreign Aid Practitioner by Jamie Bowman is a MUST READ for anyone working in the international development community or seeking a career there. Her book reads like a modern-day version of . . .

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Here’s a RPCV Game to Play (on this rainy day)

RPCVs have been there, done that. What’s your travel story? To start, here are the countries I have visited over the years (A lot fewer in recent years). Total up all the places you have been before, during, and after your Peace Corps tour. What’s your next country? Coyne’s List Code Lived There *** Only Toured ** Brief Visit * African Countries (21) Morocco ** Gambia ** Senegal * Sierra Leone * Liberia ** Nigeria ** Cote D’Ivoire * Ghana * Congo * Botswana ** South Africa ** Lesotho * Zimbabwe * Mozambique * Tanzania ** Kenya ** Uganda ** Malawi * Addis Ababa, Ethiopia *** Eritrea** Egypt* European Countries (10) Dublin, Ireland*** England ** Scotland** Denmark* Sweden* France ** Germany * Menorca, Spain*** Italy ** Greece * Caribbean (6) Bahamas * Barbados * Haiti * Cuba ** Puerto Rico ** Mexico ** Asia (1) China **  Next Place Turks . . .

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Peace Corp volunteers pursue community mission

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Dale Gilles (Liberia 1964-66)   Peace Corps Pursue Community Mission by Long Kimmarita January 2023       Thirty-three US Peace Corps volunteers have been sworn in to offer their services in Cambodia for two years. They have been tasked with teaching English at primary and secondary schools, as well as teacher training institutes, nationwide. The swearing-in ceremony took place last week. They arrived in Cambodia two months ago and have been spending time in the community, learning the Khmer language. “Since 1962, more than 240,000 Americans of all ages and backgrounds have served in the Peace Corps in 142 countries,” said Aleksandra P Zittle, deputy chief of mission of the US embassy in Phnom Penh. “The Peace Corps is proud to work with its Cambodian partners to assist in the teaching of English as well as to work with local communities to help . . .

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