Archive - 2023

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Robert Gurevich (Thailand) Remembering November 22, 1963
2
Bill Josephson remembers Charlie Peters
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For 20 plus years, Phil Lilienthal (Ethiopia) has been making a difference
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Review | ST. PETERSBURG BAY BLUES by Douglas Buchacek (Russia)
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THE LENGTHENING SHADOW OF SLAVERY by John E. Fleming (Malawi)
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Charlie Peters Dies at 96. The Peace Corps Loses Their Godfather
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“The Day the President Died” by Nyle Kardatzke (Ethiopia)
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Mrs. Kennedy Begins To Cry: Peace Corps Press Officer Remembers
9
“Ask Not . . .” by Jeremiah Norris (Colombia)
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Dale Gilles (Liberia) remembers November 22, 1963
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  Kay Gillies Dixon — A Kennedy Kid in Colombia Three
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John Rex (Ethiopia) Remembers —
13
Patricia Edmisten (Peru) “Posta Médica John F. Kennedy”
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I AM A FACT NOT A FICTION by Edward Mycue
15
DARK STAR SAFARI by Paul Theroux (Malawi)

Robert Gurevich (Thailand) Remembering November 22, 1963

  I was a PCV (Thailand 1963-65) assigned to the Pibulsongkram Teachers College (TTC) in Pitsanuloke,Thailand as a faculty member in the English Department. My daily routine after waking up was to turn on my short-wave radio and listen to the English language news broadcasts of any station I could pick up (usually VOA or BBC). That morning, I got up a little later than usual and missed my usual start time of 6:30 am by a few minutes. When fiddling with the dial in search of a news broadcast in English, I hit upon the NHK news broadcast out of Tokyo. Since the broadcast had already started, the first thing I heard was that the Japanese Prime Minister had sent his condolences to Mrs. Kennedy. It only indirectly suggested that JFK had been killed. No other details about the events. Having missed the first sentence announcing the death of . . .

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Bill Josephson remembers Charlie Peters

    All too frequently these days I sit down to write a remembrance of a key, original Peace Corps person.  The challenge posed by Charles G. Peters, Jr. is that he was not a headliner like Sarge, or Bill Moyers or Harris Wofford.  Charlie was an incredibly innovative critic.  His insight was that what the Peace Corps Director truly needed to know was what was actually happening in program y in country x, not necessarily what the country director or the regional director or the assistant director for program and operations said.  Charlie’s other insight was who were the best people to do this?  Investigative journalists whose irreverent curiosity would lead them to where no one else had gone and who could write. Charles G. Peters, Jr., a trial lawyer from West Virginia, and Sargent Shriver encountered each other in the 1960 Democratic presidential primary in that state.  That . . .

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For 20 plus years, Phil Lilienthal (Ethiopia) has been making a difference

  Phil Lilienthal went to Ethiopia in the Peace Corps with his lovely wife Lynn after graduating from the University of Virginia law school in 1965. He worked as a PCV lawyer with a variety of Ethiopian government offices in Addis Ababa, and while there, also started Ethiopia’s first permanent summer camp program. For two years he had two-week summer camps for over 280 Ethiopian children. When his Peace Corps tour was over, he turned the summer camp over to the YMCA and they ran it for 7 more years until Emperor Haile Selassie was removed from power and a new dictatorship closed down the camp. Returning to the States and Washington, D.C. Phil continued for five years with the Peace Corps as the Attorney Regional Director Advisor, then was on the PCV staff of Mindanao Island for a year, and two years as the Deputy Director in Thailand. In . . .

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Review | ST. PETERSBURG BAY BLUES by Douglas Buchacek (Russia)

St. Petersburg Bay Blues Douglas Buchacek (Russia 2001-03) Independently published 201 pages April 2021 $15.00 (paperback) review by Steve Kaffen (Russia 1994-96) St. Petersburg Bay Blues is a lively and engaging account of the author’s experiences as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Russia, and a member of Russia 9, the last Western Russia (Moscow-based) group before the program closed. Of note is the author’s impressive recall, without notes, of people, places, and events. He tells us, “Everywhere I went I carried a composition book, which I titled St. Petersburg Bay Blues. In it I wrote songs, poems, and the odd note or observation.” Unfortunately, the notebook was stolen. “I scrambled to write what I could remember. That’s what I have here, my attempt to document an experience that seems simultaneously alien and essential to my life.” Expectations are dangerous for a book reviewer, and I was looking forward to a . . .

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THE LENGTHENING SHADOW OF SLAVERY by John E. Fleming (Malawi)

  Because Black students continue to face significant academic and financial challenges in their attempt to receive higher education in America, their home country, Dr. John Fleming felt that there was a pressing need to re-publish the 1976 edition of his book, The Lengthening Shadow of Slavery: A Historical Justification for Affirmative Action for Blacks in Higher Education with a new 2023 edition entitled The Lengthening Shadow of Slavery: Fifty-Year Reprise of the Historical Justification for Affirmative Action for African Americans in U.S. Higher Education. Dr. Fleming strongly felt that it was necessary to explore, yet again, why the U.S.’s own African-American students receive the worst educational outcomes at all levels of the American education pipeline while foreign students who major in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields at U.S. colleges and universities get the best education money can buy. On the face of it this is not an easy question to answer; but . . .

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Charlie Peters Dies at 96. The Peace Corps Loses Their Godfather

Charles Peters, the founding editor of The Washington Monthly, a small political journal avidly read in the White House, Congress and the city’s newsrooms, died on Thursday at his home in Washington. He was 96. His death was confirmed by The Washington Monthly, which reported that Mr. Peters “had been in declining physical health for several years, mainly from congestive heart failure.” Peters was The Monthly’s editor from 1969 until his retirement in 2001. He also wrote five books on politics, government and history, and a column, “Tilting at Windmills,” offering pithy thoughts on politics and current events, from 1977 to 2014. A West Virginia Democrat who grew up in the Great Depression and World War II and adored President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, Mr. Peters, a lawyer and state legislator, honed his ideals as a local official in John F. Kennedy’s 1960 presidential campaign and later as an executive in the Peace Corps, . . .

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“The Day the President Died” by Nyle Kardatzke (Ethiopia)

  by Nyle Kardatzke (Ethiopia 1962-64) On Friday evening, I stayed in Adi Ugri for a quiet weekend rather than making the bus trip to Asmara. My housemate, John Rude, had gone to the city, so I had the house to myself. When I turned off my light it was 9:00 p.m. in Adi Ugri. It was 12:00 noon in Dallas, Texas. Saturday morning, November 23, 1963, was a typical Eritrean morning in the dry season. It was chilly at sunrise under a clear blue sky, and by late morning the air was warm and scented with flower blossoms and cooking fires. Our maid, Lete cooked scrambled eggs and coffee for my breakfast that morning and went to work on laundry. On Saturday, November 24, Khasai Ghebrehiwet, an Eritrean friend came to visit. Kasai glanced at my poster of John Kennedy that was just inside the front door. “There’s President . . .

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Mrs. Kennedy Begins To Cry: Peace Corps Press Officer Remembers

‘Without Any Warning, Mrs. Kennedy Begins Crying’: Peace Corps Press Officer Remembers Jackie After the JFK Assassination   A former Peace Corps press officer described the night and early morning after President Kennedy was killed — and how an emotional first lady turned to those close to him for help By Virginia Chamlee, PEOPLE   David Pearson was a second-level Peace Corps press officer filling in for out-of-town White House press staffers on Nov. 22, 1963 — a day that at first only seemed significant because of his newfound responsibilities in his temporary role. But then Pearson got the news that shocked a nation: President John F. Kennedy had been shot in the head in his limousine while riding in a motorcade through downtown Dallas with wife Jacqueline Kennedy by his side. By 3 p.m. that day, Pearson got a call requesting his assistance as arrangements were made for the slain president. Pearson’s recollections from the . . .

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“Ask Not . . .” by Jeremiah Norris (Colombia)

  In 1963, I became a Peace Corps Volunteer, assigned to La Plata, a small village of some 3,000 residents nestled at the 4,000 feet level of Colombia’s Andean mountains. It had no telephone systems, though there were episodic telegraphic services.  On what soon would became a fateful morning of November 22, 1963, I had taken a bus into the Departmental capital, Neiva, to obtain some governmental authorizations of 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 in the afternoon, about 3:30 PM or so, before boarding the bus for the trip back, I stopped at a newsstand to see if it had a recent copy of Time Magazine. There was one copy left! In my excitement to . . .

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Dale Gilles (Liberia) remembers November 22, 1963

  22 November 1963 — Early that Friday afternoon, I was having lunch in the University of Dayton’s Flyers’ Hanger, the primary hangin’ out spot on campus. A small group of seniors were chatting about what was in store for us just a few months into the future — a couple were planning graduate school, one likely heading to Vietnam as an ROTC graduate and me, I was heading to Liberia in the Peace Corps. We noticed that all of a sudden the large cafeteria descended into an eerie silence. Everybody was straining to hear the FM radio station playing music in the background. That is how we heard the fateful words “President Kennedy has been shot!” I was devastated; I truly did not know how to deal with the news. JFK and his Peace Corps had unknowingly charted the path of the rest of my life. The announcement of . . .

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  Kay Gillies Dixon — A Kennedy Kid in Colombia Three

  My PCV partner Dee and I were congratulating ourselves. We had just demonstrated preparing CARE powdered milk sweetened with panela to a mothers’ class at our barrio health center. The women were finally beginning to use CARE food products to nourish their families rather than selling their allotments at the local markets. It has taken nearly a year to reach this goal. We had packed our supplies and departed the health center, walking to our apartment for lunch.  Dona Graciela, a barrio busybody if ever there was one, came running toward us, tears streaming down her face. Several street children were part of her entourage.  “Su presidente ya esta muerto! Esta muerto!” she sobbed. “Esta en my televisor. Es la verdad.” Unable to believe what Dona Graciela was telling us, we dropped our baskets at our doorstep and followed to her home. She shooed away her other family members . . .

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John Rex (Ethiopia) Remembers —

The Day Kennedy Died by John Rex (Ethiopia 1962-64)   The most difficult part of my service in Ethiopia was the two year separation from home. In the present Internet era, it is probably hard to believe the extent to which we volunteers were isolated, out of touch with anything outside of Ethiopia. Air Mail from Ethiopia to the USA took about two weeks each way, so it was at least a month before we received responses to our letters.   Ethiopia had no TV  or regular source of news, rather it was the radio, especially BBC and international editions of Time and Newsweek, printed on very thin paper that we received regularly and shared widely. Of course, the biggest change in two years was a change of presidents.  Though my parents were devout Republicans, my involvement in the Peace Corps led to a major shift in my thinking. Along with most . . .

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Patricia Edmisten (Peru) “Posta Médica John F. Kennedy”

by Patricia Edmisten (Peru 1962-64)   On November 22, as Susan, Ingrid, and I are leaving the movie theater Dux, where we had just seen an old Italian romance, we run into a throng of people. They are trying to read an announcement on a blackboard set up on the sidewalk. We can see over their heads: Kennedy mató por un balazo. We try to break free of the crowd, but the people surround us with tears in their eyes. They know Kennedy had sent us to Peru. To them we are “Kennedy’s Children.” We join other red-eyed volunteers who have already gathered at the Mogambo. The owner puts plates of fries on the table and serves us soft drinks. He refuses our money, pointing to the picture of Kennedy on the wall. The next morning there is a black wreath and a picture of President Kennedy on the door . . .

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I AM A FACT NOT A FICTION by Edward Mycue

  I Am a Fact Not a Fiction: Selected Poems by Edward Mycue (Ghana 1961-63) 58 pages October 2023 $10.00 (Paperback); $2.99 (Kindle) “Ed Mycue’s poetry is a lifetime of surprises. He was born surprised, grew up on wonder, and now surely lives under the ever crashing waterfalls of amazement. His language is pure chirp, flip and rouse. It never ever sleeps. Savor his lines — like memory — for as long as you dare” — Hiram Larew, author of More Than Anything and Part Of “The precision of Ed Mycue’s dreamscape is laser-sharp and as warm as chocolate. Images rush pell-mell across the page, jumbling and tossing each other aside as one supplants the other in a rush to break the barrier between words and meaning, perception and feeling.” — Laura Kennelly, Ph.D., Associate Editor, BACH: Journal of the Riemenschneider, Bach Institute • San Francisco poet Edward Mycue was born in Niagara Falls, . . .

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DARK STAR SAFARI by Paul Theroux (Malawi)

    Dark Star Safari:  Overland from Cairo to Cape Town by Paul Theroux Friday, November 17, 2023 — Book Review     Two decades ago, the novelist and travel writer Paul Theroux took an overland trip through Africa, starting in Cairo, Egypt and ending in Cape Town, South Africa. This certainly isn’t the safest or the most comfortable means of experiencing the supposed “dark continent”, but it makes for some interesting experiences and insights. Keeping in mind that Theroux’s observations are just one point of view among many, his resulting book Dark Star provides a unique look at a region of the world that holds a permanent place off the beaten path. While Dark Star is an easy book to read, breaking it down into its individual elements is a good way to approach its merits and examine its flaws. The first element of importance is Theroux’s sense of place. Wherever he goes, . . .

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