2024 Peace Corps Writers Best Peace Corps Memoir Award Winner!


Taking the Plunge Into Ethiopia: Tales of a Peace Corps Volunteer

by William L. Hershey (Ethiopia 1968-70)


William Hershey  served as the only Peace Corps Volunteer in the small Ethiopian town of Dabat. He taught seventh and eighth grade students the English that they would need to continue their educations and brighten their futures.

He became part of the community, eating the local food and doing his best to communicate in Amharic. He also navigated cultural gaffes — having his house stoned by disgruntled students angered at being assigned to clean the outhouses; and nearly sparking international trouble by clashing with a player from a rival school during a heated basketball game.

Decades later as a journalist, he used his once-in-a-lifetime Peace Corps experience to reflect on immigration, global goodwill and the hope the United States should share with the rest of the world.


William Hershey spent more than 40 years reporting on Ohio government and politics at the local, state and national levels. He was the Akron Beacon Journal‘s Washington correspondent and Columbus Bureau Chief for the Beacon Journal and the Dayton Daily News. He was a major contributor to coverage that won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for the Beacon Journal staff for reporting on Sir James Goldsmith’s attempted takeover of the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. He is co-author with John C. Green of Mr. Chairman: The Life and Times of Ray C. Bliss.

He holds a B.A. in history from Albion College and a M.S. degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. A native of Flint, Michigan, he lives in Columbus, Ohio, with his wife Marcia, also an RPCV from Ethiopia.


See the recent site about Taking the Plunge and Will at Ideastream



Taking the Plunge Into Ethiopia: Tales of a Peace Corps Volunteer
by William L. Hershey (Ethiopia 1968-70)
University of Akron Press
September 2023
134 pages
$18.99 (Kindle); $24.95 (Paperback)


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  • Looking back in time reminds me of my English lessons especielly the speach practice. Bill was an excellent teacher. He was very sociable. He tried everything the natives do, the language, the food the local beer, and wine. He taught us baseball and basketball. He got along with the teaching staff and the director. Everybody took him as their own country man. Those years were unforgetable.

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