Author - John Coyne

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Jack Allison Sings To Stop The Coronavirus (Malawi)
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Stories from PCVs coming home early
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The Death of Idealism and Anti-Politics in the Peace Corps
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Review: ¿ERES TU? by Frank Tainter (Chile)
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RPCV Courtney Eker writes “Devastated, not fired” (Panama)
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Paul Theroux Reviews “A Towering Task” (Malawi)
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Two Items Of Interest to RPCVs
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Peace Corps Volunteer comedy series — “Lost in Moldova”
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Glenn Blumhorst’s letter in the Chicago Tribune
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Ending the Peace Corps program in China is not smart says Lex Rieffel (India)

Jack Allison Sings To Stop The Coronavirus (Malawi)

Jack Allison (Malawi 1966-69) presently serves as Professor Emeritus of Emergency Medical Care, College of Health & Human Sciences, Western Carolina University, where he teaches, performs research, and spearheads faculty development. In 2012 he volunteered during the month of February with Medical Teams International in Kenya and Somalia where he provided both emergency medical care and public health education to Somali refugees; and in October he volunteered with Marion Medical Mission on a public health project in Malawi and Zambia where he helped to install 112 shallow water wells. Allison’s avocation is singing/songwriting. He has written over 100 songs and jingles, and recorded over 80 of those. Since 1967 he has raised $150,000.00 with his music, and he & his wife, Sue Wilson, have given away all of these monies to various charitable organizations, including $30,000.00 to help feed Malawian children who have been orphaned because their parents have died of . . .

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The Death of Idealism and Anti-Politics in the Peace Corps

The Death of Idealism Development and Anti-Politics in the Peace Corps by Meghan Elizabeth Kallman Columbia University Press 320 pages $24.48 (Kindle), $110.00 (Hardback), $28.00 (paperback) April 21, 2020     Meghan Elizabeth Kallman is an assistant professor at the School for Global Inclusion and Social Development at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She is coauthor of The Third Sector: Community Organizations, NGOs, and Nonprofits (2016) and an elected official in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. A case study of the conflict between professionalization and idealism in the Peace Corps. Shows how organizational practices affect people’s ideas and values in ways that have long lasting consequences for their lives and careers. Based on interviews with over 140 current and returned Peace Corps volunteers, brings a new perspective on how people lose their idealism and why that matters. Peace Corps volunteers seem to exemplify the desire to make the world a better place. Yet . . .

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Review: ¿ERES TU? by Frank Tainter (Chile)

    ¿Eres tú?: A History of Lonquimay Frank Tainter (Chile 1964–66) Go to Publish December 2019 328 pages $17.80 (paperback), $2.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by David Mather (Chile 1968-70)   There are several reasons why I was eager to read “?Eres Tu?.”  The author and I were both forestry volunteers (different groups) in the mid to late ’60s in Chile. According to the jacket of the book, his time there, like mine, was “the most significant experience of his life.” We both ended up writing “novels” about ‘our’ Chile and both books have a young American fall in love with a campesina who was taller than most, had long black hair, and, of course, beautiful eyes. Even the consummations of the two love affairs are similar in that his takes place in a canelo(tree) grove whereas mine was in an alerce grove.  Finally, both of us used the love stories as the vehicle to demonstrate our . . .

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RPCV Courtney Eker writes “Devastated, not fired” (Panama)

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Jim McCaffery (Ethiopia 1966-69)     Devastated, not fired March 23, 2020 by Courtney Eker (Panama) • It was 9 PM and I was sitting on a plastic lawn chair with my favorite family, barely able to communicate over the sound of loud accordion “típico” music, when my phone started buzzing out of control in my pocket. I remember thinking I did not want to take it out because I wanted to enjoy my evening, as it would be one of the last family gatherings I would have in my site before leaving the following Saturday. I was one week away from finishing my two years of service in Peace Corps Panama. I looked at the screen anyway, only to read the text, “You may pack two checked bags and one carry on. You must get on your earliest transport out of site whether . . .

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Paul Theroux Reviews “A Towering Task” (Malawi)

A Towering Task Reviewed by Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-65) “A Towering Task” puts a human face on the Peace Corps – and makes sense of its history of idealism, improvisation, politics, and at times its failings. It is the most coherent and satisfying documentary I know, of the Peace Corps, and I can’t imagine a better one. For its truth and its scope, its arc is complete – from the germ of an idea to help the world, spoken late at night by JFK on his presidential campaign, to its execution later, an Act signed into law and carried out – thousands of young women and men leaving for remote places, to teach, to advise, to inspire – and to be inspired themselves by their work. I was an early volunteer, my group was “Nyasaland III” (1963) – we went to Central Africa and saw Nyasaland become the independent republic of Malawi; . . .

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Two Items Of Interest to RPCVs

  The current issue of The New Yorker, March 30, 2020, has an article entitled, “Life on Lockdown” Forty-five days of avoiding the coronavirus in China by Peter Hessler (China 1996-98). Peter and his wife with their nine-year-old twin daughters, Ariel and Natasha, went to China in August where his next book will be set. And then came the virus. Two weeks ago Peter wrote about the China PCVs being terminated in his host country for The New Yorker. Peter Hessler joined The New Yorker as a staff writer in 2000. From 2000 until 2007, he was the magazine’s correspondent in China and, from 2011 to 2016, he was based in Cairo, where he covered the events of the Egyptian Arab Spring. His subjects have included archeology in both China and Egypt, a factory worker in Shenzhen, a garbage collector in Cairo, a small-town druggist in rural Colorado, and Chinese lingerie dealers . . .

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Peace Corps Volunteer comedy series — “Lost in Moldova”

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Beatrice Hogan (Uzbekistan 1992-94) An American in Moldova: a Peace Corps volunteer is the subject of a new comedy series‎ The Calvert Journal Hi, my name is John E. Lewis, and I’m an RPCV from the Moldova III group (1995-97). I am also the creator, writer, and executive producer of the web series “Lost in Moldova”. I wrote the first few episodes while I was getting my MFA in TV and Screenwriting in LA. It’s loosely based on my own Peace Corps experience—as well as the experiences of my fellow volunteers and other RPCVs I’ve spoken to over the years. The story is about a guy named Diego, who joins the Peace Corps in a last-ditch effort to win back his ex-girlfriend. He goes expecting an exotic tropical paradise and ends up…”Lost in Moldova”. Strangely enough, while I was writing it, I ended up . . .

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Glenn Blumhorst’s letter in the Chicago Tribune

  Commentary: Peace Corps evacuated all 7,300 of its volunteers due to coronavirus. They need immediate help. by Glenn Blumhorst in the Chicago Tribune 02/21/20 01:24 PM EST • Imagine, if you can, a scenario in which the Department of Defense saw the need to recall for emergency security purposes the entirety of its service corps in one fell swoop. That’s essentially what happened over the past week, when the U.S. Peace Corps agency made the difficult and unprecedented decision to suspend its programs indefinitely, evacuating all 7,300 volunteers serving in more than 60 countries — including 280 from Illinois — due to the coronavirus outbreak and informing them their service has ended. As the virus spread rapidly worldwide, travel restrictions quickly tightened, risks to the personal health of volunteers rose rapidly and the window to bring America’s “grassroots diplomats” home was closing swiftly. Understandably, the top priority of the agency was . . .

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Ending the Peace Corps program in China is not smart says Lex Rieffel (India)

BY LEX RIEFFEL, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR 02/21/20 01:00 PM EST   Last month, before the corona virus outbreak, the Peace Corps informed the Congress that it would begin terminating its program in China in Sen. Marc Rubio (R-Fla.) applauded the decision, noting that China no longer is a developing country and, echoing the sentiment, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) told reporters: “I’m glad the Peace Corps has finally come to its senses.” I beg to differ. I was a Peace Corps volunteer in India (1965-67) and I’ve done research on what America gains from allocating funds in the federal budget for the Peace Corps. Measured against our country’s long-term national interests, pulling the Peace Corps out of China now looks like a dumb move. Let’s start with a few facts. The Peace Corps was established in 1961 by President Kennedy in the midst of the Cold War with the Soviet Union when the U.S. was competing . . .

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