Author - John Coyne

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First Peace Corps Auto Mechanics Instructor (Ethiopia)
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Bill Owens (Jamaica) at Altamont . . . Read and remember the ’60s
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Michael Meyer (China) “The Quiet Revolt That Saved China,” Op-Ed, Wall Street Journal
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PEACE CORPS WRITER’S WORKSHOP THIS SEPTEMBER!
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Review — WITH KENNEDY IN THE LAND OF THE DEAD by William Siegel (Ethiopia)
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Peter Hessler (China) Discovers Egypt
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Concetta Anne Bencivenga (Thailand), Director of the Transit Museum of New York Subway
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“THE MAGIC STONE and the Woman who Wrote It!” (Kenya)
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“East Meets West: An Account of a Trip to West Africa”
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A Work in Progress: RPCV Authors

First Peace Corps Auto Mechanics Instructor (Ethiopia)

First Peace Corps Auto Mechanics Instructor  By David Gurr (Ethiopia 1962-64) I entered Peace Corps Training to serve in Ethiopia at Georgetown University in the summer of 1962.  Initially, Georgetown assigned me to teach geography because I had more credits in that area than any other Trainee.  However, because of my earlier experience with repairing and building automobiles, my country director, Harris Wofford, told me that the Peace Corps wanted me teaching auto mechanics.  I was assigned to a group of other technical-skilled Trainees comprised of a machinist, a sheet metal worker and two draftsmen. Our group received little or no instruction in technical training, unlike the classes preparing others teaching academic subjects.  Little stands out other than a tour of the US Steel plant in Sparrows Point, Maryland.  Two officials from the Ethiopian Ministry of Education came to one session.  They told us that there were two such schools: . . .

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Bill Owens (Jamaica) at Altamont . . . Read and remember the ’60s

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Marian Haley Beil (Ethiopia 1962-64)     Bill Owens (Jamaica 1964–66), is our most famous RPCV photographer. Back in 1972 Bill published a collection of photographs on suburbia entitled Suburbia. In this cult classic book, photographer Owens acted as an anthropologist objectively documenting suburban inhabitants, their native environs, and their daily rituals. By pairing the images with quotes made by the subjects, Owens created a hilarious and absurd account of life in the suburbs. A life that included Tupperware parties, backyard barbecues, and going to the hairdresser. In 2004 the fourth and final volume in his landmark Suburbia series — Suburbia (1973; 1999); Our Kind Of People (1975); Working — I Do It For The Money (1977) — Leisure (2004) was published. In his introduction to Leisure, photographer Gregory Crewdson writes: Owens’ photographs belong to an American aesthetic tradition of art that explores the intersection of everyday life . . .

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Michael Meyer (China) “The Quiet Revolt That Saved China,” Op-Ed, Wall Street Journal

    The Quiet Revolt That Saved China Forty years ago, farmers in Xiaogang village split their commune into family plots. A record harvest followed. by Michael Meyer (China 1995-97) April 16, 2019 7:35 p.m. ET Wall Street Journal • The People’s Republic of China turns 70 in October and will celebrate with flag-waving and fireworks. But 2019 marks several other major Chinese anniversaries whose public remembrance the Communist Party will suppress—and another milestone whose observance has been surprisingly muted. Twenty years ago, it was Falun Gong adherents being arrested. In July 1999 the Communist Party branded the spiritual meditation group an “evil cult.” On April 25, 1999, 10,000 practitioners, many of them elderly, had held a silent demonstration outside Beijing’s Zhongnanhai leadership compound. It was the capital’s largest protest since those held at Tiananmen Square ended—30 years ago this June—with a bloody military crackdown. Sixty years ago on March . . .

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PEACE CORPS WRITER’S WORKSHOP THIS SEPTEMBER!

PEACE CORPS WRITER’S WORKSHOP THIS SEPTEMBER! Want to spend three days in September on the Eastern Shore of Maryland discussing your book with other writers and RPCV authors? Peace Corps Writers, supported by the Peace Corps Fund, is arranging an inexpensive and small workshop for ten to fifteen RPCVs working on their own Peace Corps memoir, poetry, or fiction. This workshop will be held on the Eastern Shore of Maryland from Friday, September 20th to Monday, September 23rd at this lovely location: https://shoreretreatsonbroadcreek.org/ There will be talks, reviews of your manuscripts, individual conferences, stories to tell (and how to tell them) and plenty of time for conversations and relaxation. Space is extremely limited. At the moment we have not set the workshop fee but we want to make it as reasonable as possible for everyone. If you are interested in attending please let me know. jcoyneone@gmail.com Here are the RPCV . . .

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Review — WITH KENNEDY IN THE LAND OF THE DEAD by William Siegel (Ethiopia)

    With Kennedy in the Land of the Dead A Novel of the 1960s By William Siegel (Ethiopia 1962–64) A Peace Corps Writers Book 355 pages January 26, 2019 $20.00 (paperback), $9.99 (Kindle)   Reviewed by Sue Hoyt Aiken (Ethiopia 1962—64) • The author, like myself, served in those very early days of the Peace Corps.  We had elected to serve as high school teachers throughout Ethiopia at Emperor Haile Selassie’s invitation beginning in September, 1962.  Around 300 of us landed in Addis Ababa eager to serve and demonstrate we could carry out President Kennedy’s call: Ask not what the country can do for you but what you can do for the country!  Who knew of the tragedies that would unfold starting in 1963 with John F. Kennedy’s assassination up to and including the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King? Camelot was unmistakably over. The author has the narrator, Gilbert . . .

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Peter Hessler (China) Discovers Egypt

    Editor John Coyne talks with Peter Hessler (China)   Peter Hessler Discovers Egypt Peter Hessler is a 1992 graduate of Princeton University, a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, and was a Peace Corps Volunteer in China from 1996 to 1998. Since that time he has worked in China as a freelance writer for numerous publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, South China Morning Post, and National Geographic. In 2008, he won the National Magazine Award for excellence in reporting, and since 2000 he has been a staff writer at The New Yorker. Hessler has written four books on China. River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze, which won the 2001 Kiriyama Book Prize, describes Hessler’s experience as an English teacher in Fuling, a small city on the Yangtze River. Oracle Bones: A Journey Through Time in China, a finalist for the 2006 National Book Award, explores the intersection . . .

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Concetta Anne Bencivenga (Thailand), Director of the Transit Museum of New York Subway

    Concetta Anne Bencivenga (Thailand 1992-94) is Director of the New York Transit Museum, the largest museum in the United States devoted to urban public transportation history and one of the premier institutions of its kind in the world. The New York’s first subway station opened in 1904 under City Hall with luxuries that today’s subway riders can hardly imagine. Here’s a look at the station today. • Failing New York Subway? Not Always — Once There Were Chandeliers by Winnie Hu New York Times April 11, 2019 New Yorkers once waited for the subway by the glow of chandeliers. Really. When the city’s first subway station opened in 1904 underneath City Hall in Lower Manhattan, it was a testament to New York’s arrival as a world-class city on par with London, Paris or Rome. The ornate station featured chandeliers, ornamental skylights and soaring archways with zigzagging patterns of terra-cotta . . .

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“THE MAGIC STONE and the Woman who Wrote It!” (Kenya)

While Arthur Dobrin was a student at City College in New York, he heard Harris Wofford speak at the college, and afterwards he went to Lyn and said, “Let’s join the Peace Corps.” In August of 1964, shortly before they were married, Lyn and Arthur Dobrin, applied to the Peace Corps. They were first offered Volunteer placement inThailand. “We didn’t want to do it because the assignment involved moving all over the country. We wanted to stay in one place and Arthur was more interested in Africa so when we were offered a project in cooperative development in Kenya, we said yes.” In addition to her assigned role of working with farmers cooperatives, Lyn had two additional goals. She wanted to write a cookbook and collect folk tales. She had decided before leaving for Kenya that she wanted to “write something that Kenyan children could relate to.” The cookbook never . . .

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“East Meets West: An Account of a Trip to West Africa”

    East Meets West An Account of a Trip to West Africa – Summer, 1966 by Phillip LeBell (Ethiopia 1965-67) This is an account of a summer 1965 trip to West Africa of four Peace Corps Group IV volunteer teachers who flew from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where we had begun our service tours in January of that year. We were:  Sudy Harris and Judy Hagens (stationed in Kombolchia), Letitia (Tish) Coolidge (stationed in Addis Ababa), and me (stationed in Emdeber, Shoa province). We had known each other during our training at UCLA, California in the fall of 1964, but this was the first time we were reunited in this somewhat spontaneous adventure. Attached is a general map of our West Africa trip, along with a map of the itinerary.  Our first stop was in Khartoum, where we were well received by local residents who were both amused and surprised . . .

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A Work in Progress: RPCV Authors

A Work in Progress: RPCV Authors Approximately 30 years ago, Marian Haley Beil and I (both Ethiopia 1962-64) began to identify Peace Corps Writers. It was our Third Goal Project to spread the story of the Peace Corps in developing countries by promoting the writings of RPCVs here at home.  We did this as two former volunteers, not connected to the Peace Corps agency or the NPCA. We began in April 1989 with a newsletter Peace Corps Writers & Readers and now on a website: www.peacecorpsworldwide.org We announce new books, have them reviewed, interview authors, and publish writings by RPCVs. We also started with Create Space/Amazon a line of Peace Corps Writers Books. Marian Beil is the creative publishing genius behind these projects. Annually we give cash awards in different categories for the best books published every year. We do not receive any money from these efforts, and gifts to . . .

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