Author - John Coyne

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“Famous People” by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay)
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Biden with PCVs
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“Conflict in Ethiopia extends the greater Middle East’s arc of crisis”
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“Redesigning U.S. Assistance to Africa in the Post-Pandemic Era” — Mark Wentling (Togo)
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Review — 101 ARABIAN TALES: How We All Persevered in Peace Corps Libya
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Review — STEALING FORTUNES’ BRICK by Stephen Foehr (Ethiopia)
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WE ARE AKAN by Dorothy Brown Soper (Ghana), author; and James Cloutier (Kenya), illustrator
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BRIGHT SHINING WORLD — a novel by Josh Swiller (Zambia)
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“Volunteer and Former Volunteer Future Health Care Issues”
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“Americans Helped My Family Emigrate From Iran. That Kindness Is What Makes This Country Great”

“Famous People” by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay)

by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay 1978-80) Delmarva Review November 2020 • Author’s Note: My stories fall into modes. Some are set in rural Virginia, others in countries overseas where I lived and worked. Some seek their setting in Western New York, where I grew up. Some, like “Famous People,” are lighthearted and come out of a sense of play. Contrary to the view that a writer needs to know where a story is going, I had no idea where this one would wind up. • I’M NOT A NEUTRAL PARTY. I HAVE MY POINT OF VIEW. But for what it’s worth, I believe that a goodly percentage of the hell that Aunt Elodie kicked up was intended to rectify a problem. You might agree with her, if you agree that a lack of any famous people where you grew up is a problem. For the sake of argument, let’s say you . . .

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Biden with PCVs

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Bob Arias (Colombias 1964-66)   The PCVs returned to Colombia in September 2010, after a 29-year hiatus. Then Vice-President Biden attended and celebrated the reentry in Bogota. Jason Cochran (PTO-DPT)–on the far left–took 3 PCVs to meet the Vice President at a Meet and Greet with Embassy Personal. At the time Colombia reopened with 9 PCVs. Cochran was a PCV in Panama (1997-2000) and later on the staff in Panama, Paraguay, and Colombia. Since 2010, Peace Corps Colombia has supported approximately 90 communities along the Caribbean coast through the work of 250 traditional and Response Volunteers.

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“Conflict in Ethiopia extends the greater Middle East’s arc of crisis”

Thanks for the “heads up” from Jack Allison (Malawi 1966-69) By James M. Dorsey and Alessandro Arduino The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer   Ethiopia, an African darling of the international community, is sliding towards civil war as the coronavirus pandemic hardens ethnic fault lines. The consequences of prolonged hostilities could echo across East Africa, the Middle East and Europe. Fighting between the government of Nobel Peace Prize winning Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Tigrayan nationalists in the north could extend an evolving arc of crisis that stretches from the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict in the Caucasus, civil wars in Syria and Libya, and mounting tension in the Eastern Mediterranean into the strategic Horn of Africa. It would also cast a long shadow over hopes that a two-year old peace agreement with neighbouring Eritrea that earned Mr. Ahmed the Nobel prize would allow Ethiopia to tackle its economic problems and ethnic divisions. . . .

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“Redesigning U.S. Assistance to Africa in the Post-Pandemic Era” — Mark Wentling (Togo)

November 2020 by Mark Wentling (Togo 1970-73) Key Points It is my opinion that the interest of the United States is best served in most African countries by improving the basic welfare of their people. The effectiveness of U.S. aid in Africa can be enhanced by focusing on the least developed countries. Helping address basic human needs, notably in the areas of education and health, should be top priority, especially the education of girls. Increasing agricultural production to improve nutritional health also deserves greater attention. Assistance funding needs to be stable and independent of political and diplomatic considerations. The composition of U.S. overseas missions and cumbersome bureaucratic processes must be revised to permit the effective and timely implementation of this new strategy. These changes are necessary to raise hopes for a better future for millions of Africans and to strengthen the role of the U.S. in Africa. _____________________________________________________________ As someone . . .

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Review — 101 ARABIAN TALES: How We All Persevered in Peace Corps Libya

  101 Arabian Tales: How We All Persevered in Peace Corps Libya By Randolph W. Hobler (Libya 1968-69) Self-Published 444 pages August 2020 $22.99 (Paperback) Reviewed by Mark D. Walker (Guatemala 1971-73) • I’m always drawn to reviewing memoirs from Peace Corps volunteers. What makes this one unique is that it is a collective memoir garnered from interviews of over 100 Libyan Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. I can’t imagine what it must have taken to accumulate this information from so many fifty years after the fact, so I asked him. He sent me a bibliography with lists of people he contacted, books he’s read, interviews he’d made and emails he’d sent. He kept a diary as did his editor (a 76 pager) not to mention close to 60 letters containing information and some of the stories he brought to life in his book. The opening quote alludes to the interesting . . .

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Review — STEALING FORTUNES’ BRICK by Stephen Foehr (Ethiopia)

  Stealing Fortune’s Brick: The Audacious Tea Heist by Stephen Foehr (Ethiopia 1965-66) Foehr & Son Publisher 285 pages June 2020 $7.00 (Kindle); $11.00 (paperback)   Reviewed by Sue Hoyt Aiken (Ethiopia 1962–64) • You might ask why anyone would want to steal tea so badly they would commit violence, lies, deception and danger! This story is based in modern day London but harkens back to early Chinese history intertwined with British history in China. The clever character development involves an American, Tom, invited by his maternal Chinese grandfather he has never met, a Rosemary, who joins him in his pursuit as a way of making her life more exciting, her London based gang boss brother, Ow, whom she adores. And a precious brick of exceptional tea valued in the millions! One might say the brick of tea is the main character! The Chinese regarded Robert Fortune as a criminal, . . .

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WE ARE AKAN by Dorothy Brown Soper (Ghana), author; and James Cloutier (Kenya), illustrator

  WE ARE AKAN is a work of historical fiction that follows three months in the lives of Kwame, Kwaku, and Baako, ages 11–13, who live in and near the fictional town of Tanoso in the Asante Kingdom. It is a richly illustrated story set in 1807 Kwame, Kwaku, and Baako strive to become leaders in the Akan culture. They farm, learn spear throwing, take part in ceremonies and dances, and listen to stories while gaining an understanding of the rainforest and its animals. In the capital city to see the king and the Golden Stool and take part in an important festival, the boys encounter the wider kingdom: fine crafts, livestock, foreign people and books, and witness the sale of prisoners as slaves. Kwaku cares for a leopard cub that the king wants returned to the forest. Traveling to the coast, Kwame and Baako are kidnapped and threatened with . . .

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BRIGHT SHINING WORLD — a novel by Josh Swiller (Zambia)

  A darkly funny thriller about one boy’s attempt to unravel the mysterious phenomenon affecting students in his new town, as he finds a way to resist sinister forces and pursue hope for them all. Wallace Cole is perpetually moving against his will. His father has some deeply important job with an energy company that he refuses to explain to Wallace who is, shall we say, suspicious. Not that his father ever listens to him. Just as Wallace is getting settled into a comfortable life in Kentucky, his father lets him know they need to immediately depart for a new job in a small town in Upstate New York which has recently been struck by an outbreak of inexplicable hysterics–an outbreak which is centered at the high school Wallace will attend. In the new town, go from disturbing to worse: trees appear to be talking to people; a school bully, . . .

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“Volunteer and Former Volunteer Future Health Care Issues”

  by Bill Josephson (PC/Washington 1961-66) The adequacy of health care for Peace Corps volunteers and former Peace Corps volunteers who have service connected health issues seems to be a recurrent and unresolved problem.  The following thoughts are based on memories from 1961 to 1966, and I’ve made no effort to fact check those memories. The early Peace Corps was fortunate in respect of its healthcare staff because Selective Service still existed, and as the Vietnam War began in 1965, Selective Service became an even more important source of physicians. A plan that I recall as the “Berry Plan” enabled physicians to meet their Selective Service obligations through public health and similar medical assignments in the public interest. This meant that the early Peace Corps was virtually assured of the availability of high-quality medical staff both overseas and in Washington. Moreover, the first Peace Corps medical director, whom I recall . . .

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“Americans Helped My Family Emigrate From Iran. That Kindness Is What Makes This Country Great”

  by Behrooz Alexander Moghaddam Hartford Courtant October 26, 2020 My first taste of American greatness was peanut butter. It was in 1965 or so, in Urmia, my hometown in northwest Iran. I was around 3 years old. The peanut butter was a gift from Penny and Richard, two of a handful of Peace Corps volunteers who worked in Urmia in the 1960s. Since President Donald Trump was elected, I have thought a lot about that gift of peanut butter and our president’s slogan, “Make America Great Again.” Had Trump’s policies existed when I was a child, I would not be who or what I am. My immigrant family would have failed our president’s admission test on all possible counts. We were poor, only one of us spoke passable English when we arrived in the U.S., and we were from a Muslim country. Thankfully, in 1969, and at least until . . .

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