Author - John Coyne

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New York Times review of CREATIVE TYPES by Tom Bissell (Uzbekistan)
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Christmas in The Land of the Eternal Spring (Guatemala)
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Christmas Letter from Emdeber, Ethiopia….1967
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An Orange for Christmas (Colombia)
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A Peace Corps Story Comes Full Circle
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I Joined A Far-Right Group Of Moms. What I Witnessed Was Frightening (Mongolia)
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My First Christmas in Africa by Mark Wentling (Togo)
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Another look at Tanzania, from the Peace Corps of the early 1960s
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Peace Corps APCD killed a woman in Africa. The U.S. helped him escape prosecution.
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Garamendi calls for Inclusion of PCVs in Student Loan Forgiveness

New York Times review of CREATIVE TYPES by Tom Bissell (Uzbekistan)

  This Sunday’s New York Times, December 26, 2021, has a review of Tom Bissell’s (Uzbekistan 1996) Creative Types And Other Stories. written by Zachary Lazar. Reviewing Tom’s collection, Lazar sums up: “Vigilantes, bullies, expats: To tell you the “subjects” of these stories is to tell you almost nothing about the experience of reading them, their stylistic flair, the unpredictability of their movements. They reminded me of how fiction can be not just a form of escape but a way to get lost in the actual strangeness of this world, those crooked roads that lead us through flashes of horror, delight and sudden recognition.” Creative Types and Other Stories By Tom Bissell (Uzbekistan 1996) Pantheon 225 pages March 2021 $12.99 (Kindle); $25.95 (hardback), $14.70 (Audible)

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Christmas in The Land of the Eternal Spring (Guatemala)

MY LIFE IN THE LAND OF THE ETERNAL SPRING: THE COFFEE PLANTATION BY Mark D. Walker (Guatemala 1971-73) Though I had lived and worked in Guatemala for seven years, it was a brief encounter with my young daughter, Michelle, on the San Francisco Miramar coffee plantation, perched on the side of the Volcano Atitlan that would determine my direction in life. It was a few days before Christmas, and I was strolling through the “Big House” when I came upon her in the living room. She stood, her feet planted on the orange tile floor, hugging her new Airedale puppy, Tiky, and gazing with wonder at the Christmas tree twinkling with colored lights and filled with handmade decorations. Below the tree, a number of brightly wrapped packages sat in contrast to the stark white walls. On the wall was a number of photographs of my wife’s family members It was . . .

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Christmas Letter from Emdeber, Ethiopia….1967

  Dear Folks, As a matter of fact, Christmas was quite merry this year, even without snow. Friday, Phil, Mr. Rowat, Bernie, and I went out in search of a tree. What we were looking for was not a Eucalyptus tree or a false banana tree but for a more symmetric and Christmasy cedar, and sure enough down on the banks of the Gogeb River we found a prime candidate. We lost little time hacking it down with our stone-age ax but were startled when along came some village folks who wondered what we were up to. Phil being more quick-witted than the rest of us, and more fluent in the local dialect said we were taking it to help welcome the Provincial Governor who just happened to be coming for an annual visit the next day. Well, that made perfect sense all around, and we gleefully hauled off the . . .

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An Orange for Christmas (Colombia)

By Jeremiah Norris Colombia (1963-65) In December 1963, I was the only Volunteer in La Plata, a small village of some 3,000 residents, located in the foothills of the Andean mountains. Volunteers from an earlier Group had all rotated home in November. Just a few days before Christmas, I came down with a gastrointestinal infection that laid me so low I could hardly get out of bed and stumble into the bathroom. I was also taking a eight-count, feeling sorry for myself as I had not developed a single project in my first five months. I was too weak even to leave the house and seek medical attention. Then, mysteriously, bowls of hot soup began appearing at my front door. When I opened it to see who was there, no one appeared! Somehow, a woman of very limited means who lived just down the street from my house, the mother of 8 . . .

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A Peace Corps Story Comes Full Circle

An RPCV who went to Ethiopia with the first group in 1962 and is now living in a retirement community in DC. “I’m preparing to go to bed.  In comes Rahel, an Ethiopian nurse, to take my temperature and other vital measures.  While she’s here, she’s joined by Asnaku, Ethiopian, who has come to get out my PJS and reorder my clothes.  Then she is joined by Melat, the youngest of the Ethiopian caregivers, who not only helps Asnaku but also takes out my laundry for pick up overnight. Melat is a graduate of BarDahr University.  Great service.” A PCV story that has come full circle.

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I Joined A Far-Right Group Of Moms. What I Witnessed Was Frightening (Mongolia)

HUFFPOST PERSONAL I Joined A Far-Right Group Of Moms. What I Witnessed Was Frightening. Phoebe Cohen has walked many paths in life, including living in the Gobi Desert as a Peace Corps volunteer and working as a paramedic in several states. Cohen’s work has been featured in Graphic Medicine, Mutha Magazine and BorderX. She regularly posts on her website Merry Misandrist. Cohen is a part-time cartoonist, writer and nursing student. She has been known to go up to five hours without coffee. By  Phoebe Cohen (Mongolia 2005-07), Guest Writer   “There are about 20 of us. We are all maskless, all (apparently) white, mostly women and all on the younger side.” “Look out for the trigger words,” the woman says. She’s perched on a chair in front of the room. She’s well-dressed yet funky with elegant boots, a demure sweater and some colorful jewelry. “‘Equality,’ ‘diversity,’ ‘inclusion,’ ‘marginalization,’… These words . . .

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My First Christmas in Africa by Mark Wentling (Togo)

First published on this site on Dec 22, 2020 My First Christmas in Africa by Mark Wentling by Mark Wentling (Togo 1970-73) This holiday season has me reminiscing again about my first Christmas in Africa. As I stare blankly out the window I am transported back to 1970 and my humble room in the Adjakpo family compound in the village of Agu-Gadzapé, Togo. After three months of living there as a Peace Corps Volunteer and learning how to fit in where I would never really fit, the Christmas season was upon us and I began raising questions about what to do for Christmas. Everybody in our congested compound, which was always vibrantly alive with people doing their daily chores and what they had to do to survive the poverty that engulfed them so profoundly, liked the idea of doing something to celebrate Christmas. But, they all said they had no . . .

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Another look at Tanzania, from the Peace Corps of the early 1960s

  Here’s another look at Tanzania in the novel An African Season, written by Leonard Levitt (Tanzania 1963-65) that tells the better side of the Peace Corps in Africa. SARGENT SHRIVER WROTE about An African Season, The first book which truly conveys the flavor of Peace Corps work, the realities of it, the challenges, the frustrations . . .. An extraordinarily fine book. Levitt’s book is about his one year in rural Tanganyika, as the nation was called at the time. Levitt was a secondary school teacher in Ndumulu School in Mbeya, and his book is a wonderful look at Tanganyika in its last days of British colonial rule. The nation would become Tanzania in 1964 when Tanganyika joined with the island of Zanzibar. It is also worth reading for Levitt’s clear eye for details and telling incidents. Here are his first impressions on arriving in up-country Tanganyika. Levitt arrived late at night in . . .

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Peace Corps APCD killed a woman in Africa. The U.S. helped him escape prosecution.

by Tricia L. Nadolny, Donovan Slack, Nick Penzenstadler and Kizito Makoye Published in USA TODAY – 12/21/21 DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania — An American Peace Corps employee in Tanzania in 2019 killed a mother of three and injured two others in a series of car crashes that began after he left a bar where he had been drinking and brought a sex worker back to his government-leased home. Witnesses pelted the man’s car with rocks and pursued on motorcycles as he fled the scenes of his crimes. The chaotic and deadly episode ended when he slammed into a pole and was detained by police. But within hours, Peace Corps and U.S. Embassy staff rushed the man onto a plane and out of the country. Tanzanian authorities were unable to charge him first, and the U.S. Department of Justice later declined to file criminal charges because of a lack of jurisdiction. The man . . .

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Garamendi calls for Inclusion of PCVs in Student Loan Forgiveness

John Garamendi (Ethiopia 1966-68) joins senators in calling for the inclusion of Peace Corps volunteers in student loan forgiveness By NICK SESTANOVICH December 20, 2021  With the U.S. Department of Education announcing further steps toward student loan forgiveness, Rep. John Garamendi, D-Solano, was one of the lead signatories in a letter calling upon the education secretary to include Peace Corps volunteers in these changes. Garamendi, co-chair of the Congressional Peace Corps Caucus and the only returned Peace Corps volunteer in the House of Representatives, joined Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, both Democrats from Maryland, in writing a bicameral letter to U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona in response to a new temporary waiver period for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program that was announced back in October. During this period, some borrowers will be allowed to receive credit toward student loan forgiveness for periods of public service that would . . .

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