Author - John Coyne

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Peter Hessler Writes:The Peace Corps Breaks Ties with China
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Third Goal Project for Ethiopia RPCVs
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Talking with Paul Theroux (Malawi)
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Paul Theroux to Speak Saturday, March 7, at DC Travel Adventure Show (Malawi)
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Making Lemonade In The Maiatico Building (Repost)
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Review — POSTHUMOUS by Paul Aertker (Mauritania)
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The Creation of the Peace Corps, March 1, 1961
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Review — ALL THE DAYS PAST, ALL THE DAYS TO COME by Mildred D. Taylor (Ethiopia)
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A Writer Writes — “Africa Delivers” by Bob Criso (Africa)
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Peace Corps announces 2020 top volunteer-producing schools

Peter Hessler Writes:The Peace Corps Breaks Ties with China

The Peace Corps Breaks Ties with China The agency has always been viewed as removed from political spats. But the timing of the U.S.’s decision seems suspicious. By Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) March 9, 2020 The author, lower left, with other China 3 volunteers in front of the Forbidden City, in Beijing, in 1996.Photograph courtesy the author On the morning of January 17th, shortly before I was scheduled to meet with a hundred and forty Peace Corps volunteers in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, there was an unexpected announcement that the China program was ending. The Peace Corps had first come to the country in 1993, and as a volunteer from the early years I had been asked to speak at an in-service training that the organization was holding in a hotel near where I live. But by the time I arrived nobody was in the mood for nostalgia. The . . .

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Third Goal Project for Ethiopia RPCVs

    In keeping with the original three goals of the Peace Corps Act, a pilot program to upgrade the level of English learning and teaching in Ethiopia is seeking RPCV’s who have taught English in Ethiopia. We’re developing some new digital materials for Ethiopian grade school students and would like to have them reviewed by teachers with experience in Ethiopian English classes, preferably in upper elementary and middle schools. We are particularly interested in recent returnees who used the series, English for Ethiopia in their classes. This is a not-for-profit venture and participation is on a voluntary basis. We are excited about the potential of this work to solve an urgent challenge facing Ethiopian education, particularly in rural areas. If you would like to learn more or to volunteer, contact Andy Martin (Ethiopia, 1965-68) or Michael McCaskey (Ethiopia, 1965-67) at jcoyneone@gmail.com

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Talking with Paul Theroux (Malawi)

Talking with Paul Theroux . . . an interview by John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962–64)This is an interview I did with Paul around 2002. Since he is speaking in Washington this Saturday, March 7th, I thought I would republish it to fill in everyone about his early years in the Peace Corps.PAUL THEROUX (Malawi 1963-65) has produced some of the most wicked, funny, sad, bitter, readable, knowledgeable, rude, contemptuous, ruthless, arrogant, moving, brilliant and quotable books ever written. In doing so, he has been in all regards the most successful literary and commercial writer to come out of the Peace Corps.For those not familiar with Theroux’s life, he was born in Medford, Massachusetts in 1941, one of seven children, and studied premed at the University of Maine before transferring to the University of Massachusetts and taking his first creative writing class from the poet Joseph Langland. He graduated in 1963 from . . .

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Paul Theroux to Speak Saturday, March 7, at DC Travel Adventure Show (Malawi)

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Steve Kaffen (Russia 1994-96) Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-65) Saturday, March 7 12:15 pm – 1:15 pm Travel Theater Paul Theroux, Bestselling Author, Novelist, Travel Writer My travels began in 1963 when I joined the Peace Corps and became a teacher in Central Africa. At last, I had something to write about, something that mattered, something inspired by travel. I traveled throughout Africa for the next six years and published four works of fiction. After three years in Singapore and travels in South East Asia, I published Saint Jack which became a movie. Resident in Britain, I was stumped for an idea, but decided that travel had always served me well: so I set off on the trip that became The Great Railway Bazaar, a book that led to ten other long trips, and ten more books – some of the trips risky, but all of them fruitful, in . . .

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Making Lemonade In The Maiatico Building (Repost)

First published on our site on April 22, 2010 (Reprinted on this anniversary week.) There is a lot one can write about those early days of the agency when the Peace Corps attracted the best and the brightest. An early document of the agency said that the staff in D.C. and around the world was composed of “skiers, mountain climbers, big-game hunters, prizefighters, football players, polo players and enough Ph.D.’s [30] to staff a liberal arts college.” There were 18 attorneys, of whom only four continue to work strictly as attorneys in the General Counsel’s office and the rest [including Sargent Shriver] did other jobs. Also, all of these employees were parents of some 272 children. In terms of staff and PCVs, the ratio was quite small. Figures from WWII show that 30 people were required to support every soldier in the front lines. After the war, the peacetime ratio . . .

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Review — POSTHUMOUS by Paul Aertker (Mauritania)

    Posthumous (Children: age range: 7–12 years, grade level: 2–6) by Paul Aertker (Mauritania 1988–89) Flying Solo Press 202 pages May 2018 $12.97 (paperback), $6.41 (Kindle) Reviewed by Thomas L. Weck (Ethiopia 1965–67)  • Posthumous begins by revealing the resolution of the principal event of the story — the slow death of 12-years old Ellie’s mother, Etta, from cancer. Rather than focusing on the “suspense” of whether the Etta will live or die, it centers on the gamut of emotions that Ellie and her father, Calvert, experience as they watch Etta fight bravely against the inevitable. It is written with powerful emotion and compassion. It is almost impossible not to tear up on some of the truly magnificent prose that permeates the story. The bravery that Ellie and Calvert exhibit as witnesses to this tragic event mirrors the bravery of Etta’s fight against it. For any child who must bear . . .

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The Creation of the Peace Corps, March 1, 1961

On March 1, 1961, President Kennedy signed the executive order to create the Peace Corps. Three weeks later, on March 22, he would name Sargent Shriver as its first Director. Sargent Shriver believed deeply that the Peace Corps was a cornerstone of peacebuilding, and that it needed to play a central role in our foreign policy and diplomacy. A disruptive, innovative idea at the beginning of the 1960s, the Peace Corps continues to play a significant role in allowing Americans to serve in communities abroad, bringing us closer to our brothers and sisters in developing countries. With new challenges coming about from the effects of climate change, war, pandemics, and other crises, Peace Corps volunteers could play an even bigger role in serving vulnerable communities everywhere — if our leaders would dare to innovate and evolve as President Kennedy and Sargent Shriver did. Below Sargent Shriver’s Remarks at the Peace . . .

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Review — ALL THE DAYS PAST, ALL THE DAYS TO COME by Mildred D. Taylor (Ethiopia)

    All the Days Past, All the Days to Come Mildred D. Taylor (Ethiopia 1965-67) Viking Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House L.L.C January 7, 2020 483 pages $19.99 (Hardcover), $10.99 (Kindle)   Reviewed by Marnie Mueller (Ecuador 1963-65) • Mildred D. Taylor’s ALL THE DAYS PAST, ALL THE DAYS TO COME is a young adult novel, the final book in a ten volume series for which Taylor has won innumerable awards, among them a Newbery Medal, four Coretta Scott King Awards, a Boston Globe—Horn Book Award, a L.A. Times Book Prize and the PEN Award for Children’s Literature. I have never before read a young adult novel as I have no children and during my teens so many decades ago, they didn’t call them by that name. When I was asked to review the novel, I Googled Taylor, and up came effusive accolades on literary sites followed by reader comments that . . .

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A Writer Writes — “Africa Delivers” by Bob Criso (Africa)

A Writer Writes    Africa Delivers by Bob Criso (Nigeria 1966-67, Somalia 1967-68)    My fascination with Africa began when my brother-in-law, Harry, gave me his old stamp collection after he married my sister, Mildred. I was nine years old. It was those East African stamps that fired my imagination at the time — giraffes, flamingoes, and exotic flowers on stamps from places like Tanganyika, Rhodesia, and Madagascar. It sent me to the encyclopedia for my first independent study of geography. In high school, it was the independence movements of the late fifties and early sixties that caught my interest. European colonies in Africa struggling for autonomy and self-government. I was rooting for Kwame Nkrumah and Ghana all the way. Back to the encyclopedia for another independent study, this time in history. Years later, I realized how much these movements paralleled my own struggles for independence at home. After I . . .

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Peace Corps announces 2020 top volunteer-producing schools

Peace Corps News Press Release                         Peace Corps announces 2020 top volunteer-producing schools WASHINGTON – Peace Corps announced today its 2020 ranking of top volunteer-producing colleges and universities. The schools are classed in large, medium or small categories, as well as a graduate school and an all-time category, which ranks the top Peace Corps volunteer-producing schools since 1961, the year of the agency’s inception. “These schools are institutions that emphasize being global citizens and service-minded students,” said Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen. “I am excited to know the graduates coming from Peace Corps’ top colleges are using their skills to make a positive impact on their communities at home and abroad.” In the large school category, the University of Wisconsin–Madison continues to hold the No. 1 spot. After placing ninth in 2019, the University of Florida is now in . . .

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