Author - Marian Haley Beil

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The Peace Corps staff member who became the first Peace Corps photographer | Rowland Scherman
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Review | GROWING MANGOS IN THE DESERT by Katherine Baird (Mauritania)
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Review | A LEGACY OF AMERICA’S GLOBAL VOLUNTEERISM
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New books by Peace Corps writers | November-December 2022
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The Volunteer Who Became America’s Premier Sports Writer — Arnold Hano (Costa Rica)
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The Volunteer Who Became a Highly Published Novelist — Roland Merullo (Micronesia)
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Justin D. Bibee (Morocco) | Human rights advocate and refugee resettlement case manager
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Review — BABUSYA’S KITCHEN by Ukraine RPCVs
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ST. PETERSBURG BAY BLUES by Douglas Buchacek (Russia)
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The Volunteer Who Provided a Clear-eyed Look at Africa — Mark Wentling (Honduras, Togo)
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New books by Peace Corps writers | September – October 2022
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FINDING OUR WAY by Steven Gallon (Korea)
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Review — THE LAST OF HIS MIND by John Thorndike (El Salvador)
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The Volunteer who built schools in Africa . . . after leaving Peace Corps — Cindy Nofziger (Colombia)
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The Volunteer Who Was the Very Model of a Modern Foreign Service Officer | Donald Lu (Sierra Leone)

The Peace Corps staff member who became the first Peace Corps photographer | Rowland Scherman

This Profile benefited greatly from a Peace Corps WorldWide publication. by Jeremiah Norris (Colombia 1963-65) • Rowland Scherman writes: Like so many others, I was thrilled by JFKs inaugural speech. Although I wasn’t a professional photographer, I made a few dollars doing portraits out of a makeshift studio or ‘on location’ on the streets of New York City. I shared a crappy little darkroom with a friend. But JFKs words made me think that I could do something more, and could reach a higher potential if I volunteered my work, and myself to the betterment of my country, instead of simply chasing a buck. I thought my services just might somehow be useful to the new administration.” Rowland took a bus to Washington, D. C. to seek work with the Peace Corps, announcing his potential availability as an official photographer. He went to Peace Corps headquarters, then a jumble of . . .

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Review | GROWING MANGOS IN THE DESERT by Katherine Baird (Mauritania)

  Growing Mangos in the Desert: A Memoir of Life in a Mauritanian Village by Katherine Baird (Mauritania 1984–86) Apprentice House Press 2022 380 pages $19.99 (paperback), $32.99 (hard cover), $6.49 (Kindle) Reviewed by Lucinda Wingard (Nigeria 1966 – 68)  • Among more than two dozen young volunteers trained for agricultural service in Mauritania in 1984, Katherine Baird was one of ten remaining by her second year. She had survived the rigors of wielding her short-handled hoe in blistering heat, had adapted to eating meals from a common bowl with her neighbors, and had successfully threaded through baffling local hierarchies. Mauritania needed Peace Corps to help staff a fledgling initiative funded with foreign money: growing rice along a desolate part of the Senegal River. Baird brought no experience to help her fulfill this work, but her diligent note-taking and detailed records show she pitched into her assignment with a will. “Keyti” . . .

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Review | A LEGACY OF AMERICA’S GLOBAL VOLUNTEERISM

  A well-written, informative history of a groundbreaking 20th-century volunteer organization. Kirkus Reviews • Former International Voluntary Services workers provide insights into their organization in this detailed historical anthology.   A nonprofit organization founded in 1953, International Voluntary Services, according to former IVS volunteer and United States Ambassador to Pakistan Wendy J. Chamberlin, “occupies a special place as a pioneer for fielding volunteers” that served as a model for the Peace Corps and a host of subsequent NGOs. The anthology, divided into four sections, is a historical overview of IVS’s endeavors from the 1950s through the 2000s. While IVS was an officially nonsectarian organization, the anthology explains that many IVS members came from Mennonite, Quaker, and Christian pacifist backgrounds, and the organization offered an alternative approach to international relations in the wake of World War II and the start of the Cold War. In its half-century of activism, IVS sent . . .

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New books by Peace Corps writers | November-December 2022

  To purchase any of these books from Amazon.com — CLICK on the book cover, the bold book title, or the publishing format you would like — and Peace Corps Worldwide, an Amazon Associate, will receive a small remittance from your purchase that will help support the site and the annual Peace Corps Writers awards. We include a brief description for each of the books listed here in hopes of encouraging readers  to order a book and/or  to VOLUNTEER TO REVIEW IT.  See a book you’d like to review for Peace Corps Worldwide? Send a note to Marian at marian@haleybeil.com, and she will send you a free copy along with a few instructions. P.S. In addition to the books listed below, I have on my shelf a number of other books whose authors would love for you to review. Go to Books Available for Review to see what is on that shelf. Please, please join in our . . .

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The Volunteer Who Became America’s Premier Sports Writer — Arnold Hano (Costa Rica)

by Jerry Norris (Colombia 1963-65) • Arnold Hano served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Costa Rica, 1991-93, after achieving nation-wide recognition for his coverage of the professional baseball sports world as an editor, novelist, biographer and journalist. Both he and his wife Bonnie served as community development volunteers. Arnold earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Long Island University, graduating cum laude in 1941. Shortly after, he became a copy boy for the New York Daily News. He was tasked with providing captions for the photos he brought back from professional baseball games. This afforded the nineteen-year-old, undreamt of opportunities, to chronicle baseball history. Interrupted in these endeavors by the US entry into WW II, he participated in various campaigns in the Aleutian Islands. After his discharge, he returned to New York and a career in book publishing, first as managing editor with Bantam, then as Editor-Chief with Lion Books. In . . .

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The Volunteer Who Became a Highly Published Novelist — Roland Merullo (Micronesia)

(A substantial portion of this Profile was drawn from an interview by Mike Mastromatteo of Catholic News Service, in September 2021.) by Jeremiah Norris (Colombia 1963–65) • Roland Merullo served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Micronesia from 1979 to 1980, after receiving a B. A. and an M. A. in Russian Language and Literature from Brown University. He then worked in the Soviet Union for the U. S. Information Agency, and before publishing his first book, he was employed as a cab driver and carpenter. Roland taught creative writing at Bennington College and Amherst College and was a Writer in Residence at Miami Dade College and North Shore Community College. His first published essays appeared in the early 1980s, including a humorous “My Turn” column for Newsweek. Thereafter, a virtual flood of essays and novels followed. His first novel, Leaving Losapas was published in 1991. It was quickly followed . . .

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Justin D. Bibee (Morocco) | Human rights advocate and refugee resettlement case manager

North Providence so far only municipality to back Human Rights Day proclamation by Zack Deluca The Valley Breeze zack@valleybreeze.com Nov 22, 2022 • NORTH PROVIDENCE – A local human rights advocate is looking to make history by uniting every Rhode Island municipality with the signing of a Human Rights Day Proclamation by Dec. 10. Justin Bibee [Morocco 2014–16], a human rights advocate and a refugee resettlement case manager for Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island, established the Rhode Island Human Rights Project with the goal of having every municipality in the state sign a Human Rights Day proclamation this year. North Providence is so far the only community to sign a Human Rights Day Proclamation, doing so in the spring. Gov. Dan McKee also signed a Human Rights Day proclamation. Bibbee said he is continuing to speak with other cities and towns to have them join the proclamation by next month. . . .

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Review — BABUSYA’S KITCHEN by Ukraine RPCVs

  Babusya’s Kitchen: Recipes for Living & Eating Well in Ukraine by Returned Peace Corps Ukraine Volunteers RPCV Alliance for Ukraine, publisher 216 pages $30.00 (hardcover) Review by: D.W. Jefferson (El Salvador 1974-76, and Costa Rica 1976-77) • This is a beautiful cookbook! My favorite part is the pictures of dishes ready to serve, but the photos of Ukrainian scenery and people are a close second. The authors/editors are all Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) who served in Ukraine (I love their self-assigned titles so much that I will include them here): Cortney Copeland — Director of Official Stuff Patricia Deignan — Voice of Reason and Logic Sarah Friedman — Communications Wiz Sandy Jacobs — Culinary Storyteller Sarah Kate (Monroe) Demchuk — Professional Book Wrangler Casey Ritter — Captain of Team Morale Colleen Smith — President of Punctuation There is a section full of Ukrainian recipes and one full of . . .

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ST. PETERSBURG BAY BLUES by Douglas Buchacek (Russia)

  St. Petersburg Bay Blues is Douglas Buchacek’s account of serving in Western Russia from 2001 to 2003, in what ultimately turned out to be the final Peace Corps cohort to serve in the country. He has documented his service, which began three weeks before 9/11, up through the ultimate closing of the program in February 2003, amidst accusations of espionage against Peace Corps Volunteers. The Russia he lived in was a world caught between worlds — the after effects of the end of the Soviet Union, the chaos of the 1990s, the beginnings of Putinism — and that struggle affected his service, and everyone he encountered . . . Russian and American. The book is also a story of youth, of growing up, of friendship, of curiosity. It is a meditation on the joy of adventure, as well as on sadness and loneliness, and a portrait of a society . . .

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The Volunteer Who Provided a Clear-eyed Look at Africa — Mark Wentling (Honduras, Togo)

(A major portion of this profile was drawn from an article in the Foreign Service Journal & Peace Corps WorldWide)   by Jeremiah Norris (Colombia 1963–65) • Mark Wentling served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras, 1967-69, and in Togo, 1970-73. He retired from the Senior Foreign Service in 1996, after serving as principal officer in six African countries. Mark worked in Africa for the Peace Corps, non-governmental organizations, and as a contract employee for USAID.  He has published eight books, including the three-volume African Memoir Years: 54 Countries, One American Life. (Vol I, Vol II, Vol III Mark recently published an article entitled “Much Cause for Worry” in the September issue of the Foreign Service Journal, giving readers an uncompromising perspective of Africa in a contemporary context. His views emanate from having lived and worked in every corner of this continent, visiting 54 countries over the past 50 . . .

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New books by Peace Corps writers | September – October 2022

To purchase any of these books from Amazon.com — CLICK on the book cover, the bold book title, or the publishing format you would like — and Peace Corps Worldwide, an Amazon Associate, will receive a small remittance from your purchase that will help support the site and the annual Peace Corps Writers awards. We include a brief description for each of the books listed here in hopes of encouraging readers  to order a book and/or  to VOLUNTEER TO REVIEW IT.  See a book you’d like to review for Peace Corps Worldwide? Send a note to Marian at marian@haleybeil.com, and she will send you a free copy along with a few instructions. P.S. In addition to the books listed below, I have on my shelf a number of other books whose authors would love for you to review. Go to Books Available for Review to see what is on that shelf. Please, please join in our Third . . .

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FINDING OUR WAY by Steven Gallon (Korea)

  In the summer of 1967 a young husband and wife, barely in their twenties, depart home and family in Southern California to embark on a grand adventure. Finding Our Way: A Newlywed Couple’s Peace Corps Odyssey in 1960s Korea chronicles two years of their life together as Peace Corps Volunteers in South Korea. Living with a host Korean family, they discover the patterns and rhythms of everyday life in a country whose culture and customs are unfamiliar. Stationed in Taegu, Korea’s third largest city, they introduce spoken English to Korean middle school students. As guests in a foreign land they face cultural dilemmas, embrace adventures of discovery, experience trying times and build lifelong friendships. Korea in the late 1960s was emerging from decades of Japanese occupation, and a devastating war with cultural neighbors and political enemies in the North. It was a time of economic hardship for much of the population . . .

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Review — THE LAST OF HIS MIND by John Thorndike (El Salvador)

  The Last of His Mind: A Year In The Shadow Of Alzheimer’s by John Thorndike (El Salvador 1966-68) Swallow Press 264 pages $18.82 (paperback), $27.94 (hardcover), $7.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by: D.W. Jefferson (El Salvador 1974–76; Costa Rica 1976–77) • This is a moving story of a son’s devotion to his dying father who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. His determination to help his father fulfill his desire to die at home is admirable. Of interest as well is the author’s recounting of the details of how he arranged for others, including his two brothers, to spell him, giving him needed breaks from his around the clock care for his father. Beyond being a memoir of spending his father’s last year caring for him, the book also covers much of the elder Thorndike’s professional life, marriage, and personal life. It also discusses the author’s raising of his son as a single parent. One . . .

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The Volunteer who built schools in Africa . . . after leaving Peace Corps — Cindy Nofziger (Colombia)

  by Jeremiah Norris (Colombia 1963–65)   Cindy Nofziger’s personal journey went from being a Peace Corps Volunteer at a leprosy hospital in Sierra Leone, West Africa, from 1985 to 1987 to subsequently founding “Schools for Salone” to help rebuild the national educational structure that had been destroyed by the country’s civil war that lasted from 1991-2001. In 2005, Cindy returned to Sierra Leone (also known as ‘Salone’) for the first time it was possible to do so since the end of the decade-long civil war.nThe civil war had rolled back all educational gains. Rural communities like Masanga, Cindy’s old site, were the worst hit. Schools were destroyed, or they just weren’t being built. While there, she reconnected with an old friend, John Sesay, from the 1980s. John asked Cindy to help build a community school, and . . . thus, Schools for Salone (SfS) was born. Since then, SfS has . . .

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The Volunteer Who Was the Very Model of a Modern Foreign Service Officer | Donald Lu (Sierra Leone)

(A portion of this Profile is drawn from a Peace Corps WorldWide publication of April 2022.)    by Jeremiah Norris  (Colombia 1963-65)   Donald Lu served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sierra Leone, 1988-90, where he helped restore hand-dug water wells, teach health education, and conduct public health programs such as latrine construction, use and maintenance. Donald graduated with an A. B. from the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs in 1988 after completing a 158-page long senior thesis titled “The Involvement of International Peacekeeping in Providing Humanitarian Assistance. He later received an M. P. A. from the Woodrow Wilson School in 1991. In 1990, Donald joined the U. S. Foreign Service and went on to serve in most every Office at the U. S. Department of State. Armed with a wide ranging competency in eight languages, including Chinese, Russian, Urdu, and West African Krio, his first posting . . .

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