Author - Marian Haley Beil

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The Volunteer Who Became an Ambassador to Five Countries — Chris Hill (Cameroon)
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Review — TALES OF TOGO by Meredith Pike-Baky
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Talking with Carl Murry (Pakistan) about THE G-K PROJECT
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The Volunteer Who Became a Ten-term Congressman — Sam Farr
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Talking with Robert (Bud) Abbott (Nigeria)
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Review — FEVER AND OTHER STORIES FROM THE LAND OF MOBUTU by Peter Loan
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12 new books by Peace Corps writers: January – February 2021
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Review — QUICK & QUOTABLE by William Hershey (Ethiopia)
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FAST FOOD FOR THOUGHT — poetry by Eldon Katter (Ethiopia)
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Carl Murry has published THE G-K PROJECT: A PEACE CORPS EXPERIENCE

The Volunteer Who Became an Ambassador to Five Countries — Chris Hill (Cameroon)

by Jeremiah Norris (Colombia 1963–65) • After graduating from Bowdoin College with a degree in Economics, Christopher R. Hill then served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cameroon from 1974 to 1976. He credited his work with Peace Corps for teaching him his first lesson in diplomacy. As a Volunteer, Chris worked with credit unions. When he discovered that one Board of Directors had stolen 60% of their members’ money, he reported on the malfeasance to their members — who promptly re-elected the board because they had reflected the carefully balanced tribal interests, and it really did not matter to the members if the Board Directors ran a good credit union or not. Chris commented: “When something’s happened, it’s happened for a reason and you do your best to understand that reason. But don’t necessarily think you can change it.” Chris joined the State Department in 1977, serving as Secretary . . .

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Review — TALES OF TOGO by Meredith Pike-Baky

  Tales of Togo: A Young Woman’s Search for Home in West Africa Meredith Pike-Baky (Togo, 1971-73) A Peace Corps Writers Book September, 2020 280 pages $14.00 (paperback) Reviewed by Bill Preston (Thailand 1977–80) • In the Preface to this candid and heartfelt memoir, Meredith Pike-Baky writes, “The tales in this collection are like the beads of a necklace, les perles d’un collier, whole in themselves, and at the same time integral parts of a longer story when threaded on a string.” A spot-on metaphor (or simile, to be precise) which, together with the many-colored beaded necklace cover image, illustrates the twists and turns, the ups and downs and sometimes sideways arc of her time living and teaching English in Togo. Former Peace Corps volunteers will easily identify with many aspects of these tales — including, (in no special order), the challenge of learning new language(s), the heightened self-consciousness of feeling . . .

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Talking with Carl Murry (Pakistan) about THE G-K PROJECT

Carl talks about his new book • Carl, where and when did you serve in the Peace Corps? I served in East Pakistan, which is now Bangladesh, from 1962 to 1964. I also served as Associate Peace Corps Director for agriculture, education and appropriate technology in Swaziland from 1978 to 1981, and served as a trainer for CAST, CREST, and pre service training in the 1980s. What was your Peace Corps project assignment? Training agriculture extension agents in the Ganges-Kobadak Irrigation project. The assignment evolved into developing farmer Clubs to support new and improved agriculture practices in their areas, starting a technical library, publishing a monthly newsletter, Recognizing “Master” farmers and being the team leader. What kind of work did you do? Initially we set up irrigation committees to distribute water from the tertiary canals to small, highly fragmented fields. This required a high level of cooperation. Each committee discussed . . .

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The Volunteer Who Became a Ten-term Congressman — Sam Farr

  by Jeremiah Norris (Colombia 1963-65) • Sam Farr joined the Peace Corps in 1964 and served for two years as a Volunteer in Colombia. He was assigned to a poor mountain barrio near Medellin, teaching residents basic rural community development skills. Once back home, his public service began in the California Assembly where he worked as a staffer on budget issues for a decade. In 1975, he ran for and won a seat on the Monterey County Board of Supervisors. In 1980, he was elected to the California State Assembly, where he became a champion for the organics industry and wrote one of the country’s strictest oil spill liability laws. He served in the Assembly until his election to the Congress in 1993. It was a Special Election when former Congressman Leon Panetta resigned to become then-President Clinton’s budget director. Sam was then re-elected to his first full term . . .

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Talking with Robert (Bud) Abbott (Nigeria)

  Robert Abbott is author of the new book  Transformation: The 60-second Mind-body Practice Integrating Tai chi and Yoga to Manage Stress and Unlock Your Potential Where and when did you serve in the Peace Corps? I was assigned to serve in Nigeria as a member of Nigeria-19. I did the training in the Virgin Islands in the fall of 1965 and arrived in Nigeria in January 1966. I was assigned to Federal Government College in Warri, in the Mid-West State What was your Peace Corps Assignment? My assignment was to be a teacher in the new Higher School College. I was the first teacher to arrive at the college, so I initially taught biology and chemistry, and was the school nurse and P.E. Instructor. Tell us about where you lived and worked? I lived in the oil town of Warri. The campus was about two miles from the center . . .

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Review — FEVER AND OTHER STORIES FROM THE LAND OF MOBUTU by Peter Loan

  Fever! and other stories from The Land of Mobutu Peter Loan (Staff— CD Zaire 1976–79; Washington) Peace Corps Writers August 2020 100 pages $9.99 (paperback), $5.99 (Kindle) Reviewed D.W. Jefferson (El Salvador 1974-76 and Costa Rica 1976-77)   Peter Loan served as a Peace Corps administrative officer in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (then known as Zaire) in the mid to late 1970s. This collection of short stories is based on his experiences there. “Land of Mobutu” in the title is a reference to President Mobutu who was in power in the time period in which these stories are set. The author doesn’t say, but it seems obvious to me that all of these stories are based on real situations with the names and surrounding facts changed just enough to avoid embarrassment of the participants, lawsuits, and in one case, potential trouble with superiors in the US foreign . . .

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12 new books by Peace Corps writers: January – February 2021

  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 now include a one-sentence description  for the books listed here in hopes of encouraging readers  1) to order a book and 2) 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 we’ll send you a copy along with a few instructions. • Creative Types and Other Stories By Tom Bissell (Uzbekistan 1996) Pantheon 225 pages March 2021 $12.99 (Kindle); $25.95 (hardback), $14.70 (Audible) If you like to think, if you adore language and excellent, if weird and navel gazing writing, Bissell is your guy. He’s irreverent and funny, . . .

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Review — QUICK & QUOTABLE by William Hershey (Ethiopia)

  Quick & Quotable: Columns from Washington, 1985–1997 (Bliss Institute series) William L. Hershey (Ethiopia 1968–70) The University Of Akron Press March, 2020 246 pages $24.74 (paperback) Reviewed by Kathleen Johnson Coskran (Ethiopia 1965-67) • Quick and Quotable is just that, and I would add amusing, insightful, and always interesting even if the main “characters” are new to the reader. The temptation for the reviewer is to simply quote Hershey’s best quotable lines, but then the review would  be almost as long as the book. The columns are from Hershey’s 13 years (1987—1997) as the Akron Beacon Journal’s Washington correspondent. He was charged to report news pertinent to Akron readers and wrote weekly columns “to take a look behind the headlines,” to engage and inform as well as entertain, and he thought of them “as sending letters back home from a foreign country.” For the reader in 2020, at least a . . .

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FAST FOOD FOR THOUGHT — poetry by Eldon Katter (Ethiopia)

  FAST FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Poetry to Ponder by Eldon Katter (Ethiopia I, 1962-64)   About My Book First let me say that this soft cover book of poetry, Fast Food for Thought, has nothing to do with food. The title is meant to suggest that the poems are short, easy to read, and worth mulling over. The poems touch upon a wide range of subjects from identity, choice and change to aging and the environment. I have grouped seventy poems, some written during the Covid pandemic, into six thematic sections with “menu headings” to serve as guides for thinking about some very basic human behaviors: Adapting, Relating, Reflecting, Engaging, Caring, and Opining. Throughout the book, on every other page, I have included an “amuse bouche” —  a “small bite to delight” or “something to chew on,” before the titled poem on the opposite page. In all, this little book . . .

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Carl Murry has published THE G-K PROJECT: A PEACE CORPS EXPERIENCE

  The G-K Project  is chronological account of my personal experiences in choosing to serve in the Peace Corps, my selection, training and placement in the beginning years of 1960 to 1964 as the new institution evolved via trial and error and added depth to the term “flexibility.” It also includes an introduction to the highly populated Islamic nation of East Pakistan before its independence to become Bangladesh. For many years I have wanted to write about events that were special in my life but found it easier to work on my small ranch, travel, backpack, and enjoy my family and friends. Now, at age 81, COVID-19 has provided me an opportunity to sort through my journals, letters, records, mementos and try to summarize and explain their significance before dumping them. The Ganges-Kobadak (G-K) Project is a large-scale irrigation plan developed and implemented in cooperation with the United Nations. The . . .

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