Author - Marian Haley Beil

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“Hurricane Greta” by Alan Jackson (Belize)
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Talking with poet Katie Speicher (Senegal)
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Jody Olsen (Tunisia) to receive U of Md “President Award“
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Martin Ganzglass’s (Somalia) new short stories GOATS
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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 (Colombia)
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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

“Hurricane Greta” by Alan Jackson (Belize)

    I was a Peace Corps Volunteer assigned to the Fisheries Unit Laboratory in Belize City from August 1976 to October 1978. Initially I stayed in a small boarding house on Prince Street during a four-week Peace Corps orientation. After that I was expected to find my own housing. My monthly stipend was BZ$300 (US$150) a month, which would have to cover all my living expenses. Most Peace Corps Volunteers in Belize City doubled or tripled up and shared flats wherever they could find reasonable rent. I had heard good things about a family that had just hosted two Volunteers during our orientation. One of those Volunteers decided to continue boarding with that family while the other was moving to his jobsite in San Antonio, Toledo District. I asked the family if I could board with them, and they welcomed me into their home. They were a young and . . .

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Talking with poet Katie Speicher (Senegal)

  In her literary debut, Katie Speicher invites readers to join her in Senegal with her poems on beauty, strength, questioning, nostalgia, heartbreak, and contentment. Her poems have sprung from her Peace Corps service and from reaching deep into memory. Here Katie tells about herself and her writing. • Katie — where and when did you serve in the Peace Corps? Senegal 2016-2018 What was your Peace Corp project assignment? Agroforestry Specialist Tell us about where you lived and worked. I lived in Koumbidia Soce, a Mandinka village of about 700 people in the Kaffrine region of Senegal. What were your living conditions? I lived with a host family. I had my own hut within a family compound. At the time I was there we had no electricity, and water was pulled everyday from a well. During my service electricity went up in the village, but my family did not . . .

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Jody Olsen (Tunisia) to receive U of Md “President Award“

Thanks for heads up from Steve Kaffen — A CELEBRATION OF TERPS FEATURING THE MARYLAND AWARDS ABOUT THE EVENT HONOREES FRIDAY, APRIL 23, 2021 7:00 – 8:00 P.M. • Jody Olsen is to receive the University of Maryland Alumni Association’s “President” award. She is one of six recipients of “The Maryland Awards,” which celebrate and honor the achievements of outstanding Terps [(Terrapins) – graduates of the U. of Md.]. The virtual ceremony will be held April 23, 2021. The published bio accompanying the announcement (presented below) emphasizes her years of service with the Peace Corps and with the University of Maryland. Josephine (Jody) Olsen, Ph.D., MSW, was sworn into office as the 20th director of the Peace Corps in March 2018. Olsen began her career as a Peace Corps volunteer, serving in Tunisia from 1966 to 1968. She has since served the agency in multiple leadership positions:as acting director in 2009; . . .

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Martin Ganzglass’s (Somalia) new short stories GOATS

  A tenured professor writes the definitive history of Philip of Macedon with help from a most unusual source. A visit to the Metropolitan Opera trips up an embezzler who has planned the perfect escape. The day before Thanksgiving from a dog’s eye view. An aging Italian man with a secret past in East Africa. Two families grapple with the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd. Friendships and rivalries boil over in a veterans’ retirement home. In ten imaginative short stories, Martin Ganzglass weaves together the mundane and the supernatural to reveal relationships that are at once humorous and humane. • Goats: And Other Stories Martin Ganzglass (Somalia 1966–68) Peace Corps Writers March, 2021 305 pages $10.00 (paperback)

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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 (Colombia)

  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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