Author - Marian Haley Beil

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Talking with Robin Varnum (Afghanistan)
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The Volunteer Who Was a Pioneer in the Peaceful and Practical Uses of Outer Space — T. Stephen Cheston (Colombia)
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AFGHANISTAN AT A TIME OF PEACE by Robin Varnum
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Reviews: THE INNOCENCE OF EDUCATION & IN THE CORAL REEF OF THE MARKET by Earl Carlton Huband (Oman)
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The Volunteer who became the founding Director of the National Afro-American Museum and Culture Center — Dr. John Fleming (Malawi)
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RPCVs partnering with Rotary International
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The Volunteer who was Chairman of the Chicago Bears — Mike McCaskey (Ethiopia)
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RIVERBLINDNESS IN AFRICA: Taming the Lion’s Stare — Bruce Benton (Guinea)
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RWANDA AND THE MOUNTAIN GORILLAS by Steve Kaffen (Russia)
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The Volunteer Who Had a Life-changing Lunch in Thailand — Paul Strasburg (Thailand)

Talking with Robin Varnum (Afghanistan)

  In June, Robin Varnum published her Peace Corps memoir Afghanistan at a Time of Peace. Peace Corps Worldwide asked Robin about her service, and about the writing and promoting of her book. • Robin, where and when did you serve with the Peace Corps: I served in the Peace Corps in Afghanistan (1971-1973), and  taught English (grades 8-12) in a girls school. Where did you live and work? I lived in Ghazni, a small city around 85 miles southwest of Kabul. I taught at Lycée Jahan Malika, the only girls school in either the city or the province of Ghazni. At the time, it served around 400 girls from kindergarten through 12thgrade. What kind of work did you do? I taught English. Although I did not understand initially why my students needed to learn English, I soon saw that a knowledge of English could open doors for students with serious ambitions. It was necessary, for example, for those who wished . . .

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The Volunteer Who Was a Pioneer in the Peaceful and Practical Uses of Outer Space — T. Stephen Cheston (Colombia)

A Profile in Citizenship by Jeremiah Norris — Colombia, 1963-65 • Following his graduation from Clark University in 1963, T. Stephen Cheston, Steve to his friends, served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Colombia through 1965 where he developed agricultural cooperatives. He worked in a small village with often illiterate campesinos. But with his superb command of Spanish since childhood when he lived in Brazil, Argentina and Mexico where his father worked for U. S. Steel, Steve’s easy and outgoing personality led him to use his Volunteer time for the accomplishment of mutual goals in a productive manner. After his return from Colombia, he began graduate studies at Georgetown University in 1966, while concurrently working as a volunteer in the Senate Office of Robert F. Kennedy. In 1972, he was awarded a Ph. D. in Russian and Latin American History. In the period from 1972 to 1983, he held consecutive posts . . .

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AFGHANISTAN AT A TIME OF PEACE by Robin Varnum

  It is now difficult to imagine Afghanistan any otherwise than at war. In the early 1970s, however, when Robin Varnum  was serving there as a Peace Corps volunteer (1971–73), the country was enjoying an interlude of peace. Varnum was teaching English in a girls’ school, and since some girls were able to go to school in Afghanistan in those days, she hoped to help her students gain access to the kinds of opportunities that were available to other girls in other parts of the world. She admired the bravery of her students, and she took inspiration from the work of Dr. Khadija Akbar, the Afghan woman doctor who was running her community’s family planning clinic. Afghanistan at a Time of Peace is a memoir of Varnum’s Peace Corps experience. She was stationed in Ghazni, a small city some 85 miles southwest of Kabul, and she served there alongside Mark, . . .

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Reviews: THE INNOCENCE OF EDUCATION & IN THE CORAL REEF OF THE MARKET by Earl Carlton Huband (Oman)

  Reviewed by D.W. Jefferson (El Salvador (1974–76), Costa Rica (1976–77) • The Innocence of Education by  Earl Carlton Huband (Oman 1975–78) (Peace Corps poetry) 31 pages Longleaf Press November 2018 $10.00 (paperback) • The author was a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) in the Sultanate of Oman from 1975 to 1978. He taught English in the remote fishing village of Bukha located in a then-restricted military zone at the mouth of the Persian Gulf for two years. During his third year, he worked in Salalah, the capital of Oman’s southern district, splitting his time between teaching English and serving as assistant to that region’s Chief English Inspector. This book of poems is based on Huband’s time in Bukha. The poems are compact gems of sly humor and universal humanity with an underpinning wisdom. An alternate title for the book might be The Education of Earl Huband. Like myself and many other PCVs, . . .

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The Volunteer who became the founding Director of the National Afro-American Museum and Culture Center — Dr. John Fleming (Malawi)

  A Profile in Citizenship — Jeremiah Norris (Colombia 1963-65) Dr. John Fleming graduated from Berea College, Berea, Kentucky, in 1966 and attended the University of Kentucky, then served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi from 1967 to 1969. While a volunteer, he attended the University of Malawi. Returning home, he attended Howard University graduating with a Ph. D. in American history in 1974. Prior to Peace Corps service, Dr. Fleming had wanted to become a missionary and thought that his Peace Corps experience would prepare him for work in Africa. Dr. Fleming was greatly disappointed to learn how missionaries of various religious persuasion treated Africans — and of how he as an African American, received the same treatment from them. Such treatment changed his mind about being a missionary. He recalled one incident when he was traveling to a friend’s village. He arrived late one evening when it . . .

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RPCVs partnering with Rotary International

  I think that Peace Corps Worldwide will be interested to learn about our RPCV Gulf Coast Florida recent meeting with several representatives of Rotary on June 5.  We learned a lot about Rotary activities and the program of partnering with Peace Corps Volunteers and RPCVs.  Attached is a report of our exhilarating conversation. Leita Kaldi Davis (Senegal 1993-96) Recipient Lillian Carter Award 2017 • Partnering for Peace:  Peace Corps / Rotary Partnership Did you know that the U.S. Peace Corps is an official partner of Rotary International?  Most do not, which is why the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) of Gulf Coast Florida hosted a Zoom meeting on June 5, 2021 (click to view).  Rotary and Peace Corps members were present, along with board members from Partnering for Peace, an organization that emerged to find and implement projects to strengthen the partnership. Rotarians Vana Prewitt and Kelsey Mitchell, both from Rotary District 6960 in . . .

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The Volunteer who was Chairman of the Chicago Bears — Mike McCaskey (Ethiopia)

  A Profile in Citizenship by Jeremiah Norris (Colombia 1963–64)   In an article published in the Chicago Tribune on May 26, 2020, John Coyne recalls how he met Mike McCaskey — not at Soldier Field but rather in Fiche (fee CHĀ), Ethiopia, a small village perched high on the escarpment above the Blue Nile river, far from the shores of Lake Michigan. Mike was a Peace Corps Volunteer assigned to teach in an elementary school. He would live for two years in a tin-roofed, whitewashed house made of dirt and dung and teach in a two-room school. Those two years, he later told John, gave Mike an entirely new perspective on the world, one in which he was profoundly grateful. After Mike’s Volunteer days were over, he went on and earned a doctorate, spending the next decade teaching at UCLA and Harvard Business School. Then, as John explained, his . . .

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RIVERBLINDNESS IN AFRICA: Taming the Lion’s Stare — Bruce Benton (Guinea)

  Reviews of Riverblindness in Africa: Taming the Lion’s Stare by Bruce Benton   Reviews on Johns Hopkins University Press Website “In this book, Benton combines a huge amount of research with his unique insight into the evolution of riverblindness programs during his career at the World Bank. For those interested in the complexities of managing disease control programs and the need for strong partnerships, this is a must-read.” — David H. Molyneux, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine   “An inspiring and essential contribution to the literature on international development and public health.” — Jean-Louis Sarbib, former Senior Vice President, World Bank   “The authoritative record and historical account of one of the most ambitious and successful parasite control approaches from someone who has been a key part of onchocerciasis control from just about the beginning.” — Gilbert M. Burnham, MD, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health   “Comprehensive, detailed, inspiring! Highlights . . .

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RWANDA AND THE MOUNTAIN GORILLAS by Steve Kaffen (Russia)

  Rwanda is one of Africa’s smallest and most densely populated countries, and one of its most diverse. Nicknamed “Land of A Thousand Hills,” Rwanda is blanketed with rolling farmland that produces some of Africa’s best coffee and tea. Volcanoes National Park is home to mountain gorillas in the higher elevations and golden monkeys down below, while the Nyungwe National Park rainforest contains playful black-and-white colobus monkeys and sources of both the Nile and Congo Rivers. Close encounters with the gorillas and monkeys on treks led by park rangers are among Africa’s exhilarating wildlife experiences. Throughout the country are memorials to the victims of the genocide in spring 1994, during which up to a million residents, largely of the Tutsi ethnic group, were massacred by ethnic Hutu extremists. Offsetting the trauma that still exists is the resilience of Rwanda’s warm and outgoing population. Their desire for stability and solidarity is . . .

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The Volunteer Who Had a Life-changing Lunch in Thailand — Paul Strasburg (Thailand)

  A Profile in Citizenship by Jeremiah Norris (Colombia 1963–64) A back story to that luncheon Paul Strasburg graduated magna cum laude in History from Stanford University in 1964. He then went on to be a Peace Corps Volunteer in Thailand from 1964 to 1966. Upon returning home, he attended Yale Law School before moving on to Princeton University where he earned an MPA in 1969. Afterwards, Paul worked for the Ford Foundation in New York City as a Program Officer for Latin America and the Caribbean where he monitored grants in Education, Agriculture, and Rural Development, initiating the Foundation’s first program of grants in human nutrition. From 1974 to 1979, he worked with the Vera Institute of Justice in NYC, establishing a job development program for ex-addicts and ex-offenders. He also directed Vera’s Paris office, coordinating research in conjunction with the French Ministry of Justice and was awarded the . . .

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