Author - Marian Haley Beil

1
The Rainy Season in Guatemala
2
Moon Rocket
3
Telling Time
4
Return of the (Non) Native
5
Christmas with Eva
6
Aïssa
7
Sally Collier (Ethiopia 1962–64)
8
Dan Close (Ethiopia 1966–68)
9
Marilyn L. Charles (Morocco 1962–64)
10
Melissa Chestnut-Tangerman (Kenya 1982–85)

The Rainy Season in Guatemala

by Jason Boog (Guatemala 2000–02) This essay was first published on PeaceCorpsWriters.org in the May 2005 issue, and received the Peace Corps Writers 2006 Moritz Thompsen Experience Award. • How to Make Recycled Paper I shredded paper snowflakes into a bucket of water: Guatemalan newspapers, Peace Corps newsletters, embassy safety bulletins and the Catholic magazines that my mother mailed me each month in care packages. Then I stuck a bean grinder into the word-soup, twisting the plastic knob until the bucket filled up with purplish pulp. I was all alone outside a church in Guatemala. It was May 2001, midway through my first year in Peace Corps. I had walked two hours to get to a wood-shack village called Buena Vista, planning to teach a youth group how to make recycled paper. The project looked so sensible in the “Youth Training Manual” they gave me, just memorize the script in . . .

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Moon Rocket

by Robert E. Gribbin (Kenya 1968–70) First published on the blog of PeaceCorpsWriters.org on February 13, 2007 • I SEE IT NOW IN MY MIND’S EYE — from my house in Songhor — wind blown tufts of light green sugar cane surging like a great sea on Kenya’s Kanu Plains to wash gently against the thousand foot heights of the Nandi Escarpment. Some thirty miles distant, Lake Victoria Nyanza glimmered in the late afternoon sun. The image is clear, yet complicated by the rush of other images, faces, smells, sounds – by the sheer exuberance of memories that so indelibly marked this time in my life. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Central Nyanza charged with supervising the construction of a rural water system designed to pipe potable water to 1200 farms on three government sponsored Settlement Sugar Schemes. I worked most closely with a group of eight men . . .

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Telling Time

by Katherine Jamieson (Guyana 1996–98) This essay was published in the newsletter Peace Corps Writers in 2000, and won the Peace Corps Writers’ 2001 Moritz Thomsen Peace Corps Experience Award • FOR TWO YEARS I LIVED in a country with no seasons. We measured time by other means than falling leaves or snow, new buds on trees. There was a fresh breeze in the air, the ash of burned sugar cane floating in the window. There were times to go to work, times to stay home, an election, an eclipse; all of these differentiated the rising and setting of the same hot sun, and the appearance of a glowing moon and full set of stars. Rain would break the swelter like the fever of a child dissolves into sweat, and the whole city would breathe differently that day. Then the sun would come again and dry what had fallen, and . . .

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Return of the (Non) Native

by Paul Paquette (Thailand 1974–78) First published on the blog of PeaceCorpsWriters.org on June 11, 2007 • JULY 2005 I left Thailand in 1980 after spending four years as a Peace Corps English teacher in a secondary school and three more working in refugee camps. I really don’t know why it took me so long to finally make that journey back to Thailand. I guess part of it was the fear of facing the changes that I would possibly find hard to accept after all those years. The tsunami finally washed all that away, and I found myself needing to return to be reassured that all was well there. The changes in Bangkok seemed profound to me at first. It was so strange to see tall buildings, a subway and a monorail! In many ways, I felt like Rip Van Winkle waking up from a long sleep to find a . . .

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Christmas with Eva

by Peggy Raggio (Poland 1991–92) First published on the blog of PeaceCorpsWriters.org on February 14, 2006 • ON DECEMBER 22, 1991, we took a smelly bus from Suwalki to Warsaw. Marzena, another teacher and I chatted and snacked on sandwiches and hot tea as we rode south for seven hours, through the chill and snowy countryside of Northern Poland. We saw farmers guiding their furry plow horses and wagons through the streets, loaded with silver milk jugs, cabbages and crates of chickens. A long-legged stork landed on her nest on the roof of a farmhouse. After a booster shot at the Peace Corps office in Warsaw, I rode a streetcar to the Marriott Hotel in the center of town for coffee (kawa pronounced “kava”). Violins and a grand piano played on a balcony over the lobby that gleamed festively with bird of paradise in blue and gold jardinières, plush oriental . . .

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Aïssa

by Margot Miller (Niger 1972–74) First published on the blog of PeaceCorpsWriters.org on October 12, 2005 • UNDER MY MOSQUITO NET, I’d barely slept an hour when I stirred awake. I heard soft footsteps and the sound of scraping near the wall. I pulled the mosquito net up and looked around, disoriented. My clock was gone. I took myself indoors where it was too hot to sleep. The next night I moved back outdoors, locking the front door and putting the key under my pillow. Perhaps I should report the incident to the police. I remembered that I had been told something about the Chief of Police living across the street. When I found the time to go across the street, at the doorway, I clapped to signal my presence. A tall, slim young woman came to the door. She had warm brown eyes and beautiful, straight white teeth that . . .

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Sally Collier (Ethiopia 1962–64)

Monday, November 21 8:00 pm I served with the Peace Corps as a music teacher in Ethiopia with the first group to go there, from 1962-64. I lived in Addis Ababa with four other young women. Our house was termed “Debutante Hill” by our would-be humorous friends. My roommates included Mo, the daughter of a Chicago Irish policeman, Sylvia, an Italian-American, who when asked one day how she was, said, “Oh, so and so,” Peggy who was in seven Land-Rover accidents during her two-year stint (no one wanted to fly home on the same plane with her), and Stephanie who laughed on a perfect C- scale, always us. My roommates were fresh out of college; I was 25 – an older woman. I probably should have been wiser for my extra four years of living, but my real education had only begun. It began the day I received the invitation . . .

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Dan Close (Ethiopia 1966–68)

Monday, November 21 5:57 pm In November of 1963 I came to Washington to say farewell to Jack Kennedy. I came here with hundreds of thousands of people, and we stood in lines that stretched for countless Washington blocks through the cold November night. We walked slowly for hours toward the Capital, and along the way we met friends and relatives, brothers and sisters whom we had never met before, whom we would never meet again. We had come from all directions, along roads filled with hitchhikers carrying signs that said simply “Washington,” and we stopped and picked them up, carried them forward in our slow and silent and subdued tide. Through the long night, we were the American people, assembled to pay honor to our fallen leader, Jack. The lines of mourners entered the Capitol from the east, and there were placed the flowers sent by many nations, and . . .

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Marilyn L. Charles (Morocco 1962–64)

Monday, November 21 7:27 pm This summer I had a unique opportunity to become acquainted with Moroccans in a “big family-like” situation where I was accepted as the sister of all in the community. I spent 6 weeks at a camp on the Mediterranean, near the Algerian border, just outside the resort village of Saidia. Another PCV, Dave, and I were members of the general staff, which overlooked the activities of the 400 campers, mostly little boys ages 7-14. Actually, our position was rather honorary. Our time was occupied with assisting informally in the art workshop, with sports, in the health dispensary (I was the camp nurse for 8 days when the regular nurse was absent by virtue of the fact that I was the only female in the camp), and learning Arabic. The latter activity was a necessity since Arabic was the major means of communication in that particular . . .

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Melissa Chestnut-Tangerman (Kenya 1982–85)

Monday, November 21 6:30 pm 19 DECEMBER 1985 I’ve just been to my first and last Samburu circumcision. I have been sitting here for five minutes now, not knowing what to say. My hands feel bloodless, light. Outlines. I guess I’m in a shock of sorts. I was invited to a place of honor – to hold the girl’s knee. Something so important to their culture, something I wanted, once, to be included in – I didn’t think twice about accepting. Miriamo came for me, and we went to the house, and stood around with many other women milling, talking. The three sisters were adorned in beads and lots of ochre, heads shaved and covered with orange and oil. I stood near the door, shy, uncertain, looking constantly to Miriamo for guidance. The first girl was brought into an adjacent room. A goat skin was laid on the floor. Miriamo . . .

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