Author - Marian Haley Beil

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YOU TRY PAA: A LOVE SONG IN TRANSLATION by Cythia Ann Caul (Ghana)
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Review — POETRY SKETCHES by Eldon Katter
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The Fourth Goal of Former Peace Corps Volunteers
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“Fifty Years On: Sicaya 1964 & 2016” by Thea Evensen (Peru)
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Review — FLAMENCO IN THE TIME OF MOONSHINE AND MOBSTERS by David Edmonds (Chile)
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Review — THE TOUGHEST JOB I EVER LOVED by Jonathon Shacat (Gabon)
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Review — 101 ARABIAN TALES by Randolph Hobler (Libya)
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“The Sunny Side” by Ryan Gahris (Ethiopia)
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“Tonight’s the night . . . ” — Alana DeJoseph (Mali)
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6 new books by Peace Corps writers: March – April, 2020

YOU TRY PAA: A LOVE SONG IN TRANSLATION by Cythia Ann Caul (Ghana)

New memoir explores white saviorism and U.S. American exceptionalism in the Peace Corps   Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Cynthia Ann Caul published You Try Paa: A Love Song in Translation on October 8, 2020. The book is a Peace Corps memoir, detailing Caul’s time in Ghana in a series of episodic poems. The poems traverse a number of themes, including race, gender, and religion in relation to the Peace Corps, community and international development, and the author’s role in both. Caul’s everyday experiences raise questions about how white saviorism and U.S. American exceptionalism can be perpetuated and maintained by the Peace Corps and similar organizations, as well as how they were by the author herself during her time as a Peace Corps volunteer. The work invites a thoughtful examination of the Peace Corps and international development more broadly, as well as self-reflection among those who participate in these institutions. Caul was . . .

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Review — POETRY SKETCHES by Eldon Katter

  Poetry Sketches: A Peace Corps Memoir Eldon Katter (Ethiopia 1962 – 1964) Peace Corps Writers June 2020 266 pages $10.48 (paperback) Reviewed by Kathleen Coskran (Ethiopia 1965-67) • In his evocative memoir artist Eldon Katter  made me want to learn to sketch with a pen as well as with words. Katter is able to do both and has been doing so beautifully for the last 50 years or so. He had the foresight to chronicle his time in Ethiopia and his subsequent travels with short poems and line drawings, both his own drawings, and those of his students. Individually they are interesting, and together, the drawings paired with the poems, they are wonderful. Katter was in the first group of Peace Corps Volunteers to go to Ethiopia, and had the good fortune to be assigned to the Teacher Training School in Harar, Ethiopia, along with 19 other Volunteers, “doubling . . .

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The Fourth Goal of Former Peace Corps Volunteers

• What Have You Done (Lately) For Your Host Country? As you have read on this site, there are numerous RPCVs who have never forgotten the people of their Peace Corps countries. Recently we wrote about what several Ethiopia RPCVs have done, and are still doing today, for where they once served. We know there are many similar stories that can be told by all of you. We call this generous effort the Fourth Goal of the Peace Corps. A term suggested By David Arnold (Ethiopia 1963-65). It is how being a PCV does not end with the close of service conference. We ask you now — What have you done for your Peace Corps country since you came home? How have you helped one or more of your former students? What have you done for the family that adopted you, gave you a new name and all their love, . . .

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“Fifty Years On: Sicaya 1964 & 2016” by Thea Evensen (Peru)

  by Thea Evensen (Peru 1964–66) • YEARS AGO, THE TRAIN to Huancayo ran on a regular schedule, an early morning departure from the Desamparados station near the river behind the Presidential Palace in Lima. It was a twelve-hour trip. From sea level through the rugged Central Andes, the train traveled by switchbacks over a 16,000 ft. pass before descending into the Mantaro Valley. On the way to its final destination, there were stops at Chosica, San Bartolome, Matucana, San Mateo, Casapalca, La Oroya, and Jauja. At each station women and children crowded onto the cars with their baskets, selling sandwiches and fruit to the passengers. It was a slow trip, but breathtaking, a chance to ride one of the highest railroads in the world. Now, the train runs infrequently and most people travel to Huancayo by bus. Transportes Cruz del Sur offers double decker first class comfort with wide padded . . .

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Review — FLAMENCO IN THE TIME OF MOONSHINE AND MOBSTERS by David Edmonds (Chile)

  Flamenco in the Time of Moonshine and Mobsters David C. Edmonds (Chile 1963–65) St. Petersburg Press December, 2019 375 pages $18.95 (paperback), $18.00 (Kindle) Review by: D.W. Jefferson (El Salvador 1974–76; Costa Rica 1976–77) • Are you looking for a fun read for this Summer of the Corona Virus Pandemic? Then the latest historical novel by David Edmonds may be for you. Modern day Flamenco dancer Amy Romano drives her Prius into a huge southern Florida sink hole and emerges in 1932. Like Alice going down the rabbit hole, Amy emerges in a whole different world. Except in her case it is the Ybor City neighborhood of Tampa during the Great Depression, complete with moonshine, mobsters and G-men! Flamenco in the Time of Moonshine and Mobsters is 375 pages yet is a surprisingly quick read due to the short chapters, filled with action, 99 of them. I found myself . . .

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Review — THE TOUGHEST JOB I EVER LOVED by Jonathon Shacat (Gabon)

  The Toughest Job I Ever Loved: A Peace Corps Memoir Jonathon  Shacat (Gabon 1998–2000) Amazon 2017 181 pages $9.99 (paperback), $4.99 (Kindle Reviewed by D.W. Jefferson (El Salvador 1974–76; Costa Rica 1976–77) • Jonathon Shacat, who is now a journalist, has self-published a well written memoir of his Peace Corps experience in Gabon, central Africa. He was a fish culture extension agent, helping villagers build clay-lined ponds and raise tilapia, from 1998 to 2000. I’ll get my gripes out of the way first. The book does not contain any maps of Gabon, any photos, or even page numbers! But it is an entertaining account that maintains its upbeat tone through incidents involving eating grubs and insects, mixing antelope blood with rice, a machete wound, a bout with Dengue fever and ridding himself of round worms. Though the author’s Peace Corps experience was almost a quarter century after my own, like . . .

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Review — 101 ARABIAN TALES by Randolph Hobler (Libya)

  101 Arabian Tales: How We All Persevered in Peace Corps Libya by Randolph W. Hobler (Libya 1968–69) Coming to LuLu in August Review by D.W. Jefferson • Randy Hobler has taken on the herculean task of writing a comprehensive history of the Peace Corps in Libya, and a collective memoir of 101 Libya PCVs (102 including the author/editor). He began by interviewing as many Libya RPCVs as he could find, along with asking them for any journals or letters from their Peace Corps years, to go along with his own. He then managed to meld all of that information into an engaging collection of tales covering everything about the Peace Corps involvement in Libya, from the training of Libya I, to the termination of Libya III  before they left their training sites in the U.S. for Libya, when Muammar Ghaddafi kicked out Peace Corps. Mr. Hobler began his project . . .

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“The Sunny Side” by Ryan Gahris (Ethiopia)

  Sitting just to be still, unknowingly, atop an ant hill — the spiders above were spinning their silk. Ahead was an untilled meadow, overgrown and waist-high with nettles. Hiding away microscopic marvels — things just being things. Left to be and compete for the simplest of needs. Predisposed to balance between extremes. Day and night. Hot and cold. Dry and wet. Here and there. But, who really cares? As I stared, my eyes unleashed the anti-abyss — the negative imprint of a tired mind, out sick. But once a lone cloud lured my vacant gaze, it bulldozed through the invisible maze. An ink blot set against a blinding blue blaze. Morphing to mirror my revolting cynical state. Inching closer, as if it had something wise to say… The wind whipped in advance to trigger a chill. Every hair was raised to a static standstill. The elevated scent of a . . .

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“Tonight’s the night . . . ” — Alana DeJoseph (Mali)

. . . for you to stream the Virtual Cinema premiere of director Alana DeJoseph’s (Mali 1992–94) wonderful movie: A Towering Task: The Story of the Peace Corps via  60 theaters around the country. It’s easy to watch: Choose a theater closest to you on the Playdates page. Then click on “Ticket” to rent the film for three days. The ticket price is $10. Half of the proceeds go to the theater to help keep them alive during the COVID closure! Watch the trailer NOW.   “ENLIGHTENING AND UPLIFTING! A Towering Task puts a human face on the Peace Corps – and makes sense of its history of idealism, improvisation and politics. It is the most coherent and satisfying documentary I know of the Peace Corps, and I can’t imagine a better one. The film is enlightening, too, for being in large part the portrait of a period when America was . . .

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6 new books by Peace Corps writers: March – April, 2020

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 — provided by the author — for the books listed here in hopes of encouraging readers  1) to order the 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.   • Letters from Turkey: A Peace Corps Volunteer’s Story William D. Brockhaus (Turkey 1967–69) Outskirts Press August 2019 524 pages $26.95 (paperback) The author will take the reader through an intimate view of his two years in the small Turkish town . . .

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