Author - Marian Haley Beil

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George B. Breznay (Ethiopia 1966–68)
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Morton E. Braunstein (Philippines 1966–68)
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Bob Bookman (Dominican Republic 1967–69)
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Carolyn LaDelle Bennett (Sierra Leone 1964–66)
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Marsha L. Allen (Senegal 1984–86)
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Myrna J. Aavedal (Chile 1967–68)
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White
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Water
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Innocence Melts Obstinacy
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1964 Peace Corps Book Locker

George B. Breznay (Ethiopia 1966–68)

Monday, November 21 6:09 pm JOURNAL EXCERPTS 2/3/67 At the Bank today a woman in native dress (black with a white shemma [shawl]) came in, bowed to the teller, treaded lightly over to the counter where the desk men are, bowed deeply again, and proceeded to transact some business. Saw a ritual of men kissing today – a cycle is 4 kisses: A kisses B’s right, then left cheek; then B does the same to A: this cycle was repeated twice, all the time shaking hands – then a stand-off – both stepped back, each rubbing the back of his neck as if in embarrassment. It seemed that neither then knew what to say! 2/9/67 The other day Lemma saw me sitting quietly in the middle of the bus as he walked near the Trinity Press. I thought “how observant he is!” -but then on reflecting I discovered that there . . .

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Morton E. Braunstein (Philippines 1966–68)

Monday, November 21 6:03 pm ANDY WARHOL PREDICTED in the 1960’s that “in the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.” Well, I was famous, rich, and handsome too for 21 months while teaching in a small city on Mindanao, Republic of the Philippines. The constant attention wherever I went — focused on me, my American background, on my teaching — forced me to be more aware of how I impressed those around me. Naturally, I wanted to present a good image. Working on that image and the interpersonal relationships with co-teachers, friends, and my Filipino “family” contributed greatly to shaping me and my personality. I learned a lot about myself, my values, and what is important to me as an individual and as an American. That is perhaps the most valuable gift I received from the Peace Corps experience; that is the springboard from which I enact John . . .

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Bob Bookman (Dominican Republic 1967–69)

Monday, November 21 7:33 pm A SUGAR TRAIN STRAINS through the campo. Its dim light fading in the night. The drone from its engines drowns out the common sounds of old ladies spitting up flem, babies coughing, and fourteen-year-old men coming home from work. It is the time of the harvest. There is no sleep. A black boy comes into the general store. There is no light in his face. His skin reflects this absence of light, for it is not the type of black skin that smiles. His face is dirty, his hands are ripped, and his soul is bare. He must have seen the future for he walks with his eyes closed. He is one of 16 children his grandmother must feed. No one cares for him except the ticks licking the sores of his feet. No star shines for him for he is coarse black. Old lady, . . .

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Carolyn LaDelle Bennett (Sierra Leone 1964–66)

Monday, November 21 3:45 pm MY TOUR OF DUTY 22 years ago informs my idealism today. It founds my belief in “community,” in brotherhood, in peaceful co-existence among people, races and nations of the world and within my own country. The memory of those years sustains my hope. And sustains my devotion to the principles of my country – a devotion which transcends politics and the rise and fall of passing ideologies. Twenty years ago I had grown up in a segregated society with no sense of connectedness to my country, save the compulsory recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of the National anthem and hymns. But in serving in the Peace Corp in Sierra Leone (West Africa), I became a part of the greatness of America – a living beneficiary of the high esteem in which the people of Freedom, Sierra Leone, placed my country. For . . .

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Marsha L. Allen (Senegal 1984–86)

Monday, November 21 7:03 pm DURING MY TWO YEARS I learned many things: A new language, how to adapt to a new culture, how to cope with the sometimes intense and almost unbearable heat, and more importantly, I learned to make life for the people there a little easier. I learned to care about a group of people who thought of me as their daughter, their sister, their friend. I learned to laugh with them and cry for them. I learned the importance of being with them for the good times as well as the bad. I learned both patience and persistence – two very important factors in the life of any Volunteer. I also learned all about that feeling you get when it’s time to leave. That sinking feeling in your stomach. The one that makes tears swell in your eyes. It’s that same feeling that makes your heart . . .

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Myrna J. Aavedal (Chile 1967–68)

Monday, November 21 6:54 pm MR. PRESIDENT, I want to tell you about my experience in the Peace Corps. I was 24 when I went off to training at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque – still a bit unworldly as I left my home in Montana. At the time I, of course, wasn’t sure what was in store for me, but I wanted adventure, travel, and an opportunity to use my nursing skills to help people in need. I was very proud that I had been selected to serve. Yes, I did get the adventure and travel, and I did use my nursing skills among needy people. I also got a lot more. The first surprise came when some of the Trainees who looked so good and talked so wise washed out of training or gave up and went home early. For me the Peace Corps was a . . .

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White

The following was the 1999 recipient of the Moritz Thomsen Peace Corps Experience Award presented by Peace Corps Writers  for the best short description of life in the Peace Corps. • White by Lynn Marshall (Mali 1997– 99) YESTERDAY, I ATTENDED MY FIRST FUNERAL. I wore white and so did the corpse. The body was wrapped in a heavy, white cloth and placed under a mango tree, surrounded by dozens of old women with missing teeth, gray hair, and skin as dry as coconut shells. The old ladies wore mismatched swatches of bright print fabric. Over a hundred people had gathered in the concession, and sat cross-legged on long, colorful rectangular mats. They paid their respects by playing cards, smoking Marlboros and drinking tea. As I toured the concession, I felt hundreds of eyes on me. Trying to convince myself that I was not out of place, I casually made . . .

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Water

The following was the 1998 recipient of the Moritz Thomsen Peace Corps Experience Award presented by Peace Corps Writers  for the best short description of life in the Peace Corps. • Water by Rachel Schneller (Mali 1996–98) WHEN A WOMAN CARRIES WATER on her head, you see her neck bend outward behind her like a crossbow. Ten liters of water weighs twenty-two pounds, a fifth of a woman’s body weight, and I’ve seen women carry at least twenty liters in aluminum pots large enough to hold a television set. To get the water from the cement floor surrounding the outdoor hand pump to the top of your head, you need help from the other women. You and another woman grab the pot’s edges and lift it straight up between you. When you get it to head height, you duck underneath the pot and place it on the wad of rolled . . .

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Innocence Melts Obstinacy

The 1997 recipient of the Moritz Thomsen Peace Corps Experience Award presented by PEACE CORPS WRITERS for the best short description of life in the Peace Corps. • Innocence Melts Obstinacy by Leita Kaldi (Senegal 1993–96) IN THE MARKETPLACE OF DAKAR, Senegal, amid the welter of vegetables, chickens, dried fish and shouting women, a small boy leans against a crumbling wall staring into space. His bare toes knead the sand; the rags he wears flop around his skinny frame. A gang of older boys push and shove their way past him, turning to jeer. The boy leaps into a ninja position, hands like scissors, knees bent on rigid legs. He must have studied the nearby movie poster where a ninja film had been showing. His eyes are fierce and belong to the world of warriors. The older boys laugh and walk on as the child glares after them balefully. His . . .

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1964 Peace Corps Book Locker

In mid-May John wrote about the “Fabulous Peace Corps Locker” — Part I, Part II and Part III. For a time Jack Prebis (Ethiopia 1962–64) was in charge of selecting the books for the Book Locker and he shared with us the list of books provided to new PCVs in 1964. • LITERATURE Fiction American Classics Democracy – Henry Adams The Good Earth – Pearl Buck Red Badge of Courage & Four Stories – Stephen Crane Pulitzer Prize Reader – Leo Hamalian & Edmond L Volpe Outcasts of Poker Flat & Other Tales – Bret Harte The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne The Four Million & Other Stories – O. Henry The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway Turn of the Screw & Daisy Miller – Henry James Babbitt – Sinclair Lewis Call of the Wild & White Fang – Jack London Moby Dick – Herman Melville The Fall of . . .

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