Peace Corps writers

1
BRIGHTEST SUN by Adrienne Benson (Nepal)
2
Finding inspiration in NIGERIA — Stint in the Peace Corps results in novel 45 years later
3
Pets in Your Life by Tim Wall (Honduras)
4
RPCV Writer Tom Corbett (India)
5
CHALLENGING PREGNANCY by Genevieve Grabman (Kyrgyz Republic)
6
RPCV Susan L Carpenter (Ethiopia): Mediator, Trainer, Writer
7
MY SADDEST PLEASURES: 50 Years on the Road by Mark D. Walker (Guatemala)
8
Melissa Cole — Artist, Writer, Traveler, RPCV (Dominican Republic)
9
THE WORLD AGAINST HER SKIN by John Thorndike (El Salvador)
10
Nancy Wesson’s (Uganda) I MISS THE RAIN IN AFRICA wins Silver Nautilus Award
11
Mildred D. Taylor (Ethiopia) STORIES OF RACISM: Stories of Racism–Confronted by a Family with Courage and Love
12
Eric Madeen (Gabon) publishes TOKYO-ING!
13
“Democracy in Africa” by Mark G. Wentling (Togo)
14
Review — TRIAL AND ERROR by Lawrence Licht (Peru)
15
“Looking for Albert Schweitzer in Lambarene, Gabon” by Eric Madeen (Gabon)

BRIGHTEST SUN by Adrienne Benson (Nepal)

An illuminating debut novel following three women in sub-Saharan Africa as they search for home and family   Leona, an isolated American anthropologist, gives birth to a baby girl in a remote Maasai village and must decide how she can be a mother, in spite of her own grim childhood. Jane, a lonely expat wife, follows her husband to the tropics and learns just how fragile life is. Simi, a barren Maasai woman, must confront her infertility in a society in which females are valued by their reproductive roles. In this affecting debut novel, these three very different women grapple with motherhood, recalibrate their identities and confront unforeseen tragedies and triumphs. In beautiful, evocative prose, Adrienne Benson brings to life the striking Kenyan terrain as these women’s lives intertwine in unexpected ways. As they face their own challenges and heartbreaks, they find strength traversing the arid landscapes of tenuous human . . .

Read More

Finding inspiration in NIGERIA — Stint in the Peace Corps results in novel 45 years later

By DAVID JASPER The Bulletin, Bend OR Dec 26, 2019 Updated Jan 29, 2021 After Tom Wangler entered the Peace Corps as a 25-year-old in 1974, he thought he might write about his adventures in Africa. “I had full intentions of writing a book when I got back,” said Wangler, of Bend. “It took me a while.” Four decades later, Wangler has realized his dream with the publication of his first novel, Nigeria: An Ancient Secret Becomes the Adventure of a Lifetime, a thriller about a Peace Corps volunteer who goes missing while searching for a hidden oasis, triggering a desperate search and rescue mission. Inspired by events Wangler witnessed while in Africa 45 years ago, it was published earlier this month by Bend’s Dancing Moon Press. Today, Wangler serves as education program coordinator at the Oregon Youth Challenge Program, an alternative high school for at-risk youth run by the National Guard. . . .

Read More

Pets in Your Life by Tim Wall (Honduras)

  Tim Wall  covers the dog, cat and other pet food industries as a senior reporter for WATT Global Media. His work has appeared in Live Science, Discovery News, Scientific American, Honduras Weekly, Global Journalist and other outlets. He holds a journalism master’s degree from the University of Missouri–Columbia and a bachelor’s degree in biology. By Tim Wall (Honduras 2005-07)   Pet treat companies could be one tool for economic development in the United States and around the world. For low-income individuals, small-scale pet treat production allows entrepreneurs to start with utensils they may already have or can obtain inexpensively, ingredients from the grocery store and science-based recipes. While moving into retail outlets will require that pet food entrepreneurs consider larger legal and logistical issues, a start-up pet treat company could be within reach of many. If one is going to produce pet food, they should comply with the rules for labeling, . . .

Read More

RPCV Writer Tom Corbett (India)

  Tom Corbett (India 1966-68) is emeritus senior scientist and an affiliate of the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he served as associate and acting director for a decade before his retirement. He received a doctorate in Social Welfare from the University of Wisconsin and taught various social policy and program evaluation courses there for many years. During his long academic and policy career he consulted with government at the local, state, and national levels including a stint in Washington D.C. where he helped develop President Clinton’s welfare reform legislation. He has written dozens of articles and reports on poverty, social policy, and human services issues and given hundreds of talks across the nation on these topics. The author lives in Madison Wisconsin. Our Grand Adventure: The trials and triumphs of India-44 is a just out, improved upon, re-release of an earlier Peace Corps work  It Seemed . . .

Read More

CHALLENGING PREGNANCY by Genevieve Grabman (Kyrgyz Republic)

  In Challenging Pregnancy, Genevieve Grabman recounts being pregnant with identical twins whose circulatory systems were connected in a rare condition called twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome. Doctors couldn’t “unfuse” the fetuses because one twin also had several other confounding problems: selective intrauterine growth restriction, a two-vessel umbilical cord, a marginal cord insertion, and, possibly, a parasitic triplet. Ultimately, national anti-abortion politics — not medicine or her own choices — determined the outcome of Grabman’s pregnancy. At every juncture, anti-abortion politics limited the care available to her, the doctors and hospitals willing to treat her, the tools doctors could use, and the words her doctors could say. Although she asked for aggressive treatment to save at least one baby, hospital ethics boards blocked all able doctors from helping her. Challenging Pregnancy is about Grabman’s harrowing pregnancy and the science and politics of maternal healthcare in the United States, where every person must self-advocate for . . .

Read More

RPCV Susan L Carpenter (Ethiopia): Mediator, Trainer, Writer

Susan L. Carpenter (Ethiopia 1968-70) is a writer and mediator, trainer in private practice. She has spent the past thirty years developing and managing programs to reach consensus on public issues, resolve public controversies and develop common goals and visions at the local, state and national level. She was the founding director of the Program for Community Problem Solving in Washington, D.C. Prior to that she spent ten years as the associate director of ACCORD Associates in Boulder, Colorado mediating complex public disputes and training others to handle conflict productively. She currently works with organizations and groups to build capacity for collaboration and conflict resolution. Ms. Carpenter holds a Master’s Degree in International Education and a Doctorate in Future Studies both from the University of Massachusetts. She was a Visiting Fellow at the Program on Negotiation at the Harvard Law School. She taught for two years in Ethiopia as a . . .

Read More

MY SADDEST PLEASURES: 50 Years on the Road by Mark D. Walker (Guatemala)

  In his new book, Mark Walker reflects on his fifty years of travel miscalculations and disasters and how and why he travels changed over the years, as has who he traveled with. As a young Peace Corps Volunteer with no overseas travel experience, the world was his oyster, and he figured he could go anywhere if he set his mind to it—with little or no money. Then he married a Guatemalan lady and had to think more about “our” needs; then, three children meant additional requirements and responsibilities. And later, as a professional fundraiser, he would set up donor visits to program areas where the organizations he represented needed funds, which meant considering the needs of up to fifteen individuals of all ages, including children and some donors in their 70s and 80s. He’s become a savvier trekker, although he was still prone to the occasional snafu. This book . . .

Read More

Melissa Cole — Artist, Writer, Traveler, RPCV (Dominican Republic)

Cole was born in Oregon and raised in London, Hong Kong, and India. She graduated from Oregon State University with a degree in Zoology. She has spent time working in the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic (1990-92) in environmental education, as a dive guide in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, and as a naturalist guide in Baja, Mexico. She has written over 30 children’s natural history books, and travels with her husband Brandon, who is a wildlife photographer specializing in marine life. It is from these amazing encounters that she derives much of her inspiration for her vividly colored, heavily textured and patterned paintings and mosaic sculptures. Drawing from her background in science, Cole creates vibrant examinations and celebrations of nature with glittering accents of glass and other mixed media. Melissa writes . . . Over the last fifteen years I’ve been delighted to discover that with the most . . .

Read More

THE WORLD AGAINST HER SKIN by John Thorndike (El Salvador)

  Virginia and Joe Thorndike have been married for twenty-two years, and now she’s in love with a surgeon thirteen years her junior. She leaves her husband and flies to Miami to start living with Rich Villamano, but there he tells her he has changed his mind and they must go their own ways. In an instant their four-year affair is over. She takes off in his car, heading north with no luggage, no hope or destination. She buys a bottle of gin and drinks it straight. Afraid that she’ll kill herself or someone else on the road, she abandons the car, flies to New York and takes an airport hotel room. She has no home and nowhere to go. In this biographical novel, much is remembered and much imagined. Flashbacks from Virginia’s youth expose the sexual abuse by her father, an affair with her high school diving coach, and her marriage . . .

Read More

Nancy Wesson’s (Uganda) I MISS THE RAIN IN AFRICA wins Silver Nautilus Award

  Modern History Press is proud to announce that its title I Miss the Rain in Africa: Peace Corps as a Third Act by Nancy Daniel Wesson (Uganda 2011-13) has become a Nautilus Award Winner. I Miss the Rain in Africa won the 2022 Silver Nautilus Award in the category of World-Cultures’ Transformational Growth & Development. The category, which falls in the general readership division, includes books that offer insightful perspectives on possible futures and how Humanity embraces its next steps. Published in May 2021, Wesson’s book gives an autobiographical account of the author’s service and life as a Peace Corps Volunteer in post-war Northern Uganda. Her journey spans living in a radically different culture and environment and then returning home to reconcile a life that no longer “fits.” While the book took about a year to complete and was written in full by the fall of 2020, the pandemic delayed the release a . . .

Read More

Mildred D. Taylor (Ethiopia) STORIES OF RACISM: Stories of Racism–Confronted by a Family with Courage and Love

  A tribute to decades of work by children’s author Mildred D. Taylor. This year, Peace Corps Writers recognized her with the Writer of the Year Award. By John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962-64) NPCA World View Special Books Edition 2022 • Mildred Delois Taylor is a critically acclaimed author of children’s novels. In 1977, she won the Newbery Medal, the most prestigious award in children’s literature, for her historical novel Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. It was the second book in a series of ten novels focusing on the Logan family, and portraying the effects of racism counterbalanced with courage and love. Her latest book, All the Days Past, All the Days to Come, published last year, is the final novel in the series. Since receiving the Newbery Medal, she has won four Coretta Scott King Awards, a Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the PEN Award for Children’s Literature. In . . .

Read More

Eric Madeen (Gabon) publishes TOKYO-ING!

  Tokyo-ing! is an apt title for this trio of tales that chime with anyone even slightly interested in Asia’s most dynamic metropolis and its glazing of layers – be they cultural, sexual … or taking-wing exuberant. “About Face” — An American professor is trophy hunted by a wily student who then boasts of her conquest, sparking a full-blown scandal. Brought to heel in tradition, he fights for his dignity. “Sobering Love” — A Japanese career woman is obligated to join after-work drinking sessions with her colleagues, leading to alcohol addiction and deteriorating health. There seems to be no way out, until she meets Frank, a high-octane executive … “Fire Horse” — A disillusioned expat musters the courage to break out of an unhappy marriage, then searches for love on Tokyo’s electrifying singles circuit. Can he beat the odds and find a soulmate born under the right star? Eric Madeen (Gabon . . .

Read More

“Democracy in Africa” by Mark G. Wentling (Togo)

Democracy in Africa is Like a Flashlight without Batteries by Mark G. Wentling (Togo 1970-73) May 2022 Promoting democracy has been a central pillar of U.S. foreign policy for decades. This has been true for the dozen U.S. missions in which I have served in Africa over the past half century. Unfortunately, my experiences have left me doubtful about the results achieved by the hundreds of millions of dollars the U.S. has invested to promote democracy in Africa. I arrived in 1970 as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer, West Africa. In my village, I learned that you obeyed the chief’s decisions no matter how illogical they might be. I also learned that it was considered impolite to criticize any of the chief’s decisions. Today it is still best to obey the chief, although he is now influenced by the central government. The overriding concern of the chief and his representative . . .

Read More

Review — TRIAL AND ERROR by Lawrence Licht (Peru)

  Trial And Error (poetry and photography) Lawrence E. Licht (Peru 1963–65) Independently published April 2022 40 pages $15 [plus shipping to the USA, $6-10] (paperback), Contact the author Reviewed by Bill Preston (Thailand 1977-80)  • The array of living forms is staggering, diversity incomprehensible in real terms. A description of even one is like holding the wind with open palm. So begins poet and photographer Larry Licht’s slim and noteworthy book, Trial and Error. Minimalist in design, the book features a series of two-page spreads, arranged in corresponding pages of poetry and photographs. As the poetic opening lines express, ordinary language seems insufficient to describe the natural world in its multitude of diverse forms. Perhaps a more satisfying approach, Licht suggests, is to explore nature’s exquisite intricacy via metaphor and image. Fittingly, each of his twenty spreads is a kind of meditation in words and images on facets of . . .

Read More

“Looking for Albert Schweitzer in Lambarene, Gabon” by Eric Madeen (Gabon)

On Mission By Eric Madeen (Gabon 1981-83)   What follows is a reconstruction of memories, which can be likened to partially developed film … at times hazy, at others gaining clarity like images in a developing tray … of one’s mind. My mind. It was first being readied for what lay ahead by intensive French instruction for six weeks, followed by six more during work on rural school construction in Peace Corps/Gabon. With two years of Spanish at university as basecamp, French came easily; classes were named not by level, but by towns in Gabon. It didn’t take me long, however, to learn that mine, Ndende, was at a lower proficiency level. Recent graduates from Ivy League schools to esteemed public ones, we numbered approximately 60 trainees in the programs of TEFL, Fisheries, Agriculture and Construction. We were lodged in a student dormitory whose Turkish shitters went down one by . . .

Read More

Copyright © 2022. Peace Corps Worldwide.