Peace Corps writers

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“Fifty Years On: Sicaya 1964 & 2016” by Thea Evensen (Peru)
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RPCV Opinion: “We are the problem.”
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Trump’s move against China for its Uighur oppression makes him look like a hypocrite
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A Writer Writes — “Reading Masks,” a poem by Tony Zurlo (Nigeria)
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Op-Ed by Richard Wiley (Korea) — “Drew Brees and the Case Against Staying in Your Lane”
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A Peace Corps writer writes — a new list of writers
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Paul Theroux (Malawi) essay: “The Romance of the American Road Trip”
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The 2017 Peace Corps Writers Awards Announced
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Do you want to earn your MFA ONLINE?
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The New Yorker Features George Packer (Togo 1982-83) Pieces From the Magazine

“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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RPCV Opinion: “We are the problem.”

  Tasha Prados is a RPCV, Peru (2011-2013).  She write from her experience in International Development and fighting for racial equality in the United States. The National Peace Corps Association held a conversation about Equity in International Development.  To see the video of that conversation, here is the link:https://www.peacecorpsconnect.org/cpages/home Here is the link to her opinion published by the NPCA   The following is the text of the Tasha Prados article. • We are the problem By Tasha Prados “A second-generation American, I grew up knowing how privileged I was simply by the sheer luck of having been born in the United States. Being multicultural and Latinx, I spent most of my formative years between two worlds, never quite fitting in either, eager to connect more deeply with my Latin American roots. I went to El Salvador with a nonprofit organization for the first time when I was 16 years old . . .

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Trump’s move against China for its Uighur oppression makes him look like a hypocrite

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Steven Boyd Saum (Ukraine 1994–96) A high-security facility near what is believed to be a re-education camp where mostly Muslim ethnic minorities are detained in China’s Xinjiang region.   June 20, 2020, By Sébastien Roblin (China 2013-15) Even when President Donald Trump finally manages to do the right thing, it’s rarely for the right reasons. Such was the case Wednesday, when he signed a law that allows for sanctioning as human rights violators Chinese officials responsible for running camps imprisoning up to 1 million Muslim Uighurs in the Xinjiang Province of western China. Trump’s been so inconsistent on what should be a core tenet of American foreign policy — opposition to large-scale internment of a minority population — that there’s some truth to claims from Beijing that Trump’s move this week was a hypocritical one motivated by a desire to weaponize the issue against China amid high-stakes trade negotiations. He . . .

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A Writer Writes — “Reading Masks,” a poem by Tony Zurlo (Nigeria)

  My brother-in-law suffered a bad stroke about a decade ago and was stricken with aphasia. In the last couple of years before his death in January 2019, he was in therapy and he made this mask. I thought it was a profound struggle of a “soul” shouting out to a world that had “forgotten him.” Jim’s soul must have been desperately wanting to speak to former friends or even family, and the mask reveals to me a plea for a touch of love, or a simple smile from that outer world that he will never see again. I hope the poem speaks for itself. Reading Masks by Tony Zurlo (Nigeria 1964-66   I. We think we read faces and focus on a people’s eyes, “the windows to the soul.” But each  mask speaks a different language, and each mask looks at us with a different set of eyes. Sometimes faces and . . .

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Op-Ed by Richard Wiley (Korea) — “Drew Brees and the Case Against Staying in Your Lane”

  Drew Brees and the Case Against Staying in Your Lane by Richard Wiley (Korea 1967-69) Tacoma News, Jun 14, 2020 • Recently the term “stay in your lane” has been used in identity politics and identity literature to mean something like, “keep to your own culture, don’t usurp my territory.”  Since I have spent 40 years writing about white Americans living in other cultures, learning about other people and other languages, and therefore most emphatically not staying in my lane, I felt the criticism acutely. I grew up as a privileged white kid in Tacoma. I didn’t know jack about anything until I got out of college and joined the Peace Corps. I didn’t know African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, nor native Americans, either, except for a group of Puyallup Indians who performed native dances at the Browns Point Salmon bake every other July. I grew believing that my world was the only world, . . .

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A Peace Corps writer writes — a new list of writers

  Approximately 31 years ago, Marian Haley Beil and I (both Ethiopia 1962-64) began to identify Peace Corps Writers. It was our Third Goal Project to spread the story of the Peace Corps in developing countries by promoting the writings of RPCVs here at home. We did this on our own as two RPCVs, not connected to the Peace Corps agency or the NPCA. We began in April 1989 with a newsletter Peace Corps Writers & Readers and now on a website: www.peacecorpsworldwide.org. We announce new books, have them reviewed, interview authors, and publish writings by RPCVs online. In 2010 we started the imprint Peace Corps Writers and currently have published 92 books by Peace Corps writers. And we have a list of RPCV Peace Corps books with the Library of Congress. Marian Beil is the creative publishing genius behind these projects. Annually we also give cash awards in different . . .

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Paul Theroux (Malawi) essay: “The Romance of the American Road Trip”

In the WSJ, September 2-3 Review Section is a long essay by Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-65): “The long, improvisational trip by car is an American institution–and no other travel experience especially today, can beat the sense of freedom it brings.” Theroux begins with F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Fitzgerald, three months in their marriage and they are living in Westport, Conn. and  Zelda is slightly cranky over breakfast. She hates Yankee bacon and craves Southern biscuits. “I wish I could have some peaches anyhow.” So Scott says, “let’s get dress and go.” And so it begins. They set off in their secondhand 1918 Marmon Speedster for Montgomery, Alabama. All of this tale is told in Fitzgerald’s memoir The Cruise of The Rolling Junk, a 1,200-mile journey to the deep South on bad roads. Theroux goes onto to recount other such road trips, including his own told in Deep South: Four . . .

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The 2017 Peace Corps Writers Awards Announced

  The 2017 Peace Corps Writers Awards for books published in 2016 were announced at the recent NPCA Conference. Marian Haley Beil and I were pleased and extremely fortunate to have Jane Albritton (India 1967-69) senior editor of four books of essays by RPCVs published by Travelers’ Tales/Solas House present the awards. Here are the 2017 Peace Corps Writers Award Winners. JC   For more about the awards and previous winners — CLICK • The Maria Thomas Fiction Award Judenstaat Simone Zelitch (Hungary 1991–93) Tor Books, June 2016 JUDENSTAAT IS A NOVEL of vast historical imagination — also a fantasy engendered from grief, from love, and from the devastating particulars of Europe’s 20th century tragedy. Simone Zelitch’s page-turning alternate history is the uncanny precision with which she has deftly transformed the threads of actual events into the stunning new fabric of her novel. Judenstaat raises profound questions about the cost of the Zionist . . .

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Do you want to earn your MFA ONLINE?

I am currently talking to several colleges and universities about developing an online Creative Writing MFA for Peace Corps PCVs and RPCV Writers. This degree could be obtainable within a year of your service–or while you are still overseas–you would have a MFA degree, and, I hope, a book, either a memoir or a novel before you finish your tour.  The time frame would be one or two years depending on your schedule. Are you interested? I am working with several non-profit accredited colleges that have MFA online programs so that you could obtain the degree while you are a PCV, or after your tour, wherever you are living in the world….if you have a computer handy. I would teach one of the writing courses, and other RPCV faculty would be involved, including several book editors I know. It would be friendly, ‘hands on,’ and approachable courses that focus on your . . .

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The New Yorker Features George Packer (Togo 1982-83) Pieces From the Magazine

A selection of stories from The New Yorker’s archive George Packer’s World In late 2008, George Packer drove around Florida, one of the places where the financial crisis began. He wanted to understand how the state had become the foreclosure capital of America, and what the “diagram of moral responsibility” looked like. It was shaped, he wrote in “The Ponzi State,” like an inverted pyramid, “with the lion’s share belonging to the banks, mortgage lenders, regulators, and politicians at the top.” The race to build more and more subdivisions-even when the people buying them clearly couldn’t afford them-was essentially a confidence game, with “everyone involved both being taken and taking someone else.” A George Packer piece, whether it is about the housing crisis or Silicon Valley, always provides readers with the rhetorical equivalent of a panoramic shot.These big-picture moments, however, are paired with intimate portraits of individual lives. In “The . . .

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