Short Works by PC Writers

Short works by RPCVs that do not reference the Peace Corps experience.

1
About schooling kids in NYC by George Packer (Togo)
2
A Writer Writes — “Oral Traditions in Writing” by Jeanne D’Haem (Somalia)
3
“The Visit” by Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras)
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A Writer Writes — “The Paperboy” by Chris Honore (Colombia)
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A Writer Writes — “When I tried learning a second language while traveling, I realized I was doing it all wrong”
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A Writer Writes — “Our Tax Dollars at Work” by William Siegel (Ethiopia)
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A Writer Writes — “ERITREA’S INDEPENDENCE DAY – MAY 29” by John C. Rude (Ethiopia)
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“Ex Africa Semper Aliquid Novi” (West Africa)
9
“A Game in the Sun” by John Coyne (Ethiopia)
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A Writer Writes — “The Overwhelming Question” by Tony Zurlo (Nigeria)

About schooling kids in NYC by George Packer (Togo)

    The October issue of The Atlantic has a true and fascinating article by George Packer (Togo 1982-83) entitled “When the Culture War Comes for the Kids” with the subtitle of “Caught between a brutal meritocracy and a radical new progressivism, a parent tries to do right by his children while navigating New York City’s schools.” Having raised a son in the Big Apple, and having experienced the same system that George and his wife are now enduring, I feel their pain. It all begins this way, Packer writes, “places at the preschool were awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. At the front of the line, parents were lying in sleeping bags. They had spent the night outside.” And it continues through middle school and high school. It is no wonder young parents flee Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx for the suburbs. Read George’s tale of terror of the public . . .

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A Writer Writes — “Oral Traditions in Writing” by Jeanne D’Haem (Somalia)

A Writer Writes     Oral Traditions in Writing by Jeanne D’Haem (Somalia 1968-70) • Somalis are known throughout East Africa for their beauty and for their poetry. In this oral tradition, poems are used to communicate, to share news and even to settle disputes. A poet insults another clan in a poem. For example, “You have mistaken boat-men and Christians for the Prophet.” News and other communication had to be oral because the Somali language was not written even when I lived there in 1968.  This was due to a dispute over what kind of letters should be used. Religious leaders wanted an Arabic alphabet, business people wanted a modern Latin one. When Siad Barre, a military dictator, took over the county in 1969, his goal was rapid modernization under communism. He sent a delegation to China where Chairman Mao held similar views.  When Mao was informed about the dispute, . . .

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“The Visit” by Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras)

      The Visit by Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras 1975-77)   Armando Votto Paz wasn’t just any Community Development foreman. He not only got us what we needed but stood by us whistling away the dark clouds. I didn’t want to let him down but being young, my genes were jumping. I was in love and had just slunk back from a clandestine trip to Mexico City. Secrets (like a Mexican girlfriend) are easier heard than kept. I feared the worst when Armando surprised me at my La Ceiba office where I was typing legends for my own maps. He paged through my report’s appendix, checking calculations and smiled before suggesting that I take the day off. He had to visit another volunteer in an isolated village. Since I had never been to the place and he could use some company, he thought it a good fit. We climbed . . .

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A Writer Writes — “The Paperboy” by Chris Honore (Colombia)

A Writer Writes   The Paperboy by Chris Honoré (Colombia 1967-69)   My elementary school was called Allendale, a name I never gave much thought to. It was a massive, pale green, two-story Victorian building on a quiet neighborhood street. Two years before I headed off to Jr. High School, I suggested to my folks that being a paperboy would build character, or words to that effect, and solve my financial situation – I was always short of pocket change for, say, a comic or baseball cards wrapped in waxy paper along with a square of pink bubble gum. To sweeten my argument, I pointed out that the newspaper shack, where a cohort of boys gathered each afternoon after school, waiting for the bundles of newspapers to arrive, was less than a block away from Allendale. “Fine,” my parents said, with some reluctance. “Let’s see how it goes.” And so . . .

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A Writer Writes — “When I tried learning a second language while traveling, I realized I was doing it all wrong”

 A Writer Writes     When I tried learning a second language while traveling, I realized I was doing it all wrong By Paulette Perhach (Paraguay 2008-10)  Published on Matador Network April 8, 2016 BEFORE WORKING IN THE PEACE CORPS in Paraguay for two years, I had never even heard of Guaraní. Guaraní is not in the Latin linguistic family tree I was familiar with. In fact, to my ears, this language sounded like it was from another planet. “Hello” is “mba’éichapa.” “Goodbye” is “jajotopata.” There are nasal harmonies and glottal stops. The “Yes” sounds like saying “he” for a long time, while holding your nose. Water is just spelled “y,” but it’s pronounced like the last sound of a drowning man. There’s just one word for “he” and “she,” but two words for “we.” And, oh yeah, by the way, nouns change depending on who owns them. “House” is just . . .

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A Writer Writes — “Our Tax Dollars at Work” by William Siegel (Ethiopia)

A Writer Writes     Our Tax Dollars At Work by William Siegel (Ethiopia 1962-64) • I just moved from Boston to Washington DC. It feels like I walked on cobblestones most of the way, carrying my computer and a few hundred books. Otherwise, it’s fine. The weather’s good. I’m looking forward to less snow and more sunshine. There are many more city trees here than there. There are also many more bridges. In Boston, bridges tend to be utilitarian and future looking, with the exception of those crossing the Charles River, connecting to Cambridge, which still look like they were designed by Emerson. In Washington the bridges seem more stately and glide over parks and monuments adding to the mystery of the capital of the present day empire of the world. Somehow my wife and I landed in an apartment in the middle of the city. I think it . . .

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A Writer Writes — “ERITREA’S INDEPENDENCE DAY – MAY 29” by John C. Rude (Ethiopia)

    ERITREA’S INDEPENDENCE DAY – MAY 29 by John C. Rude (Ethiopia 1962-64) This week, on May 29, Eritrea celebrates its 28th anniversary as an independent nation. It will be the first independence celebration since Ethiopia’s reform-minded Prime Minister, Abiy Mohammed, announced a unilateral cessation of hostilities, less than a year ago, on July 9, 2018. This independence celebration may also mark the end of Eritrea’s long search for legitimacy. I happened to visit the country in 1992, shortly after Eritrea marked its first independence day. I shared the sadness of the people around me who mourned the war’s heavy sacrifices. Even so, I remember the first anniversary as a time of hoped-for new beginnings. I imagined the atmosphere in Eritrea to be comparable to the years after America won its independence from England in 1780. Then I realized that Eritrea came into being (as a colony, not a . . .

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“Ex Africa Semper Aliquid Novi” (West Africa)

    Ex Africa Semper Aliquid Novi Travel with Phillip LeBel (Ethiopia 1965–67) • In the July of 1968, I finished spending three and a half years as a secondary school history teacher in Emdeber, Shoa, Ethiopia. Two and a half years were as a Peace Corps Volunteer, while the third was as a contract teacher with the Ethiopian Ministry of Education. Having taught a cohort of students passing through the ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades, it was now time to return to the United States. With a graduate fellowship in economics awaiting me in Boston, I took a somewhat meandering trip across Africa, tracing some paths I covered in 1965 while still in the Peace Corps, while others were a journey of exploration. It marked an abiding attachment to Africa that has shaped my professional career ever since. I had traveled to East Africa during the summer of . . .

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“A Game in the Sun” by John Coyne (Ethiopia)

    This collection of stories is drawn from various decades of my life, starting back when I was a high school student. It has recently been published by Cemetery Press and is available now at Amazon.com. I wrote stories and published them in high school, college and graduate school publications, but my first sale didn’t happen until I was 33 years old. In 1972, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine bought “A Game in the Sun” for $150 — the first money I ever earned from writing fiction. My apprenticeship as a novelist was even longer; I wrote seven before I finally got one published, in 1979. That was an occult-horror novel, The Piercing. I followed it up with half a dozen similar books, some of which made best seller lists. I have also written golf novels, love stories, non-fiction and one family saga. In this collection I’ve compiled 13 stories and entitled them A . . .

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A Writer Writes — “The Overwhelming Question” by Tony Zurlo (Nigeria)

  The Overwhelming Question By Tony Zurlo (Nigeria 1963-65) • I grab the butt-ends of coffee spoons, roll up the bottoms of my trousers, drag my red wheel barrel along the shore, and dig for salt-washed shells tossed onto the sand; waves slap the shore, codes from lonely mermaids’ whispering. whistling winds from woods nearby wrinkles on the moon thirteen blackbirds observing. flashes from another world pillows of gray sky ancient gnarled oaks cast shadows. tear-drops squeezed from willow trees maelstrom of colors La Mer’s quarreling white caps Singing dolphins’ lure me out to dance. Leaves of grass float past effortlessly. Yes! the brain is wider than the sky and I dare disturb the universe, incite another Big Bang, hurl stars and spin the moon like a top; hunt white whales with Ahab in the South Pacific. • This poem originally appeared at andreazurlo.wixsite.com/andreazurlo/blog   Tony Zurlo (Nigeria 1963-65) is . . .

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