The Peace Corps

Agency history, current news and stories of the people who are/were both on staff and Volunteers.

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5 Brilliant Short Peace Corps Writers Stories (Eastern Caribbean, Mali, Zaire,Tonga, Mongolia)
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Be There or Be Square
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A Writer Writes–The Right Way to Grow Tomatoes
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A Writer Writes—My Race Problem: Who Is A Patriot? (Chad)
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Review–Europe By Bus by Steve Kaffen (Russia)
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Kevin Bubriski Wins Peace Corps Writers Best Photography Book Award 2019 (Nepal)
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RPCV Who Made A Difference: Gary Engelberg (Senegal 1965-67) Passes in Senegal
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Review–In Putin’s Footsteps by Nina Khrushcheva & Jeffrey Tayler (Russia)
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To Cut a Long Story Short & By The Book–Jia Tolentino (Kyrgyzstan)
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Athleisure, barre and kale: the tyranny of the ideal woman by Jia Tolentino (Kyrgyzstan)

5 Brilliant Short Peace Corps Writers Stories (Eastern Caribbean, Mali, Zaire,Tonga, Mongolia)

  The Mending Fields By Bob Shacochis (Eastern Caribbean 1975–76) I WAS ASSIGNED to the Island of Saint Kitts in the West Indies. Once on an inter-island plane, I sat across the aisle from one of my new colleagues, an unfriendly, overserious young woman. She was twenty-four, twenty-five . . . we were all twenty-four, twenty five. I didn’t know her much or like her. As the plane banked over the island, she pressed against the window, staring down at the landscape. I couldn’t see much of her face, just enough really to recognize an expression of pain. Below us spread an endless manicured lawn, bright green and lush of sugarcane, the island’s main source of income. Each field planted carefully to control erosion. Until that year, Saint Kitts’ precious volcanic soil had been bleeding into the sea; somehow they had resolved the problem. The crop was now being tilled in . . .

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A Writer Writes–The Right Way to Grow Tomatoes

A Writer Writes   The Right Way to Grow Tomatoes By Karen DeWitt (Ethiopia 1966-68) I’d forgotten that I had even taken the Peace Corps recruitment test when that long-distance call came on a cold January day in 1965. Then, standing in a battered wooden telephone booth in my dormitory at Miami University of Ohio, I heard someone say, “Congratulations. You’ve been accepted.” Suddenly graduate school, job, the ordinary future that stretched before me and my classmates disappeared, replaced by adventure, excitement, and the unknown – literally the unknown, for I hadn’t even asked what country I would be stationed in. Didn’t know, didn’t care. Suddenly, I was to be part of an adventure for my generation. I was to become a Kennedy kid, one of those thousands of young people whom he had asked to dedicate one or two years of their lives to work in Africa, Latin America, . . .

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A Writer Writes—My Race Problem: Who Is A Patriot? (Chad)

A Writer Writes   My Race Problem: Who Is A Patriot? By Michael Varga (Chad 1977-79) In 1976, the U.S. bicentennial year, I was cornered by my Aunt Martha. She had worked for the Pentagon in a variety of administrative positions and believed strongly in serving our country. My eldest brother had been drafted during the Vietnam War and served in Southeast Asia for a 14-month tour. She was proud of his service but she was chagrined about what I was planning to do. “Why can’t you teach in America?” she asked. She stood with arms akimbo and placed her hands on her hips. “This is my opportunity to travel. To see something outside of Philadelphia,” I answered. In our Italian family, people spoke of the “evil eye,” a sort of death stare that translated as what you just said is not even worthy of a response. She gave me . . .

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Review–Europe By Bus by Steve Kaffen (Russia)

Europe By Bus: 50 Bus Trips and City Visits Steve Kaffen (Russia 1994-96) 371 pages SK Journeys Publisher May 2019 Paperback $16.00     Reviewed by Craig Storti (Morocco (1970-72) Europe by bus? Really? Does anyone travel by bus who doesn’t have to? Aren’t buses for commuters? OK, tour buses, for sure. But Steve Kaffen is not talking about tour buses; he’s talking about buses as in the way go to from one city to another—all across Europe, for heaven’s sake! Who would do that when you can take a nice, comfortable train? I was skeptical. Can you tell? But then I’m an American, and intercity bus travel is not nearly as common in the US; we have cars for that sort of thing. But one of the revelations in Kaffen’s book is how well-developed intercity bus travel is in Europe, within the same country and from one country to . . .

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Kevin Bubriski Wins Peace Corps Writers Best Photography Book Award 2019 (Nepal)

Legacy in Stone: Syria Before War by Kevin Bubriski (Nepal 1975-78) Legacy in Stone: Syria Before War is a collection of 100 black-and-white photographs immortalizing the ancient monuments of Syria. Kevin Bubriski was on assignment in Syria in 2003, during the infancy of the U.S. war in neighboring Iraq. He was photographing the country’s ancient monuments, as well as documenting the daily lives and ordinary human stories of its citizens. Unbeknownst to him, within the decade, a war would break out in Syria, and destroy or damage much of what he had photographed. Until the Syrian civil war in 2010, the Suq in Aleppo was considered to be the longest continuously inhabited place of commerce in the world, existing for well over two millennia. Bubriski photographed the Suq while it was still thriving, teeming with merchants and artisans. He also captured stunning, decisive images from the Dead Cities, the basilica of . . .

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RPCV Who Made A Difference: Gary Engelberg (Senegal 1965-67) Passes in Senegal

From Lillian Baer (Senegal 1965-67) It is with a heavy heart that we write to you today to announce that our wonderful and close friend, Gary Engelberg, passed away this morning in his beloved Senegal. We want to allow you all to have this information immediately, and we will write more as we compose more gentle words, as well as some detail and plans moving ahead. We are reaching out to you now in our grief at this difficult time, and we hope that by sharing with so many of Gary’s friends and family in Senegal, in the USA, and in the rest of the world, we can each carry a lighter load as we move forward in the world without this shining light. Many of you know how ill Gary has been for past years, and that he has suffered from a number of severe ailments. We are sorry . . .

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Review–In Putin’s Footsteps by Nina Khrushcheva & Jeffrey Tayler (Russia)

IN PUTIN’S FOOTSTEPS: Searching for the Soul of an Empire Across Russia’s Eleven Time Zones  St. Martin’s Press By Nina Khrushcheva and Jeffrey Tayler (Morocco 1988-90) 320 pages February 19, 2019 $18.89 (hardback); $14.99 (Kindle); $24.60 (Audio CD)   Reviewed by Bea Hogan (Uzbekistan 1992-94) Why is Putin so popular? The hand-picked successor of Boris Yeltsin was an odd choice: a soft-spoken former spook who’d once helmed the Federal Security Service (FSB), the agency that came after the KGB. Putin took power as the new millennium dawned, and at the time, seemed destined to be a placeholder, a mere footnote in history. But three months later he won the presidential election in a landslide and has been consolidating power ever since. It’s hard to imagine how a man of diminutive stature and unassuming presence—in a land that prizes macho men—could become such a towering figure on the world stage. And . . .

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To Cut a Long Story Short & By The Book–Jia Tolentino (Kyrgyzstan)

Jia Tolentino (Kyrgyzstan 2009-10) dominates the book world this weekend with articles by and about her in the wake of the publication of her new book Trick Mirror. “To Cut a Long Story Short” is an essay by Jai that appears in the Saturday/Sunday issue of The Wall Street Journal  and Jia is interviewed in The New York Times Sunday Book Section. JC Note.   Writer Jia Tolentino on Her Obsession With ‘Disgusting’ Jean Shorts The author and New Yorker staff writer, whose new book of essays ‘Trick Mirror’ is out this week, describes her lifelong affinity for beat-up denim cutoffs JEAN QUEEN The writer, who has been compared dauntingly to both Susan Sontag and Joan Didion, wearing her beloved shorts in her Brooklyn neighborhood. PHOTO: LEETA HARDING FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL By Jia Tolentino Aug. 7, 2019 GROWING UP IN Texas, I attended an evangelical private school whose thorough strictness was . . .

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Athleisure, barre and kale: the tyranny of the ideal woman by Jia Tolentino (Kyrgyzstan)

Thanks for a ‘heads up’ from Bea Hogan (Uzbekistan 1992-94)  Athleisure, barre and kale: the tyranny of the ideal woman How we became suckers for the hard labor of self-optimization. By Jia Tolentino (Kyrgyzstan 2009-10) From The Guardian (US Edition) Last modified on Fri 2 Aug 2019 06.31 EDT The ideal woman has always been generic. I bet you can picture the version of her that runs the show today. She’s of indeterminate age but resolutely youthful presentation. She’s got glossy hair and the clean, shameless expression of a person who believes she was made to be looked at. She is often luxuriating when you see her – on remote beaches, under stars in the desert, across a carefully styled table, surrounded by beautiful possessions or photogenic friends. Showcasing herself at leisure is either the bulk of her work or an essential part of it; in this, she is not so unusual – . . .

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