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Peace Corps Placement Test
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Review — TWO YEARS BEHIND THE PLOW by Jonathan Stewart (Nepal)
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Mark Gearan interviews Jody Olsen at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum
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Our Most Famous & Infamous RPCV: Marjorie Michalmore (Nigeria)
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“Rent Check” by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay)
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“Breaking the Rules: When to Ignore Good Advice“ by Lenore Myka (Romania)
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A TOWERING TASK will be screened at Yale University, November 9
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A Writer Writes — “House Building On Rapa Nui” by Michael Beede (Peru)
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A Writer Writes — about BOWING TO ELEPHANTS by Bonnie Lee Black (Gabon)
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A Writer Writes — “Why Trees Aren’t Just Colorful” by Roger K. Lewis (Tunisia)

Peace Corps Placement Test

In the early days of the Peace Corps there was a Placement Test given to all applicants. Actually it was two tests. A 30-minute General Aptitude Test and a 30-minute Modern Language Aptitude Test. The areas of testing were in Verbal Aptitude, Agriculture, English, Health Sciences, Mechanical Skills, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, World History, Literature, United States History and Institutions, and Modern Language Aptitude. One-hour achievement tests in French and Spanish were also offered during the second hour. The instruction pamphlet that accompanied the tests said that the results would be used “to help find the most appropriate assignment for each applicant.” For those who missed the opportunity to take the tests, which were given — as best I can remember — from 1961 until around 1967, I am including a few of the questions. Lets see if you could still get into the Peace Corps back then. Verbal Aptitude . . .

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Review — TWO YEARS BEHIND THE PLOW by Jonathan Stewart (Nepal)

Two Years Behind the Plow: Bringing the Green Revolution to Nepal by Jonathan Stewart (Nepal 1969-72) Self-Published 254 pages October 2019 $20.00 (paperback) order from the author at: 20116 Cumulus Land, Bend OR 97702   Reviewed by John Comings (Nepal 1969-72) • In August of 1969, Peace Corps Nepal’s Group 19 landed in Kathmandu. Fifty years later, one of the group’s agriculture volunteers, Jon Stewart, finished writing a memoir of his time as a PCV. I was a member of Nepal 19, and Jon’s book is an honest portrait of a Nepal PCVs experience at that time. Being a PCV in Nepal 19 meant not seeing or talking with your family or friends for two years, communicating by writing letters and waiting a month for a response, and sometimes going for months without seeing another American.  It also meant being sick all the time, often lonely, and occasionally malnourished. Why then, . . .

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Mark Gearan interviews Jody Olsen at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Susan Zawalich —    Mark D. Gearan (left), Jody Olsen (center), and Barbara Stewart (right) discuss the importance of young people having the opportunity to pursue public service, seen here at the Institute of Politics.  Photo: Sung Kwang Oh By Christina T. Pham and Ethan Lee Harvard Crimson   Director of the Peace Corps Jody Olsen and Barbara Stewart, chief executive officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service said at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum on Friday that increasing Americans’ awareness of service opportunities is critical to expanding public service. Moderated by Mark D. Gearan ’78, a former director of the Peace Corps and the current director of the Institute of Politics, Stewart and Olsen each spoke about how they began their journey in service. Stewart credited her mother for instilling in her the inspiration to volunteer. Olsen’s journey began later in her life, . . .

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Our Most Famous & Infamous RPCV: Marjorie Michalmore (Nigeria)

In Alana DeJoseph (Mali 1992–94) wonderful new documentary on the Peace Corps–A Towering Task — there is a segment on Marjorie Michelmore “postcard incident” in Nigeria. For those RPCVs who don’t know about the ‘postcard’, here is some background information that I have published over the years. Note: JC     Marjorie Michelmore was a twenty-three-year-old magna cum laude graduate of Smith College when she became one of the first people to apply in 1961 to the new Peace Corps.. She was an attractive, funny, and smart woman who was selected to go to Nigeria. After seven weeks of training at Harvard, her group flew to Nigeria. There she was to complete the second phase of teacher training at University College at Ibadan, fifty miles north of the capital of Lagos. By all accounts, she was an outstanding Trainee. Then on the evening of October 13, 1961, she wrote a postcard to a . . .

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“Rent Check” by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay)

  Rent Check by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay 1978-80) evergreen magazine • The question was did Janelle fuck Old Ray Taylor so they got the house. Grace drew a quick picture mental picture of herself, the sticks and circles of her that moment. On her knees next to the bathtub, kneecaps aching where they touched the tile floor. Washing Meadow’s hair because something was wrong with her granddaughter, Meadow always forgot where she was so forgot what came next, for example rinse the soap out. On the toilet seat, Grace’s pocketbook. In the pocketbook, a pack of L&M. Against Grace’s better judgment it was December, but so far she was keeping November’s promise not to smoke inside. She was asking herself did her daughter fuck the owner of the house Grace was living but now not smoking in. And how come it mattered so goddamn much. Ha! If she could answer . . .

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“Breaking the Rules: When to Ignore Good Advice“ by Lenore Myka (Romania)

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Marnie Mueller (Ecuador 1963-65)     Breaking the Rules: When to Ignore Good Advice by Lenore Myka (Romania 1994-96) THE LITERARY LIFE Poets &Writers September/October 2018 • I waved the white flag, surrendering. The novel I had developed a relationship with—had spent time and resources and emotional energy on—had built a fortress around itself, locking me out. It did not want me. But more to the point, I did not want it. We were through. As in any dysfunctional relationship, it had taken me a long time to get to this point. Six years, to be exact. Four different drafts, a total of more than a thousand pages, which did not include the dozens of index cards, the journals and notebooks filled with ideas and research and mind-maps; the hundreds of dollars spent on out-of-print books and DVDs and even a poster featuring a . . .

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A TOWERING TASK will be screened at Yale University, November 9

    A Towering Task is the  documentary of the history of the Peace Corps. Sargent Shriver was the architect of the iconic organization.  On November 9th, the 104th Anniversary of Shriver’s birthday, Yale University, Shriver’s Alma Mater, will screen “A Towering Task”. Yale University Screening When: Saturday, November 9, 2019 3:30 PM – 6:00 PM Where:Edward P. Evans Hall – School of Management Zhang Auditorium, 165 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, CT 06511 Description: A screening of the film that tells the story of Peace Corps – A Towering Task! Directed by Alana DeJoseph with Associate Producer Dave Steinke, the film is narrated by Annette Bening. Founded during the Cold War, the Peace Corps stands as an icon of American idealism. From the beginning its mission of world peace and friendship proved to be a towering task. Imbued with the unbounded energy and vision of its charismatic leader, Sargent Shriver, and thousands . . .

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A Writer Writes — “House Building On Rapa Nui” by Michael Beede (Peru)

  House Building On Rapa Nui By Michael Beede (Peru 1963–65; Venezuela (1968–70) • Rapa Nui, Te Pito Te Henua,The Navel of The World, Isla de Pascua, Easter Island. These are a few of the names of this enigmatic 65 square mile speck of land in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. For centuries it has irresistibly drawn the imaginations and souls of adventurers and dreamers to its rocky shores. I was one who fell under the magical spell of Rapa Nui. When Noemi, my partner, her four-year-old son, Ali, and I returned to Rapa Nui in 1974, the Islanders greeted us as rich and conquering heroes. When that did not turn out to be the case, the welcome began to wear thin. Locals then saw us as poor Pascuenses, bums, creatures lower than homeless beggars. In Hanga Roa, the Island’s only village, we shuffled from relatives and friends to . . .

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A Writer Writes — about BOWING TO ELEPHANTS by Bonnie Lee Black (Gabon)

    Bowing To Elephants Bonnie Lee Black (Gabon 1996-98) • The difference between an autobiography and a memoir, I used to tell my students, has everything to do with a couple of prepositions: of and from. An autobiography is the story of a life — usually the life of a rich and famous person — written by that person (or his or her ghost writer). Whereas a memoir is a story (or stories) from the life of a more-or-less ordinary person. A famous person can begin her autobiography at the very beginning (I was born in the dead of winter in a one-room cabin with no heat or running water in the hills of Appalachia, let’s say), and the reader will stick with it because all the while in the back of that reader’s mind there’ll be the nagging question: How in the world did this person ever get to be rich and famous?! The memoirist, on . . .

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A Writer Writes — “Why Trees Aren’t Just Colorful” by Roger K. Lewis (Tunisia)

  Why trees aren’t just colorful fall features for our region’s neighborhoods   by Roger K. Lewis (Tunisia 1964-66) President, Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation The Washington Post Oct. 25, 2019 • October’s changing leaf colors, along with intrusive leaf-blower noise, are signals every year that fall is definitely upon us and winter will be arriving in a few weeks. But these sights and sounds also remind us how wonderfully verdant the nation’s capital is. We are quite fortunate. Few cities match metropolitan Washington’s extraordinary amount of tree-covered, vegetated open space. Thousands of acres of interconnected, stream-valley parks thread around and through the region, which encompasses countless neighborhood public parks varying greatly in size, shape, topography, flora and function. Complementing our urban and suburban public parkland are hundreds of thousands of private outdoor spaces — front yards, backyards, courtyards — all contributing in different ways to the fall color display. Washington is . . .

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