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11 New books by Peace Corps writers | July–August 2022
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Much Cause for Worry
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In Case You Missed Affiliate Group Network Annual Meeting (AGNAM) (I did!)
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Maureen Orth Foundation Fund Raising Party
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THE BAD ANGEL BROTHERS — new from Paul Theroux (Malawi)
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Review — THE GRIEVER’S GROUP by Richard Wiley (Korea)
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Ann Moore (Togo) — The Volunteer Who Invented the Snugli
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Ringling College of Art & Design hosts RPCVs
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Review — A FIVE FINGER FEAST by Tim Suchsland (Kazakhstan)
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2022 Award for Writer of the Year
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2022 Winner of the Best Third Goal Effort: LUCKY: An African Student, An American Dream, and a Long Bike Ride
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RPCVs who made significant contributions to sports
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2022 Award for Best Peace Corps Memoir — Love and Latrines in the Land of Spiderweb Lace
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On the Road Again by Bonnie Black (Gabon)
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Peace Corps Volunteers Resume Service (Madagascar)

11 New books by Peace Corps writers | July–August 2022

  To purchase any of these books from Amazon.com — CLICK on the book cover, the bold book title, or the publishing format you would like — and Peace Corps Worldwide, an Amazon Associate, will receive a small remittance from your purchase that will help support the site and the annual Peace Corps Writers awards. We include a brief description for each of the books listed here in hopes of encouraging readers  to order a book and/or  to VOLUNTEER TO REVIEW IT.  See a book you’d like to review for Peace Corps Worldwide? Send a note to Marian at marian@haleybeil.com, and she will send you a free copy along with a few instructions. In addition to the books listed below, I have on my shelf a number of other books whose authors would love for you to review. Go to Books Available for Review to see what is on that shelf. Please, please join in our Third . . .

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Much Cause for Worry

A Clear-Eyed Look at Africa by Mark G. Wentling Honduras 1967-69, Togo 1970-73 Foreign Service Journal September 2022 • It is time to put sentiment aside and look clearly at Africa through an objective lens, this Senior Foreign Service officer asserts. After working and living in every corner of the continent and visiting its 54 countries over the last 50 years, I cannot help but worry about Africa’s future, and I want to spell out why. I apologize in advance to all my African friends. Though this article may come across as being too negative, I believe we need a dose of realism. It is time to put sentiments aside and look clearly at Africa through an objective lens, without exaggerating its future promise. There is no question that peace, stability and good leadership are essential to the advancement of any country. Today the opposite exists in most African countries, . . .

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In Case You Missed Affiliate Group Network Annual Meeting (AGNAM) (I did!)

Dear AGNAM Participants, On behalf of our team at NPCA, thank you all for your engagement in the 2022 Affiliate Group Network Annual Meeting (AGNAM). We enjoyed the opportunity to see you all and share updates, successes, and ideas during the meeting. As promised, we are sharing the event recording, detailed agenda with links , and responses to unanswered questions you asked in our post-event survey. Find our responses to your questions below. If you did not yet have the chance to provide feedback during the event, you can still fill in your thoughts here. First, as announced at AGNAM, two relevant decisions have been made by the NPCA Board of Directors. First, Dan Baker has graciously stepped in as NPCA’s Interim President and CEO. Dan will guide NPCA’s operations as the board moves ahead in its search for a new CEO. The second decision is I will be co-chairing . . .

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Maureen Orth Foundation Fund Raising Party

The September issue of Stroll Spring Valley features Maureen and students from Escuela Marina Orth on the cover. Find out how it all began from Maureen’s Peace Corps days in Medellin: https://www.strollmag.com/locations/spring-valley-dc/articles/-5f6638/  Please come to the fiesta!   When Maureen Orth, best-selling author, special correspondent at Vanity Fair magazine, and resident of Spring Valley, graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, at 21, she was desperate to travel abroad. Seeking adventure, and heeding President John F. Kennedy’s call to serve, she applied to join the Peace Corps and asked to be sent to Latin America — an area of the world she had always felt drawn to culturally. Assigned to be sent to live in a poor barrio on the outskirts of Medellin, Colombia (coincidentally, the first country Kennedy himself visited upon becoming president), Orth prepared for her time there by training at the Columbia University School of Social Work, studying Spanish and practicing the . . .

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THE BAD ANGEL BROTHERS — new from Paul Theroux (Malawi)

  From Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-64) comes a brilliant new novel of chilling psychological depth, the tale of a younger brother whose lifelong rivalry with his older brother—a powerful lawyer with a pattern of gleefully vicious betrayals—culminates in the ultimate plan: murder. Cal has always lived in the shadow of his manipulative and domineering brother, Frank, who was doted upon by their mother and beloved by the girls in their small New England hometown—including Cal’s own girlfriends. In an attempt to escape Frank’s intrusive presence, Cal pursues a different kind of freedom in the world’s wild spaces, prospecting for gold and precious minerals everywhere from the heat of the desert at the Mexican border to the Alaskan chill, to central Africa, and Colombian mines where he will meet the love of his life, Vida. Soon he is dripping in wealth, his pockets full of gold nuggets and emeralds, but the . . .

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Review — THE GRIEVER’S GROUP by Richard Wiley (Korea)

  THE GRIEVERS’ GROUP by Richard Wiley (Korea 1967-69) Stay Thirsty Press May 2022 383 pages $16.95 (Paperback), $9.99 (Kindle)   Reviewed by Kathleen Coskran (Ethiopia 1965-67) • The idea behind The Grievers’ Group is intrinsically interesting — a therapy group of five strangers who have recently lost a spouse facilitated by a quirky therapist, Pórdís Jakobsdōttir, whose only college “degree” is an honorary one from Chokkold Institute in Iceland. She conducts the therapy sessions in her simply furnished living room dominated by the imposing image of her mentor Josefine Christophersen-Hemmingsen which gives Pórdis comfort and the appearance of legitimacy. The picture never speaks, but her looming image affects everybody, especially her mentee. The story unfolds like many tales of strangers grouped together at random with some surprising twists especially when the reader learns early on that relatives of two of the grievers, Cornelius’ 14-year-old granddaughter Phoebe and LaVeronica’s son, . . .

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Ann Moore (Togo) — The Volunteer Who Invented the Snugli

  by Jeremiah Norris Colombia 1963-65   After graduating from the University of Cincinnati, Ann Moore taught pediatric nursing at Babies Hospital, Colombia University, in New York. In 1962, the Chief Resident of Pediatrics at Babies Hospital was asked to organized the first Peace Corps medical team to go to Togo, and Ann was recruited along with 30 other medical and health specialists — doctors, nurses, lab techs, a pharmacist, and a sanitation engineer. Their mission was to teach preventive care. For the entire first year in Togo they worked in an abandoned hospital where they treated —and nurtured patients back to health. In the second year, they were able to teach various good health promoting behaviors — like nutrition, latrine building, hand washing, etc. The volunteers all noted and remarked about the outstanding emotional well-being of African infants, either sick or healthy. All of the babies and toddlers were . . .

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Ringling College of Art & Design hosts RPCVs

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Leita Kaldi (Senegal 1993-96)   Volunteer and Club Fair Sarasota, Florida     The “Volunteer and Club Fair” is an annual event during normal times, but this was the first event post covid restrictions at the Ringling College of Art & Design, in Sarasota, Florida. This event is designed for the students at the college. There was a screener at the door to facilitate the entry of the students attending the event and to allow the invited clubs and volunteer groups to enter. The students join clubs affiliated with the college and find out more about both campus based and outside volunteer opportunities, such as the Peace Corps, especially since the college hosts select outside groups to join the event. RPCV GCFL being one of those. The “Volunteer and Club Fair” has been going on for at least 10 years. The RPCV GCFL affiliate . . .

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Review — A FIVE FINGER FEAST by Tim Suchsland (Kazakhstan)

  A Five Finger Feast: Two Years in Kazakhstan, Lessons from the Peace Corps by Tim  Suchsland (Kazakhstan 2007–09), author and illustrator Peace Corps Writers, May 2022 395 pages $19.99 (paperback) Reviewed by John Chromey (India 1963–65); (PC CD/Eastern Caribbean (1977–79); (Assoc Dir-PC/Washington 1979–1981) • Tim Suchsland, a teacher and artist, takes the reader on a very interesting journey into a vast corner of the world that  none of us has ever seen, of which we know virtually nothing, which borders on Russia’s infamous Siberia and yet is populated with very interesting people — Kazaks from many tribes, Armenians, Volga Germans and Russians — each with a story of how their people came to be in the village of Valenka, twenty miles from the Russian border and 840 miles (22 hours by road) from the Kazakh capitol, Almaty. Any of us who served in the Peace Corps in the 1960s, ’70s . . .

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2022 Award for Writer of the Year

  Tom Bissell Uzbekistan 1996   Tom Bissell  was born in Escanaba, Michigan, in 1974. He has published ten books, including Chasing the Sea: Lost Among the Ghosts of Empire in Central Asia (2003), The Father of All Things: A Marine, His Son, and the Legacy of Vietnam (2007), Apostle (2016), and Creative Types: And Other Stories (2021). His work has been awarded the Rome Prize, the 2004 Peace Corps Writers Award for Best Travel Book for Chasing the Sea, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has also done extensive screenwriting work for both the video-game industry and Hollywood. His work on Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End earned him a WGA Award for Best Video Game Writing. He co-developed the series The Mosquito Coast, based on the novel of the same name by RPCV Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963–65), for Apple Television. His most well-known book, The Disaster Artist: My Life inside ‘The Room’, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever . . .

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2022 Winner of the Best Third Goal Effort: LUCKY: An African Student, An American Dream, and a Long Bike Ride

by Brooke Marshall Malawi 2013–15   Poverty, hunger, disease, and a damaged education system prevent most rural Malawian students from finishing high school. Even if you’re persistent, gifted, and lucky enough to graduate with honors, college is prohibitively expensive. You could be the smartest kid in school and still end up working as a subsistence farmer for the rest of your life. What if these students could go to college in America? To try to answer this question, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Brooke Marshall rode a bicycle from Raleigh to Seattle, visiting universities and telling them about the potential of students from the African village. This is a story about her journey, the people she met, and what she learned on the way. It’s about what happens when you try to change the world: the good, the bad, and the awkward. And it’s a passionate plea for everyone — whether . . .

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RPCVs who made significant contributions to sports

by George Brose (Tanzania 1965-67)   There are lists of politicians, writers, CEO’s, artists, and film people, even an astronaut who were in the Peace Corps in their early or later years.  But I’ve yet to see anything about sports figures who have been PCV’s.  I personally know of a few who I would call major sports figures and in talking with John Coyne we decided that these folks should not go unnoticed for their service in the Peace Corps and their contributions on the playing fields. My area of expertise is track and field, and this sport is where I have found most of my subjects. They include an Olympic champion, a Boston Marathon champion, a famous coach, a not so famous runner but one who has been a long-time contributor to the sport, and another lesser known gem, and I’m even going to include a sportswriter who described . . .

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2022 Award for Best Peace Corps Memoir — Love and Latrines in the Land of Spiderweb Lace

by Mary Lou Shefsky Paraguay 1974–76   I thoroughly enjoyed reading this Peace Corps memoir because the book demonstrates Mary Lou Shefsky’s deep connections and commitment to the people and families she met during her service. I found the details in the book both surprising and enjoyable as she describes her work, her problems, and the deep relationships she develops with her Paraguayan friends and “family.” She also writes about her many continuing visits with them, both in Paraguay and the US, following her service, which is a common theme among returned Volunteers who shared many great experiences with host country nationals and the people they served. The many color photographs in the book add a great deal to the story, and provide insights into Mary Lou’s experiences and the people with whom she shared them. An added feature of Mary Lou’s story is, of course, her developing relationship with . . .

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On the Road Again by Bonnie Black (Gabon)

On the Road Again The WOW Factor: Words of Wisdom from Wise Older Woman By Bonnie Black (Gabon 1996-98) Whenever I want to travel without leaving home, I turn to Paul Theroux. Right now I’m accompanying him on his nostalgic trip throughout Asia in his 2008 book Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, in which he retraces the epic journey he took in 1973 when he was in his early thirties, which became his first bestseller, The Great Railway Bazaar. I’ll admit it: I love traveling with this man this way. I love his sensibilities, his observations, his breadth, the sound of his voice on the page. I love the way he chooses to travel – down to earth, close to the real people – the way I, too, prefer to be. In an effort to remain a companionable traveling companion, I tend to agree with him and go along with everything he . . .

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Peace Corps Volunteers Resume Service (Madagascar)

Peace Corps Volunteers Resume Service Ambassador Pierangelo congratulated the Volunteers and thanked local Peace Corps staff August 19, 2022   The Peace Corps officially welcomed the return of two Volunteers who resumed their service in a swearing in ceremony Tuesday with U.S. Ambassador Claire A. Pierangelo and Peace Corps Country Director Brett Coleman. The Volunteers were among those who left the country in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.They returned to Antananarivo earlier this month and have spent the last two weeks refreshing their Malagasy language skills in preparation for service as middle and high school English teachers. An additional thirty new Volunteers will arrive in Madagascar later this month to teach English and work in agriculture Ambassador Pierangelo congratulated the Volunteers and thanked local Peace Corps staff. She highlighted the importance of the oath taken by each volunteer and noted it is the same oath taken by the . . .

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