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Peru Potatoes — Cornell University & The Peace Corps in the Andes (Peru)
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Talking Tlayudas and Traffic With Paul Theroux (Malawi)
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Review–On the Plain of Snakes: A Mexican Journey by Paul Theroux (Malawi)
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“Justice for Pidgie D’Allessio” by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith (Cameroon)
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Review — HONOLULU DRAGON by Joseph Theroux (Samoa)
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National Service Commission: More information
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Hello, Tanzania RPCVs….An African Scholar Wants To Talk To You!
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The Peace Corps Re-Establishes Program in Solomon Islands
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BLUE COUNTRY by Mark Wentling (Honduras)
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“Learning to Make Lasagna in Kyrgyzstan” by Jia Tolentino (Kyrgyzstan)

Peru Potatoes — Cornell University & The Peace Corps in the Andes (Peru)

  Cornell University describes their mission in Peru: “More than 50 years ago, a Cornell mission to a small village in the Andes introduced social changes that made a profound improvement in the life of the village. Today, echoes of that mission are still visible and may help the community again. From 1952 to 1966 Cornell had an active presence in Vicos (pronounced “vee-kos”), a peasant community in northern Peru…” In 2005, at the request of the Vicos community, Cornell  returned to evaluate the impact of those changes. Read the Cornell report here: http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2009/07/cornell-returns-small-village-andes From 1962  to 1974 ,Peace Corps also worked in Peru, including  in Andean communities.  Peace Corps returned in 2002 and is there, today. Evelyn LaTorre (Peru 1964-66)) described one incidence in her village in the Andes, in 1965.  Her observations are wonderfully accurate and relate to the findings of Cornell so many years later.  Read her . . .

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Talking Tlayudas and Traffic With Paul Theroux (Malawi)

Grub Street By Joshua David Stein “I’m writing now because through the weird journey of my life I’ve gotten to know Paul and Sheila Theroux.” That’s how writer Joshua David Stein told me that he wanted to interview Paul, the famed travel author. When I reminded Stein that Grub Street is a food site, he assured me that wouldn’t be a problem. In the end, he was right, because the conversation that the two had, over lunch at the very good Mexican restaurant Oxomoco, was not only about food, but also about its ability to, with surprising efficiency, reveal something deeper about the people eating it. — Alan Sytsma, editor, Grub Street Talking Tlayudas and Traffic With Paul Theroux By Joshua David Stein It’s a blustery October day in Greenpoint, and when Paul Theroux — traveler of great repute, climber of mountains and dweller of plains — steps out from his . . .

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Review–On the Plain of Snakes: A Mexican Journey by Paul Theroux (Malawi)

On the Plain of Snakes: A Mexican Journey By Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-65) Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 448 pages October  2019     Reviewed by Mark D. Walker  (Guatemala 1971-73) I’ve travelled much of the world over the last forty years, thanks to Paul Theroux’s many books, which now number 56. I was especially eager to read this book since I’ve made the journey through Mexico several times with my wife in a car (VW bug) and a pickup truck, so I was familiar with some of the challenges and dangers, not to mention adventures the author would encounter. The “Godfather of Travel Writing” follows his own critique for what makes a superior travel book, “not just a report of a journey, but a memoir, an autobiography, a confession, a foray in South America, a topography and history, a travel narrative, with observations of books, music, and life in general; in . . .

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“Justice for Pidgie D’Allessio” by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith (Cameroon)

  Justice for Pidgie D’Allessio by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith (Cameroon 1965–67)   I thought I’d finished writing, Girls of Tender Age, ten years ago. Then an email appeared in my inbox with a subject line so unexpected, so shocking, really, that it took me a few minutes to dare touch my fingers to the keyboard. First I went and poured a second cup of coffee, took a couple of gulps, sat down at my desk again and opened the message. The story was not over. A new ending was out there, a miserable one. I bought a new notebook and a box of Pilot G-2s, #10, Bold; I write all my first drafts in longhand. The memoir centered on the murder of Irene Fiederowicz in Hartford, Connecticut. Irene was my friend, my neighbor, and my classmate. The last time I saw her was the day we went on our field trip . . .

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Review — HONOLULU DRAGON by Joseph Theroux (Samoa)

    Honolulu Dragon by Joseph Theroux (Samoa 1975–78) Kilauea Publications August 2019 329 pages $12.00 (paperback), $2.99 (Kindle)   Reviewed by Richard Lipez (Ethiopia 1962-64) • I’ve always been grateful that the Peace Corps sent me to Ethiopia with its culture of great richness and charm. But after reading Joseph Theroux’s engaging novel set in the South Pacific, I’m almost envious of his having landed in Samoa in 1975. His obvious love of the easy-in-the-islands way of life is infectious — not that Theroux shies away from the political and social turbulence that’s part of the region’s checkered history. It’s just like Ethiopia in that regard, and also of course the United States of America. Honolulu Dragon is the third in Theroux’s series featuring Robert Louis Stevenson and his actual step-son Lloyd Osbourne in which the two writers solve crimes. Other real-life characters show up in this tale of Honolulu . . .

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National Service Commission: More information

National service: Rebuilding America’s civic fabric The Brookings Institution hosted a panel discussion among the member of the National Commission on Military Service, National Service, and Public service.  The video should be able to be viewed by clicking on the phrase” Continue reading” in the announcement or https://www.brookings.edu/events/national-service-rebuilding-americas-civic-fabric/   The wide ranging discussion included strong opinions in favor of making a year of “service” mandatory for graduating high school seniors.  If there was also discussion on how the government would pay for such a mandate, let alone enforce it, I missed it. Mark Gearan, former Peace Corps Director, is Vice Chair of the Commission and  spoke about the efforts of the Commission for National Peace Corps Association, here:  https://www.peacecorpsconnect.org/articles/national-service-an-interim-report-on-the-commission-hearings See also: https://peacecorpsworldwide.org/?s=National+Commission+on+Military%2C+National+and+Public+Service  

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Hello, Tanzania RPCVs….An African Scholar Wants To Talk To You!

A Tanzania national and professor of African history at William Paterson of New Jersey is doing research for purposes of publishing a book on the history of the Peace Corps Volunteers in Tanzania. This endeavor is both personal and scholarly. He was taught by a Peace Corps teacher in middle school at Chilonwa in Dodoma, Tanzania. He says that his Peace Corps teacher, Mr. Thomas Houlihan, made a great difference in his schooling experience and motivated him to do the best he could. Also, as the first American that he met Houlihan impressed him as an amiable representation of American friendliness. That being said, his scholarly interest in the history of the Peace Corps Volunteers in Tanzania is due to the fact that their contribution to Tanzania’s development has eluded the attention of students of Tanzania history, with the exception of a few memoirs by returned PCVs. He would like . . .

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The Peace Corps Re-Establishes Program in Solomon Islands

Almost 20 years after departing Solomon Islands, the Peace Corps announced it will re-establish operations in the South Pacific nation. Peace Corps’ efforts in Solomon Islands will initially focus on education and will recruit short-term Volunteers with experience in Peace Corps’ education sector to help re-establish the program. This first group of Volunteers is scheduled to arrive mid-2021. In late 2021, the second group of Volunteers is slated to arrive. They will undergo three months of comprehensive cultural, language and technical training before they are given their two-year assignments. From 1971 to 2000, more than 700 Peace Corps Volunteers served in Solomon Islands.

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BLUE COUNTRY by Mark Wentling (Honduras)

Blue Country by Mark Wentling (Honduras 1967–69, Togo 1970–73; PC Staff: Togo, Gabon, Niger 1973–77) Page Publishing 204 pages August 2019 $16.95 (paperback)   Unexpected twists and turns keep the reader guessing about what will happen next. Throughout this entertaining novel is weaved a one-way dialogue between a dying prisoner who tells repeatedly his sad story to a hungry jailhouse rat, which only lives to eat. The story moves from the death and destruction of one town to the amazing rebuilding of a new town by survivors who lived to tell the tale. The human foibles of many of the book’s characters are displayed. Miracles make possible survival, love, and marriage, but evil lurks beneath the surface, and unforeseeable events determine the future of a people and their country. Heroes live and die by the hand of hidden forces beyond their control. The eyes of an innocent young man, offspring . . .

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“Learning to Make Lasagna in Kyrgyzstan” by Jia Tolentino (Kyrgyzstan)

Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Bea Hogan (Uzbekistan 1992-94)  • Learning to Make Lasagna in Kyrgyzstan In the Peace Corps, cooking gave me a sense of purpose. Or did it just distract me from the purpose that had brought me halfway across the world? by Jia Tolentino (Kyrgyzstan 2010)   I have never been less enamored of “seasonal and local” than I was the winter of 2010. I was living in a small village in the western mountains of Kyrgyzstan, teaching English in the Peace Corps. I had moved to the Central Asian state the previous March, and my arrival had coincided with the beginning of a period of instability there: a coup, a rash of nationalist violence, two militarized evacuations for my earnest cohort. (I had also, due to reasons admittedly within my control, almost gotten kicked out of the program on multiple occasions.) I had lost some . . .

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