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Review | BURMA SAHIB by Paul Theroux (Malawi)
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Peace Corps Volunteers sworn in, marking historic return to Sri Lanka
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Zack Guido (Bolivia) . . . Climate Change RPCV
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Lisa Curtis of Kuli Kuli Foods
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Review | AFGHANISTAN: CROSSROADS AND KINGDOMS by Guy Toby Marion
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CoastLine: How Peace Corps service influenced four volunteers . . .
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Picture the Way It Was
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Peter Hessler Sells His Car in China
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The Volunteer Who Became the U. S. Ambassador to Finland | Charles C. Adams, jr. (Kenya)
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New books by Peace Corps writers | January — February 2024
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The Volunteer who became a noted playwright | Rajiv Joseph (Senegal)
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Peace Corps Week features film screening Feb. 29 at University of Nebraska
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Review | A BOUQUET OF DAYS by Fran Palmeri (Benin)
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Jane Albritton (India) answers NY TIMES writer
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“Photos from Afghanistan” from Toby Marion

Review | BURMA SAHIB by Paul Theroux (Malawi)

  Burma Sahib by Paul Theroux (Malawi 1963-65) Mariner Books February 2024 400 pages $14.99 (Kindle); $30.00 (Hardback);  1 Credit (Audio book) Reviewed by Mark D. Walker (Guatemala 1971-73)   • • •  Here one of the more prolific, best-known Returned Peace Corps Volunteer authors reimagines one of English literature’s most controversial writers in his early, formative years. Theroux leads us on the journey of Eric Blair, a British Raj officer in Colonial Burma to his transformation to George Orwell, the anti-colonial writer. Blair set sail for India shortly after graduating from the same prestigious private school of Eton whose alumni included Boris Johnson and nineteen other British prime ministers. Despite his young age (19), he would oversee local policemen in Burma and deal with his fellow British’s racial and class politics while trying to learn new languages. His father, a middling official in Britain’s opium trade, had served in India, and . . .

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Peace Corps Volunteers sworn in, marking historic return to Sri Lanka

    Colombo, March 06, 2024 – In a ceremony held in Colombo on March 6, Peace Corps Director Carol Spahn, U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung, First Lady Professor Maithree Wickremesinghe, and Minister of Education Dr. Susil Premajayantha officiated the swearing-in of 20 Peace Corps Volunteers from the United States. This marks the 25th group of Peace Corps Volunteers to serve in Sri Lanka since 1998. The cohort of skilled, diverse Trainees arrived in November 2023 to begin 12 weeks of training. Following three months of intensive training in language, culture, and effective engagement within Sri Lankan schools, these Volunteers will now embark on a two-year service journey as English teachers in the Central and Uva provinces. They will work alongside their Sri Lankan counterparts, including English teachers and principals, to deliver English language instruction to Sri Lankan school children. Addressing the swearing-in ceremony, U.S. Ambassador Julie Chung . . .

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Zack Guido (Bolivia) . . . Climate Change RPCV

  Zack Guido  is Program Manager at the University of Arizona’s International Research and Application Program (IRAP). climate impacts on water resources, co-producing end-to-end climate services, and climate risk management. Guido has also conducted research to advance climate adaptation planning with Arizona municipalities and worked with Federal emergency managers to develop tailored climate information. In these efforts, Guido employs frameworks for the co-production of science in order to make climate information more credible, relevant, and useful. Guido has extensive international research and practice experience. A three-year Peace Corps stint in Bolivia between 2000 and 2003 subsequently paved the way for him to co-found a 501(c)3 non-profit organization to work with rural Bolivians to make their water resources more resilient to shortfalls from drought and retreating glaciers. This topic also became part of Guido’s PhD dissertation (2015) at the University of Arizona’s School of Natural Resources and Environment. Guido has also . . .

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Lisa Curtis of Kuli Kuli Foods

Lisa Curtis (Niger 2010-11), founder and CEO of Kuli Kuli Foods, traveled the world with the hope of making it a better place. Working in the Peace Corps in Niger, Africa, she realized the infinite power of moringa, an ingredient made from the “drumstick tree” that is known for its antioxidant and inflammatory properties. “I was working in a very rural village where I was eating rice every day,” says Curtis, who is a vegetarian. “I was pretty tired and wanted to feel better.” While volunteering, some of the women told Curtis to eat moringa and showed her a fried peanut snack called kuli kuli that’s made with moringa leaves. “It had an incredible impact on me,” Curtis says. “It made me feel energized.” High in protein, calcium and iron, moringa is a nutrient-dense superfood with 27 vitamins and 46 antioxidants. Medical News Today lists several benefits of moringa, with links . . .

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Review | AFGHANISTAN: CROSSROADS AND KINGDOMS by Guy Toby Marion

  Afghanistan: Crossroads and Kingdoms — My 1970s Peace Corps Service and Recent Afghan History by Guy Toby Marion (Afghanistan 1971-75) Peace Corps Books January 2024 280 pages $21.95 (Paperback); $8.95 (Kindle) Reviewed by Robin Varnum (Afghanistan 1971-73)  • • •  In 1974, after serving for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Afghanistan, Guy Toby Marion (known to his friends as Toby), returned to New York on home leave and was greeted by a family friend, who said, “welcome to civilization.” Toby smiled politely, but he thought privately that, “despite its poverty, Afghanistan was cultured and civilized.” Toby’s Afghanistan: Crossroads and Kingdoms (Peace Corps Writers, 2024) displays its author’s deep appreciation of Afghanistan’s culture, Islamic religion, poetry, and history. Sadly, that history has often been violent, since as Toby points out, “from ancient times Afghanistan has been an historical crossroads, seeing many wars and changes of empire.” When Toby arrived . . .

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CoastLine: How Peace Corps service influenced four volunteers . . .

In the news By Rachel Lewis Hilburn WHQR, Wilmington, NC February 26, 2024 . . . they worked in Ukraine, Namibia, Armenia, and Tonga   Since 1961, the Peace Corps, envisioned and created by President John F. Kennedy, has sent volunteers around the globe to help developing countries.  The obvious aim is to meet the goals identified by the host country – not the Americans.  But just as important are the relationships that develop from this work, promoting world peace and friendship. “How many of you who are going to be doctors, are willing to spend your days in Ghana?… on your willingness to contribute part of your life, I think will depend the answer whether a free society can compete.” Those are the words of then-Senator John F. Kennedy, delivered in a 2 AM impromptu speech at the University of Michigan. It was October 14, 1960, during his presidential campaign, when . . .

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Picture the Way It Was

  After seeing the photos Guy Marion (Afghanistan  1971–75) shared  at “Photos from Afghanistan” that showed what it was like for Guy in-country, I thought “that’s what we need!” John agreed! So if you would like to share what it looked like where you were and what you were doing, send me — a maximum of 8 in-country photos with a caption for each — your work, your living quarters, your town, etc, a recent head-shot  of yourself and a paragraph about what you did, and when it was. Marian  marian@haleybeil.com

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Peter Hessler Sells His Car in China

CENSORED ESSAY: PETER HESSLER SELLS HIS CAR Posted by Alexander Boyd | Feb 29, 2024   Acclaimed writer Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) is selling his car in Chengdu, after leaving China in 2021 when his teaching contract was abruptly terminated. Online, the sale of his Honda CRV has spurred a series of reflections on Hessler’s impact on China and on the closing of a chapter in U.S.-China relations. Hessler wrote three famous books on China: River Town, on his Peace Corps service in rural Chongqing; Oracle Bones, a portrait of China past and present with the recurring eponymous motif of China’s oldest recorded writing system; and “Country Driving,” a travelogue detailing his journeys across China. (A fourth, Other Rivers, is on the way.) Some of the reflections on Hessler have proven politically sensitive. In an essay that was later censored, the writer Zhang Feng took to WeChat to lament Hessler’s departure as a . . .

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The Volunteer Who Became the U. S. Ambassador to Finland | Charles C. Adams, jr. (Kenya)

  by Jeremiah Norris (Colombia 1963-65)   Charles C. Adams, jr. was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the son of a career diplomat in the U. S. Department of State. He was raised in the countries of his father’s assignments, including Canada, France, Germany, Ghana, Morocco and Senegal, including Washington, D. C. Charles attended Dartmouth College, receiving a BA degree in 1968. From 1969 to 1970, he was a Peace Corps Volunteer, serving in Kenya, where he taught French, German and Swahili. Following his service, he attended law school at the University of Virginia, and received  his J. D. degree in 1973.  Thus was he was prepared to undertake a professional life focused on international Humanitarian activities and foreign service. He became a partner in an international law firm based in the U. S. and he lead the firm’s international arbitration practice, with a focus on high-value disputes, and serves . . .

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New books by Peace Corps writers | January — February 2024

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. P.S. 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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The Volunteer who became a noted playwright | Rajiv Joseph (Senegal)

  ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Jeremiah Norris Colombia 1963-65. Rajiv Joseph served for three formative years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal, 1996-98. About his time there, he wrote: “Being in Senegal, more than anything else in my life, made me into a writer.” His time there helped him develop the discipline of daily writing and inspired “his fascination with the power of language.” After Peace Corps, Rajiv earned a Master in Fine Arts in Dramatic Writing from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2004. His first play, Huck & Holden, debuted at the Cherry Lane Theater in January 2006. The play also had a West Coast run in the Black Dahlia Theater in Los Angeles the following year. Rajiv stated that the story about an Indian college student arriving in the United States is based on his father’s experience coming to the U. S. Rajiv’s mix-race background has given . . .

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Peace Corps Week features film screening Feb. 29 at University of Nebraska

    A screening of the documentary, “A Towering Task: The Story of the Peace Corps,” will be presented at 5 p.m. Feb. 29 in the Nebraska Union’s Swanson Auditorium at the University of Nebraska. In the film, host country nationals, Peace Corps Volunteers and staff, and scholars and journalists take a closer look at peace building, economic development, and political independence through the Peace Corps’ more than six decades of trials and transformations. “A Towering Task” asks what role should the Peace Corps play in the 21st century? Sponsored by the Global Experiences Office, School of Global Integrative Studies, and Forsythe Family Program on Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, the screening is free and open to the public. Popcorn and soda will be served. Learn more on the events calendar and RSVP by Feb. 28. This event takes place during Peace Corps Week (Feb. 25 to March 2), which commemorates March 1, 1961, . . .

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Review | A BOUQUET OF DAYS by Fran Palmeri (Benin)

  A Bouquet of Days: Rambles through the Natural Beauties of Florida by Fran Palmeri (Benin 1967–68) Blurb 200 pages January 2024 $32.87 (paperback) Reviewed by Leita Kaldi Davis (Senegal 1993-96),  • • • Fran Palmeri and her husband Bob, who was with the USIA, were assigned to  Dahomey (now Benin) in 1967/68, and helped set up the Peace Corps program there.  She is a member of the RPCV Gulf Coast Florida group.  An award-winning writer/photographer, Fran has been exploring natural Florida for fifty years. A Bouquet of Days is divided into four chapters, one for each season.  Fran guides us through the manifestations of Florida’s seasonal changes as they affect the weather, plants, animals, insects, birds, trees and whatever else lives on this tiny tongue of the planet.  She also tells you through her expressive words and color-splashed photographs how the changes affect her.  “Sometimes when winter overstays its welcome a . . .

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Jane Albritton (India) answers NY TIMES writer

On February 20, 2024 journalist and political commentator, Nicholas Donabet, published in the New York Times a column where he called on young people to Study Spanish in Bolivia. Or teach English in South Korea. Or volunteer in Nepal. Never once did he mention THE PEACE CORPS! What does he think we have been doing since 1961? Well, today Jane Albritton (India 1967-69) in an “Op-Ed” letter,  answers the New York Times commentator with Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone With Travel Feb. 25, 2024, 11:00 a.m. ET To the Editor: Re “The Isolationism Antidote,” by Nicholas Kristof (column, Feb. 11): I was surprised that in his column addressing the need for Americans to spend time abroad Mr. Kristof failed to mention the fact that the Peace Corps has been doing exactly that since 1961. In 2011, the Peace Corps celebrated its 50th anniversary, and for the occasion three other . . .

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“Photos from Afghanistan” from Toby Marion

Picture the way it was — At the end of 1971 at age 22, Toby Marion went to Afghanistan to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer, where he worked as a high school science teacher trainer in Kapisa Province for two school years, followed by teaching at the faculty of engineering of Kabul University for three semesters. His recently published book published by Peace Corps Writers  “Afghanistan: Crossroads and Kingdoms: My 1970s Peace Corps Service and Recent Afghan History,” is available on Amazon. Toby gives  talks about his work in the ’70s and the difficult past fifty years of history in Afghanistan. In Kabul, he lived through the 1973 coup d’etat against Afghan King Zaher, the Soviet invasion in 1979, the mujaheddin resistance of the 1980’s which defeated the Soviets, the 1990’s civil war, the American and NATO nation building from 2001 after 911, and the ultimate victory of the . . .

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