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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)
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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!

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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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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