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RPCV Tayler Travels the Back Roads to Beijing
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Launching the Peace Corps
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Why did you join the Peace Corps?
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Down on the Farm (pun intended)
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Brazaitis Speaks Many Languages
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Back on the Farm
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First Comes Love, then Comes Malaria
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Review — GLEN by Richard Fordyce (Ghana)
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Our Man in Romania
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RPCV receives presidental appointment

RPCV Tayler Travels the Back Roads to Beijing

BOOK REVIEW Murderers in Mausoleums: Riding the Back Roads of Empire Between Moscow and Beijing by Jeffrey Tayler (Morocco 1988-90; PC/Staff Poland 1992, Uzbekistan 1992-93) Houghton Mifflin 2009 Reviewed by Michael Meyer (China 1995-97) As SARS crippled Beijing in 2003, a handful of fellow former Peace Corps China volunteers and I waited out the weeks with bad red wine and the fear that comes from being thirty and far from home, uncertain how to continue freelance writing when editors stopped buying stories that were not about the virus and its cover-up. The Moscow-based Atlantic correspondent Jeffrey Tayler provided unexpected succor then; we passed around his forward to Facing the Congo, a small masterpiece of an essay on existential angst and the desire to achieve something as a writer by age thirty-three — “the age of Christ!” according to the Russian saying. He accepted the challenge, and then some, setting off in . . .

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Launching the Peace Corps

To close out “Peace Corps Week” here’s a little history lesson on the beginnings of the agency for all the X,Y,Z Generations who ask, “how in the world did all of this happen?” Encouraged by over 25,000 letters responding to his call to serve abroad, Kennedy took immediate action to make the campaign promise a reality. He asked Shriver to direct a Peace Corps Task Force–the famous Mayflower Hotel gang–and within two months the task force had outlined “seven steps” to form the Peace Corps in a February 22, 1961 memorandum to Kennedy. This memo is interesting for several reasons. The first point Shriver made was that the Peace Corps should be established by an Executive Order within the Mutual Security Program. William Josephson, then the only lawyer in the ‘new’ Peace Corps was the principal author of the President’s Executive Order. [This is not entirely true for Shriver was . . .

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Why did you join the Peace Corps?

People are still asking that question as we approach the half century of the agency. Back in May of 1966, Joseph Colman, who was then the Acting Associate Director of the Peace Corps for Planning, Evaluation, and Research published a paper in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences and Marian Beil recently asked if I knew about it. I tracked down a copy of Colman’s paper that reports on several studies of motivation for joining the agency, based on a 1962 study of 2,612 applications’ replies to a motivational question on the application form; a 1963 interview study of why people who apply later decline a specific invitation to enter training; and a 1964 interview study of college series’ interest in the Peace Corps. Colmen’s paper concludes that Volunteers can be successful in the Peace Corps with a variety of motivations for joining. Well, no . . .

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Down on the Farm (pun intended)

BOOK REVIEW Dominic Cibrario (Nepal 1962-64) is one of the many RPCVs who are publishing their novels as PODs. He sent it to me a few months ago and I’m happy to be able to showcase Tucker Clark who also served in Nepal, review the novel about farm life in Wisconsin. Secrets of the Family Farm by Dominic Cibrario (Nepal 1962-64) Booksurge, 2008 Reviewed by W. Tucker Clark (Nepal 1967-70) It was puzzling to me why John Coyne asked me to review this book. It was written by someone I had never heard of from the first Peace Corps Volunteer to Nepal. I thought I was fairly knowledgeable about writers, particularly about India and the Peace Corps (thanks to this wonderful webizine), but Dominic Cibrario was new to me. I recently found myself too busy with the Presidential race to start Dominic Cibrario’s self-published paperback, but I knew I had to . . .

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Brazaitis Speaks Many Languages

BOOK REVIEW Mark Brazaitis who is an award winning short story writer as well as a fine novelist also writes poetry, and here another award winning RPCV poet, Phil Dacey, writes a review of Mark’s latest collection. The Other Language: Poems by Mark Brazaitis (Guatemala, 1991–93) ABZ Poetry Press 2009 Reviewed by Philip Dacey (Nigeria 1963–65) I wish Mark Brazaitis had been chosen to present the Presidential inaugural poem instead of Elizabeth Alexander, whose lackluster effort probably won few converts to poetry and disappointed most poets I know.  Brazaitis, on the other hand, would have told a story rich in character and resplendent with language that while familiar — not straining to be poetic — nevertheless rose to the level of memorable song, precisely what was needed on January 20th.  As he writes at the very end of the book: “I don’t know her nor she me. / Today this . . .

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Back on the Farm

BOOK REVIEW A few years ago Professor of Economics at George Mason University,  Carrie Meyer, went home to the Midwest and stumbled upon a cardboard box of diaries kept by her grandmother. She turned them into a history lesson, love letter, and wonderful story. Days on the Family Farm: From the Golden Age to the Great Depression by Carrie A. Meyer (Dominican Republic 1980–83) University of Minnesota Press 2007 Reviewed by M. Susan Hundt-Bergan (Ethiopia 1966-68) In 2000, Carrie Meyer’s family stumbled upon a cardboard box of diaries in their grandmother’s attic in Guilford Township, Illinois.  Most of these diaries were kept by May Lyford Davis, their grandfather’s cousin’s wife, about her life on the very farm where Carrie Meyer had grown up.  Out of these diary notations, Ms. Meyer, an economist at George Mason University, has crafted the story of May and Elmo Davis, their lives and that of . . .

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First Comes Love, then Comes Malaria

BOOK REVIEW First Comes Love, then Comes Malaria:  How a Peace Corps Poster Boy Won My Heart and a Third World Adventure Changed My Life written by Eve Brown-Waite (Ecuador 1988) generated a publisher’s bidding war and an advance of six-figures. If nothing else, it proved that a Peace Corps book (other than one by Paul Theroux) could make money. It is reviewed here (before publication) by Jan Worth-Nelson (Tonga 1976–78) who didn’t get malaria in Tonga when she was a PCV, but who eventually married the man she first met as a PCV, and who wrote a great mystery novel about a murder in the Peace Corps, a tale out of Tonga, entitled, Night Blind. First Comes Love, then Comes Malaria: How a Peace Corps Poster Boy Won My Heart and a Third World Adventure Changed My Life By Eve Brown-Waite (Ecuador 1988-89) EveBrownWaite.com Broadway Books 2009 Reviewed by . . .

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Review — GLEN by Richard Fordyce (Ghana)

  Glen: A Novel by Richard Fordyce (Ghana 1978-80) iUniverse, Inc. 2008 318 pages $18.95 (paperback) Reviewed by Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras, 1975-77) • The Peace Corps has no library. Even the Washington office does not have a single book shelf to treasure the work of its dedicated staff and volunteers who returned home to fulfill the Peace Corps’ third goal, to educate. There are some one thousand known examples, yet not one official collection, not even in the Library of Congress! So, buy Richard Fordyce’s historical novel while it is available. Do not wait to check out a library copy because there is no Peace Corps library. Buy it now. Don’t steal it. Like William Somerset Maugham’s Razor’s Edge, the author explores an era (1950–1980) by using a confused war veteran as the protagonist. In Maugham’s book set during an eleven year lull between world wars, the protagonist journeys . . .

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Our Man in Romania

For almost two years Andy Trincia was ‘our man in Romania’ writing charming “Letters From . . .” for the Peace Corps Writers web site from 2002–04. He finished his tour, married his lovely HCN, and came back to the US, only to return again and again to his wife’s family’s village in the heart of Transylvania. Here is a lovely piece of prose that proves you can go home again to your Peace Corps site . . . Going Home to Mama Ana’s Păuca Several peasants stopped working the fields and waved as we pulled into Păuca, a colorful Romanian village in the heart of Transylvania.  Mama Ana’s “kids” were back from America, they noticed, eager to spread word across the little village faster than wild fire. As picturesque as any of the scores of villages I’ve seen across the region, Păuca is a typical Romanian hamlet, inhabited by . . .

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RPCV receives presidental appointment

RPCV Jeffrey Crowley (Swaziland 1989-91) was appointed by President Obama on Thursday to head the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP). Crowley, is a former officer of the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA) and a current research scholar at the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute. Crowley earned a master’s degree in public health from Johns Hopkins University. As deputy executive director for programs at NAPWA, he worked on both the National HIV Testing Day campaign and the Ryan White National Youth Conference. He is openly gay. As far as I know, this is the first appointment by President Obama of an RPCV to a political position.

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