1
Peace Corps Writer: Paul Theroux, Part 1
2
A Writer Writes: A Poem For Hemingway
3
Review: Peace Corps Memoir of Romania
4
RPCVs And The FBI!
5
The PCVs Of The DR-Profiles In Courage
6
But We Have No PCVs in Nigeria!
7
What JFK Said About The Postcard At The White House, Part 12
8
Murray Frank Remembers The Postcard Affair, Part 11
9
Nepal RPCV Wins National Press Club Journalism Award
10
Givens Reviews The Mind Dancing, Poems by Tony Zurlo

Peace Corps Writer: Paul Theroux, Part 1

He went – in the way the Peace Corps rolls the dice of our lives – to Africa as a teacher. “My schoolroom is on the Great Rift, and in this schoolroom there is a line of children, heads shaved liked prisoners, muscles showing through their rags,” he wrote home in 1964. “These children appear in the morning out of the slowly drifting hoops of fog-wisp. It is chilly, almost cold. There is no visibility at six in the morning; only a fierce white-out where earth is the patch of dirt under their bare feet, a platform, and the sky is everything else.” How many of us stood in front of similar classrooms and saw those young faces arriving with the dawn? How many of us could have written the same sentiments – though not the same sentences – home? And how many of us wanted to be the writer . . .

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A Writer Writes: A Poem For Hemingway

Sunday Morning July 2, 1961 The road home was flat. Miss Mary drove. The old hunter, watching The distant hills, Small breasts against the plains, Thought of Kenya, the rugged Mountains, where death was Close as brush, Gentler than the Slow defacing of flesh.   Fragile as the light birds he Picked from the sky Decades and miles away, He no longer heard the call. He wrote of sin as no small town Methodist ever had, Carving his prose with a new King of tool; Honed in the woods of Michigan, Sharpened by a fascist war, And tempered for an old man of Cuba. Pencils now were hollow in his hands, The juice that flowed so ready Had yellowed in his veins. He was what Gertrude had proclaimed.   Sunday he woke to our tragedy, Sought in the library of his exile His own Kilimanjaro. Feeling in sick hands the . . .

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Review: Peace Corps Memoir of Romania

Bread, Salt, & Plum Brandy: A True Story of Love and Adventure in a Foreign Land by Lisa Fisher Cazacu (Romania 2002–04) San Diego, CA: Aventine Books April 2009 224 pages $14.95 Reviewed by Don Messerschmidt (Nepal 1963-65). There’s something unsettling about one RPCV reading another Peace Corps Volunteer’s memoirs. It inevitably conjures up comparisons and, as often, both sharply similar and contrasting emotions. Never mind that our stories are two continents, four decades, and a gender apart (Romania vs. Nepal, the 2000s vs. the 1960s, and she vs. me), Lisa Fisher Cazacu’s memoir of her PC experience is both remarkably alike and uniquely different from my own. Our mutual experiences range from initial doubts about joining the Peace Corps, to serious culture shock upon arrival in country (and ‘reverse’ culture shock on return home to the states), to difficulties learning the language and various social do’s-&-don’ts, to a host . . .

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RPCVs And The FBI!

The Committee of Returned Volunteers (CRV), the first national organization of RPCVs in 1965 actively opposed the Vietnam war. Their copious writings–newsletters, information kits, analytical papers–portrayed the goals of U.S. foreign policy as exploitative. The true function of the Peace Corps, they believed, was to mask this imperialism by putting a warm and friendly face on America’s presence overseas. CRV members were among the marches showered with tear gas at the 1968 Democratic convention, and in 1970 they occupied the Peace Corps building in Washington for 36 hours to protests the student killings by National Guardsmen at Kent State and Jackson State Universities, as well as the invasion of Cambodia. All of this is detailed by Karen Schwartz who found out this information by filing a Freedom of Information Act request back in 1988 when she was research her book on the agency, What You Can Do For Your Country: An . . .

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The PCVs Of The DR-Profiles In Courage

Beyond the PCVs of Nigeria in the fall of 1961, there are other examples of how PCVs kept the Peace Corps going in the early days of the agency, and there is no better example than what a group of brave Volunteers did in the Dominican Republic in the spring of ’65. Let’s look at how individual PCVs in the field were as important as early Peace Corps Staff in keeping the agency, alive, well, and on its own. We have to remember that regardless of the administrations who are in power, it is Peace Corps Volunteers who are the heart and soul, and the only reason for the agency. Here is the story of the Dominican Republican Volunteers of 1965. Back then the PCVs of the DR were overwhelmingly against the 1963 right-wing military coup that overthrew Juan Bosch’s newly elected, leftist government (which had invited the Peace Corps to . . .

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But We Have No PCVs in Nigeria!

I spotted this article on Nigeria’s “peace corps’ …we’re getting a bad name even when we do have PCVs in country! Now we are truant officers                       Nigeria: Peace Corps Launches Squad to Monitor Students Mustapha Suleiman and Romoke Ahmad 30 July 2009 The Peace Corps of Nigeria recently launched an anti-students loitering squads to monitor loitering among students in various schools in the FCT.The event which held at the Women Development Centre, attracted the Onah of Abaji, Alhaji Baba Yunisa, Abuja Environmental Protection Board’s Director, Engineer Abubakar Shehu Yabo, FCT Director of Basic and Secondary Education Department. AEPB Director Engr. Yabo, lamented over the problems of juvenile delinquencies among youths in the country, despite moral and religious teachings being given to them. “Despite moral and religious teachings, the youths are still swimming in the ocean of destructions by engaging in armed robbery, drug addiction, exam malpractices, bush burning, illegal . . .

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What JFK Said About The Postcard At The White House, Part 12

A police escort with sirens blaring led our dozen Peace Corps buses in one long continuous caravan through every downtown light in Washington, D.C. It was high noon in the District the summer after the famous postcard had been found on the Ibadan campus and we–the 300 Ethiopia-bound Peace Corps Trainees at Georgetown University–were on our way to meet John F. Kennedy at the White House. There were other Peace Corps Trainees meeting the President that afternoon. Peace Corps Trainees at Howard, American, Catholic, George Washington universities, and the University of Maryland, over 600 in all, gathered in the August heat and humidity on the great lawn below the Truman Balcony. Arriving at the White House, I walked with the others up the slope with the Washington Monument behind me and the White House on the slight rise ahead, thinking how small the building was, no bigger than the country . . .

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Murray Frank Remembers The Postcard Affair, Part 11

In the Fall, 1999 issue of the Friends of Nigeria Newsletter, Frank recalls the incident and those early tense days in Ibadan, Nigeria. Murray writes: The Postcard Affair began October 14, 1961. That was the day Peace Corps Nigeria almost came to an end . . . before it started. And I was in the middle of it all. Nigeria I had arrived in Ibadan early in October. Volunteers were settling into dormitories at the University of Ibadan (then a part of the University of London and called University College of Ibadan) where they would continue the training started at Harvard. I was the Western Region Peace Corps Representative. My family and I arrived in September, ahead of any other Regional Representatives and their families. Brent Ashabranner, who left AID to become Nigeria’s first Peace Corps Director, helped us get settled. We had a house in Bodija, a middle-class development between the center of . . .

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Nepal RPCV Wins National Press Club Journalism Award

Marlena Hartz, who served in Nepal, and is a reporter for the Lubbock Avalanche Journal, won this year’s National Press Club’s Dennis Feldman Fellowship for Graduate Studies in Journalism. Marlena Hartz  of Lubbock, Texas, won a $5,000 stipend for graduate school. She is headed to the University of Denver, where she plans to study print and digital journalism. Hartz has previously won awards for stories in competition with much bigger papers. A narrative writer who knows how to tell a good story, she’s found a lot of stories in her small corner of the world. Her articles include the story of a local soldier wounded in Iraq and the revelation that the president of Texas Tech’s medical school spent thousands of dollars of university funds on travel for his wife.  As a Volunteer in Nepal, she said, she met people who she cannot forget and they inspired her to tell stories back home. “The recipe for successful journalism . . .

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Givens Reviews The Mind Dancing, Poems by Tony Zurlo

The Mind Dancing, poems by Tony Zurlo (Nigeria 1962-64) with Art and Chinese calligraphy by Vivian Lu was published in 2009 by Plain View Press, Austin, Texas, (80 pages, $14.95) This collection of poems is reviewed here by John Givens (Korea 1967-69)  A problem faces the poet who wishes to write about a culture not his own: how fully should you occupy its experiences and expectations? You can accept the advantages and limitations of being an outsider and describe what you observe objectively; or you can attempt to mimic the stance of an insider in order to generate a “truer” sense of what it feels like to be there. When the culture in question is China’s, with its ancient and well-known poetic forms and traditions, the task becomes like that faced by a translator: phrases characteristic of one language won’t have equivalencies in another. You can try for a literal word-for-word  . . .

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