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Better Remember This
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The Ballroom
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E-Mailed Any Good Books Lately?
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RPCV From Senegal Writes Play Set in Baghdad Zoo
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Leamer On New Peace Corps in Huffington Post
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RPCV Is One Of The 40 Under 40 In Philly
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Doubling The Peace Corps, Not!
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New Play in NYC By RPCV From Kyrgyzstan
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Self-Published Books Up 132 %
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RPCVs Rally Around Frank Fountain (India 1966-68) For Peace Corps Director

Better Remember This

The 1995 recipient of the Moritz Thomsen Peace Corps Experience Award presented by PEACE CORPS WRITERS for the best short description of life in the Peace Corps. • Better Remember This by Meg Sullivan (Kenya 1992–94) YOU’D BETTER REMEMBER THIS. Because people will ask you. Whether you want them to or not, they’ll ask you how Africa was. And though you won’t know where to start, you’re going to have to have something to tell them. A shrug of the shoulders and “Good” won’t be enough. So you’d better remember this. Open the parts of your mind you need, and work them over until you’ve got them just right. Then put what you know in a place the will be easy for you to get to. Deep, but not too deep. Just enough so that even though no one else can see it, you know it’s there, and you can . . .

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The Ballroom

The 1994 recipient of the Moritz Thomsen Peace Corps Experience Award presented by PEACE CORPS WRITERS for the best short description of life in the Peace Corps. • The Ballroom by Christopher Conlon (Botswana 1988-90) Southern Africa, Kalahari Desert She is the perfect image of a rag doll I saw when I was a child, in a trash can, dirty, ripped abandoned: here in the Kalahari is that same doll, maybe five, eyes huge, legs white with desert dust. Ke Kopa madi, sir, ke kopa madi. Money: I shake my head no, no madi: try to move on. But she stares at me, suddenly transfixed. No longer begging. Her eyes wider than before. My sunglasses: I crouch down, she approaches me, nose to nose, tattered, filthy, she stares at me, at herself. Then her hand moves to her chin and she says Oh, in a tiny, surprised voice. She rubs . . .

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E-Mailed Any Good Books Lately?

Way back when…I was working in the Peace Corps and one of my jobs was to interview PCVs who had ETed. This was in late 1964 and early 1965 and I remember this blond surfer guy coming in for his exit interview. He couldn’t wait to get out of the Peace Corps, having been overseas (I think Malawi) for a matter of weeks. What went wrong, I asked him. Books, he said. Books? Now that was a new one . I waited for him to explain, which he was happy to do. He went onto describe how all the PCVs he saw overseas were carrying thick paperbacks and whenever there was a moment of ‘downtime’ they’d pulled out a paperback and start reading. He kept shaking his head, looking worried, and confessing, “I didn’t want that to happen to me.” Clearly, he wasn’t a reader. I thought about him when I . . .

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RPCV From Senegal Writes Play Set in Baghdad Zoo

Elise Annunziata (Senegal 1996-99) was nice enough to alert me to another RPCV playwright, Rajiv Joseph (Senegal 1997-2000), who had served with her.  Rajiv’s play Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo is currently running at the Kirk Douglas Theater in Los Angeles, and Charles McNulty writing in a LA Times review, says, “Bengal Tiger is no ordinary play. I’m tempted to call it the most original drama written so far about the Iraq war, but why sell the work short? The imagination behind it is way too thrillingly genre-busting to be confined within such a limiting category.” The play came about because Rajiv read a small (200 words) newspaper article in September 2003 about an American soldier stationed in Baghdad who reportedly killed a Bengal tiger at the local zoo after the animal maimed a colleague who was trying to feed it. “When I read the article,” Rajiv says, “I . . .

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Leamer On New Peace Corps in Huffington Post

RPCV writer Laurence Leamer (Nepal 1965-67) filed this story late on Wednesday, May 20,2009, on the “bold new Peace Corps.” I wish I was as confident as others that Congress could override the White House and the budget office, as well as the State Department, and dramatically increase the numbers of Volunteers in the immediate future. I trust the House and Senate to vote for the increase and then not to fund the agency. It has happened before. Anyway, here’s what Larry has to say…. The bold new Peace Corps was born today in room 2172 in the Rayburn House Office Building. It took place as members of the House of Representatives were marking up the Foreign Affairs Authorization Bill authored by Committee Chairman Rep. Howard Berman. For almost every item, the California Democrat kept to the figures in President Obama’s budget, but when it came to the budget for . . .

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RPCV Is One Of The 40 Under 40 In Philly

The Philadelphia Business Journal  presented their 40 Under 40 Awards this month, recognizing 40 individuals, under the age of 40, who are proven performers in their respective industries and communities. This year the ’40 Under 40′ were 29 men and 11 women. And one RPCV! Concetta Anne Bencivenga (Thailand 1992-94) is the CFO and VP of finance and administration for the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia. Concetta recently successfully completed a $60 million tax-exempt debt offering which allowed the museum to finance its expansion and relocation. By doing so, the museum managed to save a National Historic Landmark building and relocate in Philly. Concetta also is a blogger for this site, telling us all how (and why) to join the Peace Corps. For 4 years, before getting her M.P.A. at The University of Texas at Austin, she was a top recruiter in the Peace Corps New York Regional Office. Nicely done, Concetta! Congratulations . . .

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Doubling The Peace Corps, Not!

Robert Textor organizes the “Thirsters” out in Portland, Oregon. I’m on his mailing list. The “Thirsters” reply from all over the world with comments, essays and ideas. As Robert writes, “of the 550 or so Thirsters Worldwide, some 40 are Returned Peace Corps Volunteers.  The RPCVs are, in my view, a very special group of people.  Some of them are now in the seventies, others still in their twenties.  Typically, though, they regard their Peace Corps service as the most influential experience of their entire lives. During the recent campaign, Barack promised to double the number of Peace Corps Volunteers.  Many RPCVs and others were thrilled to hear this, if only because it betokened strong support on his part.  Recent budget proposals, though, suggest that he has changed his mind – no doubt due to the current recession.” This is a very smart essay that Textor has sent around that . . .

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New Play in NYC By RPCV From Kyrgyzstan

Twin Towers, a play by Damian Wampler (Kyrgyzstan 1999-01) will premiere at The Planet Connections Theater Festivity on Friday, June 12th through Sunday, June 28th for six  performances only at the Robert Moss Theater at 440 Studios, 440 Lafayette, in New York’s East Village. Set in the Bronx Twin Towers focuses on the lives of two best friends who have chosen very different life paths– Trevor and Jamal, the Twin Towers of the title, were once inseparable schoolyard buddies. Now, years later, Trevor has returned from Iraq a war hero, while Jamal has returned from years of overseas in the Peace Corps. The two clash as the fantasy of their childhood innocence fades to reveal the truth of their character. Twin Towersis a coming of age story not only for two young men but for our country as well., It incorporates music, dance, a Brazilian dance-like martial art called Capoeira, . . .

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Self-Published Books Up 132 %

Self-publishing continues to climb according to Bowker, the bibliographic company. In 2008 285,394 new books were published by print-on-demand companies, a 132% increase compared to 2007. U.S. publishers printed 275,232 new books and editions in 2008–a 3.2 % drop compared to the year before. On Demand and short-run books exceeded the number of traditional books last year. It is the first time that has happened. What does it mean? Well, if not else, people might be reading less, but they are certainly writing more, avoiding the traditional gatekeepers, i.e., agents and editors, and slapping down hard cash to see their names and words in print. I’m all for it. I’d just remind everyone to get an editor and find objective readers to read and comment on your manuscript before you pay for the printing. At the end of the day, you’ll be glad that you did.

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RPCVs Rally Around Frank Fountain (India 1966-68) For Peace Corps Director

The RPCVs from India are rallying around Frank Fountain (India 1966-68) for the Peace Corps directorship. He looks like a very good candidate for the position, being an RPCVs, coming from a corporate and non-profit background. Here’s a little of his history. Frank Fountain grew up in Tunnel Springs, Alabama, a rural segregated community typical of the times. He earned a BS in History and Political Science at Hampton University in Virginia and trained at the University of Missouri at Columbia, MO, and served as an Ag Volunteer in West Bengal. After India, Frank was a Peace Corps Training Staff member in California, then worked two years with Robert Nathan Associates in Washington, DC as a consultant to the Neighborhood Improvements Project of the Office of Economic Opportunity’s Community Action Agency. He taught management skills and techniques of community organizing at a time when these powerful non-violent tools for fighting poverty were . . .

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