1
Who Were The Very First Peace Corps Volunteers?
2
When Writing Meant Typing
3
Vote For God!
4
Fulbright Looking for RPCVs
5
More on Bobby Kennedy in Ethiopia
6
Remembering Bobby Kennedy
7
Zurlo Reviews Meek's Biogeography
8
RPCV Carol Beddo Wins Gold!
9
Readjustment Blues
10
In South Africa as a PCV

Who Were The Very First Peace Corps Volunteers?

I found an old document, a pamphlet really, published by the Peace Corps with a letter from Bill Moyers, then Associate Director for Public Affairs. The pamphlet has a date of November 1, 1961 [Moyers’ letter, which is with the pamphlet, is addressed “FOR YOUR INFORMATION and dated November 8, 1961. This ancient Peace Corps document is the “Descriptions of the first 9 projects, including purpose, training, Volunteer skills needed, technical qualifications of Volunteers, and information about the taining officials.” In his letter, Moyers adds, “Since this edition of PROFILES was prepared, three additional projects have been announced. They are Thailand, Maylaya and Sierra Leone.” Moyers sums up, “I hope you will find the PROFILES helpful in providing you with specific information about the work of the Peace Corps overseas and of the role it is playing in the struggle for economic and social progress among the developing nations thorughout . . .

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When Writing Meant Typing

I loved my Lettera. My Olivetti Lettera 32. My slim, blue 13-pound typewriter. It told the world I was a writer, even when I wasn’t. It meant adventure. Romance. It meant I was heroic and daring. (Even if I wasn’t.) But most of all, it meant I was a writer. My Olivetti Lettera 32 was the touchstone of my ambition: to be a writer. Though, in truth, at first all I wrote home were letters. In the fall of 1962, I slipped a thin blue air letter under the platen, spun the knob, and typed: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Dear Mom & Dad. A letter home from Africa. For the next twenty years, my Olivetti helped me write more than just letters home. Letters from Nairobi, Kenya; Tel Aviv, Israel; Mahon, Menorca; Galway, Ireland; Beijing, China. I began to bang out — in its tiny pica type — articles, poetry, essays, travel . . .

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Vote For God!

BOOK REVIEW Roland Merullo who served in Micronesia back in the day has written a political book that is “right on” when it comes to what is happening in Washington today. And Matt Losak, who served as a PCV in Lesotho, and later worked  as an advance man for President Clinton,  reviews the book for our site. You might say it is a match made in heaven, or… American Savior by Roland Merullo (Micronesia 1979-80) Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2008 Reviewed by Matt Losak (Lesotho 1985-88) So, you’re thinking we may have just elected the ideal candidate for President of the United States:  he’s black and white and well-read all over, he’s good looking, he’s from everywhere U.S.A. and possesses a political mind that synthesizes the nation’s best visionary thought into today’s kitchen-table problem solving. But in Roland Merullo’s, American Savior, there comes along a third-party candidate, or, should I say, then comes along . . .

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Fulbright Looking for RPCVs

Gary Garrison (Tunisia 1966-69) is the Assistant Director, Middle East/North Africa at the Council for International Exchange of Scholars. He emailed me recently to say that the Fulbright Scholar Awards for 2010-11 are open to college and university faculty and independent professionals who want to “contribute to educational development in countries worldwide.” Gary writes, “The program values the experience and expertise of former Peace Corps Volunteers who wish to participate in another great international program, the Fulbright Program.” The Fulbright has sent overseas teachers and researchers in creative writing, filmmaking, visual and performing arts, education, TEFL, human rights law, public health, business and entrepreneurship and many other fields. If you’re interested in being a Fulbright Scholars in the Middle East or North Africa, contact Gary at:ggarrison@iie.org.

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More on Bobby Kennedy in Ethiopia

Mike McCaskey (Ethiopia 1965-67) recalls another story about Bobby Kennedy in Ethiopia. It seems that while in-country he flew with Ethel to the small northern town of Bahar Dar where he landed in the grass field in the middle of the small village and was met there by a handful of Volunteers who had come in from neighboring villages for the senator’s brief visit. Gathered together on the grass in the shade of the small plane, Bobby asked the PCVs if they had any questions or problems and one of the women piped up that she did. The Peace Corps was about to cut their living allowance, she complained. Bobby took that in, then looked over at his wife and said, “Well, Ethel, that does it. We’re not joining the Peace Corps.”

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Remembering Bobby Kennedy

The event at the Kennedy Center this week for Senator Ted Kennedy reminded me of the time that Bobby Kennedy came to Ethiopia back in the 60s. As I have written elsewhere, here is a little known story about Bobby Kennedy and the time he met up with PCVs in Asmara, Eritrea. We go back to the summer of ’66. Bobby had been to South Africa where he was a huge success with college students, and given his famous “Ripple of Hope Speech” that contains one of the most quoted paragraph in political speech making. The speech was written by Richard Goodwin and Adam Walinsky and delivered on June 6, 1966 in Cape Town. The famous paragraph went this way: “It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot . . .

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Zurlo Reviews Meek's Biogeography

BOOK REVIEW Sandra Meek (Botswana 1989-91), associate professor of English, rhetoric and writing at Berry College, has been awarded the largest book-publication prize for poetry in the United States for her third collection of poems, Biogeography. The Dorset Prize consists of a $10,000 cash for the author and a guarantee of national and international distribution for the winning entry. Biogeography was released by Tupelo Press in spring 2008. Over the years Sandra has published in many of the poetry magazines, including Poetry, AGNI, The Kenyon Review, Conjunctions, Shenandoah, The Iowa Review and Prairie Schooner. Twice, she has been recognized with the Georgia Author of the Year Award for poetry by the Georgia Writers Association, first for Nomadic Foundations (2003) and later for Burn (2006). Her new book is reviewed by Tony Zurlo, (Nigeria 1964-65) a poet and long time supporter and reviewer for Peace Corps Writers. Biogeography by Sandra Meek . . .

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RPCV Carol Beddo Wins Gold!

Carol Beddo’s memoir essay, “Choices Rejected” was awarded Gold in the category: Love Story, the best account of love or romance on the road.  It is published in Best Travel Writing 2009, an annual collection of travel essays published by Traveler’s Tales and is a chapter from a book in progress about her Peace Corps years in Ethiopia, 1964-66. Congratulatons Carol! Carol is writing this book with her young grandchildren in mind, with hope that they will be inspired to contribute time and skills that will help to improve our world; however her six-year-old grandson now is annoyed that his little sister makes an appearance in this story, while he does not. 

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Readjustment Blues

This is a terrific piece by Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) published in Rice Paper, the China PCVs in-country newsletter that is put out by the PCVs, and was sent to me by a PCV named Dustin Ooley. This article by Hessler appears in Vol 4, No 2. Thanks to Dustin and Peter for letting me reprint it. It is a useful case study of how to make one’s way as a  writer, and how hard it to be an RPCV and a writer, but it can be done, and what Peter has also described is how the members of that first group of PCVs to China continue to be connected to the country. And it is written as only Peter can do it, with humor, honesty and insight. Post-Peace Corps Life by Peter Hessler After completing my Peace Corps service, I left China with amoebic dysentery, a mysterious problem with my lefteye, a positive . . .

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In South Africa as a PCV

BOOK REVIEW Nine out of ten “Peace Corps Books” are self-published. The reason — while the Peace Corps experience is life-changing and many RPCVs want everyone to know about their service, in most cases no commercial, small or academic presses are interested in publishing their stories. The good news is that because of self-publishing RPCVs can take matters into their own hands. Here’s one woman’s story of being a PCV in South Africa. Lasso the World: A Western Writer’s Tales of Folks Around the Globe By Starley Talbott (South Africa 2001) Plainstar Press 2004 Reviewed by Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras, 1975–77) Lasso the World is a clearly written series of time resilient vignettes covering four of the seven continents. Written over a quarter century as newspaper and magazine articles, the compilation reads fresh like the desert in bloom. Starley (Anderson) Talbott, self-taught journalist, has stitched together a beautiful comforter for . . .

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