Mongolia Monologues: The Trials, Tribulations, Triumphs and Truths of a Feisty, Fifty-Something Peace Corps Volunteer
by Joanne Nussbaum (Mongolia 2010–12)
Reviewed by Bob Arias (Colombia 1964–66)
Age is just a Number!
Young at heart, Joanne, a mother, sets out to become a Peace Corps Volunteer in 2010 at the age of 53. “Can I make it,” she asks herself, “and Peace Corps wants to send me to Mongolia . . . where is that?” Training is rough and so are her first six months in beautiful Mongolia. Joanne tries, but the Mongolian language is difficult and she never is able to master it. But her heart is with her new community, and is full of the Peace Corps spirit to learn from others. Her students see her as a true friend and someone they trust, and they enjoy spending time together. These are HER students!
Never much of a world traveler, Peace Corps Volunteer Joanne Nussbaum is now in China as I read her fun-filled book . . . who would have thought that she would go to Mongolia . . . and then China after she completes her 27 month assignment? Joanne will never again be that lady she knew in 2010 — Peace Corps does that to us. As many former Volunteers know, Peace Corps has changed us and presented us with a new world of friends and host families.
We joined Peace Corps to make a difference in who we are and in the communities where we live. That is what Peace Corps is all about. Joanne talks about the the differences in her Mongolian community and in herself . . . Cultural differences can be freaking unbelievable! Even when she talks about her many small accidents around the house . . . that’s part of being a Volunteer.
I strongly recommend this book. Joanne is honest, and she presents us with some beautiful photos of Mongolia and the people. If you are considering Peace Corps or want to relive the memories of the past . . . Mongolian Monologues is the book to consider. How many of us can brag that we milked a yak? Joanne can!
Reviewer Bob Arias was an Associate Peace Corps Director in Colombia from 1968 to 1973, and Peace Corps Country Director in Uruguay and Argentina from 1993 to 1995. He returned to work at the Peace Corps from 2001 to 2003 and established the agency’s Safety and Security Office. Now retired from Los Angeles County where he worked as a Compliance Officer, Bob has been serving as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer (formerly known as a Crisis Corps) since 2009, and has worked in Paraguay, Colombia, and now for a second time, in Panamá.