Never the Same Again: Life, Service, and Friendship in Liberia
Editor Susan Greisen (Liberia 1971-73) & (Tonga 1973-74)
$8.99 (Kindle); $20.95 (Paperback)
Review by: D.W. Jefferson (El Salvador 1974-76; Costa Rica 1976-77)
Kudos to editors Susan E. Greisen, Susan Corbett and Karen E. Lange for putting together a wonderful collection of true stories about Liberia, Peace Corps and friendship. The book was published in honor of the 60th anniversary of Peace Corps in Liberia. All of the authors are members of Friends of Liberia (FOL), a nonprofit originally formed by returned Peace Corps Volunteers who served in that country.
There are 63 stories in all, some are poems, though the majority are prose short stories. The book includes a map of Liberia, so you can see where each author lived and worked. There is also an abridged timeline which is useful for relating an individual story to national events taking place in Liberia at the time. The stories are divided into three groups representing Building a Foundation (The Early Years), Turbulent Times, and Rebuilding Hope (The Latter Years). Sadly, like many Peace Corps countries, Liberia has experienced repeated civil unrest and disease outbreaks including Ebola and COVID-19.
Storytelling has a long tradition throughout Africa. Elders have used stories to share their wisdom and knowledge through the generations, passing along their history, traditions and lessons. This anthology continues that tradition through stories about relationships that illuminate a cross-cultural awareness we can learn from and share with others.
I would love to see an anthology like this one created for every country which has hosted Peace Corps volunteers. I’ve yet to meet an RPCV who does not have at least one or two good stories to tell about their host country and folks they worked with and lived with. Count me in if you want to do a story collection for El Salvador or Costa Rica!
The book also includes a glossary of terms, a list of resources, and discussion questions. Therefore it is perfect for reading in a school or book club environment. Proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to FOL for the benefit of humanitarian programs in Liberia.
Review D.W. Jefferson was a Peace Corps agriculture volunteer in El Salvador (1974-76) and Costa Rica (1976-77). A blog about his Peace Corps years is at: dwjefferson.blogspot.com He is currently retired from a career in computer software engineering.