Say it isn’t so . . .


I am overwhelmed and humbled by the kind words from all of you about my decision to ET my website. I wish I did have the time, energy, (and age) to keep up the pace, but I am deep into a novel (not about the Peace Corps) that I want to finish before I’m too old to type.

For many of us, as you know, the Peace Corps is a passion that just won’t let go. It is the experience that changed us, even if it took us years to realize why the Peace Corps is so important in our lives.

Most of us are still connected in some way to our host country, the school where we taught, our host family, friends, and PCVs from our group. Why we even married each other!

The Peace Corps is a real pest. It won’t let go.

I always said when recruiting for the agency that people who join have an itch about them. They want ‘something else’ though mostly they have no idea what it is.  They want more from life and for themselves. Then they open the Peace Corps door to a country they had to first find on a map. We’re all alike: send us where no one wants to go!

It is the mark of being a PCV.

I was lucky. I got to go to Ethiopia, worked a year at HQ, then returned to Ethiopia as an APCD. Years later—thanks to Ethiopian PCV Patty Garamendi, who was at the Peace Corps as an Associate Director– I worked for another five years as manager of the Peace Corps New York Recruitment Office.

Before, between, and after those Peace Corps years, I was a college dean, English teacher, editor, and writer. I’m still writing and I have a novel to finish. So, I have to curtail my workload.

Again, thank you for telling me that on most days you would finish your morning coffee by opening your computer just to see what Coyne was blogging about.

None of this would have happened without the hard work and talents of Marian Beil (Ethiopia 1962-64) who is the publisher and creative genius behind our website. Marian will continue to manage our Peace Corps Writers Books when you get around to write your PCV memoir.

Thank you for supporting us all these years.



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  • Good luck to you John. And thank you for your website. I always loved opening it up and seeing what was going on with Peace Corps. Peace, Cousin? Cathy Toner Tucker

  • John,
    You have provided connections, exposure, renewed friendships and endless reminders to all of us of the breadth and depth of our two years living in foreign lands as locals. Kudos for your work and thanks for all you have allowed us to share with each other. Stay safe and enjoy your life.
    Thank you,
    Pat McArdle
    Paraguay 72-74

  • Well, this is deeply disturbing. I actually went through the stages of grief when I read you are leaving.. I denied it and closed my email refusing to believe it. I was upset for a while, and then thought maybe you could be bargained with. Maybe you would post once a week and see if that left you the time to work on your novel. Ok, now I have accepted that you really are going to do something else. The internet is not going to be the same though.

    I just hope that you will not disappear. You have been a big part of my writing life for many years and I am eternally grateful. Thank you for publishing the first story I ever wrote and putting the idea of writing into my head. Thank you, thank you.

  • John- appreciate all that you have contributed to over the years (too many accolades to note here). Thank you and good luck with the novel. Sincerely Rich

  • John
    It is always a pleasure to read y6uor email every morning. I will miss it in my inbox. Good luck with your book.

  • John, I looked up ET to learn its meaning for which I found hundreds of translations, none of which seem to fit, I get it that you are leaving but what exactly does ET mean? On a more serious note, you’ve been incredible. I’ve often wondered how it was possible to be so productive. Thanks and best wishes for completing your novel. Let us know when it is published.
    Mary C Pendleton Tunisia 66-68

    • Mary, it is a “Peace Corps term’ means Early Termination….someone leaves the corps without finishing the tour.
      Sorry. I thought all PCVs knew it. Maybe it is not used these days. John

      • I also didn’t know what it means. I worked for a while as a technical writer and the rule was the first time you reference an organization or anything like Early Termination (ET) you identify the acronym in parenthesis. Even this becomes a problem in long documents that have many new acronyms. By the time I’m half way in to the article I can’t remember the acronyms and must go back through the document to relearn them.

        That you don’t know this is surprising to me. We make assumptions about many things. We tend to assume that acronyms we have known “forever” are also known by everyone else.

        I hope you finish your book. Like all of us early Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) we are getting into our 80s or more. I live in a seniors community now where it is not unusual to hear that someone has died. I’m beginning to realize that every day is a gift. If I want to get something done (like making sure my kids know everything they need to know about my and Fran’s estate) I better make it a priority to get it done.


        Ray Donaldson. Fortunate to have been a PCV in Ethiopia with you.

  • You are entitled to retire but I join everyone in saying what a pleasure it’s been to get your emails all these years, and to share your commitment to Peace Corps and what we all wish for America and the world. Thank you so much! I’ll look forward to your novel.

    All the best,
    Diana Zurer
    Thailand Group 12

  • John, like so many others, I could hardly believe you’re signing off.You were there to greet us Ethi VII-ATPs as we stepped onto the tarmac at Bole Airport. But good luck on your new novel. If it’s as well written as your essay above that so perfectly captures the spirit and drive of us PCVs and RPCVs, you will have a best seller. Please somehow stay in touch. I, for one, look forward to the publication of your new book.


  • Well, if the Peace Corps was a country and RPCVs its citizens, you would be our national treasure, John!
    Thanks for all of it, Finish the novel.
    Richard Wiley

  • John, I was saddened to see this yesterday and only now it’s sinking in (“Say it ain’t so” is exactly right!). Totally understandable … but you and Marian are irreplaceable and your commitment to the RPCV/PCV community is without measure — the archives are a national treasure. I’ll miss the daily updates and heads-ups on books and writers and other happenings, but I am most grateful to you both for encouraging me to write — and giving me a platform — during my PCV service in Romania, back when it was the Peace Corps Writers site, and in the years afterward on this site. Glad to see Marian will carry on with the Peace Corps Writers Books imprint — I never did get my book done, despite your encouragement (sigh) — I don’t know how you’ve done so many AND kept up all the other stuff — but still hoping to come through! Wishing you the best. And thanks again for all you’ve done for so many of us.

  • I came late to your blog but thanks to Rick Stoner, I did get to read, not just the blog but also several of your novels. Currently your books about golfing are making the rounds in our neighborhood just in time for spring golf! I will miss this blog very much. As someone once told me, you can always change your mind. Thank you for all the work. I look forward to the new novel.

  • Let me just add to those saying “say it isn’t so”. I well understand what your motivation for stepping aside. But i, and am sure, many others, will miss reading will definitely miss your emails. Be well!!

  • John – you have kept our world open and accessible and kept us apprised of what is going on through the lens of the Peace Corps, which is one of the more important lenses available to us – joining life in the US with our lives at the grass roots of other places we have loved. Thank you for making that possible for so long. The echoes will live on.

  • John,
    As I mentioned in private messages to you and Marian, I think you two have made great contributions to more than the RPCV community – you guys are the living, breathing definition of the third goal of the Peace Corps! You’ve done more than bring the Peace Corps home to America, you’ve given RPCVs a voice through the website and Peace Corps Writers. You’ve done a great and selfless job and should be recognized as having done so!
    I wish you the best of luck with your latest novel. I’ll be looking for it, so please let us know when it’s available. I’m working on the 3rd draft of my first novel and hope to finish it by the end of this month. Then begins the real fun, i.e., trying to find a literary agent. :o)
    Take care and stay safe,

  • John, thanks for all you have done over the years to engage, connect, challenge and keep us questioning, searching and striving to serve! You certainly deserve a sabbatical and more to get that novel done, but why not surprise all of us with an occasional post and comment. Life without Coyne’s daily blog certainly won’t be the same. Like others have said you and Marian represent the best in all of us. THANK YOU!

    • Thank you, Rick….very nice of you to say that. Not sure it is true. Other RPCVs are doing a great deal for their countries.

  • John, you have been an inspiration and I have always enjoyed your messages and observations. You encouraged me to write about my experiences that stemmed from being part of the ATP/Ethiopia VII group (same as Randy Marcus above), and all that happened afterward with South Sudan. This past year with COVID stay-at-home requirements, I’ve finally been making long-stalled progress. I’ll miss your words of wisdom but look forward to reading your next book!

  • John,
    Just for a split nanosecond today, it crossed my mind that you might be pulling an elaborate April Fools joke on all of us . . . but, then, even given my rudimentary math skills I knew it wasn’t April first yet; and, anyway, it would be out of character, not your style (woulda been some joke, though :-o). How you could write novels and stories on top of managing Peace Corps Worldwide all these years will always be way beyond me. John Le Carre came in from the cold to write his books; all best with your latest. Look forward to reading it, keep us posted. Hope to have the opportunity to work with Marian again some day. You two are the greatest, hands down!

  • John,

    This makes me so sad. Your morning missives were always a joy to read. But I’m also very excited about your book!!! You are an inspiration to the Third Goal!

    All my best,

  • John,

    I just read your email. Saddening, but understandable. Your commitment to Peace Corps is second to none. I think the number of heartfelt responses to your announcement speaks volumes–an overwhelming testament to your efforts. THANK YOU from all of us. Good luck with the novel–not easy at our age….David

  • Whaaa! But I understand. You’re a writer and writers write what they’re best at. You’re a novelist so get to writing… and thanks for the memories and you and Marian’s work for so many, many years. See you on the other side.

  • I join the chorus of non-believers but acceptors of your decision to move into another life-phase.

    What you and Marian have contributed over the decades to the Peace Corps community and the greater public is invaluable, irreplaceable, indispensable, inspirational. In short, more valuable than anything anyone could afford to pay for. You two have delivered tens of thousands of hours, seemingly unstoppable dedication, and a unique combination of skills. Thank you.

  • John,
    As was said, you of all people deserve a break. I usually get tired of anything after 3 years, so you’ve done an amazing job keeping this going for such a long time. It has been a pleasure to trade messages and stories with you. I hope you will stay in touch. Thank you for the opportunity to shamelessly plug a few of my books and expose us to many other interesting reads. I hope there will be something else to fill in this hole, for RPCVs. Will look forward to your next book(s). Enjoy!

  • Well, yes, John, tears came to my eyes as well. Karin and I much enjoyed our time with you visiting Cuba, and I enjoyed being a PCV teacher following you at the Commercial School in Ethiopia. As well, of course, to your stalwart duty, with Marion, over the years. I’ll miss the columns and comments. It’s a grand thing you two have done for us! Good luck, with fast, enjoyable and successful writing. As one who has spent near on a decade not writing one, I can only worship the thought from afar.
    Do drop into DC once in a while, do keep open the thought of another trip to Cuba, now that the chance for civility has once again raised its head. There are yet chances to learn and explore… .
    Gene Ellis (PCVIII, Ethiopia, 64-66)

  • Well, this is bad news. But I get it. The thing is, in the great Peace Corps tradition you recognized a need, addressed it, came up with a creative solution, and a few years later it’s like Peace Corps Writers was always here. That’s what it feels like, anyway. I’ll miss it and miss your pithy commentary, and I’m guessing this great community you built will endure. So, I get it. Age and other other obligations catch up to you. Just the other day I realized it’s likely I will never become major league pitcher.

    The best of luck to you and to Marian.

    By the way, I finished The Piercing recently. Wow. I think you’ve got quite a promising future as a writer.

    Karl Luntta (Botswana, Fiji, Solomon Islands, et al. 1977-89)

  • I found you, John and other volunteers, on the very last day of 2021 and now it’s over? I I was randomly looking for ways to stay awake until the new year when I discovered your website. An hour ago I wasn’t sad and now I am that I had not discovered this way to connect before.

    Since Ethiopia I lived in Barcelona Spain during the oppressive Franco years , Vermont for graduate school where Howie and Dianne Shapiro were still good friends, Belize where I worked with Peace Corps volunteers, Seattle teaching ESl and now my hometown of Snohomish WA. That Peace Corps bond is so strong that I married David Cordell India 72 and many of our closest friends are PCVs . My high school best friend was Nigeria 66. Hearing about her parents Peace corps years, our daughter chose to enter Americorps for almost a year after high school.

    I admire all of you writers while wishing more of my letters to the editor were published. I’ll find your book, John. Happy New Year everyone.

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