Costa Rica

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New books by Peace Corps writers | March — April 2024
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FALLOUT: NEAR-FUTURE SCIENCE FICTION ROMANCE by Jon Kohl (Costa Rica)
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Joel Rubin (Costa Rico) running for Congress from Maryland
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Julie Balzano (Costa Rica) leaves Miami for Colombia
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PCVs — 60 Years in Costa Rica
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The Volunteer Who Discovered the First Area of Human Occupation in Costa Rica
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Joel Rubin (Costa Rica) to run for Congress in Maryland
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The Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation | Gail Nystrum (Costa Rica)
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Review | SORRY, NO ENGLISH by Craig Storti (Morocco)
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The Volunteer Who Became America’s Premier Sports Writer — Arnold Hano (Costa Rica)
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Review — THE LAST OF HIS MIND by John Thorndike (El Salvador)
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Review — MY SADDEST PLEASURES by Mark Walker (Guatemala)
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Review — STREETS OF GOLFITO by Jim LaBate (Costa Rica)
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Another RPCV Runs for Congress: Joel Rubin (Costa Rica (1994-96)
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Bob McCord (Costa Rica 1986-88) Poem "NEMO"

New books by Peace Corps writers | March — April 2024

To purchase any of these books from Amazon.com — CLICK on the book cover, the bold book title, or the publishing format you would like — and Peace Corps Worldwide, an Amazon Associate, will receive a small remittance from your purchase that will help support the site and the annual Peace Corps Writers awards. We include a brief description for each of the books listed here in hopes of encouraging readers  to order a book and/or  to VOLUNTEER TO REVIEW IT.  See a book you’d like to review for Peace Corps Worldwide? Send a note to Marian at marian@haleybeil.com, and she will send you a free copy along with a few instructions. P.S. In addition to the books listed below, I have on my shelf a number of other books whose authors would love for you to review. Go to Books Available for Review to see what is on that shelf. PLEASE, PLEASE  join in our Third . . .

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FALLOUT: NEAR-FUTURE SCIENCE FICTION ROMANCE by Jon Kohl (Costa Rica)

  Fallout: Near-future Science Fiction Romance by Jon Kohl (Costa Rica 1993-95) & Kimberly K Comeau Independently published 199 pages April 2024 $2.99 (Kindle)   In Fallout American cities have been suffering increased domestic terrorism. Harry Longmeadow tries to ensure his own personal security from rising urban terrorism by fleeing Philadelphia and building a subterranean fallout shelter in the forests of north central Pennsylvania; but it’s his own insecurity, which he cannot flee, that nearly lands him in jail for homicide that he did not commit. • • • Jon Kohl is the founding executive director of the PUP Global Heritage Consortium whose mission is to support communities in their management and conservation of natural-cultural heritage from a holistic focus. This non-profit global network uses Jon’s book, co-written with Dr. Stephen McCool as its philosophical background. Jon Kohl has been writing his whole life, starting in fifth grade when he scored the . . .

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Joel Rubin (Costa Rico) running for Congress from Maryland

Hi, let me introduce myself.   I’m Joel Rubin. I’m running as a Democrat for Congress to represent Maryland’s 6th District, and I’m here to connect with folks and the grassroots. I began my career as a Peace Corps volunteer and have been on the frontlines, from combating climate change to advocating for women’s rights to fighting antisemitism. I served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State under President Obama. I served in municipal government, including as Vice Mayor of Chevy Chase, MD. I served as executive director of the American Jewish Congress.

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Julie Balzano (Costa Rica) leaves Miami for Colombia

Miami got too expensive so she moved to Colombia By Tamara Hardingham-Gill November 7, 2023   Julie Balzano (Costa Rica 1988-91) been living in Miami for around three decades and had built a life that she loved. Originally from Long Island, she found herself struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living in the “Magic City,” recently ranked as the 10th most expensive city in the world on Swiss private bank. After selling her home in 2021 with the intention of downsizing, Balzano couldn’t find anything within her price range and decided to rent a townhouse for a year in order to “let the market stabilize” and eventually “buy back in.” However, as time went on, the 60-year-old, who is divorced with two grown-up children, realized that this was unlikely to happen anytime soon, and she’d need to come up with a different plan for her future. “Property prices . . .

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PCVs — 60 Years in Costa Rica

  Peace Corps Celebrates 60 Years in Costa Rica with New Volunteers     The new U.S. volunteers will serve for two years in rural communities in Puntarenas, Guanacaste, Heredia, Cartago, Alajuela, and San José. The group includes people between the ages of 22 and 70, with degrees in Economics, Business, Education, Law, Psychology, Communication, and Sociology, among others. Cynthia Telles, U.S. Ambassador U.S. Ambassador Cynthia Telles highlighted Peace Corps contributions to community capacity building and local economic development over six decades. “This ceremony marks the commitment of Peace Corps volunteers to continue in this exemplary and mutually cooperative work between our countries,” said Ambassador Telles. The Peace Corps arrived in Costa Rica in January 1963. Since then, more than 3,900 volunteers have served in projects that currently focus on English language learning, local economic development, and strengthening the well-being and participation of youth and women.    

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The Volunteer Who Discovered the First Area of Human Occupation in Costa Rica

  by Jeremiah Norris (Colombia 1963-65)   Michael Snarskis attended the University of Iowa, graduating in 1964, then Yale University majoring in Spanish in 1967. After one year of law school, he joined the Peace Corps as a Volunteer in Costa Rica, 1967-69. There his interest in archeology was awakened and on his return to the U. S. he studied archelogy at Colombia University. After three years of field work in Costa Rica, he received a Ph. D. in 1978 with a dissertation on the Archaeology of the Central American Watershed of Costa Rica. When he received his doctoral, there was almost no scientific archeology in Costa Rica. Michael founded the archeology department at the Museo National de Costa Rica in San Jose, Costa Rica, and directed it for ten years. As an archeologist and conservationist, Michael worked for the Tayutic Foundation which seeks to preserve and explore the Guayabo . . .

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Joel Rubin (Costa Rica) to run for Congress in Maryland

RPCVs in the news — July 24, 2023   WASHINGTON (JTA) — Joel Rubin, who has had leading roles at a number of Jewish organizations, is entering a crowded Democratic congressional race in a Maryland district that stretches from Washington’s suburbs to the Pennsylvania border. The race in Maryland’s competitive 6th District is uncharted waters for Rubin, a Jewish progressive. Redistricting after the 2020 census drained the district of much of its Jewish population and stretched its boundaries into the conservative redoubts of the otherwise deep blue state. Rubin, a national security consultant who launched his campaign on Monday, said he would bring into play his hands-on experience as the deputy mayor of Chevy Chase, a D.C. suburb, and his roots in Pittsburgh, which lies about 90 minutes north of the western part of the district. “It’s just a matter of transportation, housing, public safety and security, questions about economic . . .

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The Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation | Gail Nystrum (Costa Rica)

  The Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation Celebrates 25 Years: Founder Gail Nystrom Shares Her Journey By Bruce Callow April 2, 2023   The Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation has been a fixture in this country since 1997`and has made a positive difference in the lives of countless families. This legacy of good work is due to the tireless efforts of its founding director Gail Nystrom and teams of volunteers from Costa Rica and around the world. This legacy of hope will be celebrated on May 7 at a Gala event marking the 25th anniversary of the foundation. More details about this event follow. I recently had a chance to chat with Gail about her life and experience in Costa Rica. Please tell us a bit about your background growing up and what brought you to Costa Rica? I was born in New York State and spent my early years between New . . .

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Review | SORRY, NO ENGLISH by Craig Storti (Morocco)

  Sorry, No English: 50 Tips to Improve your Communication with Speakers of Limited English Craig Storti (Morocco 1970-72) Chambers Publisher October 2022 189 pages $5.94 (Kindle); $12.60 (Paperback) Reviewed bu D.W. Jefferson (El Salvador 74-76) and Costa Rica 76-77). • What a shame this book didn’t exist when I was trying to help my wife learn English years ago. Craig Storti has been writing about intercultural communications for over 30 years and has published a number of useful books, but for everyone who needs to interact with speakers of limited English, this is the indispensable handbook we have been waiting for. The book will be useful to anyone working in a public-facing job from government to hospitality, international organizations, human resources, cross-cultural and diversity training, and teaching English as a second language. Also, those who simply have an interest in languages, cultures and communication will love this book. I . . .

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The Volunteer Who Became America’s Premier Sports Writer — Arnold Hano (Costa Rica)

by Jerry Norris (Colombia 1963-65) • Arnold Hano served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Costa Rica, 1991-93, after achieving nation-wide recognition for his coverage of the professional baseball sports world as an editor, novelist, biographer and journalist. Both he and his wife Bonnie served as community development volunteers. Arnold earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Long Island University, graduating cum laude in 1941. Shortly after, he became a copy boy for the New York Daily News. He was tasked with providing captions for the photos he brought back from professional baseball games. This afforded the nineteen-year-old, undreamt of opportunities, to chronicle baseball history. Interrupted in these endeavors by the US entry into WW II, he participated in various campaigns in the Aleutian Islands. After his discharge, he returned to New York and a career in book publishing, first as managing editor with Bantam, then as Editor-Chief with Lion Books. In . . .

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Review — THE LAST OF HIS MIND by John Thorndike (El Salvador)

  The Last of His Mind: A Year In The Shadow Of Alzheimer’s by John Thorndike (El Salvador 1966-68) Swallow Press 264 pages $18.82 (paperback), $27.94 (hardcover), $7.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by: D.W. Jefferson (El Salvador 1974–76; Costa Rica 1976–77) • This is a moving story of a son’s devotion to his dying father who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. His determination to help his father fulfill his desire to die at home is admirable. Of interest as well is the author’s recounting of the details of how he arranged for others, including his two brothers, to spell him, giving him needed breaks from his around the clock care for his father. Beyond being a memoir of spending his father’s last year caring for him, the book also covers much of the elder Thorndike’s professional life, marriage, and personal life. It also discusses the author’s raising of his son as a single parent. One . . .

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Review — MY SADDEST PLEASURES by Mark Walker (Guatemala)

  My Saddest Pleasures: 50 Years on the Road: Part of the Yin and Yang of Travel Series by Mark D. Walker (Guatemala 1971–73) Cyberwit.net May 2022 63 pages $15.00 (paperback) Review by: D.W. Jefferson (El Salvador 1974–76; Costa Rica 1976–77) • This book is part of the author’s “Yin and Yang of Travel” series of ten essays, which was inspired by Paul Theroux’s (Malawi 1963–65) The Tao of Travel: Enlightenments from Lives on the Road  Mr. Walker has spent over 50 years traveling in many countries around the world, first as a Peace Corps volunteer, and later as a professional fund raiser for various nonprofit organizations or NGOs. The book is an easy read. Walker writes in a conversational style, and it is only 63 pages. It is primarily a journal of his travels alone, with his family, and leading trips for donors to NGOs he worked for. His travel has . . .

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Review — STREETS OF GOLFITO by Jim LaBate (Costa Rica)

  Streets of Golfito: A Novel by Jim LaBate (Costa Rica 1973-75) Mohawk River Press 252 pages October 2020 $9.99 (Kindle); $19.95 (Paperback Review by James W. Skelton, Jr. (Ethiopia 1970-72) • Jim LaBate has crafted an exceptional Peace Corps novel that takes place in Golfito, Costa Rica, the same town in which he served as a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) in the 1970s. One of the main characters is, coincidentally, named Jim, a prospective PCV, who has just arrived in Costa Rica in 1974 to train for his assignment as a Sports Promoter. While attending in-country orientation in San Jose, one of the Peace Corps administrators advises Jim to change his name if he really wants to immerse himself into the culture. The PC official’s reasoning is that Costa Ricans seem to accept the PCVs more readily if they use a name that’s familiar to them. So, Jim adopts the . . .

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Another RPCV Runs for Congress: Joel Rubin (Costa Rica (1994-96)

Joel Rubin, Candidate for Congress & Returned Peace Corps Volunteer October 14, 2015 Dear Peace Corps Community, My name is Joel Rubin and I’m writing you to ask for your support as I make a run for Congress in Maryland’s 8th District.  Like you, I’m an RPCV, and I would be honored to be a champion for both the Peace Corps and international development in the U.S. House of Representatives. The key vote in this race is the Democratic primary on April 26, 2016, and we will be organizing every day until Election Day to win it.  I need your help to do this, through volunteering for, spreading the word about, and donating to my campaign. Like you, I’m a fighter for positive change.  And much of my passion is traced to my experience in the Peace Corps.  It changed my life.  When I went to Costa Rica in 1994 as an Environmental Education . . .

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Bob McCord (Costa Rica 1986-88) Poem "NEMO"

[This poem, “Nemo” by Bob McCord (Costa Rica 1986-88) appeared in April 1990, (Volume 2, Number 2) issue of RPCV Writers. Bob wrote me that the poem was written on Sunday, March 13, 1988 in Liberia de Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Shortly after sending me this poem, Bob took a three month position with the National Marine Fisheries Service as an observer. On the night of March 22, 1990, the boat that he was on capsized in the Bering Sea. He was one of nine men lost. ] NEMO I want to live like Nemo Walk my donkey on knife’s edge Pounded corn cakes, the host of dawn Bear greased hair, sage mane A stone razor, agate eyes I want to live in a cave Breathe the ancestral air Cook fossil pollen for breakfast Chip away my history in rock Gather cold blue, moonless stars I want to dance for rain . . .

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