Ethiopia

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Mildred D. Taylor (Ethiopia) STORIES OF RACISM: Stories of Racism–Confronted by a Family with Courage and Love
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“An Unexpected Love Story — The Women of Bati”
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The Lion in the Gardens of the Guenet Hotel (Ethiopia)
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“The Mad Man and Me at the Commercial School in Addis Ababa”
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Bob Dylan, “Desolation Row,” and A Rat in the Kitchen (Ethiopia)
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RPCV Mary Stephano (Ethiopia) Passed Away
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A Wedding in Ethiopia
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My Eritrean Sister by Laurel West Kessler (Ethiopia)
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“Return” by Kathleen Coskran (Ethiopia)
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Review — UNDER CONSTRUCTION: TECHNOLOGIES OF DEVELOPMENT IN URBAN ETHIOPIA by Daniel Mains (Ethiopia)
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“A Peaceful Transfer of Power is No Longer a Given in U.S.” by Martin Benjamin (Ethiopia)
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“Teacher” by Kathleen Coskran (Ethiopia)
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Malcolm X Meets PCVs in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia)
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ERADICATING SMALLPOX: another time, place, virus — Award Winning Book
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Dan Close (Ethiopia) brought water to Bekoji in 1966

Mildred D. Taylor (Ethiopia) STORIES OF RACISM: Stories of Racism–Confronted by a Family with Courage and Love

  A tribute to decades of work by children’s author Mildred D. Taylor. This year, Peace Corps Writers recognized her with the Writer of the Year Award. By John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962-64) NPCA World View Special Books Edition 2022 • Mildred Delois Taylor is a critically acclaimed author of children’s novels. In 1977, she won the Newbery Medal, the most prestigious award in children’s literature, for her historical novel Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. It was the second book in a series of ten novels focusing on the Logan family, and portraying the effects of racism counterbalanced with courage and love. Her latest book, All the Days Past, All the Days to Come, published last year, is the final novel in the series. Since receiving the Newbery Medal, she has won four Coretta Scott King Awards, a Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the PEN Award for Children’s Literature. In . . .

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“An Unexpected Love Story — The Women of Bati”

 by John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962-64)   If the reader prefers, this may be regarded as fiction. But there is always the chance that such a piece of fiction may throw some light on what has been written as fact. — Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast • AT AN ELEVATION OF 4,000 FEET,  the town of Bati, Ethiopia, off the Dessie Road, is the last highland location before the Danakil Depression. A hard day’s drive from the Red Sea, it’s famous only for its Monday market days when the Afar women of the Danakil walk up the “Great Escarpment” to trade with the Oromos on the plateau. These women arrive late on Sunday, and with their camels and tents, they cover the grassy knob above the town. They trade early in the next morning for grain, cloth, livestock, and tinsels and trinkets imported from Addis Ababa, 277 kilometers to the south. Numbering as . . .

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The Lion in the Gardens of the Guenet Hotel (Ethiopia)

    by John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962–64) •   In the final days of our in-country Peace Corps training in Ethiopia, we had a celebration dinner at the Guenet Hotel in the Populari section of the capital, Addis Ababa. The Guenet Hotel, even in 1962, was one of the older hotels in Addis Ababa. It wasn’t in the center of town, but south of Smuts Street and down the hill from Mexico Square, several miles from where we were housed in the dormitories of Haile Selassie I University. While out of the way, this small, two-story rambling hotel, nevertheless, had a two-lane, American-style bowling alley, tennis courts, and a most surprising of all, an African lion in its lush, tropical gardens. At that time in the Empire, no Ethiopian was allowed to keep a lion, the symbol of the Emperor, Haile Selassie, whose full title was “By the Conquering Lion . . .

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“The Mad Man and Me at the Commercial School in Addis Ababa”

  by John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962-64) • We 275 PCVs, the first to be assigned to Ethiopia, arrived in-country in early September of 1962. Addis Ababa, the capital, was at an altitude of 7,726 feet. It has one of the finest climates to be found in the world. It was once a ramshackle city, which years before the travel writer John Gunther described as looking as if someone had tossed scraps of metal onto the slopes of Entoto mountain. I was assigned to live and teach in Addis, and lived my first year in a large stone house on Churchill Road, a main artery of the city that led uphill to the center of the city — the Piazza, with four other PCVs. That house, like most in Addis, had a tin roof and it was pleasant to wake early on school days during the rainy season and hear the heavy, . . .

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Bob Dylan, “Desolation Row,” and A Rat in the Kitchen (Ethiopia)

  by Karl Drobnic (Ethiopia 1966-68) March 31, 2022 • Bob Dylan, head slightly cocked, stared at me from the wall of my Peace Corps home, a dirt and wattle hut in a remote Ethiopian village. Highway 61 Revisited flickered, hanging on a thread I’d snaked through the the album cover, glossy in the candlelight of my little house that had no electric, no water, and most of all, no record player. “Stupid situation,” I imagined Dylan saying, an abrupt harmonica wail highlighting the “stupid”. A friend had gifted me the then-new album while I packed for two years in the African back-country. “Stay in touch,” she said. “Lots is happening in America, too.” A few days later, I was in my village, two miles up on the high escarpment of southern Abyssinia. Just behind the town, mountains jutted skyward another 4,000 feet, catching fluffy clouds that drifted above thorny acacia trees and . . .

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RPCV Mary Stephano (Ethiopia) Passed Away

  Mary Winslow Stephano, of Oswego, N.Y. passed away Friday evening February 18, 2022 at her home. She was 86. She was born in Oswego, a daughter of the late Charles and Frances O’Connor Stephano. Mary Winslow was a 1958 graduate of Le Moyne College with a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities. She joined the second class of the Peace Corps in 1962, and was stationed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She earned a Ph.D. in Economics, Public Administration and Planning from Syracuse University in 1970. Over her 30+ year career she served with aid agencies such as the United Nations, USAID, and the Near East Foundation, providing expertise in the planning, design, management, and evaluation of Ministry-level human resources and economic development programs. While in public service, she travelled to every continent except Antarctica and spent years living in Paris, Botswana, Malawi, Iran, and Papua New Guinea. While advising the . . .

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A Wedding in Ethiopia

  By John Keller (Ethiopia 2016-18) SEPT. 17, 2021, Peace Corps • It’s the day of Nezif’s long-awaited wedding, which will take place in his home village in western Ethiopia. It is far from the village where I live and work as a Peace Corps Volunteer, but I’m not exactly sure how to get there. Nezif is a former student at the high school where I teach English. Like many of my students, Nezif had to walk several hours to get to school. Despite the distance, he attended regularly and did well academically, eventually becoming a teacher himself. At 10 a.m. I get a call from Nezif, who is elated that I’m coming to his wedding. He has even paid for someone to fetch me. He is overjoyed to see me when I arrive at the village after a 90-minute trip. I walk into the mud-walled house and join elder . . .

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My Eritrean Sister by Laurel West Kessler (Ethiopia)

By Laurel West Kessler (Ethiopia 1964-66)   Mhret clasped my hand as she pulled her filmy shawl over her face, looked down at her lap, and shed silent tears. Sitting on low stools on her patio, we were looking at photos of her son, Tefera, who was living in our city in California. He had gone there in 1991 to earn a soccer coaching license. Now in 1996 my husband, Wayne, and I were living in their country, Eritrea. Mhret wondered when and if she would see her only child again.  Her diabetes — which occasionally put her in the hospital — certainly gave her reason to worry. I had first noticed Mhret and Tefera in October 1964, when they arrived by bus in Adi Teclesan, the village in Eritrea where we were Peace Corps teachers.  In the crowd of arriving and departing passengers, they stood together holding hands, a . . .

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“Return” by Kathleen Coskran (Ethiopia)

  Notes from the Editor: Kathleen Johnson Coskran (Ethiopia 1965-67) taught in Addis Ababa her first year, then transferred to Dilla, a small town in the far south of the Empire. She wrote “So This Is Paris” about Dilla, an essay Marian Beil and I published in our newsletter, RPCV Writers & Readers in 1994. For me that essay is one of the finest written about the Peace Corps experience. I republished it in a collection I edited titled, Peace Corps: The Great Adventure. In 2007 Peace Corps Writers.com publish “Second Time Around” that subsequently received the 2008 Peace Corps Writers Moritz Thomsen Peace Corps Experience Award. Kathy has continued to write and continues to win awards. This is an essay she wrote about when she and her husband Chuck returned to Ethiopia and traveled for ten hours by bus through the Rift Valley to see Dilla one last time. Here is . . .

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Review — UNDER CONSTRUCTION: TECHNOLOGIES OF DEVELOPMENT IN URBAN ETHIOPIA by Daniel Mains (Ethiopia)

  Under Construction: Technologies of Development in Urban Ethiopia By Daniel Mains (Ethiopia 1998-99) Duke University Press 240 pages September 2019 $24.65 (Kindle); $82.49 (Hardback); $25.95 (Paperback) Reviewed by Janet Lee (Ethiopia 1974-76) • Under Construction is a scholarly work about the intersection of various forms of technological infrastructure in Ethiopia, the Ethiopian state that governs and develop the technologies, and the human element that service and should be served by the technologies. Construction projects in this study include dams, specifically GERD (the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam), Bajaj transportation, asphalt road construction, and paving stones. Under Construction is an apt title, because as the author details, these projects appear to be perpetually under construction. Mains is Wick Cary Associate Professor of Anthropology and African Studies at the University of Oklahoma and the author of Hope is Cut: Youth, Unemployment, and the Future in Urban Ethiopia (2011), a fascinating culmination of . . .

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“A Peaceful Transfer of Power is No Longer a Given in U.S.” by Martin Benjamin (Ethiopia)

  by Martin Benjamin (Ethiopia 1962–64) San Francisco Chronicle October 15, 2020   Most Americans over the age of 65 remember where they were and what they were doing when they learned that President Kennedy had been assassinated.  I was in the Peace Corps in Gondar, Ethiopia teaching 10th and 11th grade math and history. Late the night of November 22, 1963 a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer trudged up the hill from his house to ours shouting “Kennedy’s been shot.”  Four of us then gathered round a shortwave radio and learned from the BBC World Service that the President had died. The next day news of the assassination spread among our students and colleagues.  The students were very upset.  Some were weeping.  Their concern was not only for the President and his family, but also for the school’s twelve Peace Corps teachers and themselves.  With Kennedy’s death, they believed we . . .

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“Teacher” by Kathleen Coskran (Ethiopia)

   Foreword   Chuck Coskran and I were Peace Corps Volunteers in Ethiopia from 1965 to 1967. We didn’t train together though — he was trained in Los Angeles; I, in Salt Lake City. We were both stationed in the capital, Addis Ababa, the first year, but didn’t meet each other until we were assigned to the same summer project, giving BCG vaccinations [Bacillus Calmette–Guérin vaccine primarily used against tuberculosis] in Nekemte. At that time I was lobbying hard with Peace Corps staff to be transferred out of the city to a village, and, to my great delight, was posted in Dilla, Ethiopia, for my second year. Chuck continued teaching history at Bede Mariam Lab School for talented 12th-graders who were brought to Addis Ababa from throughout Ethiopia. Following our completion of service in 1967 Chuck returned to the US to work in Peace Corps/Washington as the Ethiopia Desk Officer, which . . .

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Malcolm X Meets PCVs in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia)

  NOTE: Letter in the New York TIMES today — PCVs meet up with Malcolm X in Addis. I have no idea what PCV wrote this letter. Do you?   Letter in the New York Times October 3, 2020 Mon Ray KS Sept. 25 I am looking forward to the new book on Malcolm X. Not long before he was killed I saw him dining alone at a hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where I was in the Peace Corps. I introduced myself and we had a nice chat. He was surprised that I knew who he was and had read his writings in college. Occasionally he scanned the room; his notes from that period indicate he feared assassination and was paranoid about surveillance by the FBI and others. He accepted my invitation to have dinner with a group of Peace Corps Volunteers the next evening. He drank water but . . .

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ERADICATING SMALLPOX: another time, place, virus — Award Winning Book

Houston lawyer James Skelton recalls his stint with the Peace Corps  By Andrew Dansby  Houston Chronicle  August 23, 2020 James Skelton finished his book about a deadly virus long before a global pandemic put epidemiology in the news. His intention, rather, was to tell the story of a group of Peace Corps volunteers dealing with all manner of health and logistical challenges. The book’s title covers it well: “Eradicating Smallpox in Ethiopia: Peace Corps Volunteers’ Accounts of Their Adventures, Challenges and Achievements.” This month, the book won the Moritz Thomsen Peace Corps Experience Award, an annual honor for Peace Corps volunteers or staffers who best depict life in the Peace Corps. “Eradicating Smallpox in Ethiopia” proved a complicated task for Skelton and his co-authors and co-editors. It comprises 18 essays written about efforts between the World Health Organization and the Peace Corps to rid the African nation of the disease . . .

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Dan Close (Ethiopia) brought water to Bekoji in 1966

    Water crisis in a town of Olympic champions by Dawit Tolesa Reporter Magazine August 2020 • Bekoji town, known for its Olympic gold medal winning athletes in Ethiopia, has played a pivotal role in athletics history that has dominated the world arena. Nevertheless, a town filled with remarkable talent, has been suffering from the lack of access to clean water for almost two decades. Nine Olympic gold medals have been won by athletes coming from Bekoji. Topping the remarkable feet achieved by athletes hailing from Bekoji include, Derartu Tulu, the first Ethiopian woman and the first black African to win an Olympic gold medal. She grew up tending cattle in the village. Bekoji is located in Oromia regional state, Arsi Zone, 220km from the capital, Addis Ababa. Currently, the year on year increase in population has exacerbated water shortages. For the purposes of water supply and sanitation project, . . .

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